The Forest Journey

The campaign against Humbaba: Gilgamesh and Enkidu take up a dangerous journey / campaign to a place called the Country of the Living. What reasons do the heroes give for undertaking such an expedition?

On the journey, the heroes alternate between fear and courage. What do you make of these oscillating emotions. What about Gilgamesh's narcoleptic episode? Does this wavering in the face of battle diminish their heroic status? Explain. What are some of the central complexities of heroism?

One way of achieving figurative immortality is through fame. To what extent does this idea emerge in the poem? How convincing is it?

How are our heroes equipped for battle? Do they have the most advanced weaponry available? As allegory, what does this technological advantage suggest?

Consider the actual battle: Humbaba's weapons seem to be storming out and shaking his head and then "Humbaba loosed his glory upon them." And then Humbaba unleashes his biggest weapon, he slaps his thigh in scorn (82). What's up with this battle? How do we explain the difference between Humbaba's concept of war and Gilgamesh and Enkidu's concept of war?

From the actions of Shamash it appears that the gods want the cedar forest cleared, but by the response of Enhil it appears that the gods are seriously upset by the death of Humbaba. What's up with the gods? Was it a good idea to kill Humbaba and level the cedar forest? Is Humbaba really evil?

What happens to the seven splendors?

Louise Althusser writes in his famous essay "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses": "What is represented in ideology is therefore not the system of the real relations which govern the relations of individuals, but the imaginary relation of those individuals to the real relations in which they live" (242). In other words, ideology represents an imaginary world view rather than the real conditions of existence.

Think about a time in your life when you set out to accomplish something for what you thought were justifitied or noble reasons. In the end, did it turn out as you had thought? Sometimes it does. But other times? What does this, if anything, tell us about the human condition and human thinking? 

Can you apply this reversal as well to acts of warfare undertaken by our country? Give an example.

Althusser, Louis. "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses." in  Lenin and Philosophy, Verso: New Left Books, 1970, pages 238-250.