I’m struck by the fact that writing should be invented in precisely the best place to document the collapse of an age and from the point of veiw of the loser. Usually its the victors that write history.
What they did, in symbolic form, was to hold up a mirror to the tide that was about to engulf them. All over the known world the goddess was being over thrown or killed by semi divine sons. Attis and Cybele, Marduk and Tiamat, Yahweh and Hokmah.
DONT SPEAK HER NAME…
I have a rare gift and I’m about to be driven into the ground by hordes of really fast chariots driven by determined looking blokes with mean pointy beards. What shall I do? How shall I respond?
Let’s tell them a story…
So- proud Gilgamesh! He has defeated The Great Mother! He has destroyed Her sacred grove! He has hewn great gates from her limbs and floated them down the Euphrates in triumph. Gates made of the Mother Herself! No-one can get him now.
He has magically made a piece of mother, protection against Her, and with that a piece of himself set against the whole man.
Ishtar sees what’s going on and tries to intervene in a seductive way but is spurned, she then sends the bull of heaven to intervene. Enkidu and Gilgamesh chop it up and fling bits at the Gods.
Oh, dear, this is going to end badly.
Innit, you can’t do that. It ain’t right.
Fuck you, we don’t care. Gilga’s part god anyway and i’ve got serious horns…
But the Gods close ranks. They decide one of them has to die and its Enkidu. The inflated desecration of Ishtar’s bull widens the split between the idealised, narcissistic self and the shadowy horned self even further, so that having them be represented as brothers no longer works. One of the brothers must die and fall into the Unconscious.
The gods are a pranksterish lot. They like punishments to be amusing as well as instructive. If a punishment can’t be witty what’s the point?
So the say, ‘ok mr cool guy with your one-god bling, think you can live without the natural, the wild, then live without that part of yourself! Enkidu dies and you can be king of the world without stain…. alone.. with not even yourself to talk to.
And see how you fucking like it.
So you see, Assyrians, we had a king that was just like you, all pumped up on the life blood of others. Let us tell you of his fate so that you might be informed…..
Gilgamesh, him all upset now..
Yes, but only because his personal mighty bubble threatens to burst, and so he has to make a great heroic quest, not for the pearl of great price or some fair damsel, there’s no girl in the picture, he’s doing it to bolster himself up even more. he wants the elixir of immortality so that he can live for ever and be even MORE godlike. The towering walls are not enough. And even his tears at Enkidu’s death are for himself and the dawning realisation of his own mortality.
‘Im no care abou’ him frien’.
He’s learned nothing…
Him want him not his own fate…
and makes NPD like like a breeze in the park…
Boldly he sets off across the land of night, the sea of death, past scary monsters until eventually they come to the house of The Ancient One who might just be able to help him….maybe.
Last chance for Gilgamesh to wake himself up!
In fact, his task is to stay awake but he can’t or, is too cool to pay attention to the old guy.
Charcoal burners do it by using one legged stools to rest on. If they drop off, they drop off.
Gilgamesh! Even in the measly selfishness of your cheap wish, for an elixir of something, you screwed up. Because you’re so frickin arrogant that you think you don’t have to pay attention to anything around you which is why you can’t have a relationship and why your going to die like a bitch.
No! No! Give him one more chance! He’s had a hard life! I beg you.
And so the Ancient One’s Wife, Mrs Ancient One, pleads on Gilgamesh’s behalf and shows him where to find the magical plant he’s looking for.
There you go Sonny Jim, take care, mind….
There is no end to the ladies trying to help this boy, mon.
Despite his crap attitude….
….and the chopping and the flinging….
So he gets his plant.
Him score big time!
… but while he’s daydreaming about how cool he is and all the stuff you can amass over an eternity he takes his eye off the plant..
..snake com’ along and gobble it up.
The goddess takes it back.
And so ends the tragic story of Gilgamesh. Oh. no, not quite. He goes home and praises his walls. Himself.
What for Gilgamesh take him eye off the treasure? Mrs Ancient One tell him plain…
Because he’s lost the streetwise quality of Enkidu’s instinctiveness. He’s not whole and so the elixir is not for him. The she-snake takes it back into her safe keeping.
He’s left by himself, I no longer able to talk to me. He can make love too, but no longer with…
So, its got saucy bits after all!
Its a frickin epic you great arse, a cosmogonic encapsulation of the zietgiest, a collective dream spun forth from the psyche of ancient Sumer, poised on the cusp of a new age, peering forward into the..