The Epic of Gilgamesh

Dr. Parnell
History 113
The Many Faces of the Gods
The sheer scope of The Epic of Gilgamesh is immense. In this tale Gilgamesh fights divine beasts, travels countless miles, and learns many of life’s lessons. He encounters friendship, experiences lust, and ultimately finds wisdom. The bulk of the epic takes place in the land of ancient Mesopotamia around 2700 BCE. During this time cities were getting bigger and more organized, science was growing, and trade crossed vast miles.
  The people of this time both feared and respected their gods. Although religion throughout Sumer (Southern Mesopotamia) was fairly constant, each city worshiped a particular patron god. This god held a special significance to its people and was only worshiped by them. From my understanding of The Epic of Gilgamesh the Sumerians were fairly pessimistic about the gods they worshipped. They believed their deity’s to be selfish, stubborn and careless towards humanity.
Ishtar the goddess of love and war spots Gilgamesh bathing, as he washes the filth of battle from his body. She’s overcome with lust and offers herself to Gilgamesh who respectably declines her offer. Gilgamesh says “I have seen how you treat your lovers. You use them until you grow bored, then you abuse them. Why would you treat me any different (Epic, 86)”? Enraged Ishtar goes to high heaven to tell her father Anu how Gilgamesh has insulted her. To her surprise Anu the father of the gods sides with Gilgamesh stating “Don’t quarrel with Gilgamesh because he stated the truth” (Epic, 87). Enraged Ishtar threatens to open up the gates of hell unless Anu lets her use the Bull of Heaven. Anu reluctantly agrees and warns “If I do what you desire there will be seven years of drought throughout Uruk”(epic . Even after hearing this Ishtar does not change her mind about getting revenge on Gilgamesh.
This episode shows how the ancient Sumerians believed their gods to be spoiled. Ishtar is exactly how...