Ishtar and Gilgamesh

 

Ishtar personifies the blind elemental forces both in the environment and within us. Gilgamesh is suspended between gods and men: his desires are on the scale of the cosmos, but his attachments are human. Caught between secular and sacred powers it is the earth that suffers. The death of Enkidu is atonement for the violation of the forest.

At the zenith of his power, Gilgamesh becomes restless to achieve new conquests. Driven by ambition, he sets out with his friend Enkidu to attack the sanctuary that houses the great cedars of Lebanon. He kills the forest’s Guardian who was appointed by the gods and lays waste the sacred grove.

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Ishtar and Gilgamesh is a portion of the first written story, more than 5000 years old.  It explores the relationship between Ishtar, the goddess of the city of Uruk and Gilgamesh, Uruk’s king.

Enkidu is killed and Gilgamesh is left lamenting his powerlessness in the face of death. Gilgamesh and Ishtar fuse in grief and weep for humanity’s common fate.

Gilgamesh’s power and prowess attract the ardour of the Goddess Ishtar, but he realizes that her offer of marriage is hollow. If he succumbs she will destroy him. When he refuses her advances the enraged Goddess calls down the bull of heaven.