Gilgamesh and Antigone
I examined the role of Gods in two texts- Gilgamish and Antigone and I felt that each text defines the role of Gods in its own unique way. For Antigone, the role of Gods is indirect; this is shown in Antigone’s actions and beliefs as her character is obviously clear minded and always aware not only that honoring the divine was the right stand to take in any situation, but also how exactly to pay respect to them: “I know I’m pleasing those I should please most” (line 88).
After realizing the fact that the body of her brother (Polyneices) would not be given last rites, she went to her sister asking her for help in honoring the divine.
When her sister declined her desire and warned her of the risks of such actions, Antigone was steady in her decision believing that disrespecting the Gods was the real risk, saying : “The time in which I must please those that are dead/ is much longer than I must please those of this world” (76-7). he Chorus speech after Creon has more or less determined the fate of antigone: With wisdom had someone declared a word of distinction: that evil seems good to one whose mind the god leads to ruin, and but for the briefest moment of time is his life outside of calamity. (619-24) Those hints by the chorus throughout the play lead us to another approach to understanding the role of gods in the it; the Gods were in control of everything, resulting the events to unfold, and maybe to teach a moral lesson to the city and even to the audience as well.
Events that support this interpretation include the arrival of Antigone at the place of her brother after the guards removed the dust on her brother’s body, for example in these lines: Suddenly a squall lifted out of the earth a storm of dust, a trouble in the sky. (417-9) We closed our eyes, enduring this plague sent by the gods. When at long last we were quit of it, why, then we saw the girl. (422-4) The Epic of Gligmesh, however, introduces numerous Gods. The role of Gods in Gilgamish is more complicated and has its direct and indirect actions throughout the story.
The indirect role of Gods in my opinion is shown when they instead of disciplining Gilgamesh for his unfair treatment of the young men and women of Uruk, they created a counterpart to distract him from his bold and unbearable behavior. The direct role of Gods in Gilgamesh is revealed during the debate about putting Enkidu into death and Enlil, the highest God, ends the talk that one of the two (Enkidu and Gilgamesh) must die for slaughtering Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. That was a direct role for Gods in the epic of Gilgamesh I believe.
Enlil has the power over the entire cosmos and the affairs of man. He is sometimes friendly towards mankind, but can also be cruel and send punishments to people. He was angry and humans had reasons to fear objecting him; he had in the past tries to destroy the human race. Another God introduced is Ishtar; she was all at once the goddess of love, war and fertility. Her role was direct as she wanted to use the bull of heaven and wanted it to loose so she can watch him stab Gilgamesh to death because he rejected her . The Goddess Ishar saw him and fell in love with the beauty of Gilgamesh… “Be my lover, be my husband”, she spoke and said, … “plant your seed in the body of Ishtar”… Gilgamesh answered ad said… “I have nothing to give to her who lacks nothing at all. You are the door through which the cold gets in… You are the house that falls down… the ill-made wall that buckles when time has gone by. ” (p. 29-30). The epic of Gilgamesh certainly has various roles of Gods in it, and their impact was more direct than Antigone.