We would seriously be calling up our therapist if we were having so many spookily prescient dreams. But, you know, ancient Mesopotamia was a little short of therapist—so instead, he just asks his mom. And his friends.
Okay, that actually sounds a lot like what we do.
Anyway, we first hear about Gilgamesh's dreams in Tablet 1. In one of the dreams, Gilgamesh embraces a meteorite which has fallen to earth. In the other, he embraces an axe. (Yes, we agree, these are wacko dreams.) His mother, the goddess Ninsun, interprets his dreams as a promise that "there will come to you a mighty man, a comrade who saves his friend" (1.249).
This, of course, is a revelation about Enkidu coming into the picture. But, amazingly, Shamhat also knows that Gilgamesh has been dreaming about Enkidu, "Even before you came from the mountain, Gilgamesh in Uruk had dreams about you" (1.224-225). (We really would like to know how the temple-prostitute knows all this.)
Then, there are the numerous dreams that Gilgamesh has during the journey to the Cedar Forest in Tablet 4. Gilgamesh prays to Shamash for these dreams. In fact, it seems that dreams are the primary mode of communication between gods and mortals. The events in these dreams are symbolic, but seemingly accurate.
Enkidu listens to each of these dreams, and then provides a very cheery interpretation, although the dreams themselves seem rather terrifying—featuring Gilgamesh fighting with a bull, "lightening cracking,""[raining] death," and everything turning to ash (4.95-101).
In Tablet 7, poor Enkidu—already facing illness and certain death—is tormented with dreams about the underworld. (Talk about unfair; give the poor half-man-half-beast a break.) But this dream allows Enkidu to describe in great detail all the horrors of the Underworld, which is enough to motivate Gilgamesh to go in search of immortality.
So—dreams in this epic are something like previews: they give you a taste of what's to come, and sometimes they turn out to have very little to do with what actually happens. Next time on Gilgamesh ….
Dreams of Gilgamesh Essay
891 WordsDec 13th, 20124 Pages
Dreams of Gilgamesh When looking into the meanings of dreams, a variation of things can be found. Most people believe that dreams are a reflection of people’s inner thoughts and feelings. Most of these feelings are too private to be expressed in the real world and that is why they are expressed in a fantasy type way through dreams. In Gilgamesh, dreams are used as a form of communication between the Gods and humans. Major events are seen through these dreams and fantasies are foretold. In the ancient Mesopotamian culture, dreams play a major role. Dreams foretold the coming of Enkidu, the death of Enkidu, the protection of Shamhat during the battle with Humbaba, and much more. The fact that dreams play such an important role in…show more content…
“Humbaba’s cry is the roar of a deluge, His maw is fire, his breath is death, He can hear rustling in the forest for sixty double leagues. Who can go into his forest? Adad is first and Humbaba is second. Who, even among the gods, could attack him? In order to safeguard the forest of cedars, Enlil has appointed him to terrify the people, Enlil has destined him seven fearsome glories, Besides, whosoever enters his forest is struck down by disease.” (page 25, tablet II, lines 171-180). This is very significant in that it lets us know the nature of who Humbaba is. It’s clear that Humbaba is quite evil according to this passage. Gilgamesh’s dreams make him supremely confident during his attempts to overcome Humbaba. Gilgamesh believes he can prevail against Humbaba. Due to his focus and heroism, Gilgamesh is capable of slaying a horrifying, evil monster like Humbaba. Dreams are a constant motivation for Gilgamesh, and although at times he feels physically incapable of continuing on his quest for everlasting life, his focus on achieving his goal, drives him past any conceivable ability. The dreams all play the same role in this story. They foreshadow what is to come, motivation for Gilgamesh, and they assist in the strengthening of the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Most importantly, Gilgamesh makes his journey not for fortune or fame, but purely for spiritual knowledge. Often the purpose of his journey is