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Socrates Vs. Gilgamesh Essay, Research Paper

Sarah Raske

October 11, 2000

Socrates Vs. Gilgamesh

Socrates? position of decease in the Phaedo, Crito, and Apology is complex. His statement attempts to turn out that philosophers, of all people, are in the best province to decease or will be in the best province after life because of the life they lead. Socrates? positions are aggressively contrasted in The Epic of Gilgamesh. In fact, he would likely state that Gilgamesh had non lived the proper sort of life and his positions of life, and decease would take to an unsettled being in the hereafter. Socrates? position of decease, from his sentiments on the act of deceasing, the province of the psyche after decease, and the fright of decease, differs from that of The Epic of Gilgamesh to the extent that Socrates would rebut every belief about decease presented in The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Socrates believes the act of deceasing to be a separation of the psyche from the organic structure. The psyche is that which attains cognition, and the organic structure is that which experiences senses and emotions. In Gilgamesh there is no differentiation between the organic structure and psyche. In the Phaedo, before Socrates drinks the toxicant Crito inquiries him as to how he would wish to be buried to which Socrates answers, ? I do non convert Crito that I am this Socrates speaking to you here and telling all I say, but he thinks that I am the thing which he will shortly be looking at as a cadaver? ( Plato 153 ) . By this Socrates means that after decease what is left is simply the organic structure and that the ego is in the psyche, which is no longer portion of the organic structure. Gilgamesh does non see things this manner. After the decease of Enkidu he tells the Man-Scorpion, ? I have wept for him twenty-four hours and dark, I would non give up his organic structure for burial, I thought my friend would come back because of my crying? ( Gilgamesh 98 ) . Gilgamesh has the position that the organic structure still encompasses what is the ego. Socrates would evidently state that it is nonsensical to cleaving to the organic structure of the dead as if it were the individual because the psyche has already departed.

In The Epic of Gilgamesh, decease is a penalty from the Gods. ? Because they have killed the Bull of Heaven, and because they have killed Humbaba who guarded the Cedar Mountain one of the two must decease? ( Gilgamesh 89 ) . Enkidu? s decease is the effect of dissing the Gods. Socrates would differ with the belief that decease is a penalty from the Gods for several grounds. In the Phaedo, he claims that the true lover of wisdom, that is the philosopher, ? must get away from the organic structure and observe affairs in themselves with the psyche by itself? ( Plato 103 ) . So, since decease is the separation of the psyche from the organic structure, merely at decease can we derive true wisdom. He says, ? Wisdom itself is a sort of cleaning. . . he who arrives [ in the underworld ] purified and initiated will brood with the Gods? ( Plato 106 ) . Obviously, if the psyche can merely achieve wisdom from decease and if that wisdom leads to purification, which assures you a topographic point with the Gods, so Socrates would differ with The Epic of Gilgamesh that decease is a penalty from the Gods. This grounds leads us to a expression at the contrasting positions of an hereafter.

In the Phaedo, Socrates explains how the psyche exists in the hereafter through the usage of two chief theories, Thursday

vitamin E theory of antonyms and the theory of remembrance. It is of import to observe that he besides draws a connexion between the psyche and wisdom as a rationalisation for his belief in an hereafter, stating, ? When the psyche investigates by itself it passes into the kingdom of what is pure, of all time bing, immortal and unchanging. . . its experience so is what we call wisdom? ( Plato 118 ) . By associating the two he can explicate that the psyche, like wisdom, is immortal. In The Epic of Gilgamesh there is small grounds that the characters of the narrative believed there to be being after life. The lone reference of an hereafter is in Enkidu? s dream but he does non spread out on what he believes it to be like or if it is something that is genuinely at that place. It can be presumed that Gilgamesh and Enkidu do non believe that decease will take to such a calm topographic point as Socrates describes by looking at their position of decease. Gilgamesh says after his journey to the garden of the Gods? Now that I have toiled and strayed so far over the wilderness, am I to kip and allow the Earth cover my caput for of all time? ( Gilgamesh 100 ) ? Because Gilgamesh does non hold an apprehension of the psyche as a separate entity he believes that he will be nil more than a cadaver after his decease. At the terminal of his journey Enlil tells him, ? You were given the kingship, such was your fate, everlasting life was non you destiny? ( Gilgamesh 118 ) . We can take this to intend the everlasting life of the organic structure, and because there is no reference of the psyche, we can assume that there was no belief in a religious hereafter.

The last and possibly the most of import difference between Socrates and The Epic of Gilgamesh is the fright of decease. In the Apology, Socrates states that? To fear decease. . . is no other than to believe oneself wise when 1 is non. . . No 1 knows whether decease may non be the greatest of all approvals for a adult male, yet work forces fear it as if it were the greatest of all immoralities? ( Plato 34 ) . Later in Phaedo, he asserts that? Any adult male whom you see resenting decease was non a lover of wisdom but a lover of the organic structure, and besides a lover of wealth or awards, either or both? ( Plato 105 ) . Gilgamesh and Enkidu repeatedly curse decease and demo their cowardliness toward deceasing. After Enkidu? s decease Gilgamesh says, ? Because of my brother I am afraid of decease? ( Gilgamesh 101 ) . If we analyze the lives of the two chief characters in Gilgamesh we can easy see that they fit into Socrates? thought of one who fears decease. Gilgamesh and Enkidu repeatedly go in hunt of awards, delectation in the pleasances of the organic structure, and think they are wise when they are non.

Of these two really different positions of decease, one could state that Socrates? is the more appealing. To decease with the belief that your psyche will populate on and be reborn is far more cheering than think that decease is the terminal of one? s personal being. Both positions are still common today. Some spiritual people do non fear decease when their clip has come, but the bulks are afraid to decease. Socrates might state that our society today is full of nescient, body-loving, cowards.

Epic of Gilgamesh, The. London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1972.

Plato. Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo. Trans. G.M.A.

Grube. Capital of indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc, 1981.

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