The attitude towards death in the epic literature symbolizes the wish of people of those epochs to be heroic, ready to sacrifice their lives for the holy aims. Even literature of different epochs represents comparatively similar attitudes towards death.
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The Epic of Gilgamesh touches upon people’s nature profoundly and still stays actual in the matters of the torture of loss and death for all human beings.
At Siduri, the barmaid, tells Gilgamesh: “You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man, they allotted his death, but life they retained in their own keeping.”
Death is an unavoidable feature of human life, and that is the central feature of Gilgamesh’s plotline. It is shown that life is short. That is the matter that two warriors discuss with each other on their way to the fatal conflict in the Cedar Forest, and the only matter that is eternal is fame. But when Enkidu is cursed with a dishonorable, excruciating death, their audacity rings hollow. Shamash, the god of the sun, soothes Enkidu by reminding him how rich his life has been. Mesopotamian religious studies provide a vision of the life after death, but it gives a slight reassure ‑ the dead have their pastime being dead. If Gilgamesh’s mission to the Cedar Forest was without mentioning death, his second quest, to Utnapishtim, had the aim to escape death. Utnapishtim’s description of the flood discloses how ridiculous such an aim is since death is integrally incorporated into the matter of creation. But life is incorporated in as well, and even if humans die, humanity goes on living.
In comparison with Iliad, Gilgamesh regards life as a precious gift, while Iliad is full of meaningless deaths, which are represented as the sacrifice for the prosperity of Greece, but not for the future of humanity. But, nevertheless, the life lived with dignity is considered to be precious.
The Iliad narration is a very brief episode in a very long war. The text proclaims that Priam and every one of his children will inevitably die ‑ Hector dies even before the finish of the poem. Achilles will also die young, although not on the pages of the Epic. Homer continually refers to this occasion, particularly toward the end of the story, clarifying that even the greatest of humans cannot evade death. Actually, he offers that the noblest and bravest may die sooner than others, and often it is just a whim of gods.
Correspondingly, the Iliad distinguishes and frequently reminds its readers that the origin of mortals has mortality in the very basis. The magnificence of men does not live on in their buildings, organizations, or cities. The forecast of Calchas, as well as Hector’s words with Andromache and the discussions of the gods, continually remind the reader that Troy’s haughty fortifications will fall. But the Greek reinforcements will not stand much longer. Although the Greeks construct their fortifications only partway into the epic, Apollo and Poseidon plan their obliteration by book 12 of the epic. The poem thus highlights the transient origin of humans and their world, offering that mortals should attempt to live their own lives as respectably as possible in order to live the memory within the descendants.
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Unfortunately, people forget the matters of dignified death nowadays, as most people aim to collect not knowledge, skills, glory, but wealth. Unconsciously, people realize that finances are not eternal and most probably will disappear after people die, so the horror of death is immense.