For those of you unfamiliar with the story, A Reader's Respite will summarize it for you and thereby save you the trouble.....
Meet Gilgamesh. As the child of gods and ruler of Urak, he's bold, brassy and not a little full of himself. History records Gilgamesh as looking something like this:
A Reader's Respite, however, envisions him more like this:
Anyhoo, the gods decide that what Gilgamesh really needs is a good buddy to keep him on the straight and narrow since he's become something of a pain in the butt with his subjects.
Enkidu has lived his entire life with wild animals. He protects those animals, saving them from hunter's traps and is generally an all-around wild life conservative.
Because he's described as even being hairy like the animals, A Reader's Respite pictures him looking like this:
Now in order to lure Enkidu away from his comfy life living amongst the animals and introduce him to Gilgamesh, thus fulfilling their destiny to be BFF, a local harlot is trotted out to seduce Enkidu.
Not surprisingly this technique works like a charm and Enkidu spends seven days holed up doing the horizontal hokey-pokey with her until his strength is sapped away and he embraces his human side. (Men can be very predictable at times, no?)
Enkidu is then introduced to Gilgamesh and they do the traditional man-like tussling for supremacy (Gilgamesh wins) before establishing a life-long friendship.
Would that the story ends there. But no.
The two decide, in true manly fashion, that they must go on a great adventure together. They chose to conquer the Land of Cedars where the ferocious giant Humbaba stands guard.
Long battle scene made short, Gilgamesh and Enkidu manage to subdue ol' Humbaba, who begs for his life. Gilgamesh is inclined to offer clemency, but Enkidu goes rogue on us and wants to kill him.
Enkidu wins and Humbaba bites the dust.
Now this act catches the attention of the goddess Ishtar, a vain and petty woman who is pretty much used to getting her way. I picture her looking like Rita Hayworth.
Turns out, Ishtar is pretty impressed by Gilgamesh and wants to marry him. Gilgamesh, however, is somewhat familiar with her nefarious ways when it comes to men and declines the offer.
Suffice it to say that this pisses Ishtar off BIG TIME. And it's probably not a good idea to piss off a goddess.
To make herself feel better, she decides Enkidu must die.
After his BFF kicks the bucket, Gilgamesh is besides himself. True, he's lonely without Enkidu, but let's be honest here: he's more concerned with his own mortality.
And so Gilgamesh heads off on an epic quest for everlasting life (think Lord of the Rings here).
The quest is pretty long and I won't bore you with the details, except to say that Gilgamesh finally finds a wiseman named Utnapishtim, who has managed to attain immortality by surviving the Great Flood.
That's right. The same flood that pops up in the Old Testament some 600 years later (give or take a few hundred years).
Anyhoo, Gilgamesh finally arrives on the doorstep of Utnapishtim who eventually tells him about some plant at the bottom of a river that is the big secret to immortality. Gilgamesh goes diving and gets it, but loses it.
And that is pretty much the end of that.
Gilgamesh, it should be noted, was an actual king of Sumeria.
Whether or not the Epic of Gilgamesh is a reliable biography is up for debate.
If you'd like the read the story for yourself (what? you don't trust my translation?), head over here.