“The greatest thing in life is love, and be loved in return” (Eden Ahbez). “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (Cor 13:7). Love also influences all things. It is a powerful force that drives people to do things they would normally not do. In the news, there are several instances of murder in the name of love or robbing a bank because a person needs money for the person they love. There are also everyday instances of moving cross country for the person you love, leaving the person you love just to see them happy, or choosing another career path just to be with your significant other.
In the literary works The Epic of Gilgamesh and Medea. Gilgamesh and Medea prove that love affects a person’s decisions. In The Epic of Gilgamesh? Gilgamesh is introduced as a terrifying, relentless ruler who cares not of his warriors. He sacrifices his warriors on a whim, rapes women, and takes anything that he desires, despite who they belong to. The people of Uruk complain, the gods hear them and decide they have to do something about Gilgamesh. The gods create Endiku to stand up to Gilgamesh. Endiku lives in the forest until a hunter sends a prostitute to tame him.
The prostitute tells Endiku about the life in Uruk, and about Gilgamesh. Endiku immediately realizes that he needs to challenge this man. Gilgamesh has already had dreams about Endiku and how this man could potentially save Gilgamesh. When Endiku stands in Gilgamesh’s way of bedding another man’s wife, the two fight in the streets of Uruk. Gilgamesh eventually overpowers Endiku, and then they both forget their anger. They kiss and embrace as friends. Even Gilgamesh’s mother, Ninsun, blesses the friendship and declares Endiku as her son’s faithful companion. The love of the two friends is unyielding.
Gilgamesh hears about a demon, Humbaba, who guards the Cedar Forest, a place forbidden to mortals. Both men want to be famous, or die trying. Gilgamesh convinces Endiku to go to the Cedar Forest with him, despite Endiku’s warnings of how big and strong Humbaba is. Endiku’s love for Gilgamesh blinds him, and convinces him to do something that he knows will ultimately kill them. The pair begins to prepare for their journey into the Cedar Forest. They head to Gilgamesh’s mother’s temple, Egalmah, and ask for her blessing. She becomes distraught, but formally adopts Endiku has her son, making official that Endiku and Gilgamesh are brothers.
The pair leaves Uruk, making way to the Cedar Forest. Along the way, they lift each other’s spirits. Endiku lifts Gilgamesh’s courage whenever he begins to doubt if they can defeat Humbaba, and in turn Gilgamesh reassures Endiku that he is a good warrior. When they finally get to the forest and they meet with Humbaba, they defeat him. Humbaba pleads for mercy by saying he will become Gilgamesh’s servant if he is spared. Gilgamesh considers being merciful but is convinced by Endiku to kill the demon. Gilgamesh’s love for Endiku made his decision clear, he listened to Endiku above Humbaba, therefore sealing Endiku’s fate.
Gilgamesh and Endiku return home, where Ishtar makes an advance on Gilgamesh. He refuses her because he knows what has happened to her other lovers. Ishtar becomes furious and unleashes the Bull of Heaven on Uruk. Gilgamesh and Endiku fight the bull, defeat him, and then bask in the fame of Uruk’s people. The gods meet in council to decide Gilgamesh and Endiku’s fate. They are furious that they killed the bull, Humbaba and for felling the tallest tree in the Cedar Forest. The gods decide that one of the pair must die. They decide Endiku must die. He falls ill and ultimately dies.
Gilgamesh is stricken with grief. He casts his royal robes off, puts on beggar clothes, and roams the land alone. Gilgamesh becomes terrified of death and will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen to him. He goes on a quest to find Utnapishtim, who survived the great flood and was given immortality. He travels to the ends of the earth and back looking for Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim explains to Gilgamesh that since the gods give life, they can ultimately decide when to take it away. He also explained that the only reason why he was immortal was because the gods turned him and his wife into gods.
Gilgamesh returns to Uruk not fearing the gods, death, and realizes he can move on in his life. He returns a merciful ruler; he is no longer restless, a tyrant or bully. He becomes a ruler that Uruk needs. His love for Endiku made these changes. In the literary work Medea, the main driving force in all of Medea’s actions is love. She is introduced as Jason’s wife. In the beginning of their life together, Jason and Medea had to flee to Corinth because of Medea’s trickery. In Corinth, Jason has recently abandoned Medea and her children in order to remarry to advance his own station within the kingdom by marrying the kings daughter.
Medea is in such a depression due to Jason’s decision; she is not eating and is spending her days bed-ridden. She is starting to despise the sigh of her own children due to Jason’s betrayal. Medea begins to plot to get rid her children and killing her former husband. Medea pulls herself together and is addressed by the king of Corinth, Creon. He is planning to banish her and her children. Medea convinces him to let her have an extra day to make provisions for her and her family’s exile. She plans to kill the king, his daughter, and Jason during this extra day that she has. Jason approached Medea about her intentions.
He tries to sympathize with her; she recoils from his gestures and proceeds to tell Jason how he hurt her. She recounts how she helped Jason win her father’s approval by winning the Golden Fleece. She continues by telling him the sacrifice she had to make by moving away from her father, and how his betrayal is the greatest offense possible. She asks Jason where she is supposed to go since she fled her father’s land and was exiled from another. Jason defends his situation and he offers any help he can provide her. He offers to write letters of introduction to friends abroad who might be willing to allow Medea into their home.
Medea’s plan goes like this: she will pretend to agree to Jason’s proposal. She will then ask him to accept their boys into his new family. The children will give their new stepmother gifts, gifts Medea will have poisoned. The last step will be to kill her two sons. This will be her last act of revenge against Jason. He will be left to suffer while everything he cares about dies. Her love for Jason has clouded her judgment. She is filled with the need for revenge against him that she is willing to kill her own children in the process. Medea begins to carry out her plan.
She has Jason meet her and she expresses regret over how she reacted to Jason before. He agrees to ask Corinth’s daughter to plead with the king to allow the children into his family. She offers to bring Jason’s new wife the gifts in exchange for her help. His wife accepts them openly and Medea’s children are no longer enemies of the city. Medea debates on whether she should carry out her plan to murder her own children. Talking herself into it, she carries on with the murder. Jason is tragically hurt by Medea’s murder of the king, his daughter, and their two sons.
He curses ever wedding Medea. During this whole process, Medea was blinded by love. She was incredibly hurt by Jason’s betrayal and knew she had to get him back the only way that would hurt him as much as he hurt her. She didn’t care that she would be hurting herself in the process. She had tunnel vision and only cared about the outcome on Jason’s part. Both works, The Epic of Gilgamesh and Medea, have shown that their characters will go above and beyond for their loved ones. This may be a bad thing, in Medea’s case, because she will do anything to make Jason suffer as she suffers.
Even though Jason hurt Medea and much as he did, she still loved him. That’s why it hurt so much that he didn’t love her in return, that is the justification in her mind for killing all the people she did. Gilgamesh changed because of Endiku, for the better. He became a more compassionate, loving, and sensitive ruler because he knew the love of another. Even though it was a platonic relationship, the pair challenged each other as a couple would in any other relationship. In my opinion, that is what love is. It challenges you, makes you rethink everything you ever thought, believed, and ultimately affects your decisions.