Document Type


Publication Date



The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the most famous epic stories from ancient times. Benjamin Foster is right that the Gilgamesh Epic “offers a splendor of language, imagery, themes, and ideas to the modern reader.”1 This epic story has been translated into many different modern languages, and as well as into a cartoon movie, a children’s storybook, etc.2 Many scholarly books, articles, and essays have been dedicated to investigate, examine, and interpret its meaning.3 This said, this paper is written to examine particularly the relationship between two main characters of the narrative, namely Gilgamesh and Enkidu. A brief survey of scholarship concerning these two characters will be explored in the first part of the paper in order to locate this project in a larger context of scholarship. I will further propose a reading strategy from a postcolonial literary theory. My intention is to see the possibility of using the “civilizing mission” concept to understand the power relation between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The aim of this paper is to show that Gilgamesh, who has succeeded in ‘civilizing’ and subjecting Enkidu under his influence, turns out ironically to be powerless in the absence of this ‘civilized beast,’ Enkidu. This irony of Gilgamesh reflects the irony of colonial empire that is fully dependent on their colony.


Originally published in Asian American Theological Forum. 2014. Blog post.

Included in

Religion Commons