Masculinity has numerous meanings among many. The most common meaning of masculinity having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness. To be masculine means to be have strength, courage, independence, leadership, and assertiveness. Sometimes violence gets tied in with masculinity because some men believe that is their way to be masculine. Most of these qualities are shown in the book, the Epic of Gilgamesh. The male figures in this book are powerful, which relates them to Gods. I will be discussing how masculinity ties in with a few characters in the Epic of Gilgamesh. have
Gilgamesh was like no other, he is one-third God and two-thirds human. Gilgamesh was to be compared to no one; he was viewed as the dominant leader. Power goes hand and hand with masculinity. “Surpassing all kings, for his stature renowned, Heroic offspring of Uruk, a charging wild bull, he leads the way in the vanguard, he marches at the rear, defender of his comrades (Gilgamesh, pg. 4).” and “Gilgamesh, you are unique among humans. Your mother, the goddess Ninsun, made you stronger and braver than any mortal, and rightly has Enlil granted you the kingship since you are destined to rule over men.” These quotes from the book explain how Gilgamesh is viewed in Uruk. Gilgamesh was the arrogant king in their eyes but was also their ruler. The people of Uruk saw Gilgamesh as their protector and leader but later realizes there is another with as much power as him and Gilgamesh loses some “masculinity” by letting his guard down and becoming “brothers” with Enkidu. This ties into masculinity because the quality of being masculine is taking leadership and having strength. Enkidu is created to be a very animal-like character and to be looked up to like Gilgamesh himself. Instead, Enkidu and Gilgamesh become very close. When Enkidu becomes ill and dies, Gilgamesh becomes upset, guilty, angry, and in denial. “Gilgamesh heard his friends' words, he wept, swiftly the tears flowed down his cheeks” pg. 142. I feel like this displays how Gilgamesh loses some “masculinity” by allowing others to see him lose strength and leadership when he begins to mourn Enkidu's death.
Violence can often be mistaken to gain leadership or strength by proving one’s worth. Men often feel they must “protect” their masculinity and destroy any man that tries to act greater or that stands in their way. Gilgamesh portrays this by defeating the ogre of the cedar woods and the bull of heaven. When this book is taken place, the people wasn’t fazed by all the violence that took place. Violence was often the key to success in an era like this. The kings and rulers would often use violence to “prove” their mightiness and greatness to make their people feel safe. Just as Gilgamesh and Enkidu did to begin with because Gilgamesh felt threatened by Enkidu. Both men had certain standards to live up to and they both felt threatened by each other when they first met. Their battle was meant to show the people of Uruk who had more power to prove which would be greater as their leader. Men often feel they lose their masculinity or pride when someone greater comes in and the people that look up to them now are beginning to look at someone else the same way they first looked at them. So, men's instinct is to battle it out and prove who is “stronger” and prove their dominance.