IMMORTALITY
   This theme does not constitute a major preoccupation for Mesopotamian thinkers. The subject is only addressed in the Gilgamesh epic, where it states that the gods kept immortality to themselves, having allotted a limited life span to human beings. The only person to have been granted “eternal life” was the flood hero (known variously as Atra-hasis or Utnapishtim), the only one to escape the planned annihilation of humankind. His continuing existence was to serve the gods as a reminder of their promise never to destroy humanity again. The attempt by Gilgamesh to win immortality for himself is therefore doomed to fail. The only form of immortality open to mortals is by “making a name”; in the case of Gilgamesh, to have built the great walls of Urukand to have committed his experience to writing.
   See also HISTORIOGRAPHY; RELIGION.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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