Socrates vs Gilgamesh

1172 words 5 pages
Joe Arce 19 Sept 2011 Socrates Vs. Gilgamesh Socrates’ view of death in the Phaedo, Crito, and Apology is complex. His argument tries to prove that philosophers, of all people, are in the best state to die or will be in the best state after life because of the life they lead. Socrates’ views are sharply contrasted in The Epic of Gilgamesh. In fact, he would probably say that Gilgamesh had not lived the proper kind of life and his views of life, and death would lead to an unsettled existence in the afterlife. Socrates’ view of death, from his opinions on the act of dying, the state of the soul after death, and the fear of death, differs from that of The Epic of Gilgamesh to the extent that Socrates would refute every belief about death …show more content…

The only mention of an afterlife is in Enkidu’s dream but he does not expand on what he believes it to be like or if it is something that is truly there. It can be presumed that Gilgamesh and Enkidu do not believe that death will lead to such a serene place as Socrates describes by looking at their view of death. Gilgamesh says after his journey to the garden of the gods “Now that I have toiled and strayed so far over the wilderness, am I to sleep and let the earth cover my head for ever” (Gilgamesh 100)? Because Gilgamesh does not have an understanding of the soul as a separate entity he believes that he will be nothing more than a corpse after his death. At the end of his journey Enlil tells him, “You were given the kingship, such was your destiny, everlasting life was not you destiny” (Gilgamesh 118). We can take this to mean the everlasting life of the body, and because there is no mention of the soul, we can presume that there was no belief in a spiritual afterlife. The last and perhaps the most important difference between Socrates and The Epic of Gilgamesh is the fear of death. In the Apology, Socrates states that “To fear death . . . is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not . . . No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if it were the greatest of all evils” (Plato 34). Later in Phaedo, he asserts that “Any man whom you see