31 Aralık 2010 Cuma

Enkidu as Alter-Ego of Gilgamesh

There is no denying that the epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest and most important stories of the world which has been able to survive until our modern age. The epic is said to be around four thousand years old and is accepted as a cornerstone in world history and literature. Gilgamesh was the king of Sumerian Uruk city, a historical town which was established by Sumerians on the lands of today’s Iraq, between rivers Euphrates and Tigris (Mesopotamia). Although Mesopotamian civilizations are mostly known with Babylon king Hammurabi and his code of law which is the first written code of law of the world and based on the principle of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”, the epic of Gilgamesh constitutes a huge place in Sumerian, Babylon and in general Mesopotamian civilizations. The epic of Gilgamesh consists of 12 tablets (of which 11 tablets are readable) and has a poetic, laconic style. In this assignment, I am going to analyze whether the relation between Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the epic can be explained by Freudian concept of alter-ego. I will argue that alter-ego conception would be very beneficial for us to understand the epic. I am going to support my argument by giving examples, justifications from the epic. In order to reach this point, I will start by a short summary of the epic. I am going to concentrate especially on the parts where the relation between Enkidu and Gilgamesh is the dominant topic. Later, I am going to explain alter-ego conception from a Freudian perspective. Thirdly, I will apply alter-ego conception to the relation of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I will also try to show how this perspective might be useful for historians to understand the epic in a different way. At the final part, I am going to manifest my own views.
Now, I am going to begin with a short summary of the epic. Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, is a creature of two-thirds God and one-third human. Gilgamesh is a hero and a strong king in the eyes of his people but he does not hesitate to oppress his people. In order to get rid of Gilgamesh’s despotism, people complain about his behaviors to God Anu, the chief god of the city, to help them. In response, Anu creates a wild creature called Enkidu who has the power of dozens of animals. Although Enkidu is very powerful, he lacks humane qualities. People who saw Enkidu running naked with animals in the forest make a plan to save him. They decide to send a beautiful woman to seduce and weaken Enkidu. A beautiful woman Shamhat seduces Enkidu and Enkidu gains knowledge and understanding at the expense of losing some power. Shamhat convinces him to come to city with her. Meanwhile, Gilgamesh talks about his dreams to his mother and his mother analyzes his dreams in such a way that a man of really huge power would come soon and help Gilgamesh in doing great things.
Shepherds teach Enkidu how to eat, how to speak and how to wear clothes properly. Enkidu enters to city during a festival when Gilgamesh was about to use his first-night right to have sexual intercourse with new brides on the first day. Enkidu opposes to Gilgamesh and they start to fight in a very violent way. Finally, Gilgamesh was able to beat Enkidu. They embrace each other after the fight and become good friends that respect each other. Later, Gilgamesh proposes Enkidu a great adventure to go to Cedar Forest and to kill “Humbaba the Terrible”, the guardian of the Cedar Forest. Enkidu tries to convince Gilgamesh not to go since he knows the power of Humbaba from his wild days in the forest. However, Gilgamesh rejects Enkidu’s idea and seems confident of success. His mother and all people of Uruk pray Gods to protect their adventurous king from Humbaba.
Enkidu and Gilgamesh continue their way towards the Cedar Forest by cutting the trees. They finally find Humbaba and begin to fight. Humbaba cleverly tries to destroy the friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu by asking Gilgamesh why he listen the words of nobody like Enkidu as the king of Uruk. However, Gilgamesh is not affected from Humbaba’s propaganda. They continue to fight with him but Gilgamesh terrifies from Humbaba’s power and escapes. Later, Enkidu shouts at him and inspires him with courage. They continue to fight and finally beat Humbaba. Humbaba begs for his life but Gilgamesh kills him. Before dying, Humbaba curses Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu return to their village with success and huge reputation. Gilgamesh’s widespread fame attracts the sexual attention of goddess Ishtar. She asks Gilgamesh to become her lover. However, Gilgamesh refuses this proposal by insulting her and listing her human lovers. Ishtar goes to his father, Anu and begs him to let her have the Bull of Heaven in order take revenge from Gilgamesh. Anu accepts her daughter’s wish and the Bull of Heaven is sent down in Uruk which begins to kill people. Enkidu and Gilgamesh by fighting together again kill the Bull and save the city. Enkidu begins to insult Ishtar and threatens her with death. He even throws one of thighs of the Bull to her face.
After all these insults and violence, Gods decide to punish someone. They chose Enkidu as the scapegoat and order his death. A great demon is sent to kill Enkidu. After suffering 12 days, Enkidu at last dies in pain. Gilgamesh becomes so sad after Enkidu’s death, he orders all Uruk citizens not to become silent and mourn after Enkidu’s death. Gilgamesh in pain begins to think of death. He now knows that he would die one day too and the idea makes him panicking. He decides to find Utnapishtim, the only immortal human in the world who was a king before the Flood, in order to learn the secret of immortality. After a long journey Gilgamesh finds Utnapishtim and they start to talk. Utnapishtim talks him about the Flood and how he managed to escape from it. Later, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that he can become an immortal if he achieves to stay awake for six days and seven nights. Gilgamesh accepts this and he sits on the shore. However, he falls asleep and he loses his chance to become an immortal. Utnapishtim by pitying him tells him about a magic plant but Gilgamesh fails again keeping this magic plant that would make Gilgamesh young again. At the end of the epic, Gilgamesh returns to his city.
In this paragraph, I want to talk little bit about alter-ego conception. Alter-ego by dictionary definition means “another side of oneself; a second self”[1]. According to Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and founder of psychoanalysis, there are basically three dimensions that determine people’s behaviors and attitudes: ego, id and superego. Id is the animal part of human beings which is full of desires, appetites and away from reason. Id can be very dangerous for people who cannot satisfy their desires because id is also a place where emotions are located and in addition to love, pity, humans have feelings like hatred, anger etc. Ego is the center of the self which tries to balance id in Freud’s view. Ego is the place of rationality and helps people in acting reasonably to satisfy their desires. Superego on the other hand, is the place of ethics in people’s minds. Superego similar to ego tries to suppress uncontrolled and wild desires of id and orientates individuals to act flawlessly. Superego tries to direct ego to act on the basis of ethics more than rationality in Freudian thought. Turning back to alter-ego, we can say that alter-ego is something different from id, ego and superego, it symbolizes the complementary and opposite part of a person.
When we analyze Gilgamesh from a Freudian perspective, we can first underline his aspect that he is a creature half-human and half-God. Enkidu on the other hand, is a creature created by Gods as half-animal[2] and half-human. We can clearly notice that Enkidu is the other self of the Gilgamesh which balances him and make him a human being. Without Enkidu, Gilgamesh is a living above humans so, he acts cruelly to other people, forces women to sleep with him and makes many cruelties to his people who are inferior to him. However, with the addition of Enkidu who is inferior from humans and close to animals, Gilgamesh finds himself equal with other humans. They together make heroic things; Gilgamesh does not continue to act cruelly to the people of his city Uruk. Enkidu is not civilized and rational unlike Gilgamesh although they both have strong ids to be satisfied. Enkidu can be easily deceived like he was deceived in the forest by Shamhat, the prostitute. In this respect, Gilgamesh completes Enkidu’s lack of rationality and civilization. There is also a kind of homo-erotic relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh which can be explained as the strong attraction and the need to become complete of both sides namely, Enkidu and Gilgamesh. “I loved it and embraced it as a wife. I laid it down at your feet, and you made it compete with me” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, p. 11). Gilgamesh also represents the group of elites (elitism) contrary to Enkidu who is more of a ordinary person. That is why Enkidu attacks Gilgamesh in the name of people whose wives are forced to make love by Gilgamesh on the first day of their weddings. That is why they begin to fight. However, they end up kissing each other and making peace. This is like an uprising of the people against their rulers but finally the restoration of order by a kind of agreement between people and ruler. They know that both sides need and complement each other (alter-ego – ego relationship) and that is why peace is consolidated with the wishes of both sides. “They kissed each other and became friends” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, p. 18).
After unifying their power, instead of terrorizing people, Gilgamesh begins thinking about making good to people. “Enlil assigned him as a terror to human beings” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, p. 19). Although Gilgamesh is very willingly to make this journey to kill Humbaba, Enkidu seems involuntary. However, again they complement each other because Gilgamesh inspires Enkidu courage and Enkidu helps him finding Humbaba in the forest. When they meet Humbaba, this time Enkidu gives courage to Gilgamesh and Gilgamesh kills Humbaba. Moreover, when Humbaba tries to spoil their friendship, Enkidu warns Gilgamesh and Gilgamesh is not affected from Humbaba’s tricks. However, the death of Enkidu later again makes Gilgamesh to lose his balance and to seek immortality to become a God. “I am going to die! Am I not like Enkidu?” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, p. 75). His godlike nature appears again after the loss of his animalistic alter-ego (Enkidu). Gilgamesh becomes little bit cruel again and he forces people to mourn after Enkidu without stopping. When the perfect balance is gone with the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s success do not continue. He fails at staying awake for immortality and also loses the magic plant of mouth.
Applying this Freudian alter-ego perspective to the myth of Gilgamesh would provide us many advantages in my view. First of all, Gilgamesh’s early cruelty and successes after being friend with Enkidu gain deeper meanings from this perspective. Although the epic of Gilgamesh, is a story about many things (about friendship, the struggle between Gods and humans, about a journey), it is basically about a self-discovery story of a man, namely Gilgamesh. In other words, this is the story of a man who completes deficiencies in his character with the help of his alter-ego and becomes a big hero. However, his success starts to decrease after the death of his alter-ego. This can be said to be a story of life itself with rise and falls. Moreover, applying Freudian method of alter-ego can help us to see the differences easily because since we assume two personalities as two opposite poles (two ideals), we will notice differences without problems. These ideal types are also used in social sciences by Max Weber in order to differentiate concepts from each other.
Finally, in my opinion the epic of Gilgamesh is a very precious historical document and an art piece that should be read and carefully analyzed. Freudian perspective of alter-ego would help us a lot to explain the relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh and we will have more facts to solve this puzzle. Gilgamesh can be the starting point of alter-ego stories which become important genre in literature and cinema now. The novel and the movie Fight Club can be a good example for this in my opinion. The epic of Gilgamesh is also significant in touching some events such as the Flood that are also mentioned in holy books. The character of Utnapishtim can be identified as the prophet Noah and the flood as similar to Noah’s Flood. It is also very exciting to see that although it was written approximately four thousand years ago, humans have same feelings, same problems with today’s individuals. We still make terrible things to each other, we still search for our real personalities, we still find friends and lose them. Lastly, as far as I am concerned the epic of Gilgamesh will stay as an important and exciting document as long as the humanity will exist.
- “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, 1989, California: Stanford University Press
- Dictionary.com, http://www.dictionary.com

[1] Definition taken from http://www.dictionary.com
[2] “Then he, Enkidu, offspring of the mountains, who eats grasses with the gazelles, came to drink at the watering hole with the animals…” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, p. 8).
Ozan Örmeci

30 Aralık 2010 Perşembe

Erasmus and the Praise of Folly

In this essay I would like to mention about the great humanist of the Renaissance period the Erasmus of Rotterdam and his most important work “The Praise of Folly”.
To begin with some information about Erasmus, I can easily say that he is remembered as the greatest theologian of the Renaissance and the Prince of humanists. He was born in Rotterdam and was named as Herasmus; but he assimilated the name to a fancied Greek original, which he Latinized into Desiderius. Finally he styled himself as Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus. His first schooling was at Gouda under Peter Winckel, who was afterwards vice-pastor of the church. From Gouda he went to the school attached to St. Lebuin’s church at Deventer, which was one of the first in northern Europe to feel the influence of the Renaissance. Erasmus was there from 1475 to 1484, and when he left, he had learnt from Johannes Sinthius and Alexander Heguis the love of letters, which was the ruling passion of his life.
About 1484 Erasmus’ father died, and left Erasmus and his brother to the care of guardians, since their mother shortly before him. Erasmus was eager to go to a university, but the guardians sent the boys to another school at Hertogenbosch to be prepared for a monastic life; the discipline was severe, and inspired Erasmus with a hatred of the pedagogic method of the day. Peter entered the monastery of Sion, near Delft; Erasmus became an Augustinian canon in St. Gregory’s at Steyn. There he was allowed to read the classics and within the Fathers he specially had a good friendship with Servatius Roger of Rotterdam. About 1494 permission was obtained for him to leave Steyn and become Latin secretary to the bishop of Cambrai. One his friend, a schoolmaster of Bergen, secured him the opportunity to go to Paris University. In August 1495 Erasmus entered the “domus pauperum” of the college of Montaigu, then under the rule of Jan Standock, a leader of the devotic moderna, the Dutch movement for the purification of the monastic orders. He was also occupied with some of the works, which, later, made his fame; to this period belong the first drafts of the Colloquies and the De Conscribendis Epistolis. In October he went to Oxford, where he found John Colet lecturing on the Epistle to the Romans, which inspired his serious theological study. He was happy in England, where he associated with Linacre Grocyn and More, as well as with Colet. In 1500 he had to turn back to Paris. He had worked hard at Greek, at the Fathers (above all at Jerome), and at the Epistles of St. Paul, fulfilling the promise made to Colet in Oxford, to give him to sacred learning. However the manuscript with which he returned to Paris at the close of 1504 – Valla’s Annotations on the New Testament, which Badius printed for him in 1505, shows the bent of his reading. In 1504 appeared at Antwerp his Enchiridion Militis Christiani. The book shows clearly the bent of his mind. It was a plea for a return to the source of Christianity in its primitive simplicity.
In the autumn of 1505 the opportunity was born for him and he had the chance of seeing Italy. For a year he stayed in Bologna and then to print the Adagia he had gone to Venice, where he did the work of two men, writing and proofreading at the same time. In the autumn he reached London, and in Thomas More’s house in Bucklersburry wrote the witty satire which Milton found “in every one’s hands” at Cambridge in 1628. The Moriae encomium remains the most read of the works of Erasmus, though he himself regarded it as of slight importance. In it kings and princes, bishops and popes alike are shown to be in trouble with Folly; and no class of men is spared. Its author was willing to be beholden to any one for leisure; but he would be no man’s slave. In April 1511, he left More’s house and took the Moria to be printed firstly in Paris. He completed his work on the New Testament, the Letters of Jerome, and Seneca; and then in 1514 he removed to Basle to superintend the publication of his works.
Erasmus as being a philosopher of humanism supported the ideas of Christian humanism. He was inspired with the belief that his society was corrupted and they lost the simple teachings of the Bible. His writings and the things he taught were generally based on the religious reform. He was against the ceremonial, dogmatic and superstitious things in Catholic life. He wanted to show irrationalism. He believed that to become a good Christian one must know what Christ’s messages were. To interpret the bible he used the help of humanist textual criticism. Besides translating and editing the New Testament, Erasmus paraphrased the hole, except the Apocalypse, between 1517 and 1524. The paraphrases were received with great applause even a translation of them were made in order to be placed in all parish churches beside the Bible. His correspondence is perhaps the part of his works, which has the most permanent value; it comprises about 3000 letters, which form an important source for the history of that period. For the same purpose his Colloquia may be consulted. They are a series of dialogues, written first for pupils in the early Paris days as formulae of polite address, but afterwards expanded into lively conversations, in which many of the topics of the day are discussed. Later in the century they were read in schools, and some of Shakespeare’s lines are direct recollections of Erasmus. It would be also useful to add that the Greek Testament is the most memorable Erasmus work. As an edition of the Greek Testament it has no critical value. Besides these, Erasmus taught how to read the Ancient Greek by his typical Erasmeic Masarotte; Difthong and Tripthong. He also wrote homiletic works, and the Institutis Christiani Matrimonii for Catherine of Aragon.
Erasmus was totally different from Luther in his ideas. Luther spoke to the people and the ignorant, while Erasmus had the ear of the classical class. His friends and admirers were distributed all over the countries of Europe, and his letters, which were mirrors of man’s liberal mind, were coveted by scholars and princes. Erasmus steadily refused to take definite sides against Luther, though he repeatedly said he was not acquainted with him and his works, and that his business was with the revival of letters. In 1524, the steady pressure on him induced him at last to enter into controversy with Luther. He chose a point on which they must always differ. Erasmus, whose life was spent in vindicating the dignity and liberty of the human spirit, would have nothing to do with the Lutheran determinism, and wrote the De Libero Arbitrio, which drove Luther in De Servo Arbitrio to formulate his own doctrine more clearly.
As a result it can be said that in Praise of Folly, Erasmus criticized scholastic dogmatism, ignorance and superstitious beliefs of masses. This work is to be criticized as a piece of his biblical humanism ironically and paradoxically. He aimed to guide, to make people understand things and find the better. In Praise of Folly suspect exists. He purposed to make people ask questions about themselves and about their values. Shortly it can be said that this work is a criticism against dogmatism.

29 Aralık 2010 Çarşamba

Turkish Accession to European Union (Chronology)

- On 17 December 2004, EU decided to start accession negotiations with Turkey.

- On 3 October 2005, three chapters of the Acquis Communautaire (Right of Establishment for Companies & Freedom to provide Services, Financial Services and Financial Control) were opened.

- On 12 June 2006, chapter on Science and Research was opened and provisionally closed.

- On 11 December 2006, continued dispute over Cyprus incited EU to freeze talks on eight chapters (Right of Establishment for Companies & Freedom to provide Services, Financial Services, Free Movement of Goods, Agriculture & Rural Development, Fisheries, Transport Policy, Customs Union and External Relations) and to state that no chapters would be closed until a resolution is found.

- On 29 March 2007, chapter on Enterprise and Industrial Regulations was opened.

- On 25 June 2007, chapters on Statistics and Financial Control were opened, but the opening of the chapter on Economic and Monetary Policy was blocked by French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

- On 19 December 2007, chapters on Health & Consumer Protection and on Trans-European Transport were opened.

- On 17 June 2008, chapters on Company Law and Intellectual Property Law were opened.

- On 19 December 2008, chapters on Economic & Monetary Policy and Information Society & Media were opened.

- On 30 June 2009, chapter on Taxation was opened.

- On 8 December 2009, chapter on Environment was opened.

- On 30 June 2010, chapter on Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy was opened.

Ozan Örmeci

Westphalia Treaty: The Fall of Religion and The Rise of Nationalism

There is no doubt that secularism or laicism is one of the sine qua non conditions of democracy. However, the secularization of the states and nations is not an easy process. In Middle Eastern countries, secularism is still a very problematic issue. On the other hand, European countries were shaken and hundred thousands of European people shed their blood because of religious and sectarian wars. This assignment is an attempt to analyze the birth of Westphalia Peace by focusing on the Reformation movement in Christianity. In order to this, I will first explain shortly the Reformation movement and then I will focus on the Westphalia system. I will lastly combine these two developments in Europe and name their consequences.
The reformation movement began in Europe with the emergence of Martin Luther’s activities (1517) to reform the Catholic Church. In the Middle-Age, the Church became a very corrupt but influential actor. The sale of indulgences and Church positions decreased the legitimacy and the holiness of the Church in the eyes of Christians. Luther, aiming to reform the Church, thus in a sense established a new Christian sect called Protestantism. In Protestantism, Church’s authority was relatively weak and the faith was in conformity with free-trade as it was stated by Max Weber. Luther’s movement was later supported by Jean Calvin and Calvinists, Anglicans and Anabaptists. Soon, the whole Europe was divided into two sects and religious wars began between these groups and especially between different German princedoms. These wars ended in 1648 by the signing of Westphalia Peace Treaty.
Westphalia Peace Treaty refers to a pair of treaties signed between German princedoms and other important European monarchies after the Protestants’ victory in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). By the Westphalia Treaty, each prince was given the right to determine the religion of his state and in a sense Protestantism gained legitimacy. This treaty thus ended the religious wars in Europe and created a convenient situation for modernization and the rise of nationalism. Sovereign states which were the basis of nation-states were established after Westphalia. Moreover, religious tolerance was approved by giving the Church the responsibility to serve other sects in allotted hours. Westphalia’s consequences were not only religious but social and political. Socially, different religious sects were recognized and thus pluralism in Europe began to be developed. Politically, sovereign states were established and the fall of religion prepared Europe for modernization and nationalism. According to Oral Sander, Westphalia Peace constitutes the backbones of modern international system.
When we combine these two major events in European history, we can make these points. First of all, the end of religious and sectarian wars increased the legitimacy of European princedoms and monarchies and thus created a stability situation. Countries having sovereign rights (the right to choose the religion of the state etc.) began to be developed and form their nations. Secondly, in relation with this trend, nationalism and the idea of the nation-state gained enormous emphasis by the Westphalia. By the limitation of the Church’s power and the acceptance of the collapse of Holy Roman Empire, states became sovereign institutions and they established a balance of power between themselves which brought Europe stability and peace. Because of this, Westphalia Peace Treaty led to Westphalia system. This status quo was later changed after the French Revolution and Industrial Revolution but for more than a century it existed without important problems.
Secularization and the establishment of a modern, efficient state is the most important condition nations have to be realized. Nations without having nation-states and secular systems, are doomed to be disappeared as we see in many countries today. However, internationalism, supranationalism and globalization are also the realities of the new century and their effect on nation-state will determine the fate of nation-states in the 21st century.
Ozan Örmeci