The Epic of Gilgamesh Juxtaposed with Star Trek: the Next Generation Darmok

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The similarities between the two are numerous. When captain Picard finds himself on the strange planet, he meets the Tamarian leader. The leader says cryptic sentences and throws a knife to Picard’s feet. Picard takes this a challenge to a fight and throws the knife back to him. The two then go their separate ways for the night. The leader builds a fire, while Picard struggles to get one started, the leader then throws a torch at Picard to help him This is reminiscent of Gilgamesh and Enkidu being brought weapons And now they brought to them the weapons, they put in their hands the great swords in their golden scabbards, and the bow and the quiver. One can also see the paralleled between Picard and the leader meeting and Gilgamesh and Enkidu bonding in the epic He put his foot out and prevented Gilgamesh from entering the house, so they grappled holding each other like bulls, So Enkidu and Gilgamesh embraced, and their friendship was sealed. The two men then encounter a beast that seems to have the power to shape shift. Also, it seems Picard was brought to this planet to fight alongside the leader. The two men stab the beast as it shifts, opaque then invisible as glass. Picard’s crew tries to summon him back to the ship, just as the other leader is knocked to the ground and being attacked by the beast. He is unable to save the Tamarian leader from the serious blows. This could be likened to Gilgamesh and Enkidu battling the Bull of Heaven With his third snort cracks opened, Enkidu doubled over but instantly recovered, he dodged aside and leapt on the Bull and seized it by the horns, Now thrust in your sword between the nape and the horns. After the battle, Picard and the leader are seen resting by a fire, the leader resting from his beating. They speak of The beast at Tanagra, a ostensible reference to the Bull of Heaven in Gilgamesh. Moreover, Picard explains That a danger shared, might sometimes bring two people together. Then tells a distilled, albeit slightly different version of Gilgamesh to the dying leader, he takes joy in this, then suddenly passes. This is very much like Enkidu suffering on his death bed Ten days he lay, and his suffering increased, eleven and twelve days he lay on his bed of pain. Daybreak comes, and Picard lays the Tamarian leader to rest before being transported back to the ship. As Picard is resting in his room, he comments to a crew member Tamarian was willing to risk all of us, just for the hope of communication, connection, now the door is open between our peoples. That commitment meant more to him than his own life,

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The differences: This Star trek episode seems to be moderately based on The Epic of Gilgamesh. Firstly, this is a science fiction series, hardly the ancient kingdom where Gilgamesh took place. The key differences are that of origin and storyline, no mention is made of the origin of the Tamarians or any kingdoms. This episode seems based on the first 3 chapters of the epic. Starship Enterprise cruises through space towards a planet in which another spaceship sits static, on the edge of the planet. This ship hails the Enterprise and an exchange of mutually confusing communication ensues. The opposing ship’s captain holds two knives in his hands, reaching out. Captain Picard is transported to this strange planet and meets the opposing ship’s captain. This section of the episode is lacking any kind of background. Where did the Tamarains come from? What’s their history? They seem to speak a cryptic language based upon their culture’s mythology. Both were gathered around two camp fires, both were still unsure of each others’ intentions because of the language barrier. Picard was having trouble keeping his lit, so the leader threw him a torch in friendship. This showed his intentions to Picard. They both encounter a beast on this planet, that shape shifts. Picard and the leader both try and stab the beast. The leader is knocked down and the Enterprise crew are attempting to beam Picard back to the ship, preventing Picard from helping him. In a later scene, both are around a camp fire and the leader is dying. The leader does not suffer for long, then he passes. This is much different than Enkidu’s death, which takes around 12 days. Picard is then beamed back to the Enterprise and has a metaphoric dialog with the Tamarian people, making peace. He now understood their language because of immersion with his late friend.

Clearly, The Epic of Gilgamesh in part, inspired this episode of Star Trek. From the beginning this episode holds some elements of the epic. Two men who become friends in short order because of a common foe, the subsequent death of that friend and mysticism. Gilgamesh was one of the most influential texts ever written and is still referenced in modern culture.

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The Epic of Gilgamesh Juxtaposed with Star Trek: The Next Generation Darmok. (2019, Jul 03). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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