The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest known written story and is the first narrative that gives an account of the search for immortality and perpetual youth. It is the mythical legend of Gilgamesh, King of Uruk who after experiencing the loss of a friend, vows to achieve immortality for himself. The epic is about the various adventures of the hero-king, Gilgamesh, his quest for immortality, and an account of the great flood. Gilgamesh was two-thirds god and one-third man, a hero, beautiful, courageous, terrifying and at the same time mortal like the rest. The story in the epic revolves around the relationship between Gilgamesh, and his half-wild friend, Enkidu. Gilgamesh disillusioned and unhappy with his rule embarks on dangerous quests with Enkidu and in one of the journeys, Enkidu meets with death. The epic, for the most part, focuses on Gilgamesh’s thoughts and sense of loss after the death of Enkidu and his search for immortality.
Gilgamesh does not rest after Enkidu’s death but continues his journey to meet Utnapishtim, the only mortal who has been given everlasting life by the gods. When Gilgamesh asks Utnapishtim "How shall I find the life for which I am searching?" (The Epic of Gilgamesh), he says, "There is no permanence". He reveals the mystery of his everlasting life and tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood. He and his wife were granted eternal life by the gods after they survive the flood. He also tells the story of the gods who, unable to sleep because of the uproar created by mankind, wanted to destroy mankind, but for Ea, who instructed Utnapishtim to build a boat and "take up into [it] the seed of all living creatures" (The Epic of Gilgamesh). Utnapishtim also reveals a second mystery of the gods. He tells Gilgamesh that there is a plant growing under water which can restore youth. Gilgamesh finds the plant and decides to take it to Uruk to give it to the old men. But when Gilgamesh is .bathing in a well, a serpent comes up and snatches away the plant, throws its skin off and returns to the well. .