In the Old Babylonian version of the Gilgamesh epic (18th century B.C.E.), Gilgamesh pursues valor and glory. He is larger than life, of heroic proportions:

Surpassing all other kings, heroic in stature,

brave scion of Uruk, wild bull on the rampage!

Going at the fore he was the vanguard,

going at the rear, one his comrades could trust!

Gilgamesh accepts the fact that he will die, but he sees fame as offering a kind of immortality:

Who is there, my friend [Enkidu], can climb to the sky?

Only the gods [dwell] forever in sunlight.

As for man, his days are numbered,

whatever he may do, it is but wind.

(from the Old Babylonian Yale Tablet)

When Enkidu dies, however, the fear of death overwhelms Gilgamesh, and he goes in search of immortality. Finally, he meets Siduri—a goddess who runs a tavern at the edge of the world—who advises him to give up this futile quest and find meaning in everyday pleasures:

O Gilgamesh, where are you wandering?

The life that you seek you never will find:

when the gods created mankind,

death they dispensed to mankind,

life they kept for themselves.

But you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,

enjoy yourself always by day and by night!

Make merry each day,

dance and play day and night!