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Comparing Gilgamesh and Odysseus on Qualities of a Hero (Essay Sample)


Comparing Gilgamesh and Odysseus on Qualities of a Hero


Comparing Gilgamesh and Odysseus on Qualities of a Hero
Comparing Gilgamesh and Odysseus on Quaities of a Hero
Heroes exist in most of the cultures in the world. To cite two, are Gilgamesh of Mesopotamia and Odysseus from the ancient Greece. Gilgamesh was a hero in the epic of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk on the river Euphrates; the modern Iraq. He lived at around 2500 B.C. In the epic, Gilgamesh is depicted as a demigod who faced retribution for bad leadership and tried to redeem himself CITATION And99 \l 1033 (George, 1999). Odysseus was the hero of the story of the Odyssey. Odysseus rued Ithaca kingdom; an island in Greece. These two heroes possessed some similarities and differences.
First, both Gilgamesh and Odysseus were king and ruled over Uruk and Greek island of Ithaca respectively. Also, the two heroes are ordinary men with particular strengths. They make mistakes and experience hardships. The two epics are expressions of the use of knowledge to search for the meaning of life. Gilgamesh and Odysseus find the sense of their lives through trials and tribulations as normal men would do.
Another similarity revealed from the two epics is that the destinies of the heroes are bound to fate. The fate of a hero involved a goal and the completion that gives the hero glory and success. Gilgamesh got kingship and power by the gods. He, therefore, was determined to fulfil his fate and make his name great. As he journeyed the forest, he defeated giant Humbaba and conquered the bull of heaven CITATION The04 \l 1033 (The Epic of Gilgamesh, 2004). Similarly to Odysseus, the father of gods, Zeus, proclaimed that Odysseus would return home to his wife and children. With this command, Odysseus began a quest where he encountered numerous obstacles that include lotus flowers, dangerous Polyphemus, Kyklops and monsters Kharybdis and Skylla. He solved all these problems and continued with his journey CITATION Joh03 \l 1033 (Johnson, 2003).
Gilgamesh and Odysseus were both great warriors who defeated certain people. Odysseus killed Cyclops making god Poseidon take action on him. Similarly, Gilgamesh killed the bull of heaven that was sent to kill him by the gods for his past mistakes.
Gilgamesh and Odysseus experienced several hardships and made some mistakes. They seem to discover themselves, just like any average men as well as Gilgamesh, who did not care whether he lives or dies. They also searched for life’s through knowledge
Both heroes in the epics were given certain strengths. Odysseus had mental strengths while Gilgamesh had physical advantages. Gilgamesh is shown as a self-confident king who had very little compassion for his people, and, therefore, he raped daughters and killed the sons of his people. His actions were attributed to the feelings of superiority from the fact that his mother was Ninsun, a goddess; hence two-thirds a god and one-third human. This is what makes him different from hero Odysseus.
The character of Gilgamesh was that of being courageous and terrifying than all his people of Uruk. Athough he saw himself as a demigod, he was a mortal man and had experienced the death of others and finally his death. He had the same attributes, desires and accomplishments like others. Odysseus’s character was also confident but mostly known for his cunningness, cleverness and being eloquent in speaking. He was a loyal husband who had a goal of going back home from his long journey. Odysseus had a great passion for knowledge and experience which made him a wanderer up to the time of his death. Throughout the epic, his great spirit is shown. Contrary to Gilgamesh, Odysseus received much respect from the start to the end of the story. CITATION Joh03 \l 1033 (Johnson, 2003)
While Odysseus and Gilgamesh go through several hardships, all that happens to Gilgamesh is because of his fault while the struggles of Odysseus are as a result of bad luck
Odysseus sometimes acted cocky to the people he meets while Gilgamesh is portrayed as arrogant. Gilgamesh relied on brute force earning the anger of the gods compared to Odysseus, who is presented as a cunning tactician.
According to CITATION Dio13 \l 1033 (Hawkins, 2013), the two epic texts helps us to understand the cultures of ancient Mesopotamian and Greek cultures. In the epic of Odysseus, values of intelligence are appreciated from the use of wits rather than physical power to overcome enemies. This represents the Greece acknowledgement of the use of intelligence. Similarly, the epic of Gilgamesh enables us to understand values that were important in the early Mesopotamian civilization. An example is the grief of Gilgamesh of the death of Enkidu; his friend. Gilgamesh had to accept his mortality and make most the most out of his life.
In the two epics, the role of the gods is highly personified. Gods choose their favourite mortals and hep the...
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