Comparison Between Beowulf And Gilgamesh. Essay

1480 words - 6 pages

Beowulf and GilgameshThere are many differences and critical comparisons that can be drawnbetween the epics of Beowulf and Gilgamesh. Both are historical poemswhich shape their respected culture and both have major social, cultural,and political impacts on the development of western civilizationliterature and writing. Before any analysis is made, it is vital thatsome kind of a foundation be established so that a further, in-depthexploration of the complex nature of both narratives can be accomplished.The epic of Gilgamesh is an important Middle Eastern literary work,written in cuneiform on 12 clay tablets about 2000 BC. This heroic poem isnamed for its hero, Gilgamesh, a tyrannical Babylonian king who ruled thecity of Uruk, known in the Bible as Erech (now Warka, Iraq). According tothe myth, the gods respond to the prayers of the oppressed citizenry ofUruk and send a wild, brutish man, Enkidu, to challenge Gilgamesh to awrestling match. When the contest ends with neither as a clear victor,Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close friends. They journey together and sharemany adventures. Accounts of their heroism and bravery in slayingdangerous beasts spread to many lands.When the two travelers return to Uruk, Ishtar (guardian deity of the city)proclaims her love for the heroic Gilgamesh. When he rejects her, shesends the Bull of Heaven to destroy the city. Gilgamesh and Enkidu killthe bull, and, as punishment for his participation, the gods doom Enkiduto die. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh seeks out the wise man Utnapishtimto learn the secret of immortality. The sage recounts to Gilgamesh a storyof a great flood (the details of which are so remarkably similar to laterbiblical accounts of the flood that scholars have taken great interest inthis story). After much hesitation, Utnapishtim reveals to Gilgamesh thata plant bestowing eternal youth is in the sea. Gilgamesh dives into thewater and finds the plant but later loses it to a serpent and,disconsolate, returns to Uruk to end his days.This saga was widely studied and translated in ancient times. Biblicalwriters appear to have modeled their account of the friendship of Davidand Jonathan on the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. NumerousGreek writers also incorporated elements found in the Gilgamesh epic intotheir dragon-slaying epics and into stories concerning the close bondbetween Achilles and Patroclus.Gilgamesh is definitely the best known of all ancient Mesopotamian heroes. Numerous tales in the Akkadian language have been told about Gilgamesh, and the whole collection has been described as an odyssey-the odyssey of a king who did not want to die. This is one of the major differences between the heroic characters. Beowulf, in order to achieve immortality through the tales of his bards, must perish in battle to accomplish this task. A similarity between both characters is their desire to obtainimmortality. They both have different techniques in trying to reach theirultimate destination,...

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