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The Epic Of Gilgamesh Essay

1932 words - 8 pages

Character is built in several different ways. Some may view character as how one handles a certain hectic situation or how well one person treats another. A true definition character contains these elements, but one’s character is built and developed mainly on how one picks and chooses his time to act and his time to wait. This definition refers to restraint and discipline. Gilgamesh and Homer’s The Odyssey uses many instances in which the main characters must use incredible restraint to protect not only themselves, but also the ones they care for and love. Although both stories use this theme of self-control and discipline to develop certain personalities, each one tells a different account of how these characters are viewed by their fellow men and women and the rewards that come from showing the traits of restraint and self-will. In Gilgamesh, the character that holds back and exhibits patience is viewed as a coward, as Gilgamesh believes, and is a sign of a lack of bravery and confidence. The way that patience is portrayed in Gilgamesh reflects how the society of the time feels about everything in their lives. The author of this story wants the reader to believe that one must not hesitate and must act decisively and quickly. Opposing this belief, Odysseus holds back emotions of rage and homesickness in order to complete the task at hand. Homer, living in Greek society, understood that his people thought more about the problem before coming to a quick conclusion and then acting on it impulsively. So, although both stories repeat the concepts of self-restraint and discipline as character building qualities, they differ in the way that these attributes build or weaken a personality.
The story of Gilgamesh begins in the ancient Middle East, a land that was mainly war-faring and used “take by force” tactics to gain leadership, power, and fame. Since this was the prevailing opinions, the authors, few may it be, tended to define their heroes as men of quick, vicious action. Those who hesitated were run over by those who didn’t. Character was built based on one’s ability to act quickly and without uncertainty. Gilgamesh was involved in several situations in which he could choose to wait and act later or push forward and complete the task at hand. Gilgamesh’s brother, Enkidu, also did not use restraint in several of his performances. The very first instance of Enkidu doing such is when he is tempted by the harlot. Enkidu is half man and half beast when this happens. “There he is. Now, woman, make your breasts bare, have no shame, do not delay, but welcome his love… She was not ashamed to take him, she made herself naked and welcomed his eagerness” (Gilgamesh 20). Enkidu did not refrain in the least from leaving his animal ways to go to the tempting woman.
When he tried to return to the beast after his six days of passion, they rejected him, for he was now fully human. Because of his lack of will-power, Enkidu lost his life in the wild, but he...

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