What Is Means To Be Human? Comparing The Epic Of Gilgamesh With The Odyssey

1233 words - 5 pages

What it means to be human"The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege (Charles Kuralt.)" The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest surviving work of literature in the world with the story dating back over three thousand years ago. Most versions read today are from circa 1200 BCE which is around 400 years older than Homers "The Odyssey." Even though these epics were written so far apart, they tell the stories of two men finding out what means the most to them in life. With Gods interfering, temptresses, and giant monsters attacking them, they journey through their quests transforming into different people from whence they first began. In the end though, they realize they just want to be loved and be with the ones who understand them most which is what everyone ultimately wants out of life.When comparing the two epic heroes, it becomes apparent that Homer had to have been influenced by The Epic of Gilgamesh before creating The Odyssey because of how similar the heroes and plot summaries are. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero Gilgamesh is quoted as "two-thirds of him was divine, one-third of him was human (1.50)," "wise in all things (1.04)," "perfect in strength (1.36)," and "he was perfection in height, Ideally handsome(1.53-54)." Gilgamesh was the strongest and most handsome man in the world, King of Uruk with goddesses throwing themselves at him, could best any man or obstacles thrown his way. Odysseus is like Gilgamesh in that he is said to be an "Ithacan hero (2.269)", "Godlike Odysseus (2.282)", "a man who made sure of his words and deeds (2.295-296)," and a great warrior who had goddesses wanting him for themselves, but unlike Gilgamesh, Odysseus was very clever and a "dear friend (4.177)." The Odyssey states that "No man could match Odysseus for cunning... master of all strategies (3.132)," that he was "a wise leader with a flexible mind (3.180)," and that "knows every trick there is (1.221)." However, Odysseus has a wife and son who he longs to be with again and the goddess Athena watching over him, while Gilgamesh longs for a companion to spend his time with since he only has his mother watching over him.In each text, the heroes face off against uncivilized monsters, lose people who are close to their hearts, have influential women in their life, and journey to the end of the world for advice. Through each experience, both heroes grow and learn from their actions, transforming them into different people from who they originally started out as. Gilgamesh is described as a ruthless ruler from the start."Gilgamesh would leave no son to his father, day and night he would rampage fiercely. This was the shepherd of ramparted Uruk, this was the people's shepherd, bold, superb, accomplished, and mature! Gilgamesh would leave no girl to her mother! The warrior's daughter, the young man's spouse (1.60-.66)."It is only after losing his best friend Enkidu and traveling to the edges of earth in search...

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