Odyssey And Epic Of Gilgamesh Essay Example
The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey are two epic literatures whose setting can be traced to ancient times. The Epic of Gilgamesh can be traced to the beginning of civilization in Mesopotamia, which occurred around 3000 BC. The Odyssey was composed around 700 BC. The two stories share some significant similarities, which imply that one of the stories must have influenced the other. Gilgamesh is the older story, and odyssey must have drawn some significant inspiration and influence from it. The similarities between the two stories do not imply that they are similar or one influenced the other directly or indirectly, but they provide a strong basis for undertaking a comparison of the two stories.
The Odyssey is set in the post Trojan war era. It represents Odysseus' struggle to return home after the end of the war. He encounters numerous challenges such as fighting mystical creatures, which earn him the wrath of the gods. Odysseus has been away from home for 20 years, but his wife, Penelope is optimistic that he will return home. She is constantly harassed by suitors who want to marry her, but she stalls them off by pretending to weave a burial shroud for her father in-law, which she undoes at night to ensure that the weaving continues indefinitely. Odysseus' son, Telemachus is the only heir of his property, but the suitors have devoured his father’s wealth and constantly derided and taunted him in the many years they waited for Penelope’s decision.
The story contains several main characters: Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus, Zeus, and Athena among other characters. The three main characters: Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus are the protagonists, but in different settings within the story. Odysseus is a hero. He was the king of Ithaca kingdom, and one of the most prominent leaders in the Trojan War. He had a sharp mind, which he portrayed in cunning ways. At war, he was a great warrior, he outdoes the Cyclops, and he is devoted to the gods and offers them proper sacrifice and duty. Penelope is also a hero since she is strong witted, beautiful, virtuous, and faithful to her husband. She is also quite intelligent; she fools the suitors for years, weaving a never-ending shroud. She is also hospitable; she treats the beggar, odysseus, with honor. Telemachus, a young man at the start, grows to be more assertive in the kingdom. He confronts the suitors and even slays the evil ones and defends the abuse of his father’s estate. The suitors and the disloyal servants are the main antagonists in the story. They wish and assume Odysseus’ death with the aim of marrying his wife and inheriting all his wealth. In the end, they are massacred when Odysseus returns.
In Odyssey, the author uses dynamic characters and direct exposition to explain the different characters. In the story, the main characters develop, interact with other characters, and develop the themes in the story. For instance, Odysseus is used to develop the theme of conflict and revenge. The conflict, which results from god Poseidon’s revenge against Odysseus, makes him not return home for 10 years. In the ten years, suitors come to woo his wife; they overstep the hospitality boundary and devour his property, taunt his son, and sleep with the servant girls. The resolution starts when Odysseus returns to Ithaca, but he disguises himself as a beggar, only revealing himself to his son. When the suitors get tired of Penelope’s delay tactics, they demand a final resolution and she devices a clever plan, the trial of the bow. She promised to marry anyone who can handle Odysseus’s great bow, but only Odysseus, who is disguised as a beggar and treated horribly by the suitors can. In the climax, Odysseus reveals himself, takes the bow and easily shoots through the twelve rings, and begins a massacre. Odysseus, Telemachus, and his loyal servants are aided by goddess Athena to kill all the suitors and disloyal servants. The massacre resolves the conflict.
Hospitality, loyalty and faithfulness, perseverance, vengeance and revenge, and appearance versus reality are the main ideas/ themes in the story. The themes provide critical lessons to the reader. A critical lesson to learn is that hospitality should never be overstepped. The suitors in the story overstepped Penelope’s with catastrophic consequences. The suitors overstepped their welcome, to the extent of treating Odysseus horribly, which triggered his vengeance against all the suitors and disloyal servants.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is set in the ancient Mesopotamia. The story is based on Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, the modern day Iraq. The story narrates the adventures of Gilgamesh with Enkindu, a wild man. It outlines his onerous journey across the world in the search of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. The story contains several themes: family, friend ship, and responsibilities of kings, but the major on is the human being’s never-ending struggle with the fear of death.
Gilgamesh and Enkindu are the main characters in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and they also act as the protagonists in the story. The two undertake an expedition to the Spring of Youth, beat the Bull of Heaven, and kill Humbaba, a monster. Gilgamesh is portrayed as a demigod, and among the mortals, he is the wisest, strongest, and most handsome. In an earth-shuttering battle, he overcomes his friend, Engidu who was fashioned by Aruru to be his antagonist. After the battle, they become inseparable friends and companions in their heroic endeavors, which they undertake together until Enkindu’s death. Engidu is also a demigod, who Aruru shapes to be Gilgamesh’s antagonist. The main antagonists in the story are death, fate, and the gods. Death is Gilgamesh’s antagonist, and the gods created death, implying that the gods are his true antagonists. His conflict with the gods is well portrayed in the story; in their fight with Humbaba, Enkidu urges him to kill the monster fast before the gods can find out. Gilgamesh also insults Ishtar, a goddess and he gangs up with Enkidu to kill the Bull of Heaven. Gilgamesh is not an enemy of all the gods; he adores god Shamash, but there is a significant conflict between him and the divinities, or may be what the divinities represent, fate.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the author also uses dynamic characters and direct exposition to explain the different characters. The main conflict in the story is Gilgamesh’s struggle to avoid death. The first part of the poem captures Gilgamesh uniting with Enkindu, his friend on an expedition to make a great name for himself. In the journey, several events occur, which result in the wrath of the gods. Gilgamesh experiences several conflicts, which include a conflict with the gods, the Bull of Heaven, and Humbaba. He also has challenges coping with his friend’s death and overcoming his fear of death. The climax is the death of Enkidu, which sends him on a journey that will educate and mature him. Unfortunately, despite the maturation journey, Gilgamesh cannot overcome his antagonists; he must learn to live with them.
The major themes in the story are maturation, friendship, adventure, desire for immortality, excessive pride, and the respect for nature. The themes provide critical reason, the main one being that all actions have a consequence. Out of pride and the need to build his reputation, Gilgamesh recklessly challenges Humbaba, which results in the death of Enkidu, a death that overwhelms him. In the modern society, the story is visible through reckless human actions, which have led to the destruction of the atmosphere and resulted in such global problems as global warming.
Comparison of Odysseus and Gilgamesh
In the two stories, both Odysseus and Gilgamesh are true heroes, but they are from different periods and settings. Odysseus was a hero in early Greece while Gilgamesh was a hero in ancient Mesopotamia. The two set on a journey to search life’s true meaning. The most common aspects, which emerge from the journeys, are bravery and prowess of each of the characters. In the Odyssey, the journey is of Odysseus trying to return home to his family after the Trojan War. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh, a demigod sets on a journey to boost his fame. In the stories, the characters are displayed as people with exceptional skills, but they also had their weakness that they had to conquer in order to achieve their missions in their journeys.
Both Odysseus and Gilgamesh had supernatural mental, physical, and spiritual powers. Gilgamesh was endowed with physical power while Odysseus had mental strength. Odysseus is one of the most celebrated heroes in Greek mythology. He was a great hero who was renowned for his prowess, bravery, and wise character. He also had a great physique. As a character, Odysseus first analyzed situations rather than act unconsciously like Gilgamesh. He had a patient character, which is one of his greatest attributes; this is well displayed on his return, when he disguises himself as a beggar. He withstands his wife’s suitors’ harsh treatment, and reveals his true identity at the most appropriate time during his journey. The two were careful with the way they used their strengths, but at times, they were reckless with the use of their power. For instance, Gilgamesh is seen as proud and fast to react, which often results in reckless and poorly thought actions; he recklessly attacks Humbaba, an action that results in the death of Enkidu. His action reveals that choices and actions have consequences. His decision to attack Humbaba had dire consequences, which would have been avoided if he was not proud and took time to analyze his actions.
In conclusion, both Odyssey and Epic of Gilgamesh are great epics. The stories are set on different period and locations, but they have significant similarities. It is not clear whether the similarities imply that one was based on the other, more so considering the significant time different between their authorship. The stories are interesting to read and their analysis reveal critical life lessons, which are relevant to date. The themes from the two stories such as hospitality, loyalty, perseverance, vengeance, pride, respect for nature, family, and desire for immortality are quite conspicuous in many stories to date. The stories also offer valuable lesson to the modern world; every action and decision has a consequence, and some consequences are quite dire. Human actions and decisions need to be well-thought to reduce the negative consequences.