Many people believe that comparing Gilgamesh and Odysseus is an impossible task. This is because they are two characters from different cultures who have entirely different stories to tell, yet there are some similarities between the two. In this essay, we will compare these men in terms of their journeys, motivations for wanting to be immortal, and how they deal with death when it comes knocking on their doors.
Introduction: Mythical Characters and Their Heroic Qualities
In literature, mythical characters have often represented personal qualities and ways of living in society. They also represent human characteristics such as bravery, vengeance, and indifference.
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The Odyssey and the Epic of Gilgamesh, two of the most well-known mythical texts that ascribe heroic features, are examples of this. Comparing various legendary fighters from literature can assist you in comprehending their varied qualities and martial ideals. This paper compares Odysseus and Gilgamesh to see what their similarities and differences are.
Gilgamesh and Odysseus: Compare and Contrast
Gilgamesh was written by Shin-Eqi-Unninni, while the text about Odyssey was composed by Homer. Gilgamesh and Odysseus have qualities such as friendliness, bravery, and heroism in common. Odysseus had a hereditary right to the throne and governed Ithaca with impartiality, ruthlessness, and diplomatic talents.
The hero, Gilgamesh, is a king of Uruk in Babylonia who has physical strength and power above humans. He was given the name of the goring wild bull because he was an oppressor (George). Taking a look at Homer’s Odyssey, one can see that he was a hero because of his unclouded spirituality and power to face difficulties. He sailed far, reached north, anchored the ships in Hangar, where Eurylochus, who was second in command of Odysseus, prepared a male and female sheep for sacrifice.
The people of the river, after praying for the dead, sacrificed the sheep to them and buried the rest in a pit that had been dug with shadows of the dead gathering around. It was a practice designed to establish contact with the dead, who brought messages for the living and were respected and given sacrifices. Despite knowing about all of Odysseus’ problems (Louden), he has been observed to accept it (Louden).
Her wife, mother, and other family members opposed her husband when he was sailing to find out who his father was. But he persisted in his goal, displaying a courageous quality. There are several memorable things said about Odysseus in the Odyssey that demonstrate his high standards and magnificent insights. This is made clear by the passage. The text says, “‘Stand back, put up your weapon; let me only taste blood.’ I’ll speak the truth.’ Book 11, lines 106-7 (Louden). On the occasion of animal slaughter by Odysseus, his mother delivered the following dialogue.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, for example, we learn that the hero is one-third god and two-thirds human. The character of Gilgamesh is a supernatural power in the narrative. He’s not only brave and resilient like Odysseus, but he’s also inexplicably trusted by his people. Gilgamesh used his strength to ensure the food security of his nation.
For instance, he dug wells and made barren land cultivable for his people, offering them with space for agriculture and paving the way through mountains and creating passes for access. He also built strong walls around Uruk for his citizens. Gilgamesh had a thirst for glory when it came to doctrinal matters (George).
On one eventful occasion, Gilgamesh, accompanied by Enkidu, ventured into the forbidden forest. They chop down the trees and kill Humbaba, a bloodthirsty monster, with the aid of Shamash’s divine assistance. The most fascinating aspect of Gilgamesh’s story is that he was initially scorned by the people but eventually succeeded in living an illustrious joyful existence. Following his courageous example, Gilgamesh said these words to his followers:
“Live your life to the fullest until death comes. Make each day a pleasure and enjoy yourself while you still have time. Bathe and anoint yourself, wear bright clothes that are sparkling clean, let music and dancing fill your house, love the kid who holds you by the hand, and give your wife pleasure in your embrace: that is the greatest way for a guy to live” (George 83). These words were spoken by Gilgamesh to emphasize man’s true nature, displaying his fortitude and command following his own experience (George 83).
In both ancient mythology, the two crucial figures in Gilgamesh vs Odysseus have contrasting qualities that shed light on the varied function of a hero. Both heroes share bravery and divine assistance (Launderville).
In ancient Mesopotamia, a man’s success or failure was determined by his strength and character. A hero’s good characteristics might be conformed to the account of the hero in question, whereas bad ones were not considered as important. In order to prevent being removed from their position as king due to Lord Enkidu’s following Gilgamesh can go back into retirement as an old sage after returning home from Uruk with Erechtheus’ head (George). Odysseus differs from Gilgamesh in this aspect completely.
The parallels between Odysseus and Gilgamesh are quite apparent when their goals are realized. Both of them have a feeling of urgency, are for a cause, and represent an ideology. Odysseus is seen as clever yet loyal to his wife and child, whereas Gilgamesh strives to be everlasting, giving “heroism” cultural significance in both Sagas (Louden).
Enkidu, by being compatible with him and his family, educates Gilgamesh about the value of love. The death of Enkidu’s companion transforms the way that Gilgamesh views existence. Enkidu and Gilgamesh are similar in that they both understand that when the gods get angry, they become extraordinarily violent. Ea is a deity who personifies knowledge and crafts (Callen King).
Gilgamesh is presented as an overpowering hero and a brave, noble warrior. And the plant of youth’s vulnerability, as well as his friend’s death, reveal Gilgamesh to be just human—and there are no black or white areas in a person’s reaction; only grey ones exist in Gilgamesh’s attitude. Did Golems control him? Or did the gods allow him to act freely on his own volition? Which makes for a good question: was he free to do anything he wanted?
Gilgamesh begins his adventure, while Odysseus has been on a journey from the start of the text. Both men play a significant role in their respective legends, both being endowed with supernatural abilities by gods. The epic poems were initially written to extol their heros. While Gilgamesh is an example of a supernatural force, Odysseus stands out as a superior strategist. His entrance into the territories of the enemy was unquestionably courageous. And, despite facing difficult circumstances and emerging as triumphant (Launderville).
Gilgamesh and Odysseus: Common Themes
Both epics share a common theme: the bravery of heroes. They are people with exceptional power and dominance. The heroes provide us with unbridled strength in mind, as well as an understanding of physical toughness in general. Both characters confront death, bravely and honorably facing difficulties faced by Odysseus’ family as a result of his journey to find knowledge and money. Both protagonists rebel against tyranny and tyrants.
With his lesson on the truth of man’s mortality, Gilgamesh succeeds. He also recognized that no matter how great one’s accomplishments are, or how godlike as far as Gilgamesh is concerned, one must value the smaller pleasures in life. It only took Gilgamesh a single day to realize that everyone has to find their life’s meaning.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu advises Gilgamesh to “Kill the beast now, Gilgamesh. Show no feeble or ridiculous compassion towards such a crafty opponent.” Taking his advice, Gilgamesh cuts down the beast.
Though Athena’s divine help, as well as Telemachus and a few herdsmen, Odysseus kills all of the suitors. The katabasis is generally understood to be a journey to the supernatural underworld. In this case, the trip to the lower world (Launderville).
This essay compared Gilgamesh and Odysseus, two well-known characters from epics. In conclusion, it can be seen that Odysseus vs Gilgamesh are two legendary heroes from Greek mythology. Both mythical heroes have demonstrated that everyone has the ability to assume tasks and learn from their mistakes.
In short, the prevalent idea behind both mythical texts is that those qualities of bravery can be acquired by anybody who is prepared to face difficulties. Odysseus, on the other hand, differs from Gilgamesh in several ways. For one thing, the latter is a schemer , while the former typically has a soft spot for those around him.
The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey are two of the most amazing epic poems ever written, with main characters facing impossible obstacles. The Epic of Gilgamesh was composed in Mesopotamia during the 20th to 10th centuries BCE. He is one of the first known literary works, having been created in Mesopotamia during the 20th century BCE. In 725 BCE., Greece produced The Odyssey, which was written in Homeric Greek and performed more than read (Mastin, 2009a). In both these epic poems, the hero must undertake perilous quests and adventures in order to accomplish their goal. Their exploits and tales are a lesson in the meaning of a real hero and what qualities every guy should possess.
In both of these lengthy epics, Gilgamesh and Odysseus are required to face hazardous missions in order to continue. He is compared to a wild beast by Humbaba, a demon-ogre who is the guardian of the sacred Cedar Forest. Odysseus lands on the island of the Cyclopes and is imprisoned in a cave, where he must devise a means for escaping with his crew. Even though his friends and mother urged him not to, Gilgamesh went ahead and murdered the watchtower’s guardian so that he might make a name for himself.
On the other hand, Odysseus was attempting to save his troops from being eaten by a cyclops, and he devised a strategy to blind the creature and flee with his surviving men. Both men have tremendous talents and shortcomings, such as raw strength and bravery, whereas Gilgamesh has both beauty and hatred among his people because he takes rest with their wives. Odysseus’ wits and eloquence might assist him in difficult situations, but he was also a good liar, which he put to use on numerous occasions.
In these legendary novels, the major characters were accompanied by someone during their exploits and travels. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu was a wild-man who was created by the Aruru, goddess of creation. Enkidu was more like a beast than a human, but Gilgamesh recruited a prostitute to spend time with him in order to turn him into a man and get rid of his association with the animals. They aren’t really buddies until they fight one another, at which point it’s beneficial to Gilgamesh’s evolution.
Gilgamesh disliked the way he treated women, and after a wedding party when he attempted to have sex with the new bride Enkidu stopped him. They fought, but Enkidu was defeated and instead of taking his life, Gilgamesh spared it and learnt from this lesson about his shortcomings, thus becoming a better person. Odysseus would travel by himself in the Odyssey with members of his crew as friends who accompanied him on his journey (Mastin, 2009b).
These men would continue Odysseus’s adventures from one to the next, there would always be difficulties and he would have to rescue them over and over, but they would also perish. They’d go extinct due to hazardous pursuits or even be transformed into pigs by a witch. Obviously, when Odysseus arrived home at last, he would be the last of his crew to survive all of their misadventures.
Then there was the difference in how they traveled, and that’s not even including their routes. The journey of Gilgamesh and the Humbaba is one that should have been avoided. This trip was solely Gilgamesh’s decision to go out and kill the beast for his name to live on in history, despite protests from his buddy Enkidu. Since it’s no place for humans, Enkidu tries to persuade him otherwise.
This is done for fame and also to demonstrate that deities who forbid it may be defied by a human. Odysseus’ trip was not planned, but rather when he was trying to return home. Many individuals, even gods, participate in his adventures, attempting to prevent him on his journey and forcing him to go through an additional trial only concerned with surviving long enough to see his family again.
The Mesopotamians worshiped many gods, and it was extremely significant to them in their everyday lives. Even with Gilgamesh, he sought counsel and help from the gods to gain approval for his plans. The deities would create animals that were either good or bad but that people would worship. Humbaba, the guardian of the cedar forest slain by Gilgamesh at the end of the tale, is an example of this.
In the Greek culture, Odysseus is a hero who suffered and triumphed. Many gods were worshipped in the Greeks’ belief system, but they were not as reliant on them to interfere. He would be put to the test and pushed farther and farther away from his family, yet he would triumph over the obstacles placed in his path by demonstrating his skills, knowledge, and even frailties. This was typical of Greek culture, which everyman aspired to achieve. It doesn’t say that Odysseus prayed for assistance from the gods; instead it shows how man may overcome and prevail despite adversity.
This is evident throughout the world even in today’s culture and ideals. There are many individuals all over the world who turn to a higher power for advice and believe they’re being tested in their own endeavors. People admire and try to be like various heroes and role models, which they look up to and aspire to have similar qualities as. Strength isn’t the only thing that makes a decent guy or woman; it’s also about all of the other traits that will help them overcome adversity and continue on their path.
Themes from the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey are well-known abstract epics from two distinct eras. With the growing popularity of composition, it’s become quite common to investigate characters who give off a feel of being causes for specific features in compositions.
The idea that the two characters are combined into Gilgamesh originated in early Mesopotamia and the Odyssey in early Greece. Gilgamesh is a Greek manifestation of perfection given to humanity, while Odysseus is the Mesopotamian image of activity and excellence. The link between them has an impact on both history and culture, as well as how people lived their lives.
But Odysseus, the mythological figure from Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, was the founding father of Ithaca. He was one of the most recognizable Greek warriors during the Trojan War. Odysseus had a lot of mental capacity that was frequently displayed in his gut feeling and essential conversation.
Both of these guys had certain characteristics that allowed them to be leaders. Gilgamesh had physical qualities, while Odysseus had mental ones. Gilgamesh was a very confident guy who frequently provoked himself to have little regard for the all-inclusive community of Uruk throughout the tale.
Both The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey are revered by literary critics and historians, with the hero and his buddy, the imagery evoked when one of them is read, and the great length in terms of time period it was created in all being considered.
The similarities that these two epics share extend far beyond the aforementioned three; in fact, the information on the author and the archetypes employed is also comparable. The Odyssey, on the other hand, differs from The Epic of Gilgamesh in terms of its style of writing, character details, and major ideas. Both epics tell a tale about a person who must find his or her way home after losing his or her memory.
The most essential parallel between The Odyssey and The Epic of Gilgamesh is the sharing of the main character’s archetype. Odysseus, the protagonist of The Odyssey, and Gilgamesh, the protagonist of The Epic of Gilgamesh, are both heroes who rule over their realms in order to preserve them.
The phrase “two peas in a pod” is used to describe these two individuals who are exactly the same; they both had the characteristics of a hero. Both Odysseus and Gilgamesh were kings, brave, and endowed with superhuman powers. They also defied a god and incurred divine punishment. Poseidon was furious with Odysseus in The Odyssey, forcing him to alter his course.
The death of Enkidu as a result of Gilgamesh’s anger is recorded in The Epic of Gilgamesh ( “The Epic of Gilgamesh” 29). Both Gilgamesh and Odysseus had qualities of pride, which triggered their hubris.
For instance, the archetypes employed, the settings, and the themes are a few of several comparisons that can be drawn between The Odyssey and The Epic of Gilgamesh. However, the most significant resemblance is that both of these epics are timeless; they have been transmitted down through generations over thousands of years, and they will continue to be studied for many years to come.