Show MoreCivilizations and Heroism in Gilgamesh and Beowulf
Heroism is a theme that has appeared throughout history in the literature of different civilizations. Heroes represent the principles and ideals associated with the varying morals of each individual society. The literature of Mesopotamia and Western Europe is a prime example of this. Beowulf, an Anglo-Germanic tale and The Epic of Gilgamesh, of the Sumerians, demonstrate perfectly, the ability of civilizations to convey the values and customs of their society through their literature. The setting for Beowulf is Scandinavia, before the time Christianity had spread its course. Beowulf, the title character is the hero in this tale. He possesses many of the typical heroic traits…show more content…
He battles Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon. He knowingly risks his life while never backing out of the commitments he made, even when death is inevitable. The heroic traits of Beowulf allow him to achieve the great feats, which he accomplishes in this legend. The character of Beowulf exemplifies the Anglo-Germanic cultural values of a hero. He consistently displays what is of importance morally to this civilization. To this group of people, courage, strength and loyalty were the most important aspects of their culture. Beowulf fights the monster Grendel, knowing that he must do it without any weapons. This kind of strength is strived for by the Anglo-Germanic people. Fighting the mother of Grendel and the dragon, basically by himself, show how courageous of a man he was. Beowulf is loyal to his people as well. As a king, he fights the dragon, who is not directly as much of a threat to Beowulf, but more to the people that he rules over. Knowing the dangers of fighting this beast, he does it out of loyalty for the people who rely on him. Beowulf is a great hero, both by the standards of the Anglo-Germanic people and by the standards of what t takes to be a hero today. Gilgamesh, as a hero, varies from Beowulf, however still represents what is of importance to the culture of which he was created. He is not as pure by the standards of our society today. He still possesses the great strength and courage of a typical hero, however he
Comparison Between Beowulf And Gilgamesh Essay
Beowulf and Gilgamesh
There are many differences and critical comparisons that can be drawn
between the epics of Beowulf and Gilgamesh. Both are historical poems
which shape their respected culture and both have major social, cultural,
and political impacts on the development of western civilization
literature and writing. Before any analysis is made, it is vital that
some kind of a foundation be established so that a further, in-depth
exploration 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 is
named for its hero, Gilgamesh, a tyrannical Babylonian king who ruled the
city of Uruk, known in the Bible as Erech (now Warka, Iraq). According to
the myth, the gods respond to the prayers of the oppressed citizenry of
Uruk and send a wild, brutish man, Enkidu, to challenge Gilgamesh to a
wrestling match. When the contest ends with neither as a clear victor,
Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close friends. They journey together and share
many adventures. Accounts of their heroism and bravery in slaying
dangerous 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, she
sends the Bull of Heaven to destroy the city. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill
the bull, and, as punishment for his participation, the gods doom Enkidu
to die. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh seeks out the wise man Utnapishtim
to learn the secret of immortality. The sage recounts to Gilgamesh a story
of a great flood (the details of which are so remarkably similar to later
biblical accounts of the flood that scholars have taken great interest in
this story). After much hesitation, Utnapishtim reveals to Gilgamesh that
a plant bestowing eternal youth is in the sea. Gilgamesh dives into the
water 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. Biblical
writers appear to have modeled their account of the friendship of David
and Jonathan on the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Numerous
Greek writers also incorporated elements found in the Gilgamesh epic into
their dragon-slaying epics and into stories concerning the close bond
between 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...
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