A Critical Appraisal of: Beowulf and Gilgamesh Essay examples

1640 Words Oct 19th, 1999 7 Pages
A Critical Appraisal of: 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
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Much like Beowulf, there is, however, no historical evidence for the exploits narrated in poems and the epic. The Ninevite version of the epic begins with a prologue in praise of
Gilgamesh, part divine and part human, the great builder and warrior, knower of all things on land and sea. In order to curb Gilgamesh's seemingly harsh rule, the god Anu caused the creation of a Enkidu, a wild man who at first lived among animals. Soon, however, Enkidu was initiated into the ways of city life and traveled to Uruk, where Gilgamesh awaited him. Tablet II describes a trial of strength between the two men in which Gilgamesh was the victor; thereafter,
Enkidu was the friend and companion (in Sumerian texts, the servant) of
Gilgamesh. In Tablets III-V the two men set out together against Huwawa
(Humbaba), the divinely appointed guardian of a remote cedar forest, but the rest of the engagement is not recorded in the surviving fragments. In Tablet VI Gilgamesh, who had returned to Uruk, rejected the marriage proposal of Ishtar, the goddess of love, and then, with Enkidu's aid, killed the divine bull that she had sent to destroy him. Tablet VII begins with Enkidu's account of a dream in which the gods Anu, Ea, and Shamash decided that he must die for slaying the bull. Enkidu then fell ill and dreamed of the "house of dust" that awaited him. Gilgamesh's lament for his friend and the state funeral
of

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