Beowulf and Gilgamesh

2014 Words Feb 27th, 2006 9 Pages
Comparative English Essay

Compare the Beowulf poet's presentation of the battles with Grendel and his mother with the Gilgamesh poet's depiction of Gilgamesh' battles with Huwawa and the Bull of Heaven.

Fame and glory have been the most admirable characteristics in the middle Ages and even before Christ in the ancient civilizations. The epics of Gilgamesh and Beowulf are stories of heroism and immortality gained through fame. The aim of the main characters, Beowulf and Gilgamesh, is to be a good warrior by being courageous, respectful and prudent, a protector and servant to their king (only in the beginning of Beowulf, as he later becomes king and Gilgamesh already is) and their country. In both poems the fights of the main characters
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Enkidu and Gilgamesh can only win against nature and even gods by cooperating, which again is a sign of culture. It shows us that a civilization can withstand everything and even fight the Gods plans.

In the Beowulf poem the battle scenes are described more vividly descriptive and including a lot of symbolism. The first fight is between Beowulf and Grendel, "a fiend out of hell, […] grim demon haunting the marches, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens; he had dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters, Clain's clan, whom the Creator had outlawed and condemned as outcasts." (p. 6) Beowulf sets out to kill this monster in order to achieve fame. He isn't forced to do so, especially as Grendel doesn't attack the Geats (his clan) but the Danes. Nevertheless Beowulf settles out to destroy the demon and declares that he will fight Grendel there is a feast: "Now I mean to be a match for Grendel, settle the outcome in single combat." (p. 15) Afterwards there is a feast in Hereot and at dusk Beowulf prepares for the fight and awaits Grendel's attack. "Then down the brave man lay with his bolster under his head and his whole company of sea rovers at rest beside him." Beowulf's companions stay at his side and this is a symbol for their closed circle of society. The Germanic culture is based on the
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