Odysseus vs. Gilgamesh Essay

1464 Words Dec 18th, 2007 6 Pages
The epic poems The Odyssey, written by Homer, and Gilgamesh, translated by David Ferry, feature the struggles and triumphs of two epic heroes, Odysseus and Gilgamesh. Epic heroes exemplify six common traits. They are all strong fighters, complete with physical beauty and intimidation. The epic hero is dangerous yet protects ordinary people. There is always an encounter with death and the cosmos. They are superhuman, but they are not supernatural, although they come in contact with the supernatural. There are struggles with overwhelming difficulties while on a quest for self-discovery or some sort of goal, however all ordeals are overcome by quick intellect. Despite all the difficulties and obstacles, epic heroes always return from an …show more content…
Odysseus does not leave his men behind when they are in the land of the Lotus Eaters. They all eat the lotus flower, which causes them to forget their homecoming and inspires them to stay on the island forever. Odysseus pulls his men from the island despite their protests. Gilgamesh is also a protector of the people in his city of Uruk. He is called "the wise shepherd and protector of the people". Near death encounters and interaction with the supernatural is also a common trait with these heroes. Odysseus encounters gods and goddesses throughout the entire epic. Athena becomes his protector and Poseidon seeks revenge and attempts to kill Odysseus several times. Besides these encounters, Odysseus is seduced by Calypso and Circe. Gilgamesh challenges the gods as well. Ishtar becomes enraged when Gilgamesh refuses her as a mistress and sends the Bull of Heaven to kill him. The sun god, Shamash, is also a protector of Gilgamesh and assists in the killing of Humbaba. The supernatural presence is evident in almost every action inhibited by these heroes. Intellect is one final similarity between these two heroes. Odysseus trick the Cyclops called Polyphemus when he gets him drunk and stabs him in the eye, shortly after introducing himself as "Nobody". He is able to make a quick escape from the island. Gilgamesh uses intellect as well when he challenges the beast Humbaba, only attacking when his cloaks of fear are at its minimal. Besides all these similarities

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