Gilgamesh, written by David Ferry, illustrates a story about a man who knows everything, but continues to try and learn more. Although Gilgamesh may be arrogant, he still remains a great ruler and commander of Uruk. Throughout the book, the adventures of Gilgamesh fit Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey. After analyzing the pieces to the hero’s journey, Gilgamesh is proven to be a true hero because his journey parallels that of the hero’s journey described by Campbell. The latter part of this paper will prove Gilgamesh is a hero using Campbell’s model, by analyzing the pieces of the hero’s journey: separation or departure, the initiation, and the return.
Gilgamesh was a powerful king of Uruk an ancient city in Sumer now known as Iraq. Created by the gods, Gilgamesh was 2/3 god and 1/3 man he thought of himself as undefeatable, and carried himself immorally, taking advantage of his people. Being tired of this the people of Uruk began sobbing, and the goddess Aruru heard their cries and created Gilgamesh 's equal Enkidu. Together they would go on to venture into battles, one of which leads to the death of Enkidu that brings Gilgamesh to his very own journey to find immortality. This epic demonstrates the traits identified by the renown American psychologist Joseph Campbell in the story lines of the hero 's journey.
“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is a didactic story set out to expose the inevitability of death. The true meaning of this story is sometimes overlooked because the story is told in heighten language not easily understood. The epic hero in this story is Gilgamesh; he undertakes a quest for knowledge which is overshadowed by his ignorance. The tragic death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s trusted companion forces the epic hero to change his perception of death. To overcome great obstacles one must be willing to put their ignorance aside. Tzvi Abusch’s analyzes “The Epic of Gilgamesh” in his article “The development and meaning of the Epic of Gilgamesh”. Abusch’s explication of Gilgamesh’s identity, friendship, achievements and ignorance towards death lacks substance.
In 1949, Joseph Campbell published his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” It details his theory of the “monomyth,” a theory that illustrates how many heroic mythological stories have similar outlines and archetypes. During his discussion of the second chapter of the monomyth, Campbell says that the monomyth can “serve as a general pattern for men and women” in their everyday lives (121). In many circumstances, comparisons can be made between normal situations throughout life and the monomyth. When a challenge of task is encountered in life, it can be analyzed under the three main stages of the monomyth: the departure, the initiation, and the return.
During the course of this World Literature class, several stories have been covered that accurately describe Joseph Campbell's mono-myth, or basic pattern found in narratives from every corner of the world. The Hero's Journey in it's entirety has seventeen stages or steps, but if boiled down can be described in three; the departure, the initiation, and the return (Monomyth Cycle). Each stage has several steps, but the cycle describes the hero starting in his initial state, encountering something to change him, and this his return as a changed person. To further explain this concept, there are a few stories covered in this class that can be used.
The Hero’s journey, or in its more correct terminology the Monomyth is an object from the area of comparative mythology. Its definition in the most basic of forms, it is a pattern or outline that is used in storytelling, usually the myth. This pattern is found in many famous pieces from all around the world. In the book The Hero with a Thousand Faces from 1949 by author Joseph Campbell, this pattern is described in detail. Campbell describes that numerous myths from different times and areas of the world seem to share an identical structure in their storytelling. He summarized this with a well-known quote found at the intro of his book:
Joseph Campbell’s ten archetypal heroic traits appear in many literary protagonists. Physical strength, eloquence, leadership, and ties to supernatural forces are characteristics that are pervasive among heroes. King Gilgamesh, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, possesses the Campbellian traits of unmatched physical strength, confident leadership, and ties to gods. Whereas in the case of Telemachus in Homer’s Telemecheia, the young prince has not matured to Gilgamesh’s prominence, but several of Campbell’s attributes become apparent in the story. As Telemachus undergoes his journey, he
One of the most fascinating pieces of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, deals with and explores many of the problems humans have wrestled with for thousands of years. Even though the text does not explicitly answer any of the questions it poses, it gives clues that point to the answers. One of these questions, the dilemma of whether to act based solely on a person’s intuition or act based on reason and advice, occurs regularly in the text. Throughout The Epic of Gilgamesh, characters have success and failure when they act based on either their intuition or using reason, but the epic clearly points out, through examples, that acting based on reason instead of intuition constitutes more success in all facets of life.
Perhaps one of the main reasons the Epic of Gilgamesh is so popular and has lasted such a long time, is because it offers insight into the human concerns of people four thousand years ago, many of which are still relevant today. Some of these human concerns found in the book that are still applicable today include: the fear and concerns people have in relation to death, overwhelming desires to be immortal, and the impact a friendship has on a person’s life. It does not take a great deal of insight into The Epic of Gilgamesh for a person to locate these themes in the story, and even less introspection to relate to them.
The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey both are held in high respect by literature analysts and historians alike for the characterization of the hero and his companion, the imagery brought to mind when one of them is read, and the impressive length in relation to the time period it was written in. The similarities that these two epics share do not end with only those three; in fact, the comparability of these works extend to even the information on the author and the archetypes used. However, The Odyssey and The Epic of Gilgamesh contrast from one another in their writing styles, character details, and main ideas. Both epics weave together a story of a lost man who must find his way, but the path of their stories contrast from one another.
The two Homeric epics, the Illiad and The Epic of Gilgamesh, both contain a Hero’s Journey. They show the readers a look into heroic life during the time of the Trojan War. Achilles and Gilgamesh’s Heroic Journeys are not identical, however the characteristics and qualities of them is what holds the similarities. The two characters have a compelling outlook on death, and immortality. They seek different end results; however, their relationship with death is the same. They are considered a hero on a Hero’s Journey, as they fulfill the mandatory requirements. Their journey changed them from people of negativity to people who have been refined
In The Epic of Gilgamesh the lines that are repeated at the beginning and end of the epic show that only immortality a human can gain lies in creating things that last beyond a person’s lifetime. While at the beginning of the epic Gilgamesh is seeking eternal life, when he concludes his journey he realizes that he has created an enduring legend through the foundation of his city, Uruk. Through this legend, Gilgamesh can live on in the memory of his people, long after he has passed away. The epic is able to convey this message multiple ways. The opening lines immediately introduce and impress upon the audience the importance of Gilgamesh, and the significance of his kingship. The epic continues on to describe the city of Uruk, with special consideration given to the walls surrounding Uruk. 3. Finally, the ending repetition of the lines shows that Gilgamesh has become aware of the legacy he has created in Uruk, and and accepts that in lieu of immortality. okay so these are the three? points you are talking about in your paper? make sure they match up with your paragraphs proving them and are not so vague
The archetype of the Hero’s Journey holds a prevalent pattern in the works of “Initiation” by Sylvia Plath, “A & P” by John Updike, and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. These works all follow the 17 stages of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth which are separated in three stages; separation, initiation, and return. The main characters have different characterizations; however, they all follow the basic structure of the Hero’s journey archetype. There are many similarities and differences between the stages that are shown through many context clues and literary devices in each work. The Hero’s Journey archetype expressed in these literary works follow a similar and direct narrative pattern.
The maturation of Gilgamesh and his desire to acquire wisdom throughout his journey is quite apparent. By overcoming difficulties such as upholding Uruk, becoming friends with Enkidu, and various other scenarios, Gilgamesh proves that he did in fact grow up throughout the epic.
The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odysseus both are poems that have since early times been viewed as stories that teach the reader valuable life lessons, almost like a self-help book in today’s society. They both teach a lot of the same general lessons but there are some key similarities and differences throughout both works. Such as perseverance, and the inevitability of death are both lessons that are taught in each poem but they are presented to the reader through different interpretations. In the Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey there are two main characters both viewed as heroic figures in which the develop a greater knowledge of human mankind and immorality.