The Comparison of Gilgamesh and Odysseus Essay
By comparing such literary works as the Epic of Gilgamesh and Odyssey, one can gain valuable insights into the cultures and societies described by the authors.
This paper is aimed at discussing the journeys undertaken by the main characters; in particular one should focus on their motives of the protagonists and the way in which both Gilgamesh and Odysseus were transformed in the course of their adventures. This discussion can throw light on the values and beliefs of people who could live many centuries ago.
At first, it is important to speak about the motives that prompted the epic heroes to leave their homeland. For instance, one can mention that Odysseus was forced to go to the Trojan War. At the very beginning he wanted to remain at Ithaca, but he was compelled to join the army of Agamemnon and Menalaus. In contrast, Gilgamesh was willing to undertake this journey. Moreover, he is driven by several motives.
For instance, he is willing to leave a semi-god called Humbaba because this victory can gain him fame and recognition of other people. On the whole, this example can throw light on the differences between the culture of Ancient Greece and Sumer. The behavior of Odysseus indicates that Greeks emphasized the devotion to home country or family. In turn, the culture of Sumer attached importance to power and glory.
Additionally, it is vital to discuss how the journey affected both Odysseus and Gilgamesh. In the course of his travels, Odysseus encountered many difficulties and in some cases, he had to use cunning, brutal force, and sometimes even cruelty in order to survive and return to Ithaca. Furthermore, he could remain with Calypso. Nevertheless, he remains loyal to his wife Penelope and his homeland.
In turn, Gilgamesh becomes transformed in the course of his adventures. It is difficult for him to accept the idea that he is mortal. In turn, Odysseus does not even try to acquire the status of a deity. Again, the experiences of the main characters can reflect very important differences between the cultures of Greece and Sumer. Greeks recognized the limitations of a human being. Yet, one can say the same thing about Sumerian culture in which individuals could claim the status of a deity.
Special attention should be paid to the role played by female protagonists. Their behavior can also tell the readers about the values and beliefs of different cultures. For instance, Penelope remains faithful to her husband even though he has been absent from Ithaca for many years. More importantly, she rejects the offering of her suitors. This character shows that Greek women were responsible for maintaining families and households.
One can even argue that Penelope’s difficulties are much greater than the challenges faced by Odysseus. The Epic of Gilgamesh gives a different portrayal of women. For instance, Ishtar falls in love with Gilgamesh. However, the protagonist is afraid of her. Moreover, the readers should take into account that unlike Gilgamesh, Ishtar is a deity. So, it is possible to say that the culture of Sumer culture could give a very high social status to women.
Overall, the comparison of these literary works can increase readers’ understanding of Sumer or ancient Greek culture. Homer’s epic indicates at such values as marital fidelity, devotion to homeland, and acceptance of human limitations, especially mortality. In turn, the Epic of Gilgamesh stresses power, fame, and recognition of others.
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