Ulysses and Gilgamesh Essay
The following is a comparison of two characters, Ulysses and Gilgamesh. Both are characters of epic stories where Ulysses is the main character of the Homer’s epic, who is one of the most famous heroes of the Greek epos. He is also known to the general public as Odysseus.
Ulysses is shown as a brave warrior who participates in the fight against the Trojans, in the Trojan War. Gilgamesh on the other hand is a character of Andrew George’s epic, which is a translation of the Sumerian mythology so that people in the modern world can understand it.
Gilgamesh is an adored icon in the Sumerian society , he was a hero and many perceived him to be a god (George 56). The following is a brief comparison between the two characters on their similarities their differences with each other.
Ulysses is a demigod as per his contemporaries, who viewed him with a lot of admiration. He goes to war with the Trojans and he leads the Greeks to victory. However, the god of the sea holds him back when on his returning to Ithaca and this means that his long awaiting return leaves his fanatics disappointed.
On the other hand, the suitors who concluded that Ulysses died are wooing his wife. Gilgamesh is also a hero in the Sumerian world (George 45). The writers refer to him as to one who surpassed all the kings and who was certainly a hero in the Sumerian world.
The two texts are probably descriptions of the two ancient worlds, and for the purpose of this essay it is important to analyze what could happen if the two heroes meet each other, and what would they talk about. What kind of discussion would Ulysses and Gilgamesh of Sumerian have?
First of all, they would talk of their different geographical locations and its beauty, Ulysses is from Ithaca whereas Gilgamesh is from Mesopotamia, where people practiced Agriculture, and regions that are considered to be the homelands of ancient civilization. Ulysses would talk about Greece as a land of mythology where people loved to think (Homer 67).
They would also have a lively discussion about war and how they had fought many battles. Ulysses would speak of the long battles with long time enemies of his people. He would talk about how he led his people during war against Trojans, and about many perils they experienced in the sea. Gilgamesh would seemingly be listening to Ulysses, but he would be in deep immersed in his own reverie about many battles he fought, especially the one he fought with Humbadda and how he won it.
They would also talk about many journeys. Gilgamesh would certainly talk about his journey with Ekiddu to meet the Upa-nishti so that he can be immortalized, and how he stayed in cold forests, and his encounters with wild animals, as well as how the long journey took him. Ulysses would also share with his interlocutor the story about many journeys he met on his way home.
He would also talk about how they met the beautiful sirens. This would include how he was tied to the pole so that even after hearing their beautiful music he would not jump into the sea to go to them. He would also tell about how he was held captive by the god of the sea. (Homer 80).
Then they would talk about their encounters with gods, Ulysses would tell how he met the god of the sea and how he was able to interact with him. He would also talk about how the god of the sea held him captive even after expressing his desire to go back to his family. Gilgamesh would also narrate of how he was disappointed when he finally met Uta-nipishti after his long journey, and how Upa-nishti denied him immortality, and he therefore had to return to Uruk, his homeland.
They would finally have to chat about their lives after failing to achieve what they wanted to achieve. After his late homecoming to Ithaca, Ulysses cannot be celebrated anymore, he also feels disappointed that he found his wife very old. He narrates to Gilgamesh how he decided to go back to the sea and explore the seas once again. This is how he finally puts as described by Homer “Though much is taken, much abides and though, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Gilgamesh would also tell about what he decided to do after he was denied immortality even after fighting hard and spending his youth in pursuit of immortality (Homer 29). Gilgamesh has a sad ending because even after he was given a plant to renew his youth by Upa-nishti, he decides to test its effectiveness on a dying snake which shads its skin to youthfulness, but he lost the opportunity to revive his youth and relive his life again. He recalls with tears.
That is what a discussion could be between the two heroes. It could also be emotional as they recuperate their victories and their lows. The two characters are indeed heroes of the fictional world and they characterize the heroes of the ancient world.
George, Andrew. The Epic of Gilgamesh, London: Penguin Classics, 2000. Print.
Homer. The Odyssey. London: Penguin Modern Classics Paperback, 2000. Print.
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