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In this paper, students were to explain how Gilgamesh exemplifies characteristics of an epic hero.
Gilgamesh as an Epic Hero
The epic of Gilgamesh is a wonderful piece of literature portraying the main character, Gilgamesh, as a strong powerful leader who is two-thirds God and stronger than any other King alive. He was truly a hero showing skill, intelligence, valor, reverence, and a respect for death. He goes fearlessly into battle to rid the world of harmful beasts and travels to distant lands to find answers that will help the people of his city. He looks to God for his strength during battle and shows respect for everyone he meets along his journeys. Gilgamesh’s friendship with Enkidu shows his loyalty to people who show respect for his city and for himself. The following illustrations will prove that Gilgamesh was truly a hero.
Gilgamesh was a historical king of Uruk in Sumer in the Middle East around 2700 B.C. His legend is chronicled in the myth today known as the "Epic of Gilgamesh." The term "epic" refers to a long poem about a hero's saga. Just as in modern novels by Tolstoy or Charles Dickens, the epic hero's life story plays out against a vast cultural and historical panorama. Gilgamesh's circumstances are consistent with those of most epic heroes: He is himself part divine, he interacts with gods and goddesses, and his story involves a series of adventures and superhuman victories. During his adventures, Gilgamesh is on a quest to find the secrets of immortality.
A Divine Birth
The epic opens with praise for Gilgamesh's accomplishments and the statement: "I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh." The unnamed narrator goes on to describe the city of Uruk, suggesting that the burnt brick walls and the masonry are of great excellence. We then learn that Gilgamesh is two-thirds god and one-third man. This is a very pivotal fact and the key to all of the specific accomplishments and adventures to follow: It makes Gilgamesh heroic. The only problem is that his human heritage means that he must face mortality and die. An important theme is revealed here: Life without death would not offer the meaning it does.