Comparison of Gilgamesh and Achilles Essay example
1574 WordsNov 16th, 20137 Pages
Every mythological hero seems to be on a journey in search of the thing he desires most in the world. The two heroes who stood out to me were Gilgamesh, and Achilles. Gilgamesh’s greatest fear was death, while Achilles feared his legacy being lost and forgotten. Technically their desires are different, but their journey share many similarities, and in the end, boils down to the same thing. Each man in his own way, both Gilgamesh and Achilles desired immortality above all else. Though immortality takes on very a different meaning for Gilgamesh, as it does for Achilles, every decision as well as all the sacrifices they make, are based on their fear of death and dying. Gilgamesh’s journey for immortality begins with the death of Enkidu.…show more content…
Then there is Achilles who so greatly feared being forgotten, he went to war knowing without a shadow of a doubt, that he would never return home. Both Gilgamesh and Achilles have a female character that offers wisdom and tries to sway the hero from his foolish journey. Achilles has his mother Thetis who warns him of his impending doom, and tries to convince him to stay in Greece and enjoy his life. It would have been a long and happy life filled with progeny, and he would want for nothing.(2) But she could not sway him from his course. Gilgamesh meets the veiled tavern keeper named Siduri. She warns him that seeking immortality is futile and that he should be satisfied with the pleasures of this world. However, she also fails to turn him away from his purpose.(1) The heroes seem to view a normal mortal life with distain. Even without using modern values when considering the choices, a happy mortal life does not seem like a bad deal. Plus nowhere did it say that their mortal lives would be boring. These men are both kings, they would never need to worry about poverty, and an endless array of beautiful women would eagerly flock to their side. For any rational person weighing the pros and cons of both sides; face certain death and a life cut short for the chance of immortality. Or live a long and happy life with the certainty of death, I believe most
Both Enkidu and Gilgamesh are heroic figures, forming a sort of intermediary class between human and divine. Although they do not have the power and immortality of the gods, they are more powerful than ordinary humans. Gilgamesh is directly descended from the gods, and Enkidu was fashioned by the gods.
Both are larger and stronger than ordinary mortals and capable of superhuman feats of athletic and martial prowess. Their characters and emotions, whether lust, joy, rage, or sorrow, also have a quality of grandeur. They live a life of grand passions rather than the everyday petty annoyances experienced by most humans (Gilgamesh grieves over the death of his friend instead of being frustrated by rush hour traffic). This grandeur and power make them a potential threat or challenge to the gods, who do not wish to be usurped or treated as equals by mortals and see mortals aspiring to a level of greatness that approaches the divine as a challenge.
Both Enkidu and Gilgamesh have sexual relationships with women, but these are fleeting and insignificant; their most important relationship is their "bromance." Enkidu is closer to nature than Gilgamesh and less corrupted by wealth and luxury, and thus he has a much strong sense of ethics. Gilgamesh is the more arrogant of the two, but on the other hand, that is partly justified as he is the king of Uruk.
Perhaps the most important difference is that Gilgamesh is based on an actual historical king who appears in the Sumerian king lists, while Enkidu is a fictional character.