The Epic of Gilgamesh has many similarities to The Legend of King Arthur. Although Gilgamesh and King Arthur have comparison they also have differences. The main difference is that one is an Epic and the other is a Legend. To compare and contrast The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Legend of King Arthor, one must first know what the words, “Epic” and “Legend” mean. Primarily, “epic” is a long narrative poem about the deeds of a semi-god, also known as a superhuman hero who’s actions are depended on as the fate of a nation, tribe or a human race.
This usually consists of an adventure filled plot and is concerned with timeless human problems such as honour, jealousy, war and hatred. These contain gods and goddesses and the setting is fixed in a far distant place at a time long past. Epics are based on legends and myths. Secondly, “legend” consists of a protagonist (superman) who manages to solve some problems that a group of people have encountered. This too consists of an adventure filled plot. In knowing the words, epic and legend there is now a better comprehension of these wondrous stories.
The Legend of King Arthur is in comparison to The Epic of Gilgamesh because Arthur’s closest companion was Merlin, and Gilgamesh’s closest companion was Enkidu and neither Gilgamesh nor Arthur forgot their friends. Enkidu only came in contact with Gilgamesh after becoming a man. Enkidu released the animals from the hunter’s traps when they ere caught, so to make him a man the prostitute slept with him so that the animals would be ashamed of him and reject him. King Arthur became aware of Merlin when he was a young man.
When Arthur was born Merlin placed him in the care of Sir Ector, throughout his boyhood Arthur learned the ways of chivalry, knighthood and how to become a gentleman. At the tournament one day Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone and this is what brought upon Arthur meeting Merlin once again. In The Legend of King Arthur, Merlin exclaimed, “it is the doom of men if they forget. ” Gilgamesh along with Enkidu together fought and killed Humbaba, protector of the Cedar forest, and the Bull of Heaven, sent as punishment to Gilgamesh for killing Humbaba. King Arthur nor Gilgamesh forgot their faithful friends.
King Arthur fought many battles with Merlin at his side, supporting him using magic to help Arthur gain a better understanding of the world. After Enkidu died, Gilgamesh searched a long time before finding the secret of eternal life, but he was unable to return it to Enkidu to restore his life to him. When Merlin was frozen from Morganna’s twisted magic, King Arthur thought that Merlin deserted him, this is so because Merlin told Arthur that he was not going to help him anymore. One day Arthur needed Merlin’s guidance and so Arthur called out Merlin’s name, this in turn brought Merlin to him.
This is one way in which The Legend of King Arthur and The Epic of Gilgamesh are similar. Another substantial similarity is that Gilgamesh was part god and the people of England considered King Arthur to be somewhat of a god. This is true because when Arthur became king, Camelot prospered and was born again. Merlin said that Arthur and the land were one. Arthur was like the land because when he became king the land was rich and good. When Morganna, in the form of Guenevier, conceived a child with King Arthur, the land was practically dead.
To replenish his strength and the land, Arthur needed to drink from the Holy Grail. When Bevidere recovered the Holy Grail, he brought it to King Arthur to drink from, it nursed him back to health and the earth was prosperous once again. This is why King Arthur was considered a god. This resembles The Epic of Gilgamesh because Gilgamesh was one-third human and two-thirds god. Gilgamesh was able to do what no man could do; he traveled to Mashu passed the Scorpion people to see his spiritual father, ancestor in the apotropaic sense, to find the secret to eternal life to try to bring Enkidu back to life.
King Arthur was considered a god to his people and Gilgamesh was part god. Although there are many similarities between The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Legend of King Arthur, there are also many differences. One main difference is that Gilgamesh was a tyrant and Arthur was a hero. Gilgamesh thought that he was better then every body else for this he did not allow the brides to sleep with their husbands until Gilgamesh was with them first.
Gilgamesh split Uruk up, the elders stayed at the marketplace, the animals were less than people, there were not any hunting laws. Because Enkidu freed the animals from the hunter’s traps Gilgamesh sent a prostitute to make Enkidu a man so that the animals would not accept him. King Arthur was a hero because he believed in the equality of man. Instead of being at the head of the table he made all the knights sit at the round table so that there was an equivalency among the knights and their mistresses.
King Arthur slept only with and what he thought to be his wife. This is one reason why The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Legend of King Arthur are distinct. In conclusion there are many distinct comparisons as well as contrasts that have been previously emphasized. Some of which include the diverse contrast of the type of literary writing and the correspondence of the faithful companions of both Gilgamesh and King Arthur. This is why The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Legend of King Arthur are the same yet unlike.