Stories have been around since the beginning of time as a way to communicate ideas, past experiences and history passed down from generation to generation. According to the presentation in class a hero story deals with adventures, a fight/ quest and a transformation. In the stories of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey both characters possess different and similar qualities involving the characteristic of a traditional hero story.
A hero story by definition “Informs the reader that a hero is setting out from an everyday home to pursue an adventure where he defeats a shadowy presence, enters death, pass tests and receives aid, after gaining a reward the hero returns home transformed. ” Gilgamesh portrays a very astute, handsome and masculine mortal, which at the beginning of his story is a greedy dictator that takes for his own pleasure regardless of who he offends.
After becoming friends with Enkidu, who was sent to originally stop his evil wrongdoings, Gilgamesh started showing the characteristics that corresponded to an epic hero. He started doing worthy actions that involved him conquering Humbaba and vanquishing the Bull of Heaven, these acts began making him seem more immortal. Gilgamesh began accomplishing treacherous journeys; such as when he and Enkidu built a raft and sailed back to Uruk and when they battled the Bull of Heaven after he rejected the oncoming’s of Ishtrake.
He went into the underworld to find Enkidu after he was sent to death from the Gods for disobeying the advances of the goddess of love. Gilgamesh passes all twelve levels of the underworld, receives the answer to life and in return for overcoming such obstacles and gaining fame, he receives immortality and never has to fear death. Odysseus in The Odyssey faces many trials and tribulations throughout his life. A hero must be willing to have courage, must be noble, and must have great strength.
Odysseus has remarkable intelligence and this helps him throughout his journeys when he is put into treacherous situations that test him. Odysseus is a very good speaker and is incredibly unscrupulous when it comes to persuading people. He shows his heroic capabilities when in book 9 he needed to use quick thinking to overcome the obstacles that involved escaping the Cyclops cave, or in book 23 when the playing of a wedding tune helped Odysseus hide the death of the possible suitors.
Odysseus’s goal is to ultimately accomplish glory, and return home to his love. As seen in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, Ulysses Everett McGill was a proud leader that was on a quest to get his wife back and accomplished many hazardous journeys along the way. Odysseus is much like Everett where he goes on a long quest, faces temptation with Calypso, overcomes the wrath and obstacles of Poseidon and the Cyclops. After finally returning home to his love he must conquer another obstacle where he must out preform the current suitors for his wife’s love.
After defeating the suitors he finally makes his way into the chambers of his wife and shows his intelligence and loyalty when he answers her riddle about the bed being built around their bed so as to where it can never be moved. Both Odysseus and Gilgamesh possess many characteristics that show them both being heroic. Through both stories, the main characters accomplish great feats and overcome many obstacles that show their willingness to face and conquer enemies, face temptation and show their courage in dangerous situations.
Where Gilgamesh travels to the underworld and is rewarded with immortality he faced death and loss where at the end he was transformed into a new person, Odysseus is faced with temptation and ultimately must conquer many opponents and challenges to return back to his wife, which was his ultimate goal. Both characters accomplish their goals and face many obstacles in their journeys. Odysseus is incredibly swayed by temptation and fame, he constantly fails to overcome temptation when he stayed with Calypso, or when he had his men tie him to a pole and listen to the sirens sing.
Odysseus became reckless when he put his men in a situation to risk their lives and he lost his men because of his own selfish desire to conquer. Gilgamesh lost Enkidu when the Gods made him ill after Gilgamesh and Enkidu fought and defeated the Bull of 1. In return he began his journey to find his friend in the underworld, Gilgamesh made the ultimate journey because he went to the underworld, found his friend, and then returned. In doing so, instead of being rewarded with his true love like Odysseus was, Gilgamesh was rewarded with the ultimate achievement, immortality.
In conclusion, in the stories of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey both characters possess different and similar qualities involving the characteristic of a traditional hero story. Both Odysseus in The Odyssey and Gilgamesh portray many hero-like qualities, and are face with many obstacles in their path. Overall Gilgamesh is more hero-like because he makes the ultimate quest to the underworld and returns, he also starts off as a manipulative, heathen of a dictator and after his many journeys and quests he returns home a transformed being.