Essay on Ledership Comparsion between Machiavelli and Gilgamesh

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Machiavelli wrote one of the most influential treatises on leadership that is still utilized in politics and management today. One of the defining conceptions he explores is locating a balance between being virtuous and righteous and practicing carefully selected deceit and cunning. Gilgamesh’s exhibition of leadership is much more primordial and archetypal, yet does more to highlight the inherent tragedy and emotional trauma present in such high-stakes situations. Ultimately, the differences in leadership between the two is a product of radically different eras, in which the notions of power and the state were at opposite ends of a spectrum, as were the structures that organize people.
For all of Machiavelli’s ruthlessness and espousal of deceit, he knew the value of authenticity and relying on his administration. A true leader cannot achieve greatness alone. Machiavelli says that the prince is the state, and the state is the prince. This means that whatever vision and principles the leader holds in the highest regard, they must be known to the state so that they can be realized. He believed that no matter how a prince was elected, his success would depend largely on his ministers. Collaboration between a prince and ministers would create an atmosphere of harmony and camaraderie, highly reducing the chances of rebellion. Without the support and cooperation of the people, military action is not possible, expansion is not possible and most importantly, governance is not possible. If a leader does not satisfy the needs of the people, they have the power to overthrow him through strength in numbers. Thus, a leader depends just as much on the people as they do on him. A leader must be able to convince the people to buy into his visio...

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... and assume the role of a normal and, therefore, effective ruler. This is achieved upon Gilgamesh's recognition that Utnapishtim is no more than a normal man, who received immortality not because of his heroic acts, but because he was obedient to the command of his god: “Said Gilgamesh to him, to Uta-napishti the Distant: “I look at you, Uta-napishti: your form is no different, you are just like me, you are not any different, you are just like me” (89).
At first Machiavelli would consider Gilgamesh a subpar leader because he lacks the sophistication, intelligence, and empathy, to rid himself of the quest for personal glory in favor of a more communal responsibility. This is the key to his growth. Once he abandons his quest for immortality, he becomes grounded in reality and ascends to the role of a leader that can actually have a positive influence on his people.

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