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Comparing the Hero in Epic of Gilgamesh and Homer's Iliad

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The Hero in Epic of Gilgamesh and the Iliad

'One and the same lot for the man who hangs back
and the man who battles hard. The same honor waits
for the coward and the brave. They both go down to Death,
the fighter who shirks, the one who works to exhaustion.' (IX,385-88)

Thus muses Achilles, one of epic poetry's greatest heroes. Epic poetry, one of the earliest forms of literature, began as an oral narration describing a series of mythical or historic events. Eventually, these stories were written down and read aloud to an audience. Although the Epic of Gilgamesh was composed approximately fifteen hundred years prior to the Iliad, the heroes of both epics possess strikingly similar characteristics. Indeed, Gilgamesh and Achilles, as epic heroes, exemplify godlike qualities, great personal power, and fierce pride and loyalty.

      In Gilgamesh, we find a hero who is created by the gods; yet he is part human:  "Two thirds they made him god and one third man" (14).  He seeks the protection of the gods and draws upon their wise counsel. Achilles ...

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