Oedipus And Gilgamesh Comparison Essay

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The idea of fate has baffled mankind for centuries. Can humans control what happens to them, or is everyone placed in a predestined world designed by a higher power? The Epic of Gilgamesh and Oedipus The King highlight on the notion that no matter what, people cannot control what is destined to occur. Interestingly enough, many other distantly connected cultures had, and have similar gods or goddesses who play a role in the fate of individuals. Oedipus, King of Thebes, was told by the Oracle at Delphi that he would one day kill his father and marry his mother. Determined not to let this prophecy verify his fears, Oedipus does all in his power to prevent this from happening, yet fails. Similarly, Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, attempts to obtain immortality, but fails as well. Gilgamesh's and Oedipus's intense fear and ignorance cause them to try to interfere with their fates, leading to their failures and realization of the futility of trying to control destiny. The characters Oedipus and Gilgamesh are very similar in that they both are fearful of their fates. After the death of his friend Enkidu, Gilgamesh is distraught with worry, asking, "shall I too not lie down like him./And never get up forever and ever?"("The Epic of Gilgamesh" 76). The prospect of laying forever in a grave is not appealing to Gilgamesh. He dreads it so much that he tries to prevent his inevitable fate from happening. Seeing his friend die and rot away has scared Gilgamesh beyond belief. He cannot bear to think of himself being lost forever, not remembered by anyone. Likewise, Oedipus is afraid to fulfill his prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother, making him a sinner not fit to rule his kingdom. He knows that if he commits this horri...

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...s made a mistake and "this sudden illumination (or epiphany) assures us that order and purpose do exist in the universe, even if we cannot fathom the exact nature of that order and purpose"(Markos 39). The world may never know if we have power to control our ultimate destinies or not. However, it is clear in Oedipus the King and The Epic of Gilgamesh that free will does not exist. Oedipus and Gilgamesh are puppets being controlled by the gods above, helpless to exercise free will. No matter what course they take, Oedipus cannot escape from killing his father and marry his mother and Gilgamesh cannot escape death. Nevertheless, their fears cause them to try to manipulate their actions and stop their fates from occurring. It is only a matter of time before these two characters fail in their attempts and realize that trying to control destiny is futile.

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