The Iliad And The Epic Of Gilgamesh

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In the beginning of the Iliad and The Epic of Gilgamesh there are similarities in the behavior of the leading characters. Gilgamesh and Achilles both have problems managing their emotions. For Gilgamesh the issue is in the form of sexual conquest and abuse of power. For Achilles it is pride and fury that causes problems for the hero. It could be said that these behaviors show how the heroes deal with and internalize feelings as well as emotions. Another similarity is how the loss of their comrades causes a transformation in the protagonists. In the Iliad the hero Achilles suffers the loss of his close comrade, Patroclus, and likewise in The Epic of Gilgamesh he experiences the death of Enkidu. The deaths of these comrades serve as a catalyst for the transformation of both the heroes’ behaviors and create awareness of the heroes’ mortality and inevitable deaths which causes them to rethink their lives. The Epic of Gilgamesh begins with him having sexual conquests with the virgin wives of men and fighting for his own entertainment. These are not leadership traits that an effective and good leader should have. The town’s people then talk to the gods and ask for a solution to the problem. This arrives in the form of a blood brother, named Enkidu, who serves as a metaphoric symbol of natural and uncivilized world. Enkidu’s character is very important to the epic because he provides the companionship and balance that Gilgamesh is lacking. Enkidu helps Gilgamesh to control his further sexual exploits by giving him a sense of purpose. Gilgamesh then asks Enkidu if he could assist him on a quest to fight Humbaba. The goal of the journey was to acquire a large amount of cedar wood from the forest in order to build a great wall. The act... ... middle of paper ... ...y. Gilgamesh and Achilles both want to have immortality. Their quest for immortality becomes effected differently by the death of their comrades. Gilgamesh focuses his emotions positively, but Achilles goes into a rage and he kills Hector. Achilles went into a rage, because Patroclus wears Achilles’ armor, battles Hector and dies. When Achilles learns this the emotion of rage ensues and he kills Hector. For Gilgamesh, it is the death of Enkidu that causes fear of death in himself. This leads to Gilgamesh’s quest to travel up a mountain to search for the answer to eternal life. This demonstrates that Gilgamesh becomes a better leader. Achilles becomes more able to control emotions, but not as much as Gilgamesh. Both Gilgamesh and Achilles learn that true immortality is being remembered forever. They learn that sometimes what we seek is not always what is best for us.
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