Life and Death: A comparison of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter

Life and Death: A comparison of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter

Length: 1402 words (4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Studies have shown that throughout the world, different cultures have similar and dissimilar views concerning a variety of topics. Of the most widely discussed topics, life and death are by far two of the most important and influential for any culture. The ancient Greek Homeric Hymn to Demeter and the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh are perfect examples of cultures views on life and the afterlife. In this paper, I will attempt to demonstrate the views of both cultures on life and death, as well prove how these views influenced the daily lives and beliefs of the people who followed these ideas. The afterlife has always intrigued and terrified human beings and as a result, has influenced even the earliest of texts.

    Life has always been an important theme of literature. As mortals, we are preoccupied with the short amount of time we have available to us. While there are many aspects of life that are important to all living beings, certain themes presented in the texts are the bonds between loved ones and the importance of agriculture. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter presents life as something to be enjoyed and cherished, as it may soon be taken away from us. In the case of hymn, even as a goddess, Persephone was still taken from her mother, the goddess Demeter, to the underworld.  As life is short, the text demonstrates that the bond between a mother and her child, as well as a woman and her friends, should be strong. Relationships between the mother and the child are highly emphasized in this text, as Demeter mourns Persephone's descent into the underworld to the point that she is willing to end the lives of humankind by keeping the harvest from growing and causing all vegetation to die. "For mortals she ordained...


... middle of paper ...


...very being on Earth. They are unavoidable truths which make up existence and the lack thereof. Surrounded by fear and speculation, every culture has their own theories as to how each occur and what affect it has on the individual. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and the epic of Gilgamesh, life, death and the ways these affected the cultures in question are described in great detail. These texts, while describing the experiences of gods and heros, also provide a sense of order for the mortal individual who is also seeking the answers to life's greatest questions.

Bibliography

-The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Helene P Foley, trans. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

-Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others, Stephanie Dalley trans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

NOTE: Endnotes didn't copy and paste... sorry.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Evolution of Lilith’s Image Essay

- Images of biblical women have been used for centuries but some are much more controversial than others. One of the most infamous women associated with the bible is only directly mentioned in the bible once. Lilith is a woman whose story stems from Babylonian myths, demonology, and was the answer to a conflict in the Jewish creation story. She first appears in the folklore and more importantly the story of Gilgamesh, her story has grown into a femme fatale. The effect of social constructs on the interpretation of femme fatale archetypes such as Lilith are evident in the comparison of Lilith’s mythological beginnings to sexualized representation in Gabriel Rossetti’s painting L...   [tags: bible, gilgamesh]

Powerful Essays
922 words (2.6 pages)

The Epic Of Gilgamesh And The Inevitability Of Death Essay

- The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Inevitability of Death As mortal human beings, our lives have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We are born, we live, and we die. But what happens to us after we die. Do our souls separate from our physical bodies and ascend somewhere above the clouds to a place a lovely as the Heavens. Or have our souls been tarnished with mal-content and wrong-doing, thus condemning ourselves to a fate as demonic as Hell. Or perhaps there is nothing that awaits us after death, and our bodies simply decompose, returning to the Earth....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic poetry, Death, Atra-Hasis]

Powerful Essays
965 words (2.8 pages)

Philosophy of Death in The Epic of Gilgamesh, Apology, The Satyricon, The Iliad, and The Martyrdom of Perpetua

- The only things in life that cannot be avoided are taxes and death. In fact, death is the only way one can avoid taxes. Since it has such finality to it, what perspectives do people have regarding death. What are the images and attitudes they have. The documents The Epic of Gilgamesh, Apology, The Satyricon, The Iliad, and The Martyrdom of Perpetua are the most important documents of the Ancient world concerning Western philosophy on death. These documents are significant because the attitudes and images associated with each work are primarily influenced by the genre it which they were written....   [tags: death, gilgamesh, the liad, satan]

Powerful Essays
2136 words (6.1 pages)

Beowulf Vs. Gilgamesh : A Comparison Of Equally Epic Proportions Essay example

- Christopher McNutt Dr. Cantrell EN 207.002 12 November 2014 Beowulf vs. Gilgamesh: A Comparison of Equally Epic Proportions When modern readers think of the term “epic hero”, names such as Superman, Batman, and even real life figures such as LeBron James, AJ McCarron, and countless others instantly come into play. All of them have many similarities; they are all “larger-than-life” heroes who display many epic characteristics such as bravery, might, and supreme confidence. However, each is unique in his/her own way....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic poetry, Beowulf, Enkidu]

Powerful Essays
1222 words (3.5 pages)

Gilgamesh And The Epic Of Gilgamesh Essay

- The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem that was one of the first works of literature, from ancient Mesopotamia. The epic main character is Gilgamesh, and Enkidu. Gilgamesh is two-thirds god and one-third human and he is the king of Uruk. Despite being the protector of the city, he is a rapist and the gods send Enkidu to defeat Gilgamesh. However, when they meet and battle they become commendable friends afterwards. Together they go on several journeys throughout the first half of the epic and once Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh spends the second half of the epic searching for eternal life....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar, Mesopotamia]

Powerful Essays
1269 words (3.6 pages)

Death and Immortality in The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Death and Immortality in The Epic of Gilgamesh The search for immortality has been a major concern for many men and women all throughout history. True love and immortality in life would be a dream come true to many. To spend time with a special someone, the person one feels closest to, and never have to say good-bye would greatly appeal to most people. But when death steps into the picture, even with all the pain and devastation, one starts to re-evaluate themselves. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh explores the possibility of immortality following the saddening death of his friend and brother, Enkidu....   [tags: The Epic of Gilgamesh]

Powerful Essays
1379 words (3.9 pages)

Love and Death in The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Love and Death in The Epic of Gilgamesh Abstract: The most interesting stories invariably are about love and death. These two themes underlie the Epic of Gilgamesh, a mythic tale of the quest for immortality. Gilgamesh, profoundly affected by the death of his friend Enkidu at the hands of the gods, questions the injustice of life. Finding no answer, he of course tries to change—indeed, eliminate—the question by seeking immortality. The following essay examines Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s relationship, and the effect of Enkidu’s death on Gilgamesh....   [tags: Epic Gilgamesh]

Powerful Essays
785 words (2.2 pages)

Struggling with Death in The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Struggling with Death in The Epic of Gilgamesh In the ?Epic of Gilgamesh,. Gilgamesh deals with an issue that nearly destroyed him. He sought after immortality so much that he put his own life on the edge. Centuries later, this quest unites our high tech, fast paced culture with the remote and different culture of Gilgamesh. Humanity has yet to find the secret of letting go of the idea of everlasting life. Many people today hold on to the topic of immortality because they find it so difficult to say goodbye to a loved one....   [tags: Papers Gilgamesh Essays]

Powerful Essays
568 words (1.6 pages)

Essay on A Comparison of the Flood of Genesis and Gilgamesh

- A Comparison of the Flood of Genesis and Gilgamesh A good number of people know the famous story of the Genesis flood, but do they know how it resembles to the Gilgamesh flood story. It is mind bending how the main stories are so alike. The main theme is the biggest similarity between the two. They also differ greatly in the smaller details in the events that take place. In both stories the number of days for events are different, but the same basic event takes place. Along with many other similarities and differences....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
1428 words (4.1 pages)

A Comparison of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Scriptures Essay

- A Comparison of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Scriptures The Hebrew Flood story of Noah and his obligation to preserve man kind after God had punished all living creatures for their inequities parallels The Epic of Gilgamesh in several ways. Even though these two compilations are passed on orally at different times in history the similarities and differences invoke deliberation when these stories are compared. Numerous underlining themes are illustrated throughout each story. Humans are guilty of transgressions and must be punished, God or Gods send a flood as punishment to destroy this evil race, a person is selected by the gods to build a craft that will withstand the flood and al...   [tags: Hebrew Flood Story Scripture Gilgamesh Essays]

Powerful Essays
1297 words (3.7 pages)