The Search for Destiny in The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid

The Search for Destiny in The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid

Length: 995 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Search for Destiny in The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid

The search for destiny is reflected in the literary works such as "The Epic of Gilgamesh", Homer's "The Odyssey", and Virgil's "The Aeneid". The hero of each story travels to the land of the dead in order to satisfy their individual needs. And even though each one has a different motive for the journey, they share two things in common. First, each hero seeks to know something about his future or destiny. And second, their finds are not exactly what they were looking for. The nature of the quests into the underworld by the heroes Gilgamesh, Odysseus, and Aeneas range from immortality, happiness, and the need to know he is doing the right things in life but respectfully discover emptiness, sadness, and judgement.
After his friend Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh realizes that death is also imminent for him since he is part human. Thus, terrified of his future, Gilgamesh journeys into the underworld in search of immortality but instead finds

emptiness. Gilgamesh believes Utnapishtim, who resides in the underworld, holds the secret to avoiding death, since he himself was given immortality by the gods after the "Great Flood".
However, Gilgamesh finds the underworld to be empty. This emptiness is foreseen in his journey through the league of caves. Shamash flat out tells Gilgamesh that he won't find what he is looking for. But Gilgamesh is also given more subtle warnings. For instance, Siduri asks Gilgamesh why he is "in search of the wind" (38). Furthermore, the caves have "no light"; foreseeing that Utnapishtim will have no knowledge or secret about immortality (37). And the author repeatedly writes "nothing ahead and nothing behind" (37). This implies tha...

... middle of paper ...


Homer. "The Odyssey". Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. The Norton
Anthology: World Masterpieces. 7th ed. Vol.1. Ed. Sara Lawall. New York: Norton, 1999. 209-514

Norman, Dorothy. The Hero: Myth/Image/Symbol. New York:
World Publishing Company, 1969.

The Odyssey. Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky. Perf. Armand
Assante, Greta Scacchi, Isabella Rossellini, Vanessa Williams. Videocassette. Hallmark, 1997

Sanders, Nancy K., Trans. "Gilgamesh". The Norton
Anthology: World Masterpieces. 7th ed. Vol.1. Ed.Sara Lawall. New York: Norton, 1999. 16-46.

Thompson, Diane. Gilgamesh Study Guide. 07 July 1999.
Online. Internet. 10 Feb. 2000. Available:

Virgil. "The Aeneid". Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. The Norton
Anthology: World Masterpieces. 7th ed. Vol.1. Ed. Sara Lawall. New York: Norton, 1999. 814-895

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Epic of Gilgamesh is Truly an Epic Essay

- An epic is an extensive narrative poem celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero. There are several main characteristics that make up an epic as a literary genre. First is that, it contains an epic hero, its hero searches for immortality (but doesn't find it physically, only through fame), it delivers an historical message, it is a long poem that tells a story, and the gods or other supernatural beings are interested and involved. The Epic of Gilgamesh is classified as an epic because it fits all the characteristics of an epic as a literary genre....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Good Essays
1815 words (5.2 pages)

Essay on A True Hero in the Epic of Gigamesh

- ... His hero's strength is tested in battle, and his wits are challenged by his obstacles, but ultimately, the tale relays the story of how a flawed hero attains wisdom. Turning to The Iliad, Achilles is a character best known for his invincibility which came from his mother dipping him in the River Styx, holding him by the heel. The drawback was, in the case of him being shot in the heel, the wound would be fatal. Although Achilles possessed superhuman strength and carried a close relationship with the gods, he may strike modern readers as less than heroic....   [tags: mortal, fear, death, glory, peace]

Good Essays
1683 words (4.8 pages)

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Tragic Hero

- Beowulf as Tragic Hero By definition, a tragic hero is a protagonist that due to some tragic flaw loses everything he has. Throughout history, literature has always been filled with main characters possessing some tragic flaw. In Macbeth, Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his enormous ambition to become king. In Hamlet, Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his need for revenge for the death of his father at the hands of his uncle. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh’s tragic flaw is his need to be remembered. In the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, Beowulf also has a tragic flaw, excessive pride and the search for fame, which ultimately leads to his demise....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]

Good Essays
1434 words (4.1 pages)

The Journey Of Two Archetypal Heroes Essay

- The Journey of Two Archetypal Heroes The hero’s quest is a literary spectacle that proved to be versatile in its key ideas, as the plot has shown up in ancient texts, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, and continues to form the basis of the literary works of international writers. In Mesopotamia, the first literary work that represented the hero’s quest was established and the scripture read about a conceited king, Gilgamesh, ultimately facing and escaping the perils of death for the time being only to be reborn, in a mental sense, as a new ruler that finally understands why the gods would grant him absolute supremacy over the people of Mesopotamia....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Hero, Enkidu, Humbaba]

Good Essays
1508 words (4.3 pages)

The Search for Immortality in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- The fear of death and the search for eternal life is a cultural universal. The ideology surrounding immortality transcends time and a plethora of cultures. The theme, immortality appears in stories from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was composed by ancient Sumerians roughly around 600 B.C., to present day works of fiction in the twenty first century. Gilgamesh, a figure of celestial stature, allows his mortal side to whittle away his power after the death of Enkidu. Undeniably, defenseless before the validity of his own end, he leaves Uruk and begins a quest for Utnapishtim; the mortal man who withstood the great deluge and was granted immortality by the gods (Freeman 36)....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh Essays]

Good Essays
1509 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on The Search For Eternal Life In the Epic of Gilgamesh

- Grieving for days, lost in thoughts, and stricken with immense sadness and loss of direction, Gilgamesh laments for days over the loss of his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh shouts aloud the following statement in regards to his current state of bereavement: “Me. Will I too not die like Enkidu. Sorrow has come into my belly. I fear death; I roam over the hills. I will seize the road; quickly I will go to the house of Utnapishtim, offspring of Ubaratutu” (Gardner Tablet IX 2-7). Gilgamesh so much feared death that he threw away his honor as a warrior in order to obtain immortality....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh Essays]

Good Essays
1847 words (5.3 pages)

Epic Of A Local Hero By Amir Gilan Essay

- In his “Epic and History in Hittite Anatolia: In Search of a Local Hero,” Amir Gilan cites Richard Martin’s argument, that while “epic cannot be pinned down to a specific textual or performance style,” it is nevertheless “in almost every situation…intricately interwoven with myths, folktales, wisdom-proverbs and praise poety” (51). There are thus certain mythic traits that such epics necessarily share. Consider Gilan’s example of the epic hero. Quoting Irad Malkin, he asserts that “’[t]he return of Odysseus…must have been on the minds of historical Greeks when they were sailing beyond Ithaca.’ In Mesopotamia, large parts of the populace have been acquainted with the figure of Gilgamesh and v...   [tags: Southern United States, American Civil War]

Good Essays
1304 words (3.7 pages)

Gilgamesh's True Identity Essay

- Gilgamesh's True Identity Gilgamesh, who was made perfect physically, with all of the wisdom and secrets of the gods, shows he is not perfectly made on the inside as he struggles to find his true purpose and identity in the Epic of Gilgamesh. He, who proves good at heart in the conclusion of the epic, does not know why he was created and is frustrated at his mortal third in his early life. Made to bring strength and prosperity to the mortals of Uruk as an honorable king, Gilgamesh must first go on a journey to find out his true identity and mature along the way....   [tags: Papers]

Good Essays
1138 words (3.3 pages)

Search for Immortality in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- The Search for Immortality In The Epic of Gilgamesh the main character, Gilgamesh, is searching for immortality. This want is brought about by deep feelings held by Gilgamesh for his dead friend Enkidu. From this, Gilgamesh finds himself being scared of dying. This fear pushes Gilgamesh to search for the power of immortal life, which is believed to be held only by women because of the fact that they can reproduce. This takes him on a long and tiresome journey to a land where no mortal has gone before....   [tags: Epic Gilgamesh essays]

Free Essays
725 words (2.1 pages)

Epic of Gilgamesh Essay - Desperate Search for Immortality

- Desperate Search for Immortality in the Epic of Gilgamesh The search for immortality seems to be an obsession for many men and women all throughout history. In the Epic of Gilgamesh a man investigates the possibility of immortality following the saddening death of his friend, his brother Enkidu. That man, Gilgamesh, feeling the fear of the possibility of his own mortality which was before unrealized before the death of Enkidu, searches for a way to preserve himself.             Is it truly that Gilgamesh searches for a physical immortality or more of a spiritual immortality....   [tags: Epic Gilgamesh essays]

Free Essays
830 words (2.4 pages)