Gilgamesh and Odysseus are similar not only in their physical appearances but also in the way the two of them deal with life's dilemmas. Although Gilgamesh and Odysseus possess great strength and sharp minds, their own flaws blind them similarly, which does not aid in their quest for what they desire. As part of their heroic character, the gods must guide them in order to reach their goals. In every epic from antiquity, the greatest challenge a hero must overcome is not a monster or an evil tyrant but themselves. They wish to have glory, honor, and a place in history forever. Doing something that no one else could ever do again is what a hero desires to do. From Gilgamesh to The Odyssey, epic heroes constantly have to reinvent themselves to overcome their own weaknesses and shortcomings. Each has to learn from their previous mistakes, using the gods? help, so they can fulfill their dreams. In doing this, Odysseus and Gilgamesh will reach their goals.
The dictionary defines hero in mythology and legend as, "a man who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and born of divine or royal blood. He is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life." In addition, I believe a hero is one to be looked up to and emulated. What is interesting about epic heroes is that their great deeds and exploits all have to do with defeating themselves, so with help from the gods they can truly become heroic. They can only defeat themselves with the help of the gods.
The heroes also possess uncommon powers of the body and mind. They are described as being the utmost in clever and crafty doings but...
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...heir journeys or overcome their limitations had it not been for the gods. Of all of the requirements of heroism, being influenced by the gods is the most important. Only through the aid of the gods can a character defeat his shortcomings and truly understand what a hero is. The character must become overconfident and prideful, then, and only then, can the gods step in and break their faults. Finally, the hero either comes to realize how wrong he was or he dies in ignorance.
Homer, The Odyssey, The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, ed. Maynard Mack, Expanded Edition, (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995), pp. 219-503.
Translated by N.K. Sandars, Gilgamesh, The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces Expanded Edition, ed. Maynard Mack, Expanded Edition, (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995), pp. 13-42
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