Spiritual Growth in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Odyssey, and Dante's Inferno

Spiritual Growth in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Odyssey, and Dante's Inferno

Length: 1645 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

For centuries, authors have been writing stories about man's journey of self-discovery. Spanning almost three-thousand years, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Odyssey, and Dante's Inferno are three stories where a journey of self-discovery is central to the plot. The main characters, Gilgamesh, Telemachus, and Dante, respectively, find themselves making a journey that ultimately changes them for the better. The journeys may not be exactly the same, but they do share a common chain of events. Character deficiencies and external events force these three characters to embark on a journey that may be physical, metaphorical, or both. As their journeys progress, each man is forced to overcome certain obstacles and hardships. At the end of the journey, each man has been changed, both mentally and spiritually. These timeless tales relate a message that readers throughout the ages can understand and relate to.
Character deficiencies and external events force these three characters to embark on a journey that may be physical, metaphorical, or both. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk, but he is not a kind or gentle ruler. The narrator describes Gilgamesh as "surpassing all kings, for his stature renowned" (I.30) and yet the people pray to the gods for help because Gilgamesh "would leave no son to his father" (I.67) or "girl to her mother" (I.73). In other words, Gilgamesh sees nothing wrong with taking what he wants from his people, including their lives. However, when Gilgamesh's best friend dies, he finds himself face-to-face with his own mortality, which he is not prepared to accept as inevitable. Gilgamesh states, "I have grown afraid of death . . ." (IX. 5). He decides to continue wandering the land un...


... middle of paper ...


...righteousness.
These timeless tales relate a message that readers throughout the ages can understand and relate to. While each of these tales is not exactly alike, they do share a common core of events. Some event and or character flaw necessitates a journey of some kind, whether it is an actual physical journey or a metaphorical one. The hardships and obstacles encountered on said journey lead to spiritual growth and build character. Rarely does a person find himself unchanged once the journey is over.



Works Cited

Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. The Norton anthology of Western literature. 8th ed. Ed. Sarah Lawall. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.
Anonymous. The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation, Analogues, Criticism. Trans. Benjamin R. Foster. New York: Norton, 2001. Print.
Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Transformation of Gilgamesh Depicted in The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Gilgamesh struggled to establish moral principle. His personality at first was an arrogant, self-centered tyrant ; he was described by Enkidu "His teeth are dragon's fangs, his countenance is like a lion his charge is the rushing of the flood..." (pg. 16 line 3-6). But towards the end of this epic narrative Gilgamesh switched over to a more humble and sincere person. This adjustment in Gilgamesh's behavior shows his modesty and the morality throughout the story. At first, Gilgamesh was seen as an oppressor to his people....   [tags: The Epic of Gilgamesh]

Powerful Essays
437 words (1.2 pages)

The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Perhaps one of the main reasons the Epic of Gilgamesh is so popular and has lasted such a long time, is because it offers insight into the human concerns of people four thousand years ago, many of which are still relevant today. Some of these human concerns found in the book that are still applicable today include: the fear and concerns people have in relation to death, overwhelming desires to be immortal, and the impact a friendship has on a person’s life. It does not take a great deal of insight into The Epic of Gilgamesh for a person to locate these themes in the story, and even less introspection to relate to them....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh Essays]

Powerful Essays
1053 words (3 pages)

Imagery and Themes in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Historical Context - Imagery and Themes Rosenberg notes that Gilgamesh is probably the world's first human hero in literature (27). The Epic of Gilgamesh is based on the life of a probably real Sumerian king named Gilgamesh, who ruled about 2600 B.C.E. We learned of the Gilgamesh myth when several clay tablets written in cuneiform were discovered beginning in 1845 during the excavation of Nineveh (26). We get our most complete version of Gilgamesh from the hands of an Akkadian priest, Sin-liqui-unninni....   [tags: Epic Gilgamesh essays]

Powerful Essays
1133 words (3.2 pages)

Myths, Dreams and the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- The Epic of Gilgamesh, a masterpiece of world literature, is considered to be one of the oldest epics in the world. It is called an epic, but it is really a myth. In order to be able to understand a myth, it is necessary to have an historical point of view from two perspectives, so to speak, an outer and an inner one. The outer one concerns the necessity to understand the historical form in which the archetypes appear, the historical background to which the myth is related - in our case, the Babylonian culture and religion....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh Essays]

Free Essays
1936 words (5.5 pages)

The Transformation of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- The Transformation of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh In many literary works we see significant transitions in the hero's character as the story is developed. This is also true in the Epic of Gilgamesh with its hero, Gilgamesh. In this narrative poem, we get glimpses of who Gilgamesh is and what his purposes and goals are. We see Gilgamesh act in many different ways -- as an overbearing ruler resented by his people, a courageous and strong fighter, a deflated, depressed man, and finally as a man who seems content with what he's accomplished....   [tags: Epic Gilgamesh essays]

Free Essays
1766 words (5 pages)

Essay about The Epic of Gilgamesh is Truely an Epic

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

Powerful Essays
1699 words (4.9 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)

Essay about The Role of Sex in The Epic of Gilgamesh

- In "The Epic of Gilgamesh" it seem like the women have all the power. The women have great influences on the men. In "Gilgamesh" sex plays an important role, and it also seems that sex has a hold on Gilgamesh and also Enkidu - not just a hold on them, but more of an addiction throughout the story of Gilgamesh. In the beginning of the story, Gilgamesh has a great lust that leaves "no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior's daughter nor the wife of noble men. To me, the lust in Gilgamesh's heart makes him a very selfish person....   [tags: The Epic of Gilgamesh]

Powerful Essays
812 words (2.3 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)

Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh Essay

- Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh In this paper, I seek to explore the identities and relationships between Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the epic poem of Gilgamesh, up through Enkidu’s death. I will explore the gender identity of each independently and then in relation to each other, and how their gender identity influences that relationship. I will also explore other aspects of their identity and how they came to their identities as well, through theories such as social conditioning....   [tags: Gilgamesh epic Poem Essays]

Powerful Essays
1974 words (5.6 pages)