The Epic of Gilgamesh is Truly an Epic Essay

The Epic of Gilgamesh is Truly an Epic Essay

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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.
The first important characteristic of The Epic of Gilgamesh that helps to classify it as an epic is that it includes a hero. Gilgamesh is the story’s epic hero. Characteristics that determine an epic hero in the ancient world include strength, beauty, and high social status (Tigay 42). Gilgamesh fits all these descriptions. His great strength was described as that which could be matched by no other. His beauty was so evident that he could have any woman that he wanted. In fact, he slept with all the women in his city. Gilgamesh was also made 2/3 God and 1/3 human. This fact alone raised him up to a god-like social status. He was the king of Uruk because no one could challenge his strength or beauty. Most epic heroes are also widely known and famous which Gilgamesh, being king, obviously was. Aside from his attributes and status, the traditional epic hero must perform heroic feats (Abusch 620). Again, Gilgamesh fits into this category. First, Gilgamesh leads Enkidu on an adventure that will gain further fame for himself and his friend. This was the plan to take a journey to the sacred Cedar Tree and kill the Guardian of the Cedar Forest, Humbaba. This is...


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..., Ltd., 1999. 21-48. Print.
"Gilgamesh." The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Sarah Lawall. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1984. Print.
Greene, Thomas. "The Norms of Epic." Comparative Literature 13.3 (1962): 193-207. Web. 22 Dec 2010.
Kramer, S.N. "The Death of Gilgamesh." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1944): 2-12. Web. 21 Dec 2010.
Tigay, Jeffery. The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. 33-57. Print.
Vulpe, Nicola. "Irony and the Unity of the Gilgamesh Epic." Journal of Near Eastern Studies 53.4 (1994): 275-283. Web. 22 Dec 2010.
West, M.L. "The Rise of the Greek Epic." Journal of Hellenic Studies 108. (1988): 151-172. Web. 22 Dec 2010.
Wolff, Hope Nash. "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Heroic Life." Journal of the American Oriental Society (1969): 392-398. Web. 21 Dec 2010.

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