In the realm of epic poetry, heroes go off and accomplish great things, while dealing with deities and mortal beings alike. This is no different in Homer’s The Odyssey or The Epic of Gilgamesh. In The Odyssey, the tale is recounted of the great warrior Odysseus trying to return home to his wife after fighting a great war. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, it is told of how a demigod, Gilgamesh, faced retribution for poor leadership and manages to redeem himself. However, with all the similarities and conventions of epic poetry, there are also many differences, such as character traits and the nature of obstacles faced by the heroes as well. Even though Odysseus and Gilgamesh possess great importance to the realities in which they exist, Gilgamesh’s impact on his reality is much more negative than Odysseus’s. One of the most important similarities that Odysseus and Gilgamesh have is that they both serve as connections between the Gods and the mortals.
Gilgamesh is born of a god and is the ruler of the people of Uruk. Odysseus invoked the wrath of the Gods because of his cruel treatment of the Cyclops, Poseidon‘s son. No matter what the specific circumstance, Odysseus’s and Gilgamesh’s epic statuses make them critical singularities, representative of the Gods to the people, and representative of humans to the Gods. This gives them a divine impact on the realms in which they exist, making them very influential people Aside from this major similarity between Odysseus and Gilgamesh, the two also have much more in common.
They both are great warriors, and the results of them defeating certain people greatly affect their worlds. Odysseus’s killing of the Cyclops, for example was able to make a god such as Poseidon take action, and Gilgamesh killing the bull of heaven sent to kill him by the Gods for mistakes he made in the past. Despite their many similarities, Odysseus and Gilgamesh have many differences as well. Odysseus seems to be presented as more of a cunning tactician while Gilgamesh relies more on brute force.
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