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Gilgamesh: The Epic Hero Essay

In The Epic of Gilgamesh, anonymously written, translated by N.K. Sandars, an epic poem Gilgamesh grows from an innocent man to having wisdom about himself. Throughout The Epic Poem Gilgamesh travels from departure to initiation and finally to the return.

In Gilgamesh’s departure he tells Enkidu what truly worries him. For example, “I [Gilgamesh] have not established my name stamped on bricks as my destiny decreed”(Sandars 8). Gilgamesh feels as if people don’t know what he is good for or what he is able to do. Gilgamesh wants to be famous and gain immortality. In addition, “Only the gods live forever with glorious Shamash, but for us men, our days are numbered, our occupations are a breathe of wind”(Sandars 8). Gilgamesh is worried about becoming immortal, because of his great strength and power. Gilgamesh doesn’t want to die, that he wants to be immortal.

As Gilgamesh continues with his faces challenges along the way. For example, Ishtar says “Come to me Gilgamesh, and be my bridegroom; […], let me be your bride and you shall be my husband”(Sandars 17). Gilgamesh is confronted by Ishtar, who is basically forcing him to marry her. Gilgamesh’s journey as not one of pleasure or ease, but was difficult with many obstacles. In addition, when Gilgamesh rejects Ishtar she goes up to heaven and to her farther and says “My father give me the Bull of Heaven to destroy Gilgamesh”(Sandars 19). No matter how hard Gilgamesh tries to be nice to Ishtar, she wants none of it except for Gilgamesh to be destroyed. Yet again, Gilgamesh has another great battle to prove himself an epic hero.

Gilgamesh is an epic hero, in that is hubris after killing the Great Humbaba. For example, “… he [Gilgamesh] drew the sword from his belt, and he struck Humbaba with a thrust … to the neck”(Sandars 17). Gilgamesh has hubris in him, and he is growing with wisdom. Gilgamesh is strong and is not afraid to destroy anything in his way. In addition, “When he [Humbaba] roars it is like the torrent of the storm, his breath like fire, and his jaws are death itself”(Sandars 8). Humbaba is one of the strongest creatures that was set to guard the forest. Gilgamesh is indeed hubris, in that he and Enkidu destroy the Great Humbaba.

As Gilgamesh traveled through departure, initiation, and departure he finds that he has grown from an innocent man to having great wisdom about himself.


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