Beowulf and Gilgamesh were similar in many ways, even though they were written century’s apart from one another. These two stories (similar as they may be), also have their differences. The similarities, differences, character motivations, and use of symbolism make these great stories. A major similarity is that Beowulf and Gilgamesh want to be remembered as glorious heroes forever. They both feel as though they have to do great and daring things to achieve this. They were both in a position of high honor and power.
Beowulf became king of the land he had defended against Grendel and his mother. Gilgamesh was one third human and two thirds god. Also, both heroes had won their battles in heroic and memorable ways. Beowulf rips Grendel’s arm off and had decapitated his mother, using a giant forged sword. Gilgamesh had chopped off Humbaba’s head with one mighty slash. There are also some major differences between these epic stories. For instance, Beowulf fought all his battles alone and unaided.
Yet, Gilgamesh had a partner, one who acted as his voice of reason, by the name of Enkidu. As Gilgamesh went on into battle, he went in wearing full armor and wielding weapons, but Beowulf chose to enter his first fight wearing nothing at all and wielding no weapon. Each character had their motivations to fight, in some ways they were similar motives. Beowulf fought for nothing but fame and glory. All he wanted was to be remembered for eternity and to accumulate as much wealth as he could.
Save us/ once more, and again twisted gold/ Heaped up ancient treasure, will reward you for the battle you win” (Beowulf 445-448).
Gilgamesh also fought for fame and glory, but he had other motives too. One of his other motives was to fight to give hope to the youth, giving them something to strive for and model themselves after. “The youth of Uruk need this fight. They have grown soft and restless” (Gilgamesh 30-32). He was also motivated by wanting to push the limitations that the gods have set for everyone.