Call us 24/7: + 1(925)399 0085

Get your paper done by an expert

No matter what kind of academic paper you need, it is simple and secure to hire an essay writer for a price you can afford at StudyAcer. Save more time for yourself.

WhatsApp + 1(925)399 0085
$ 10
free
  • bibliography
  • title page
  • revisions
per page
19 k happy customers
4.7 out of 5 satisfaction rate
27 writers active

| Gilgamesh and Odysseus Essay

Both Gilgamesh and Odysseus are epic heroes whose deeds have inspired millions of people throughout history. But not all heroes are created equal. In both the Odyssey and the Iliad, Homer paints a much more vivid picture of the ingenious Odysseus. His exploits are much more significant than those of Gilgamesh who in the end is not an especially interesting character in what remains of the texts about him. Odysseus is much more an embodiment of heroic ideals than Gilgamesh. In this essay I will forcefully argue that Odysseus is more of a hero than Gilgamesh, more respectful of his friends, and more loving to his wife.

Why Odysseus is More of a Hero Than Gilgamesh

Many people believe that both the Iliad and Odyssey are the two great sources for all other Western literature (J. A. K. Thomson, 45). Even in his own day, Homer was seen as a hero admired long after his death in many Greek cities (Morgan, 30). The fact that his stories have had such a long life and have been classics for so many centuries is a testament to how they evoke an amazing time and place. It is an interesting statement about history that there are sometimes intermediaries who bring to life whole eras from the past to the people of the future, without themselves having lived through the period. To begin with, both the Iliad and the Odyssey (books in which Odysseus appears) are full of heroes. Indeed even as Homer tells the story of both the Greeks and the Trojans, it is clear that the Iliad is more a tableaux about heroism than a morality play involving good guys and bad guys (Thomson, 85). Both sides of the conflict have their villains and heroes and indeed some heroes are more heroic than others. The two most immediate heroic figures that leap from the pages are Achilles, on the Greek side, and Hector, on the Trojan side. However, there is someone in the story of the Iliad who is more heroic if less prominent: Odysseus. He is the person who is inspired enough to come up with the idea of the Trojan Horse, which effectively ends the Trojan war, saving many lives and bringing victory to the Greeks (Homer, The Iliad, Book IV). In the Odyssey, his genius is even more in evidence. He is a leader. He is imaginative. He is willing to sacrifice. Throughout both of these stories, the great man saves lies, slays monsters (like the Cyclops) [Homer, Book IX], and seeks out his heroine (Book XVI). Indeed, in all of the work of Homer, Odysseus is beyond reproach.

Type of assignmentWriter levelTitle of your paperPages
Essay Term paper Coursework Research paper Research proposal Grant Proposal Case Study Case Brief Discussion Board Post Reaction paper Response paper Literary analysis Article Review Article Critique Movie Review Movie Critique Book Report Book Review Synopsis Poem Letter Motivation letter Memo Scholarship essay Article writing Blog Article Annotated Bibliography Literature Review Outline Online Test Questions-Answers Multiple Choice Questions Interview Questionnaire Speech Dissertation Dissertation chapter – Abstract Dissertation chapter – Introduction Dissertation chapter – Hypothesis Dissertation chapter – Literature review Dissertation chapter – Methodology Dissertation chapter – Results Dissertation chapter – Discussion Dissertation chapter – Conclusion Thesis Thesis Proposal Thesis/dissertation chapter Capstone Project IB Extended Essay Lab Report Business Report Business plan Marketing Plan White paper Formatting Editing Proofreading Rewriting Revision Powerpoint Presentation Powerpoint Presentation Poster PDF Poster Excel Exercises High School College University Master’s PHD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 500
SpacingTimeframesCurrencyTotal price
Single spaced Double spaced 11 days 9 days 7 days 5 days 4 days 3 days 48 hours 24 hours 12 hours 8 hours 6 hours 3 hours USD EUR GBP AUD

He faces his greatest challenge on the voyage back from Troy to Ithaca. This is the sacrifice test that all true heroes must endure. For fifteen years, beset by troubles he seeks a way home. He is imprisoned by Circe (Book X), he is attacked by jealous and angry gods (Book X), he watches many of his men die. Part of his challenge is restoring his fortunes. This is an important aspect of heroism—and one that Achilles, for example, might have learnt—that misfortune should make you more noble and that in trying to regain your good luck and possessions after a defeat you should do so honorably and not through trickery. While Gilgamesh too learns this lesson throughout his epic, Odysseus takes the lesson more to heart and is made stronger by it. In many ways this is an important question for heroes as they rarely go from one victory to another. That wouldn’t be very interesting.

Gilgamesh on the other hand never really comes to life on the page. He appears as a cardboard cut out. He definitely has strong physical stamina and courageous—that is proven by the arduousness of his journey, the fact he built to walls of his city, and that so many people respect him. However, in the course of his story, it seems he is often overshadowed Enkidu, who comes across as a much kinder and more interesting person. Gilgamesh’s ego is unpleasant and uninteresting (Epic of Gilgamesh, Book I). He lacks the canniness and brains of Odysseus who is always looking to escape from the situation and is not afraid to be ruthless in order to do so. One imagines that if the two men ever met, Odysseus would be able to easily win in a fight by outsmarting the much slower and vainer Gilgamesh. While he may possess many of the essential qualities of a hero such as courage and strength, these are not vividly portrayed to the reader. Gilgamesh in the end remains a bit of a mystery. Odysseus, however, in his full heroism is very colourfully portrayed by the poet Homer.

Heroes’ Mortality

The greatest question that faces all heroes is mortality. Although they are the strongest in their class they are not invincible (even if they are part God, like Achilles or Gilgamesh). They are tempted to use their great strength to do good for themselves or their cause, but they have limitations that they may not know. In this way the heroes of epic stories tell us something about ourselves: although human beings are the strongest species on the planet we can often harm ourselves through our hubris. Hubris and Nemesis are issues that all heroes must face often on a huge and dramatic scale. In the Iliad, as Gregory Nagy writes,

The human condition of mortality, with all its ordeals, defines heroic life itself. The certainty that one day you will die makes you human, distinct from animals who are unaware of their future death and from the immortal gods… (Nagy)

Odysseus, however, deals with it much better than Gilgamesh. He is even able to journey to the Underworld and return alive (Book XI).

Heroes’ Mortality

This also relates to the question of friendship. Odysseus is more heroic because he has no friends, no one who can weaken him or who relies on. He is an almost solitary figure, untied to this life. That makes him more independent: a key quality of a hero. Gilgamesh, on the other hand, relies more on others. He has many social ties that he cares about and is woven deeply into the fabric of this life. This makes him more ordinary and more vulnerable to mortality. For when someone he loves dies, he dies a little too (unlike Odysseus). And Gilgamesh is deeply affected by the mortality he sees around him (where Odysseus remains largely unmoved). For example, when Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh goes almost crazy.

He began to rage like a lion, like a lioness robbed of her whelps. This way and that he paced round the bed, he tore out his hair and strewed it around. He dragged of his splendid robes and flung them down as though they were abominations (Book III)

He begins to search for eternal life (Book IV). This is a bit of fool’s errand and shows just how weakened Gilgamesh has become by sentimentality. Odysseus would never go wild with grief: he would get the job done. While Gilgamesh gives up almost everything upon the death of Enkidu (Book III), Odysseus is willing to work hard for 20 years to be with his good wife Penelope. He never gives up or pulls out his hair. And when he does return, he ruthlessly kills all who doubt him, slaying Penelope’s suitors with his bow and arrow (Book XVI). When the time comes to act, Odysseus does—Gilgamesh mostly mopes around (Book V).

Heroes’ Temptation

Another issue that tests the mettle of true heroes is temptation. Temptation is a powerful force that can make us turn our backs on the values we hold closest to our heart. This is a lesson from the Bible, when Jesus is tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11), but it also a lesson that again and again comes up in the Odyssey. When Odysseus spends time with Circe he begins to forget those he truly loves, he is caught in her spell and the temptation of an easy life that she offers (Book X). Also, when Odysseus approaches the Sirens (Book XII), he is likewise tempted, but this time has taken precautions, asking his men to tie him to the mast to prevent him jumping into the sea to get close to the Sirens and their song, which would mean he would never see his wife or children again:

They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing of the Sirens’ voices. Then my men took the wax from their ears and unbound me. (Book XII)

Gilgamesh is never truly tempted, and so it is harder to say he is more of hero than Odysseus, who is often tempted.

There are many qualities of heroism depicted in both Homer’s work and in the Epic of Gilgamesh. We see powerful people set against a very dramatic, epic background where history is being made. Indeed, few stories about heroes happen in someone’s apartment on a Sunday afternoon—they usually happen in the midst of battle that shows the true mettle of a hero. One of the main questions such scenes reveal to us is how a hero must deal with his own limitations or his own mortality. Throughout it all, it is clear that Odysseus is more of a hero that Gilgamesh.

References
Homer. The Odyssey. New York: KayDreams, 1969.
Nagy, Gregory. “Heroes and the Homeric Iliad.” Introduction to Homer. University of Houston site. http://www.uh.edu/~cldue/texts/introductiontohomer.html
Morgan, Llewelyn. Patterns of Redemption in Virgil’s Georgics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 30.
Thomson, J. A. K. The Katharsis of Homer. London: Clarendon Press, 1915.

Our guarantees

Study Acers provides students with tutoring and help them save time, and excel in their courses. Students LOVE us!No matter what kind of essay paper you need, it is simple and secure to hire an essay writer for a price you can afford at StudyAcers. Save more time for yourself. Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more

Our Homework Writing Disciplines

With a highly diverse team in almost all academic fields including: