Qualities of the Hero

February 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

Qualities of the Hero Name: Course: Tutor: Date: Sacrifice, determination, bravery and compassion are among the qualities that define a hero. Heroes will often risk their lives to save those of others. In The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey, Gilgamesh and Odysseus can be both classified as heroes because they have undertaken actions that have heroic qualities. Though set in different cultural settings, the fact that these two characters accomplish something beyond the capabilities of the ordinary men makes them heroes. This paper will compare Gilgamesh and Odysseus with reference to their heroic qualities. Some cultures are characterized with superstitions and beliefs in supernatural powers and supernatural beings. Gilgamesh is himself a superhuman in that he is two-thirds human and one-third god.

This aspect will ultimately give him supernatural powers that he will use to accomplish some heroic endeavours. Odysseus, on the other hand, may not possess superhuman powers, but he is strong and courageous enough to do great things. This may not mean that the Greeks of the time had no superstitions like the Mesopotamians. Both Gilgamesh and Odysseus have been faced with situations that risk their lives. Gilgamesh had to face a monster – Humbaba (5.168-173). This giant creature lived in a cedar forest and was known to notoriously intimidate the people that lived near the forest. He, for instance, refused people to pass through the forest. Out of courage and bravely, Gilgamesh decides to face the monster despite the pleas from his people not to face the monster. The people feared that the battle between Gilgamesh and the monster could only end with the death of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh, however, was convinced that the beast could be defeated. The heroic action begins when he tricked the monster by offering his sisters to the beast as wife and mistresses. Through craftiness and determination, Gilgamesh managed to capture the beast and behead him and returned home victorious.

On the other hand, Odysseus did not face a monster, but a situation risky enough to match the monster that Gilgamesh faced. During the Trojan War, it was fact that when captured Odysseus would be killed simply for taking part in the war. He faced real danger of death, but he persisted. Just like Gilgamesh, Odysseus faced certain death, but decided to carry on with the endeavours rather than giving up. The difference between them is that while one tackles a superhuman being that no one else would dare, the other gets himself involved in a deadly war that could end with his death. Other heroic actions can be seen in the adventures undertaken by Gilgamesh and Odysseus. Gilgamesh undertakes a voyage to Mount Mashu with such a stiff and treacherous cliff that no mortals could climb it. There was a scorpion guard living at the top of the mountain and that watched over the steep cliff. Astonished and amazed by Gilgamesh’s strength, agility, skills and bravery, the guard allows him pass through the gate and the mountain’s pinnacle.

The heroic undertaking earned Gilgamesh admiration even from the supernatural beings. Odysseus, on his part, undertook adventures that always put him in harm’s way. He and his men would face dangers, for example, his men being turned into pigs by a witch. All his men die from this and other dangers and by the time Odysseus reaches home, he is the last one to survive. This makes him a hero. The encounter with the witch is the only instance that Odysseus faces supernatural forces. Gilgamesh’s encounters are largely with supernatural beings. This includes killing the bull of heaven when he honourably resisted the tricks the queen of heaven who was sexually aroused by the beauty of Gilgamesh. One of the differences between the two is that while Gilgamesh undertook all actions bravely and courageously, some actions of Odysseus labelled him more of a coward that a hero. For example, Odysseus could be seen to sacrifice him men for his own safety explaining why he alone survived while all others died. Odysseus used trickery to escape from the cave – he did so hiding among a huge flock of sheep. This could easily depict his actions as more selfish that selfless. His own wellbeing comes before that of anyone else.

Odysseus needs to get home and he does not care whether or not any of his men reaches home too. For Gilgamesh, on the other hand, he does things that risk his own life for the wellbeing of others. While dealing with the beats, he is concerned that these beats will bother the village and thus has to be dealt with. It can be concluded that both of these characters achieve things that manifest their heroism. Similarities are that these two emerge victorious from all their undertakings. They have managed to shoe determination, courage, bravery and (in the case of Gilgamesh) selflessness. On the other hand, the differentiating factors include the fact that Gilgamesh deals largely with supernatural forces while the only supernatural force Odysseus encounters was the witch. Odysseus is also selfish as opposed to Gilgamesh who has always shown selflessness.

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