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Heroes in Combat.

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Introduction

Elizabeth Sudeta ENG 120 10/ 6/03 Paper # 1 Heroes in Combat A hero has many qualities not limited to physical strength and intelligence but also including the important qualities of a good man, friend, husband, and son. A hero can admit his or her flaws and demonstrate intelligence. Both Gilgamesh and Odysseus share these qualities in one way or another. Gilgamesh showed his strength and courage by aiding his friend, Enkidu during their journey to battle Humbaba. Together, Gilgamesh and Enkidu became heroic. Odysseus tended to rely more on himself and on the gods but never failed to show his heroism with his actions during his journey back to Troy and his dedication to his wife, Penelope and son Telemachus. Gilgamesh and Enkidu, initially enemies, realized their physical strength was matched in combat and with a kiss sealed their friendship. Gilgamesh defines himself as a hero, wanting more than anything, to have people remember him after his death. Before Gilgamesh set off on his journey to battle with Humbaba, the people of the city as well as the counselors blessed and warned him, "Do not trust too much in your own strength, be watchful, restrain your blows at first" (20). They also advise him to, "...let Enkidu lead the way, he knows the road to the forest, he has seen Humbaba and is experienced in battles..."(20). ...read more.

Middle

However, Enkidu and Gilgamesh's journey tested more of their friendship and the strength in that friendship which helped them to succeed. In contrast, Odysseus relied mostly on himself, rather than his men to accomplish the journey home. When the Kyklops, Polyphemus, intimidated Odysseus and his men, the only man brave enough to find his voice was Odysseus. "We are from Troy, Akhaians, blown off course by shifting gales on the Great South Sea; homeward bound, but taking routes and ways uncommon; so the will of Zeus would have it. We served under Agamemnon, son of Atreus-the whole world knows what city he laid waste, what armies he destroyed. It was our luck to come here; here we stand, beholden for your help, or any gifts you give-as custom is to honor strangers. We would entreat you, great Sir, have a care for the gods' courtesy; Zeus will avenge the unoffending guest." (325) However, the Kyklops was left unimpressed and replied by splattering two of his men, like dolls, against the floor. Odysseus and his men prayed to Zeus, and in a bit of haste Odysseus wanted to kill the Kyklops. Odysseus' moment of weakness challenged his irrational thinking, which overtook his usual sensible thoughts. Once he realized that he would be unable to do so because it would leave him and his men trapped in the cave, he calmed down and waited until morning. ...read more.

Conclusion

The achievements in battle, including the defeat of Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven and also a lengthy and difficult journey with the involvement of gods, Ea, Enlil, Ishtar and Shamash are proof of the heroes' determined persistence. The journey is what "sets Gilgamesh apart from the more straightforward heroic narratives..." and is what transformed him from a tyrant to a hero (12). Primarily, Gilgamesh was a young adolescent who seemed to not realize the duties of a king or what made a hero heroic. Enkidu not only eased Gilgamesh's loneliness but also helped him to be someone that would be remembered as being noble-- which achieved his hopes and dreams. We found out as the epic ends that "his consolation is the assurance that his worldly accomplishments will endure beyond his own lifetime." (12) The complete transformation of Gilgamesh becoming a hero was not only the battle against Humbaba but also the difficulty he felt losing his confidant, Enkidu. The conclusion of Gilgamesh leaves him a better man and hero not only in his own opinion but also in the opinion of the people of Uruk. He revealed a selfish, negative man in the beginning of the epic but has a positive change, which shows his strength and heroism. Odysseus never changed his intentions and passion for returning to his wife, which is courageous and heroic, especially shown in his actions throughout his journey. Both men experienced life-changing knowledge that shaped heroes out of them. ...read more.

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