In this essay I am going to deal with the two epic texts called: "The Epic of Gilgamesh" and Homer's "Odyssey". For both texts, I will discuss the cultural value of "heroism"
In order to make a good analysis of both texts we have to know what "Epic" means. Webster's defines it as "a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style" (Webster's Universal College Dictionary, New York: Gramercy Books, 1997). In each of the texts there is a protagonist as a hero, these are Gilgamesh and Odysseus. "Odysseus, of Homer's The Odyssey, is an appropriate hero and ruler of Ithaca. He does not act irrationally but contemplates his actions and their implications. Odysseus is a perfect example of a hero because he embodies the values of bravery, intelligence and competency. Odysseus is an appropriate ruler for Ithaca by virtue of his hereditary right to kingship as well as his diplomatic skills, familiarity with his male subjects, discipline, and his impartiality and compassion.
(, accessed on 20.03.2003).
In the Odyssey, Homer depicts Odysseus as a very brave character: He must be brave in order to be a hero. "You must not cling to your boyhood any longer-it's time you were a man. Haven't you heard what glory Prince Orestes won throughout the world when he killed that cunning, murderous Aegisthus, who'd killed his famous father? And you, my friend-how tall and handsome I see you now-be brave, you too, so men to come will sing your praises down the years." (Fagles, Robert, The Odyssey, 'New York: Penguin Books.1996 p.87). The values and expectations of Greek society are very clearly indicated in this quotation.
While Odysseus is trying to return home from Ilium,