The Discovery of what matters most (in life) Comparison of the Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey

Essay by rawrdragonsCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2014

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The discovery of what matters most

"The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege (Charles Kuralt.)" The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey tell the stories of two men recognizing what means the most to them in life. They journey through their quests transforming into different people from whence they first began. In the end, they realize they just want to be loved and be with the ones who understand them most.

When comparing the epics, it becomes apparent that Homer had to have been influenced by The Epic of Gilgamesh before creating The Odyssey because of similarities with the heroes and plot summaries. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero Gilgamesh is quoted as "two-thirds of him was divine, one-third of him was human (1.50)." Gilgamesh was the strongest and most handsome man in the world, goddesses threw themselves at him, and he could best any man or obstacle thrown his way.

Odysseus is like Gilgamesh in that he is said to be an "Ithacan hero (2.269)", "Godlike Odysseus (2.282)," and a great warrior who had goddesses wanting him for themselves, but unlike Gilgamesh, Odysseus was clever and a "dear friend (4.177)." The Odyssey states that "No man could match Odysseus for cunning... master of all strategies (3.132)." However, Odysseus has a wife and son and the goddess Athena watching over him, while Gilgamesh had only his mother watching over him.

The heroes battle uncivilized monsters, lose people close to their hearts, have influential women in their lives, and journey to the end of the world for advice. Through each experience, both heroes learn from their actions, transforming them into different people. Gilgamesh is described as a ruthless ruler from the start.

"Gilgamesh would leave no son to his...