Heroism In Context

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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By analyzing two different heroes and their respective pursuits of enlightenment in The Book of Job and The Epic of Gilgamesh, we are provided with important contextual insight concerning questions of faith and values in each's culture. What a particular society personifies as heroism reveals much about their particular values and beliefs. In fact, as a culture develops these heroes, they are creating humans of the utmost potential. As one of their purposes, these heroes will in turn answer issues of uncertainty in their own lives that reflect those ultimately at question within their societies. Such is the importance of heroism for our two characters. The first, Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, engages in this inquiry with might and gallantry, but knows not that what he is looking for lies within his own humility and issues with mortality. The other hero, Job, is merely a miserable and complaining loafer who seeks answers concerning the tragedies that have plagued his life.

Together, they both provide different views on heroism that reveal interesting commentary on the differences and similarities of their belief systems.

A basic difference between the two heroes is that each represents a different class of their own society. Gilgamesh is a half god of remarkable strength and physical character, regarded by all as the most powerful in the land. On the contrary, Job, though once a very upright and wealthy man with a prosperous family, is poor and demoralized due to the disasters which have destroyed the things he valued most. Not only the difference in their social standing, but the overall social structure in each culture become especially apparent in the manner which each hero partakes in solving that unknown problem that will bring him enlightenment.

For Gilgamesh this means searching out truth as an explorer, an adventurer, and...