Greek/Roman Humanities: Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey

The earliest works of fiction included the work of fiction the Epic of Gilgamesh that dates from the beginnings of civilization in Mesopotamia and Homer’s Odyssey, greatest ancient works of literature attributed to Homer. This epic is crucial to the present Western canon, ranks second and extant in the works of Western literature. This essay analyzes the ancient epics that exist presently and are of interest in the world of literature because of their historical worth and the beauty of imagery and language choice (Knox 23).

The epic of Gilgamesh revolves around a demigod king of Uruk. Gilgamesh was a king who ruled the mighty city of Uruk in Mesopotamia. Parts of Gilgamesh’s life are written on clay tablets, presumed to be the oldest existing story of a man’s life.

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Thus, this epic revolves around the tale of his pursuance for eternal life. Acceptance of one’s own morality is portrayed as the major theme in the epic, as Gilgamesh finds highest purpose in search of eternal life. It is among the greatest works in ancient literature. In the epic, Gilgamesh is presented as a demigod or a legendary king.

The historical king of Uruk reined in 2700 and, perhaps, the legendary material, it may have been grafted from the king Gilgamesh. This epic contains fictional aspects characteristics of a heroic epic and reflects historical aspects, as well. The Gilgamesh epic is crucial to understanding the history and culture of Mesopotamia since it reveals much concerning contemporary and religious worlds (Fiero 20).

These include individual’s attitudes towards gods, and the reference and definition accorded a hero. In addition, the epic provides individuals views over death also describes the political and the social context in Uruk, a Mesopotamian city, as well as, its landscape. According to the prologue (Mitchell 61), Uruk is described as a developed city on the River Euphrates, having fortification walls and templates. Mesopotamia was polytheist society.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story based truth. It is particularly appealing with regards to its links with the Holy Bible and various connections in them. These include the worldwide flood and man’s relationship with God. The Epic enables us to understand the culture of ancient Mesopotamia, since it describes that the inhabitants were not primitive cavemen.

There is the presence of boats as well as a fairly advanced language. In addition, ancient Mesopotamia can be understood to constitute theological culture with a belief in a supernatural deity who was at an extremely high point.

Homer’s Odyssey is read in Homeric Greek and relates to the perils of Odysseus, who was a famous war hero who planned a return journey home after the end of the Trojan War. It has been translated into many languages of the world. Most scholars hold a belief that the epic was composed in an oral tradition by a professional performer and was more likely to be performed than read.

However, the details of the ancient oral tradition and the conversion of the epic to a written artistic work have caused controversy among many scholars. Initially, the epic was written in a poetic dialect of Greek with many lines of dactylic hexameter. The text has a non linear plot that is particularly impressive and influences the events of women’s choice, as well as serfs, besides the actions of wrangling men.

The term Odyssey refers to the Epic voyage in the English language and many modern languages, as well. The Epic describes the celebration to refuse to accept limits on love and the hope against overwhelming odds. Various themes are described in the epic, the theme of temptation and hospitality, as well as the theme of disguise that also prevails in the Epic of Gilgamesh, because the heroes are portrayed to disguise themselves, in order to interacts with mortals.

The Epic of the Odyssey enables us to understand the ancient Greek religious views, and the essence of the world which was its underlying chaos. The deities among the Greek are not true speaking gods to the Greeks but rather are deities in a contemporary religious sense.

In conclusion, the heroes and their journeys are in significant ways representative of their respective culture’s vision of reality. For instance, in Gilgamesh, the hero goes through a thorough education before he makes a decision to choose from his fate. He returns to Uruk and lives his life comfortably and freely accept the worldly operations. After all, Gilgamesh had the freedom not to return. Thus, man must be encouraged to take control of their lives.

The Epic of Gilgamesh still influences the poetic style and does not depend on literary devices such as meter or rhyme. However, it depends on rhetorical devices such as antithesis and parallelism. These are the characteristics of the Epic of Gilgamesh that it shares with Homers’ Odyssey.

Furthermore, the heroes in these Epics confront fate in a personal manner, and reactions to their encounters serve a purpose of illuminating individuals’ conditions. The choice of words portrays the direct embodiment of human vision, which is universal and permanent condition (Knox 23). Life and death are observed as absurd, heroic wistfulness, as well as nostalgia because of lost possibilities.

Thus, death cannot make the love of friends prevail, and erotic women destroy their husbands with impossible demands. These epics explain that nothing endures, and the memory of a heroic act has a small life span and, at times, the walls of the empire prevail. In addition, these ancient works explain that life’s meaning can be revealed but hard to explain. Thus, the realization of truth embodies the achievements of true personality (Knox 25).

Works Cited

Fiero, K. Gloria. (2007). The Humanistic Tradition: The First Civilizations and the Classical Legacy. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Knox, Bernard. (2007). Classical Literature. London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.