Comparative Analysis of Epic Poems: The Epic of Gilgamesh and Odyssey

Date:  2021-12-19 09:31:46
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Introduction

The excerpt from a famous poem is has similarities to The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey. The plot of these three poems is centered on a hero of incredible stature. The epic hero accomplishes what others only attempt. The hero is often partly divine or protected by a god. The excerpt talks about a person who controls things human and divine by changeless laws, enthroned in awful thunder! Like in The Epic of Gilgamesh and Odyssey, the subject is very powerful and controls everything human and divine. In the Odyssey, Troy falls and ten years after, the Greek hero Odysseus has not gone back to his kingdom in Ithaca. An unruly mob of people seeking to replace him occupy Odysseuss palace, plunder his land and continue to woo his wife, Penelope. She has stayed faithful to Odysseus. Odysseuss son, Prince Telemachus is desperate to eject them but lacks in experience and self-confidence to fight them. Antinous who is among those seeking to replace Odysseus, hatches a plan to eliminate the young prince who is the only obstacle to their takeover of the palace.

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Odyssey

The suitors are unaware that Odysseus is still alive. Calypso the beautiful nymph gets possessed by his love and holds him captive on her island, Ogygia. He yearns to get back to his wife and son but lacks a ship or crew to enable him escape. Athena resorts to help Telemachus after a debate on the future of Odysseus by the gods and goddesses off mount Olympus. Athena disguises herself and reproaches the suitors at a meeting called by the prince. She also prepares the prince for a great journey to Pylos and Sparta to inform Kings Nestor and Menelaus who were Odysseuss allies during the war that Odysseus is alive. He later returns home and while back in Ithaca, Antinous and the suitors plot to kill him in an ambush when he reaches port. On mount Olympus Zeus sends Hermes to free Odysseus from Calypso. Hermes persuades Calypso to free Odysseus and the hero finally sets sail. Poseidon, god of the see finds Odyssey sailing home and sends a storm to wreck his ship because of a bitter grudge against him. Athena intervenes to save Odysseus from the wrath of Poseidon and is welcomed by the king and queen of the Phaeacians. They offer to give Odysseus safe passage to Ithaca but before they plead to hear the story of his exploits. The Phaeacians return Odysseus to Ithaca disguised as a beggar by Athena. He sought Eumaeus and later meets Telemachus and they plan to eliminate all the suitors. Odysseus goes back to the palace where his wife Penelope organizes an archery contest, Odysseus wins the contest and turns the arrow on the suitors killing them all.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

In The epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh, a powerful king of Uruk who is partly man and partly god, abuses his might and abuses the people. To rival Gilgamesh, the gods create a wild man called Enkidu. Gilgamesh has a prophetic dream on the arrival of Enkidu. Enkidu opposes Gilgamesh they battle but later become friends. They grow lazy because of peaceful life, Gilgamesh suggests an undertaking- a challenge to fight a fearsome wood demon in the far-off cedar woods. On the way Gilgamesh had several dreams. Enkidu relinquishes, and Gilgamesh is left to fight the demon all by himself. Then Enkidu rallies and defeats the wood demon who curses him, prophesying that his life will be short. The clear the forest to celebrate their victory.

After Gilgamesh and Enkidu get back to Uruk, Gilgamesh fends off approaches from the goddess Ishtar, who has her father send down a bull to destroy the royal city. Enkidu takes on the bull and kills it. The gods proclaim revenge on Enkidu, who becomes ill and dies. Gilgamesh is distraught, he mourns the demise of his friend Enkidu and builds him a monument. In his despair, Gilgamesh decides to exploit the underworld to find the meaning of life and death. Gilgamesh comes across and scales various hurdles on his way- frightening dreams, scorpions and mountains. He eventually meets a wise innkeeper who informs him that death is unavoidable. He progresses and meets the lord of the underworld. He tells Gilgamesh his story. A snake also destroys his chance at immortality. He goes back to Uruk disappointed.

Comparative Analysis

The three stories have similarities and they all qualify as epic poems. The plots are centered on a hero of unbelievable stature. In the excerpt the subject controls all things human and divine. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is partly human and partly god. In the odyssey, Odysseus is protected by gods.

The personas in the three poems were able to accomplish feats no ordinary human could. The Phaeacians were begging to hear Odysseuss adventures because they had never heard an ordinary human undertake such exploits. Gilgamesh fought the wood demon.

The setting of the poems is vast. The setting of the odyssey covers land, sea and a long period of time. The setting of the Epic of Gilgamesh covers land and the underworld. Epic poems also involve supernatural and other worldly forces. The Epic of Gilgamesh has gods and demons while odyssey has gods.

The excerpts are similar to the Tao in that they involve supernatural or other worldly forces. In the perspective of traditional Chinese philosophy, the Tao is the intuitive awareness of life that cannot be understood as a concept but known through actual living experiences of ones everyday being.

Storytelling

Storytelling in the excerpt in addition to delivering the plot to the audience, situates the epic in its proper cultural setting.

Quest

There is a quest for power in the excerpt.

Women

Women have been featured in the excerpt.

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