Ancient Hero Perception in “Gilgamesh” Versus the Modern Viewpoint

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Date Submitted: 11/27/2012 12:56 PM

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Ancient Hero Perception in “Gilgamesh” Versus the Modern Viewpoint

In the epic of “Gilgamesh”, the ancient vision of what constitutes a hero is clearly present in the life journey that the main character undertakes. Furthermore, we are also able to draw a clear distinction between the ancient civilizations’ perception of a hero and our current present day understanding of the term and how it has slowly evolved. From the text of “Gilgamesh”, a powerful and sweeping epic is presented with all of the elements ripe for the inhabitation of a “hero.” The story follows the formulaic and familiar steps associated with an epic such as the grandiose and powerful scale on which events take place as well as the supernatural involvement of gods and goddesses. The stage is set for their hero to emerge.

Gilgamesh is the title character and boldly exemplifies the persona that the ancients connected with that of a true hero. First and foremost Gilgamesh was bequest with immeasurable strength and powers thanks to his “two-thirds” god heritage. It is with this endowment that he was able to reign over all of the land and submit the masses to his rule. He is also a hero in the ancient sense of the term due to his journey, which encompassed battling with and conquering fantastic creatures on an immense scale, unparalleled by any other. It seems clear that the ancient perspective of a hero was based primarily on brute strength associated with super-human abilities and the want and desire

this “hero” had to conquer great beasts, for whatever purposes or gains. This paradigm of thought strikes a contrast with present day society’s perception of what exactly constitutes a hero.

In our society today, the image of a hero is hardly that of an all powerful man with god-like powers taking on fantastic quest to unknown lands; it is something rather different. Of course, each of us as individuals probably views the term differently but a general consensus can point to some common...