Who was the greater hero--Gilgamesh or Enkidu?

Essay by xyzzzzzzHigh School, 10th gradeA+, May 2005

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A firefighter enters a burning building to rescue a young girl trapped on the top floor. A mighty superhero easily lifts a gigantic monster off the ground and throws him into the bottomless pit. A scientist uses his knowledge of medicine to create an antidote for a deadly epidemic. Heroes in different stories are often described as people who are courageous, strong, or wise. One particular anecdote that illustrates the perfect example of such a protagonist is the legendary myth of Gilgamesh, which recounts the adventures of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, two friends who are equally valiant, stalwart, and insightful. Although both men are considered idyllic heroes, Enkidu seems to be a more favorable character. Unlike Gilgamesh, Enkidu possesses a virtuous personality, which renders him a greater protagonist.

Even when Enkidu lived a savage life, he already had a sense of righteousness. He constantly released the animals from the hunter's traps as a way to express his gratitude for their milk.

After the priestess transformed him into a civilized human being, he gained "a greater understanding and wisdom" (187). When the shepherds clothed him and nourished him with bread and wine, Enkidu displayed his appreciation by using his weapon "to kill the wolves and lions so the shepherds [could] rest at night" (188). Through slaughtering his former companions for the benefit of those who helped him, Enkidu demonstrated his knowledge of morality. In contrast, Gilgamesh did not understand the importance of respecting others. He interfered "in the lives of his subjects beyond his right as king" (185), which made him a resented individual among his people. As a result, the citizens of Uruk looked to Enkidu as their salvation from Gilgamesh's tyranny.

In addition to being an impertinent king, Gilgamesh possessed hubris as well. Because of his godly abilities, Gilgamesh...



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