Epic Hero Analysis



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The values and beliefs of Odysseus, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh make them very different and yet they share several similarities. People’s beliefs are usually formed early in life, they dictate the feats of the person later on. Personages who have different beliefs can often still share much of the same qualities. In the books Beowulf, the translation by Seamus Heaney, The Odyssey, by Homer, and The Epic of Gilgamesh, the translated oral epic, the protagonists Beowulf, Odysseus, and Gilgamesh have polarized values, however they share certain attributes.

Beowulf and Gilgamesh selfishly win glory for themselves, but Odysseus tries to return to his family. Odysseus and Gilgamesh believe in more than one god, Beowulf believes in one, yet all three of them are heroes who lead their people. The first paragraph of the discussion of heroes belongs to Odysseus. Odysseus leads his home of Ithaca in peace and harmony. He fathers a son named Telemachus and lives, at least for a while, in paradise. However, shortly after the birth of Telemachus he is called to war in Troy. He must leave his son and his beloved wife Penelope and sail off to fight a war in a foreign land.

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During the next nine years Odysseus would fight for his people and in the end he would win. However, for the next ten years he would struggle to get home for his family. “I might have made it safely home, that time but as I came round Malea the current took me out to sea” (ll. 29-31 book 9). He becomes cursed by the god Poseidon because he foolishly decided to boast to Poseidon’s son Polyphemus. Polyphemus has Odysseus and his men trapped and Odysseus outsmarts him by fooling him into thinking his name was Nohbdy “My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends all call me Nohbdy” (ll. 74-275 book9). Odysseus then stabs the Cyclops in the eye thus fooling the posterity of gods into yelling “Nohbdy has hurt me. ” Polyphemus then prays to his father to make sure that Odysseus never reaches his home of Ithaca. In the end he does return home to his cherished family. Next up we have Gilgamesh to analyze. Gilgamesh tyrannically terrorizes the people of Uruk over which he rules. “when the people of Uruk complain about Gilgamesh’s arrogance, the goddess aruru creates enkidu to contend with the king and absorb his energies. ” (heading for the attle with Humbaba). So, this guy oppresses his people into fearful prayer, yet through those prayers a savior comes to the occupants of Uruk. Enkidu ends up being friends with Gilgamesh and they purge the land of several evils. Eventually Enkidu dies and strikes fear into the heart of Gilgamesh. “how can I rest, how can I be at peace? Despair is in my heart. What my brother is now that shall I be when I am dead. Because I am afraid of death I will go as best I can to find Utnapishtim whom they call the faraway, for he has entered the assembly of the gods. ” (ll. -10 of The Search For Everlasting Life). The selfishness of this man to think that he deserves to be immortal. He eventually fails in his quest and dies. Beowulf also ranks among the above listed heroes. Beowulf and the people of his time believed in only one god. “with measured words she welcom the geat and thanked god for granting her wish. ” (ll. 625-626). Beowulf glorifies his name with several heroic deeds. One of these required him to sail to a foreign land to battle a monster. He went on this adventure for the fame and for the glory. “I had a fixed purpose when I put to sea.

As I sat in the boat with my band of men, I meant to perform to the uttermost what your people wanted or perish in the attempt in the fiend’s clutches. And I shall fulfill that purpose, or meet my death in the mead-hall. ” (ll. 632-638). He successfully wins the treasure and the fame and ends up being a king. As a king he leads his people peacefully because everyone fears him. “the wide kingdom reverted to Beowulf. he ruled it well for fifty winters, grew old and wise as warden of the land. ” (ll. 2207-2210). In the end Beowulf was killed by a dragon whilst fighting for treasure.

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