Beowulf and Gilgamesh are Epic Heroes But the Seafarer isn’t and Here’s Why
In the stories “Beowulf” and “The Head of Humbaba,” the main characters reflect the descriptions of an “epic hero”. However in the story, “The Seafarer,” the main character does not reflect any descriptions of an “epic hero.” Beowulf and Gilgamesh fit the description because they both go on a quest and have the similar motivations of an epic hero. The Seafarer, in contrast, had a different motivation and an entirely different quest.
Beowulf and Gilgamesh have journeys that fit the traditional epic hero. In Beowulf’s story, his journey consisted of killing monsters. He killed Grendel who terrorized Herot. “Beowulf, a prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel…from the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s arm, claw and shoulder and all.” (“Beowulf” Lines 510-517). Gilgamesh’s story also included murdering monstrous fiends. He killed Humbaba, the guardian of the forest.”…he raised his ax up higher and swung it in a perfect arc into Humbaba’s neck.” (“The Head of Humbaba” Lines 46-48)
Gilgamesh and Beowulf also had similar motivations that fit an “epic hero.” Beowulf killed Grendel to pay off the debt to Herot because of his father. Gilgamesh provoked and killed Humbaba so he’d also be will known. Both reasons fit the descriptions for an epic hero.
In contrast, the Seafarer doesn’t fit an “epic hero” because his journey and motivation doesn’t correspond. The Seafarer’s journey was to simply travel the sea. His motivation was to make peace with God. Neither of those actions makes the Seafarer and “epic hero.”
Beowulf and Gilgamesh are epic heroes because their journey and motivations fit what an epic hero stands for. They both fought monsters and both their motivation fit an epic hero. The seafarer isn’t an epic hero because his journey and motivation doesn’t correspond to one. He didn’t accomplish much and his motivation didn’t fit an epic hero....
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