Comparative Paper on "The Aenid" and "The Epic of Gilgamesh"

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An epic is a long, exalted narrative poem, usually on a serious subject, centered on a heroic figure. The earliest epics, known as primary, or original, epics, were shaped from the legends of an age when a nation was conquering and expanding; such is the foundation of Gilgamesh, of Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey, and of the Beowulf. Literary, or secondary, epics, written in conscious imitation of earlier forms, are most notably represented by Vergil's Aeneid and Milton's Paradise Lost. (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008)

The Aenid is, if not the greatest, one of the greatest Latin poems ever written. Vergil wrote this in the time of political reforms in Rome. He was determined to make a glorified foundation of the start of the Roman Empire and thus, Aenid was born.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is among the earliest works of literature to have been found. It is a Babylonian epic based on an actual historical figure, a king who reigned over the Sumerian city-state of Uruk around 2700 BC although the journeys that were undertaken by the protagonist had no real basis.

In terms of form, both epics are divided into twelve (12) sections, with Aenid separated by books and Gilgamesh by tablets. Similarly, the epics are also divided into two major parts. Books 1-6 of Aenid talk about Aeneas’ journey to Italy, and books 7-12 subsequently talk about the war that happened in Italy. The first seven tablets of Gilgamesh illustrate the relationship of Gilgamesh with Enkidu and the tasks they finish together, and the last tablets describe Gilgamesh and his quest for immortality due to his fear of death. Aenid is written in dactylic hexameter (also known as “heroic hexameter”, usually pertaining to epic poetry) while Gilgamesh has no noticeable meter. Aenid uses a rhyming scheme, while, again, Gilgamesh doesn’t. Also, Gilgamesh makes use of a lot of repetition of a group of lines per tablet.

Story-wise, Aenid starts with the journey of Aenid and the Trojans towards Italy. Aeneas...
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