Gilgamesh: a Hero's Journey

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2/29/12
Gilgamesh the Hero
Gilgamesh, written by David Ferry, illustrates a story about a man who knows everything, but continues to try and learn more. Although Gilgamesh may be arrogant, he still remains a great ruler and commander of Uruk. Throughout the book, the adventures of Gilgamesh fit Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey. After analyzing the pieces to the hero’s journey, Gilgamesh is proven to be a true hero because his journey parallels that of the hero’s journey described by Campbell. The latter part of this paper will prove Gilgamesh is a hero using Campbell’s model, by analyzing the pieces of the hero’s journey: separation or departure, the initiation, and the return. The first element of the hero’s journey is separation or departure. This first piece is comprised of a call to adventure, acceptance of the call, supernatural aid, and the cross of the threshold. Campbell explains in a hero’s journey, a herald calls the hero to come on a journey. This component is described in Gilgamesh when Enkidu comes to get Gilgamesh to go on a quest. Enkidu tells Gilgamesh about Huwawa, the guardian of the Cedar Forest, who is frightening everybody. After hearing about Huwawa, Gilgamesh accepts the call to adventure and says, “It is Gilgamesh who will venture into the Forest/and cut the Cedar down and win the glory” (Ferry 17). Both the call to adventure and acceptance are represented in the beginning of the book. The next component that falls under the same category of separation or departure is a supernatural aid. Gilgamesh receives supernatural aid from Shamash, the god of heaven. Ninsun, Gilgamesh’s mother, asks the god to help protect her son and Enkidu while they are on their quest. “When Shamash sees him setting out on the road,/or in the mountain passes, or entering the Forest, may Shamash guard and keep him safe./ And may the stars, the watchmen of the night,/watch over Gilgamesh and the companion” (Ferry 20). Later on, when...
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