A Good Leader: Odysseus and Gilgamesh

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Strength, determination and dedication are a few examples of characteristics, which a leader should possess. Characteristics of a good leader may vary in the eye of the beholder, however, I believe that overall there are a few qualities that are critically important. Throughout a person’s life, the experiences they endure shape them and build them into an individual. Like the lugals in Mesopotamia, it is a leaders obligation to protect and serve. In the Mycenaean civilization the Wanax stood at the top of their social ladder. In the Odyssey, Odysseus would be a Wanax because he owned an independent walled kingdom or palace. Both Odysseus and Gilgamesh were looked up to as leaders. When asked if they were successful leaders, I was a bit stuck. After some thought, though, I came to the conclusion that I believe both Odysseus and Gilgamesh were successful leaders. They were not always successful leaders, but their adventures and experiences molded them into reliable men.

Our first glance of Odysseus is when Telemakhos speaks of him to Athena. (Odyssey 8-9). He explains that he would rather have a father who is happy and growing old in his house rather than one with a mysterious and dangerous life. This is the first example of why I believe Odysseus started out as a bad leader. Although he was off fighting, against his wishes, he lost contact with the people he cared about the most, and fell off the radar. I believe that, as a leader, he should have been able to somehow get into contact with his family and inform them that he was okay.

When comparing our first impression of Gilgamesh to Odysseus, we see someone who is extremely different. Odysseus had a loving family and a loyal wife. In contrast, Gilgamesh was selfish and achieved the glory he thought he deserved. He was on the hunt for immortality and in doing so, abandoned his city or Uruk to travel with his friend Enkidu. A successful leader should never abandon his or her people.

One example that...
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