The belief in divine powers controlled civilian life in the ancient world. Piety, sacrifice, and complete devotion were necessary to keep these gods happy. In both ancient texts, The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Aeneid, this sort of respect and dedication to the gods is seen. Although ruling at different times, both kings in these epic adventures face uniquely different divine powers that have a diverse way of handling each culture. The role of the gods, although present in both hero’s journeys, differ dramatically for Aeneas and Gilgamesh by means of the amount of freedom the divine powers allow, and how their gods bring each character’s culture to justice.
The gods are not only a necessity for spiritual guidance, but they also have a vast influence on the direction of a mortal’s life on earth. The amount of direction and guidance they provide, however, varies with the two stories, The Aeneid and The Epic of Gilgamesh. Throughout Aeneas’s journey there is a divine intervention with every step he takes. The gods have predetermined his course to find a new land in Italy, and they have been able aid him with every challenge that Juno presents. Aeneas has no choice and must follow the will of the gods. For example, while fleeing the war-torn Troy Aeneas spots Helen and wishes to kill her, giving her what he feels she deserves. However, before he is able to do this Venus appears to stop him and mentions that it is not Jupiter’s will for her to die then (Virgil, Book II, 1210-1211). This knowledge from the gods prevents Aeneas from killing Helen, and continues to push him towards his already-planned fate. Even when Aeneas has to leave Dido against his own will, he is forced to stay on the path that Jupiter intends him to. His heart lies with Dido, however we see that he has no choice when he proclaims to her, “Cease to enflame my heart and yours with plaints: not by my choice I go to Italy” (Virgil, Book IV, 360). The gods have even more...
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