Moses and Gilgamesh as Homeric Heroes

Topics: Sumer, Moses Pages: 3 (866 words) Published: May 22, 2006
Be it the firefighters who rush into towering infernos to save people, sports stars who never gives up on their dreams, or dedicated police officers whose persistence saves many lives, heroes come in many shapes and sizes. These heroes

serve as role models for the rest of society to pattern, and as leaders in the local community. Heros of this type are not new. For millennia, those who go above and beyond the calls of daily life are held to a much higher standard, and are given great respect by their peers. Two early examples of this are found in the Gilgamesh, from the Epic of Gilgamesh, and Moses, in the Book of Exodus. Both works tell the tale of a hero through the eyes of the culture that spawned them. In this way, both Gilgamesh and Moses are Homeric heroes , but only in the ways that are valued by their culture.

When thinking of a hero, it is often hard to escape the idea of a Herculean warrior who goes about his heroic business of slaying monsters and saving damsels in distress with unfaltering dedication. Be it Beowulf or Superman, the idea of the superhuman warrior hero is one of the most enduring archetypes, predating literature itself. This type of hero, the Homeric hero, is described as having the "...virtues of courage, resourcefulness, magnanimity in victory and dignity in defeat..." (Auden 17), and who's "motive is to win admiration and glory from his equals..."(Auden 17). This desire for glory and admiration means that the exact picture of the homeric hero changes with each culture, but the heroic concept endures. In two extremely influential works, Exodus and Gilgamesh, there are clear examples of Homeric heroes , who seem very different at first, but actually share much in common. Of the two, the more classical example lies in Gilgamesh.

Possessed of great abilities and being a consummate and respected warrior among the Babylonian people, Gilgamesh is an excellent example of a Homeric Hero. One clear example of this being his assault on...

Cited: Auden, W. H. The Portable Greek Reader. NY: Penguin, 1955. 16-38
Mason, Herbert. Gilgamesh. NY: Penguin, 1970.
The Holy Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1611.
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