Ken Hiltner, Miss Russ
English 122 LE
October 27, 2011
Word Count: ~1450
Hero or Villain?
In all epics, we read about the endeavors of heroes who have to conquer an evil entity in order to ensure the peace of their constituencies. They exhibit great virtues such as courage, pride, intelligence, wit, patriotism, and love for the people of their land, among other things. Those are typically the qualities that come to mind when we think of a hero; however, when we think of the evil force that compliments the hero, we think of someone/something that causes harm onto the land, and thus brings fear to everyone when the name of that entity is spoken. In the case of The Myth of Gilgamesh, the distinction of hero or villain is distorted. There is significant evidence that suggests that not only is Gilgamesh a villain, but also he is an environmental hazard.
In the Myth of Gilgamesh, we are introduced to the so-called “hero” and leader behind the great walled city of Uruk. Gilgamesh “had seen everything…had journeyed to the edge of the world…had carved his trials on stone tablets…restored the holy Eanna Temple and the massive wall of Uruk…Gilgamesh suffered all and accomplished all.” (2-3) This introduction leads us to believe that Gilgamesh does possess some of the qualities that would make him be considered a hero; his soldiers refer to him as “the fortress” and “protector of the people, raging flood that destroys all defenses.” (3) It is rather instinctual for the reader to feel an admiration towards the character. However, one must not be so quick to judge. Words are just words, but actions are far louder. What is true of the statements that are said by his soldiers is that Gilgamesh destroys all defenses, in the ecocritical perspective; he destroys the defenses of the Cedar Forest.
As the story unfolds, we begin to see Gilgamesh more as a villain than a hero. For example, Gilgamesh “does whatever he wants, takes the son from his father and...
Cited: Mitchell, Stephen. "Book One to Book 5." Gilgamesh: a new English version. New York: Free
Press, 2004. 1-32. Print.
Perlin, John. A forest journey: the role of wood in the development of civilization. New York: W.W. Norton, 1989. Print.
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