Similarities in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Siddhartha as Portrayed by an Unknown Author and Herman Hesse

Topics: Epic of Gilgamesh, Hermann Hesse, Ishtar Pages: 6 (2634 words) Published: March 2, 2010
Similarities in The_ Epic of Gilgamesh_ and Siddhartha
As portrayed by an unknown author and Herman Hesse

Both Siddhartha and Gilgamesh believe in themselves, they do not let others define them or make decisions for them. Siddhartha demonstrates that he has strong will from the very beginning of the novel. He is taught by the Samana even though the teachings he received up to this point in his life say that the Samana’s wayis the wrong religion. “It is not fitting for a Brahmin to speak angry and violent words/But indignation moves my heart/I do not wish to hear that request a second time from your lips”(Hesse, 9). Siddhartha wants to make his own decision to study with the Samana, therefore, he needed to go against his father’s judgment and demand leave to travel with the Samana. This clearly shows Siddhartha’s strong will by wanting to study with the Samana strongly enough to disobey his father. Siddhartha also demonstrates determination when he does not fall prey to the temptations of Sublime ones teachings. Siddhartha believes you do not need a teacher or scriptures to be taught how to achieve Nirvana. He abandons the Buddha and also his friend with hope of finding the way to Nirvana on his own. Gilgamesh on the other hand is the ruler of Uruk. In order to be able to keep his people alive he needs to be level headed and strong willed. Gilgamesh is so strong willed he seems arrogant, he believes he is one of the Gods and immortal and forgets that he is only 2/3 God. The villagers of Uruk say that “[Gilgamesh’s] arrogance has no bounds by night or day”(tablet 1, 62). Although his strong will is mistaken for arrogance on numerous occasions, Gilgamesh changes through the course of the novel. After meeting Enkidu he seems less arrogant to the people of Uruk and becomes their hero. Gilgamesh’s strong will helps him through the trials he must face to reach immortality. He faces the battle with Hambaba, the death of his friend, he passes through the mountain pass, rows across the waters of death and then return to his people. Gilgamesh did not give up during his journey because he did not want to let the people of Uruk suffer an illfate. The thought of his people gives him courage and his strong will is what allows him to continue. Gilgamesh and Siddhartha are two men from different times but they still share the same quality of being strong willed. The importance of loyalty is conveyed through Siddhartha’s and Gilgamesh’sloyalty to their friends. Siddhartha is loyal to every person he meets during his journey, but his most trusted friend is Govinda. They start their journey together; Govinda is in love with Siddhartha and therefore follows all his wishes. After meeting the Sublime One Siddhartha feels as though he has wronged his friend by bringing him along on his journey, because they have not found Nirvana: Govinda, my friend, now you have taken this step, now you have chosen this path. Always, oh Govinda, you've been my friend, you've always walked one step behind me. Often I have thought: Won't Govinda for once also take a step by himself, without me, out of his own soul? Behold, now you've turned into a man and are choosing your path for yourself. I wish that you would go it up to its end, oh my friend, that you shall find salvation! Siddhartha wants only the best for his friend so he waits for Govinda to decide to leave him instead of sending him away. Siddhartha wishes Govinda well, even though he knows later on he will feel lonely without his friend. Siddhartha and Govinda meet each other after they depart on two other occasions. On each meeting they speak as though they had never left one another’s side. Friendship thus plays a key role in Siddhartha as well. Gilgamesh initially does not seem like a loyal person because of his arrogance, however, when he meets Enkidu, Gilgamesh becomes a loyal friend. At the beginning of their relationship, Gilgamesh’s loyalty seems questionable, but after the...
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