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The Transcending Characteristics of a Mythical Hero

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The Transcending Characteristics of a Mythical Hero
The Transcending Characteristics of a Mythical Hero

Although separated by the wide gulf of time and culture, myths involving supernatural characters and gods exist in almost every society throughout the world. While this commonality may not be spectacular by itself, a detailed comparative study of the myths reveals a more striking similarity. Even in cultures as different and antagonistic as those of the Ancient Greeks and the Sumerians, predecessors of the Persians, there exists a startling parallelism in imagery and themes of the myths of the respective peoples. The epics of Heracles and Gilgamesh are an exceptionally good example of these similarities. One cannot know with a certainty whether the original creator of the epic of Gilgamesh, whose name is lost in time, or Shin-eqi-unninni, the scribe with whose version we are familiar today, knew anything of the legend of Heracles. However, while placed in completely different settings, written for completely different audiences, and filled with unique and culturally flavored adventures, the myths of Gilgamesh and Heracles display startlingly similar character traits and common themes. A detailed comparison of these masterpiece epics reveals an undeniable universality of myth and of human mind in general. Heracles, and later the Latin Hercules, is the quintessential and one of the most renowned and worshiped Ancient Greek heroes, whose life and exploits, capturing the essence of the Greek culture, are the stuff of myth and legend. Son of Zeus and mortal Alcmene, Hercules derived his great strengths and his greatest weakness from his mixed parentage. He was born Alcides, and gained early renown as the mighty warrior and archer, vanquisher of king Erginus 's army, stalwart defender of Thebes, and wielder of Athena 's weapons. Yet, as the illegitimate child of Zeus, he attracted the jealous rage of Hera, who sent insanity upon him. In a blind rage Heracles murdered his wife and children. Upon recovering



Bibliography: Hooker, Richard. "Gilgamesh." http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/MESO/GILG.HTM (9 September 2004) Perseus Project. "Hercules: Greece 's Greatest Hero." http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/index.html (9 September 2004) Ailia Athena. "The Labors of Heracles." http://www.geocities.com/ailiathena/Myths/Heracles.html June 27, 2004 (9 September 2004)

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