Beowulf And Gilgamesh; Timeless Heroes (Themes)

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Many legendary stories are told of heroes, ancient cultures, menacing gods, and strange worlds unlike anything we know of in today’s modern world. We create fictional movies and fantasy books to entertain ourselves such as the popular fictional epics The Golden Compass or The Lord of the Rings. However, perhaps the most fundamental epics are those that are from history, legends that were very real in their time. 2 of these historical epics are Beowulf and Gilgamesh. Beowulf is a Nordic tale from northern Europe, dating back over 1,000 years. Gilgamesh on the other hand, is an ancient Babylonian legend from over 4,000 years ago. Both of these epics set the basic ideals of legendary quests, heroes and gods, all while maintaining their real life cultures and mindsets. Although both are old legends, the themes between them vary significantly. It is important to compare their societies, relationships with Gods and demons, and heroic ideals. Both Beowulf’s and Gilgamesh’s society were made up of independent cities with one king or ruler. All the people in the cities were united against other warring kingdoms and the dangerous natural world found outside the city walls. The natural world was inhabited by dangerous beasts and gods. In both stories, Gilgamesh and Beowulf set out to conquer threatening gods outside their city. Beowulf defeats Grendal, a monster who was constantly killing members of Heorot. Gilgamesh kills Humbaba, an evil spirit of nature far in the cedar woods. Another similarity was the revenge from the gods. In Beowulf, Grendal’s mother seeks to destroy Beowulf for killing her son Grendal. In Gilgamesh, the gods send the Bull from Heaven to punish the humans for killing Humbaba. Both characters go on dangerous journeys through water, mountains, and forests to defeat the evil gods and monsters. Beowulf and Gilgamesh depict different

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