What made Gilgamesh, from The Epic of Gilgamesh, such an epic hero?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The difficulty in answering this question is that it can almost be asked in the reverse. Gilgamesh is, arguably, the original epic hero in world literature. He was the king of Uruk, an ancient Mesopotamian city famous for its impressive walls, and is regarded as being two-thirds god and one-third man. His connection to the gods (being two-thirds god and also denying the advances of the goddess Ishtar and eventually slaying her monstrous bull) and the pure scale of his strength and achievements help to put him on the level of the epic hero.

He also undergoes an epic quest—perhaps the first epic quest ever recorded. Following the death of his best friend Enkidu, Gilgamesh seeks immortality. In the style of a true epic quest, such as the search for the Holy Grail or Odysseus’s voyage homeward, he faces many monsters and overcomes many challenges—both internal and external. Though he ultimately fails to find immortality, he returns to Uruk as a wiser man and a nobler king than he was...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 840 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 12, 2019