The Epic of Gilgamesh Questions and Answers

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What makes Gilgamesh a hero?

Gilgamesh is a hero because of his status as a part-divine king, along with his superhuman attributes and accomplishments. In the ancient world, heroes would not have been expected to fulfill the same moral expectations which modernity ascribes to them, and Gilgamesh himself would fail such a test. Instead, classical heroes were defined primarily by their elevated status and superhuman feats. Gilgamesh, the part-divine king of Uruk, with his extraordinary adventures and achievements, passes that test.

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When speaking of the ancient tradition, heroes were understood as larger-than-life personalities who achieved superhuman feats. They were always royalty (or, at the very least, nobility), often with divine parentage, who tend to occupy a status suspended between gods and humans. Just consider the examples of the classical Greek heroes: Heracles, Theseus, Perseus, Odysseus, Achilles, etc. What links them all together is their elevated status and superhuman capability, along with the extraordinary accomplishments that follow.

Gilgamesh certainly fulfills these qualities. At the same time, it should be noted that, in the classical traditions, heroes did not require serving as the moral exemplars we would expect from modernity. Indeed, anyone attempting to laud Gilgamesh on moral grounds must wrestle with his depiction as a tyrant as the story begins, not to mention the killing of the defeated Humbaba as he pleads for mercy. Thus, even if he could be viewed as a hero, I don't think...

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tevtavuniwaqa | Student

Gilgamesh was created by the gods.There was no man as strong or as large as he was.He build the city of Uruk and became the ruler of its people.But as time went by Gilgamesh became too proud of his great strength and eager to show it in battles.His heroic gesture to search for Utanapishtim so that he can become immortal .A great hero will always return to its people.

lisarenee89 | Student

Gilgamesh was faced with many obstacles that would send the strongest of men running. He went against the monster of Humbaba and won. He did this in the name of others. Many feared for Gilgamesh because the monster was a terror to all. Gilgamesh was able to outsmart him though and beheaded the monster. He put his life in danger for others.

Gilgamesh's journey for immortality was the biggest example of how he was heroic. He went in search for immortality, and when he finally found it-he thought of others that could benefit from the herb. This showed selflessness and that he put his people above himself-something that many leaders often do not do. He was ready to give up his chance at immortality for the elderly and sickly of his kingdom.