The Epic of Gilgamesh Questions and Answers

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What parallels can be found between the Epic of Gilgamesh and Homer's Odyssey?

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Although there are strong parallels between the two works, parallels do not necessarily prove direct influence. There is the possibility that both works incorporated materials from various shared oral traditions or that the epic itself as a genre has certain necessary structural features and themes, such as tales of travel, confrontation with mortality, and attempts to explain the relationship between the divine and human. There has been a great deal of interesting scholarship in the past few decades on the relationship between Greek and Near Eastern cultures, especially by West, Burkert, Morris, and Penglase, but as we do not know the actual identity of the authors of the Homeric epics (or even have any scholarly agreement about the ways in which the epics were authored), and there are no clear and specific references to Babylonian texts in the epic, we must be cautious about ascribing direct influence. 

The first parallel between the two is that both are tales of rulers who suffer,...

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