Essay on Beowulf vs. Gilgamesh

1218 Words Apr 26th, 2001 5 Pages
Beowulf Vs. Gilgamesh

The two cultures I chose to compare heroic values for are the ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Anglo-Saxon cultures. The texts I used in the comparison are Gilgamesh for Mesopotamia and Beowulf for Anglo-Saxon. Although they posses many similar heroic characteristics they also differ greatly.
Beowulf is the earliest surviving epic poem written in a modern European language. It was written in Old English sometime before the tenth century A.D. The poem describes the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian warrior of the sixth century.
Beowulf is described as a perfect hero who fights for his people and vanquishes evil with his extraordinary abilities to bring peace and justice. Three of Beowulf's traits that support
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Beowulf risked his own life to save the Danes from Grendal then once again when Grendal's mother came for revenge. Fifty years after slaying Grendal's mother a fierce dragon began terrorizing Beowulf's people. Beowulf was old and tired but he still set out to fight the dragon to protect his people. As an old man Beowulf soon realized he was no match for the dragon, but he didn't run. With the help of one of his followers Beowulf fought hard and finally killed the dragon, losing his own life in the process. Even in death he wished for the safety of his people.
The most heroic of traits within Beowulf is that he was not afraid to die. He always explained his death wishes before going into battle and requested to have all his wealth and belongings distributed between his people. Beowulf was not afraid to die because he lived a heroic life and he felt it was his duty as a hero to defeat any evil or die trying. "When we crossed the sea, my comrades and I, I already knew that all my purpose was this: to win the good will of your people or die in battle, pressed in Grendel's fierce grip. Let me live in greatness and courage, or here in this hall welcome my death! (22)" Beowulf knew that by battling evil monsters such as Grendal he would achieve immortality. The stories of his unconquerable courage would be retold again and again, forever. In life or in death a hero is glorified for their actions.
. His strength, his ability to put his people's welfare before his own,

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