Comparison of Gilgamesh and Achilles Essay

1581 Words Nov 23rd, 2013 7 Pages
Every mythological hero seems to be on a journey in search of the thing he desires most in the world. The two heroes who stood out to me were Gilgamesh, and Achilles. Gilgamesh’s greatest fear was death, while Achilles feared his legacy being lost and forgotten. Technically their desires are different, but their journey share many similarities, and in the end, boils down to the same thing. Each man in his own way, both Gilgamesh and Achilles desired immortality above all else. Though immortality takes on very a different meaning for Gilgamesh, as it does for Achilles, every decision as well as all the sacrifices they make, are based on their fear of death and dying.
Gilgamesh’s journey for immortality begins with the death of Enkidu.
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Their self-esteem is based on how they perform on the battlefield. And for warriors who also happen to be demi-gods it is easy to see how becoming old, decrepit, and weak can be a fate worse than a painful bloody death of a life cut short. In both stories, the voice of reason for the heroes is a woman. This makes the allusion that men are rash, and act based on passionate response rather than reason. And women are calm and collected, acting rationally instead of a rash emotional response. These women act as a foil for the heroes, the yin to their yang, passion versus reason.
Another piece of evidence which supports the idea that men, or in this case the heroes acted rashly based on passion instead of rationally is the fact that they left their whole kingdom in a lurch in favor of their own desires. After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh was distraught. He stays by his friend’s dead body until a worm crawls out of its nose, then he sets off into the wilderness.(1) He did not give any thought to the welfare of his people, Gilgamesh just picked up and left everything behind. He left no one in charge of the kingdom in case his journey was to fail. Both he and Achilles were so blinded by their desire for immortality, they made one selfish decision after the other. Achilles left the Myrmidons to fight for his glory in Trojan war without naming an heir to the throne, while knowing full well he would never return.(1) When spun in a positive light,…

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