The Tragedy Of Gilgamesh: The Hero

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In many of the works reviewed throughout World Literature Before 1660 there is the idea of The Hero. The most accepted version of the traditional Hero is based on a male figure that is of low birth or status. The character then rises to a position of power because of their perseverance during adverse circumstances. Although there is the idea of the traditional Hero, there are times within literary works where the characters act as their own heroes. List 20 in The Pillow Book is a complex example of divergence from the traditional heroic archetype. In this list, Sei Shonagon recounts a time when Empress Teishi told the story of the Senyōden Consort. The High Consort committed herself to being the best at her skill and memorizing all twenty …show more content…
Gilgamesh is part human and part god. This unique characteristic about him is what causes him to act as his own hero. Gilgamesh was an arrogant ruler who took full advantage of his power because he saw himself as a greater being than anyone else. He was matchless in his physique and strength –before encountering Enkidu. Having power made Gilgamesh his own hero because he achieved adverse circumstances that were solely beneficial for him and usually costly for others. One example of this is when Gilgamesh decides he wants to kill Humbaba (lines 134-136). He does not wish to kill the monster to protect others or as a means to accomplish a quest but simply because he wants a tree from the monster’s forest and to obtain glory. He proves this point even further by justifying himself to Enkidu by saying, “I must establish eternal fame” (line 190). Another way that Gilgamesh acts as his own hero is shown through his quest for immortality. Troubled by Enkidu’s death, Gilgamesh becomes consumed by his own fate and mortality. He leaves Uruk, without concern of its fate without a ruler, in order to gain something that was only beneficial to him. If Gilgamesh would have achieved immortality he truly would have seen himself as his own hero. He would have succeeded in a task that no one else could do for him based on his terms. Like Gilgamesh, Hanuhpu and Xbalanque function as their own hero in acting out their own

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