Civilizations and Heroism in Gilgamesh and Beowulf Essay

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Civilizations and Heroism in Gilgamesh and Beowulf

Heroism is a theme that has appeared throughout history in the literature of different civilizations. Heroes represent the principles and ideals associated with the varying morals of each individual society. The literature of Mesopotamia and Western Europe is a prime example of this. Beowulf, an Anglo-Germanic tale and The Epic of Gilgamesh, of the Sumerians, demonstrate perfectly, the ability of civilizations to convey the values and customs of their society through their literature. The setting for Beowulf is Scandinavia, before the time Christianity had spread its course. Beowulf, the title character is the hero in this tale. He possesses many of the typical heroic traits
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He battles Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon. He knowingly risks his life while never backing out of the commitments he made, even when death is inevitable. The heroic traits of Beowulf allow him to achieve the great feats, which he accomplishes in this legend. The character of Beowulf exemplifies the Anglo-Germanic cultural values of a hero. He consistently displays what is of importance morally to this civilization. To this group of people, courage, strength and loyalty were the most important aspects of their culture. Beowulf fights the monster Grendel, knowing that he must do it without any weapons. This kind of strength is strived for by the Anglo-Germanic people. Fighting the mother of Grendel and the dragon, basically by himself, show how courageous of a man he was. Beowulf is loyal to his people as well. As a king, he fights the dragon, who is not directly as much of a threat to Beowulf, but more to the people that he rules over. Knowing the dangers of fighting this beast, he does it out of loyalty for the people who rely on him. Beowulf is a great hero, both by the standards of the Anglo-Germanic people and by the standards of what t takes to be a hero today. Gilgamesh, as a hero, varies from Beowulf, however still represents what is of importance to the culture of which he was created. He is not as pure by the standards of our society today. He still possesses the great strength and courage of a typical hero, however he

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