Gilgamesh: a Hero's Journey Essay

Words: 1530
Pages: 7

Gilgamesh the Hero Gilgamesh, written by David Ferry, illustrates a story about a man who knows everything, but continues to try and learn more. Although Gilgamesh may be arrogant, he still remains a great ruler and commander of Uruk. Throughout the book, the adventures of Gilgamesh fit Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey. After analyzing the pieces to the hero’s journey, Gilgamesh is proven to be a true hero because his journey parallels that of the hero’s journey described by Campbell. The latter part of this paper will prove Gilgamesh is a hero using Campbell’s model, by analyzing the pieces of the hero’s journey: separation or departure, the initiation, and the return. The first element of the hero’s
…show more content…
Enemies and tragedies are also components of initiation. Campbell describes enemies as something out to get you, and sometimes trying to kill you. An enemy that Gilgamesh encounters is Ishtar. Ishtar wants Gilgamesh to be with her, but he denies her request and devalues her. Humiliation and anger lead Ishtar to her father and asks him for the Bull of Heaven. “Give me the Bull of Heaven that I may punish/Gilgamesh the king, who has found out/and told about the foulness of the goddess./Give me the Bull of Heaven with which to kill him” (Ferry 32). Enemies are part of the hero’s journey to teach the heroes a lesson. Gilgamesh learns actions have consequences and to respect sacred places. Kings don’t always think things through before they act, and their ego gets them into trouble. Gilgamesh’s companion dies as a way to teach Gilgamesh that death is more powerful than anything else, and even a king can’t save him. Through the tragedy of Enkidu’s death, the hero, Gilgamesh, grows and becomes a different self. Another element of initiation is the belly of the whale. It shows a hero is serious and willing to die. The hero is a new person, who is focused after been through hell and back. After Gilgamesh’s companion dies, he becomes very depressed. “He made his way, companionless, to the end/of the second league. Utterly lightless, black./There was nothing behind or before, nothing at