The Evolution of what a Hero is Through Early Literature
A Hero is a person that others are able to look up to and admire. They are admired because these heroes serve to be symbols for courage, they accomplish great things, or they can possess noble qualities. In order for someone to essentially achieve a sort of hero status, they must embody the ideals of that culture and what that culture might create or strive for. These heroes help to shape the societies or cultures in which they essentially belong to. Likewise the heroes are also shaped by their respective cultures, as various heroes such as Beowulf, Achilles, and Gilgamesh can attest to. In that regard, all heroes are the same.
There are differences between the heroes, however, and they all have their own quests driven by different motivations, and all having similar yet different fates. Gilgamesh seeks to understand the secret to life so that he might bring back Enkidu, his dead friend. “Two things encourage me to hope, he said; that one can come this far to bring life to a friend” (Puchner, 101). While Gilgamesh's quest is so personal, Beowulf's on the other hand is not. This is best demonstrated when Beowulf says “For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end. Let whoever can win glory before death. When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark” (Puchner, 1267). While the difference between what motivates Gilgamesh and Beowulf is so different, the difference between Beowulf and Achilles is not. Achilles, much like Beowulf, was driven by the prospect of eternal glory though the definitions differed slightly. Also like Beowulf, Achilles was very prideful, Achilles perhaps a bit more so than Beowulf even. Due to Achilles having so much pride, he is ultimately killed at a young age, whereas as Beowulf is killed as an older man. Gilgamesh is not immune to having a lot of pride either, as illustrated when the narrator describes “in the enclosure of Uruk he strode back and