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The Hero's Journey: The Epic of Gilgamesh

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Amy Wang

on 21 October 2014

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Transcript of The Hero's Journey: The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Hero's Journey: The Epic of Gilgamesh
Reward and the Journey Home
Reward and the journey home is hard to fit with Gilgamesh because he set out for eternal life and was granted nothing. It is because of this that he really does have the reward. The reward was discovering that his destiny was not to become immortal, but be a great king over Uruk. Gilgamesh's journey home is his journey to finally rest in peace.
The talisman, or special item that is used to assist the hero, is the flower that makes one immortal. Although not used for long, this flower makes Gilgamesh reflect on what is good for him and what is right for others.
Master of Two Worlds/Restoring the World
Gilgamesh was able to save his world by showing he could be a just king although he was previously tyrannical. His thoughts later became less about his own well being and more about being more selfless. This instance is when he decides he will grant immortality to the elderly rather than himself.
As demonstrated in The Epic of Gilgamesh, Joseph Campbell’s story-structure can be found in pieces of literature to enhance the story. The stages of the hero’s journey are timeless and universal, being able to be seen in many different types of genres besides myths and legends. Even the oldest piece of literature in the world contains the features of the monomyth, helping to keep its adventures still enjoyable by readers today.
Tests and the Supreme Ordeal
The Supreme Ordeal is the obstacle that heroes have been waiting to overcome throughout their adventure. Everything the hero has done comes down to this test. For Gilgamesh, it was obtaining the magical plant that restores youth. This is the moment that decides whether or not he will meet his goal he has worked so hard for. Although he did not succeed in reaching immortality, the tension is relieved, because he accepts the fact that living forever is not his fate.
Accepting the Call
After the hero decides to undertake a task, the next stage of their journey begins. This is such when Gilgamesh makes the decision to search for immortality. This choice sets the adventure into motion.
Every hero needs a helper or sidekick in order to get through their ordeals. In Gilgamesh’s case, his helper, Enkidu, is his equal, and with this best friend he is able to complete many tasks he otherwise would have failed. An example of this is their journey to fight Humbaba. If Enkidu was not there to encourage him, Gilgamesh may have given up and never defeated the beast.
Entering the Unknown
This stage brings the hero to experience a new world that often has rules different from what the hero is accustomed to. When Gilgamesh goes on his search for immortality, he is confronted with difficulties testing his endurance and strength. He must stay strong when going through the mountain of Mashu and maintain this strength for twelve leagues of darkness. Nothing like this was ever experienced by him before embarking on this adventure.
Supernatural Aid
Supernatural aid is the help of others that are above the laws of nature. In Gilgamesh's life, these people would be the gods. They guide Gilgamesh on his quests and surely have powers above the average man.
Refusal of the Quest
The Refusal of the Quest is when any hero is given a task that only they can complete. One example is when Simba from The Lion King decides that he will not return to Pride Rock. Gilgamesh is shown refusing the quest when he is faced with battling Humbaba or taking his generous offer as his servant. Gilgamesh's answer is to kill Humbaba based on the words of his friend, Enkidu.
The Call to Adventure
Gilgamesh is removed from his ordinary world in Uruk to go on a quest into the Cedar Forest. This new journey was pivotal in the Epic and in Campbell's research of stories. On this quest, Gilgamesh and Enkidu must go find Humbaba and defeat him for fame and glory.
The Ordinary World
Heroes often exist in a world that seems normal and uneventful to all others that inhabit it. Usually, the heroes possess some special ability or trait that distinguishes them from ordinary people. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk. His people live their everyday lives, their only concern being that their leader is tyrannical. Gilgamesh on the other hand, is simply restless, so he acts domineering to ease his boredom. In addition, as the king, he possesses unique characteristics. He has a perfect body, great strength, and wisdom beyond compare. These attributes set him apart from his subjects in the city.
The Hero's Journey
What makes stories so exciting and popular? Joseph Campbell, a mythological researcher and American psychologist, found a common pattern of stages that are present in all hero stories and are the reasons for a story’s success. These stages of Campbell’s monomyth can be seen even in the oldest piece of literature in the world,
The Epic of Gilgamesh
By: Amy Wang and Garron Tubbs
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