What Makes Gilgamesh an Epic Hero?



Gilgamesh, the hero of the epic poem of the same name, is a figure who embodies the ideals of ancient Mesopotamian culture and represents the pinnacle of what it meant to be a true hero. His heroic qualities are numerous and varied, and it is these qualities that make him such a compelling and enduring figure in literature and mythology.

Undoubtedly, he is an epic hero who embodies many of the traits of a traditional hero. He is strong, brave, and powerful and can overcome challenges and obstacles that would be impossible for ordinary mortals. At the same time, Gilgamesh is also deeply flawed, and his struggles and challenges reveal much about the human condition and the nature of heroism.

One of the key traits that define Gilgamesh as an epic hero is his physical strength and prowess. He is said to be two-thirds god and one-third man; this divine heritage is evident in his superhuman strength and stamina. He can engage in incredible feats of strength, such as defeating the mighty bull of heaven and slaying the monstrous Humbaba, which no mortal man could hope to accomplish. However, this physical prowess is not simply a matter of brute force, as Gilgamesh is also an incredibly skilled warrior, able to take on and defeat even the most formidable foes with ease.


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Another key characteristic of Gilgamesh as an epic hero is his intelligence and cunning. He is not simply a brute-force fighter but is also highly intelligent and resourceful. He can outsmart his enemies, such as using his cunning to defeat Humbaba and gain access to the Cedar Forest. This intelligence is also evident in his ability to learn from his experiences and grow as a person, as he does when he travels to the underworld and learns from the wise Utnapishtim about the fleeting nature of human life.

Gilgamesh’s Flaws and Weaknesses

Gilgamesh’s flaws and weaknesses are also a crucial part of his character. He is prone to arrogance and hubris and often acts impulsively and recklessly. This leads to his downfall and eventual defeat, as he cannot learn from his mistakes and grows increasingly arrogant and self-absorbed. In this way, Gilgamesh’s weaknesses and flaws reveal much about the nature of heroism and the challenges that heroes must face succeeding.


To conclude, Gilgamesh is an epic hero because of his bravery and courage. Despite his many dangers and challenges, he never backs down and always faces them head-on. He is willing to put his life on the line to protect his city and his people, and he is not afraid to take on any challenge, no matter how daunting it may seem. This bravery and courage are evident in his many battles and adventures, and it is a key part of what makes him such a hero.

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