Comparing Gilgamesh and Odysseus

Similarities and Differences

Many similarities exist between Gilgamesh and Odysseus heroes. Evidently, Gilgamesh, a hero from the epic book called Gilgamesh, is noted to have been a famous king who ruled “Uruk in Babylonia.” Also, Odysseus was a hero from the book of Odysseus and ruled the island kingdom of Ithaca (Brennan, 2006). As indicated from the book, Odysseus turned out to be one of the significant prominent rulers in Greek during the Trojan War. Gilgamesh is a hero who battles the odds in life as he attempts to find knowledge and truth. Gilgamesh presents to being a harsh ruler and sleeps with other people’s brides. This damages his reputation and Aruru, the goddess of creation makes Enkidu which is creatures describes to be half-beast and half-man. This monster becomes a friend to Gilgamesh and the adventure to real battle monsters including Humbaba and “bull of heaven” (Grundy, 2000). Similarly, Odyssey is a hero who fought monsters on his way home. However, unlike Gilgamesh who was harsh and slept with men’s brides, Odyssey depicts to be a cunning and an intelligent hero who manages to escape from the different monsters that he encounters.

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Odysseus and Gilgamesh are both heroes from two different times who always searched for the true meaning of life. Odyssey book was developed in the early Greece while Gilgamesh was from the early Mesopotamia period. Notably, Gilgamesh became a famous and valuable book to the Mesopotamia Cultural history and depicted many of the Mesopotamia religious worlds. The Odyssey turned out to be renowned book during the early Greece time and drew the cultural beliefs of the ancient Greece. Indeed, the book indicates that mythology was central to the life of the Greece people. The book explains that the culture of the Greece depicted to be a mythology that describes the various situations in life. Both works draw on historical, cultural and religious themes. Another notable similarity in the two heroes is manifested through the divine endowment. Gilgamesh was divinely endowed as his mother who was a famous goddess “Ninsun” and thus giving him spiritual and physical strengths (Grundy, 2000). Through the divine mental endowment, Odysseus was able to make a viable decision that ended up saving the Greece from destruction (Homer, 2004). Also, the two leaders make leadership mistakes that get them to learn greatest lessons.

However, differences arise in the two heroes. Notably, Gilgamesh was solely concerned with creating his legacy, and thus he continually oppressed the people he ruled and “bid to earning the people’s respect” (Brennan, 2006). In the entire story, he brutally kills and carries out rape cases instead of protecting his people. This is a sharp demonstration of the significant contrast between Gilgamesh and Odysseus who attempted, by all means, to offer protection to his people and shield them from any possible harm. Indeed, these leadership traits provide a revelation to the differences in Greek and Mesopotamia cultures. Gilgamesh also demanded to receive honor from his subjects while Odysseus never lost his honor from his people. This example implies that heroes in the Mesopotamia culture failed to have greater respect compared to those from Greek culture (Brennan, 2006). The two heroes shape the current cultural ideas and the modern notions of and expectation regarding heroism. Gilgamesh and Odysseus show that a hero is supposed to be confident and make the viable decisions that will be beneficial to the people. Odysseus, particularly indicate that a hero should provide protection to his people and defend them from any harm


Although the two epic books are from two different cultures and time frames, they present to have many similarities and differences which provide insights into the place and role of Greek and Mesopotamia cultures from historical background. The two heroes are confident and have a divine endowment and make divinely inspired decisions. Nevertheless, a significant difference arises in the way the two heroes treat the people they rule.



Brennan, S. (2006). Classic legendary hero stories (1st ed.). Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press.

Grundy, S. (2000). Gilgamesh (1st ed.). New York: William Morrow.

Homer S. (2004). Odysseus (1st ed.). Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press.