Gilgamesh Represents an Epic
An epic acts as an extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language,
celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero. The main characteristics of an
epic as a literary genre are that the main character or hero has mysterious origins and high social status, supernatural beings and events complicate the plot causing gods and goddesses to take an interest, and the hero completes a journey including rites of passage and confrontation with evil. He then achieves a goal at the end of the journey. The Epic of Gilgamesh is classified as an epic because the story fits all the characteristics of an epic.
The story of Gilgamesh proves itself to be an epic through the main character, Gilgamesh having epic hero qualities. Gilgamesh, a creature of great recognition, is described as two-thirds a god, one third a man (35). This quote shows the reader the mysterious origin of Gilgamesh. Not only does he have a mysterious origin, but Gillgamesh acts as a ruler of Uruk. Becoming king of Uruk gives him the high social status and importance he needs to play an epic hero.
Gilgamesh also acts as an epic through the superhuman beings that interfere with the plot. The author first introduces Enkidu to obstruct the plot. The Gods send Enkidu to fight Gilgamesh because he appears equal in strength (36). Just as the reader begins to think the two will proceed as enemies, the author takes the reader on another path by showing them as the best of friends. The author then adds the lions and scorpion people to impede on the original plot. As a counter act to all the superhuman beings, the gods and goddesses become interested and take action in the story as well. Ea, Ninurta, Anunnaki, Enlil, and Ishtar undertake the role of gods and goddesses to complete the epic.
Last, Gilgamesh functions as an epic throughout the story by traveling on a journey including confrontation with evil and a final achievement. Because of Enkidus death, Gilgamesh completes his most important journey by going in search of Utnapishtim to find everlasting life (37). During this ongoing journey, Gilgamesh chooses to face and defeat Humbaba, an evil character, while making a name for himself and changing the views of the people around him. Gilgamesh begins the epic as a character of greed, selfishness, and hatred. The fact that he even takes the initiative to find immortality to be with his best friend acts as an accomplishment in itself because he begins to possess integrity and superior morals.
Although The Epic of Gilgamesh obviously acts as an epic for many reasons more than three paragraphs has the ability to explain, it proves itself through the main character or hero having mysterious origins and high social status, supernatural beings and events complicating the plot causing gods and goddesses to take an interest, and the hero completing a journey including rites of passage and confrontation with evil. Gilgamesh meets all these characteristics and more causing it to receive the title of an epic.