Literary Essay on Epic Poetry in Ancient Greece

Published: 2019-10-31
Literary Essay on Epic Poetry in Ancient Greece
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Poem Literature Ancient Greece
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1513 words
13 min read

Ancient Greece played a significant role in shaping the modern literature that we have today. As explained in the text, the author believes that most of the ancient literary works influenced the Western world in a significant way. However, the author further explains that the ancient Greek literature was characterized by its unique characteristics that was different from any other literature; for example, the ancient literature that were inherited by the world literature include religious, philosophical, mythological, and also political. The author also tries to examine the root of epic poetry in the ancient society. According to the author, epic poetry is a narrative poem that involved the supernatural characters. The author goes ahead to give the characteristics of an epic poetry from the ancient Greek literary perspective. For example, the human characters were regarded as heroes or heroines while the supernatural beings were either gods or goddesses.

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Epic poetry

Most of the characters were given the supernatural qualities such as immortals. According to the author, the achievements of gods were communally celebrated in the ancient Greece. The text has provided a good example of an epic poetry in the story of Gilgamesh. According to the author, characters from the epic poetry were accorded societal respect as they symbolized the gods. The author has also tried to relate the historical background of the mortality. In the beginning people had the immortal qualities just like the gods; however, out of disagreements between the gods, there emerged separation and only one god was left in control, Zeus. From then, Zeus remained the immortal god and others were considered lesser gods (188). The lesser gods were given power to rule over the people as the kings; therefore, as presented in the text The Epic of Gilgamesh, the heroes and heroines in the society were considered more powerful to common people.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The author provides the historical views on the development or emergence of the story of Gilgamesh. According to the author, the development of The Epic of Gilgamesh can be traced back from Mesopotamia in the 1000 B.C.E. According to the author, the story was first translated into various local dialects and written in various things such as tablets. Most of the worlds greatest civilization emerged from Mesopotamia; and as the author explains about the emergence of the story The Epic of Gilgamesh, it was one of the greatest significant factors that influenced the worlds literature. The story of Gilgamesh was derived from the ancient king in Mesopotamia, King Gilgamesh of the state of Uruk who lived in the southern Mesopotamia. King Gilgamesh use to be called Bilgames by his local people. The story is legendary as it depicts the life history and achievements of the great worrier of the Uruk kingdom. The story also involves the use of song as one of the literary techniques that the author has employed in the book. According to the author, the death of the great worrier of Uruk, King Gilgamesh was followed by various compositions of songs in his memory. One of the songs has been given in this section about the worrier going to the mountains to slay the monster.

The book presents the challenges that king Gilgamesh had passed through to be the great worrier and king that his kingdom embraced for many years. Traditionally, most of the kingdoms chose their leaders based on the services that they have offered to the community. A leader was chosen based on how he has served his people. Unlike the modern society where we pick our leaders based on the promises that they are about to render to the community, the old society had a total different perspective about leadership. Therefore, as the story of Gilgamesh explains, people respected and celebrated the lives of their leaders and worriers. The songs that were composed after the death of Bilgames or Gilgamesh are symbolic of his life celebration. The author also explains the relationship between epic and the story of Gilgamesh. The author depicts the story of Gilgamesh in a poetic way; he says that the story of Gilgamesh is epic in both language and form contexts. The story has been expressed in a poetic way; it has been divided into sections like a poem. The character has been given legendary qualities; for instance, in the first tablet he depicts what shaped the heroic qualities in Gilgamesh. According to the author, Gilgamesh went through a lot of hardship and conquered other kings to be the hero that the society considers him (60:25).

The author presents us with the love life of the great worrier, King Gilgamesh. At the onset of tablet 2, the author presents us with the young man who is in a journey rushing to choose a wife for the mighty king. The old society demanded the king to have a family; this was a form of respect and also proved that the king was able to take care of his people because he was able to take care of his family. This chapter has also presented how kings chose their counselors; for example, despite Enkidu being Gilgameshs enemy he becomes a good friend of the king and also a counselor to the king. The author presents how King Gilgamesh and Enkidu make up their misunderstanding; when Enkidu blocks the way for the king to enter the marital chamber (66:60). The kings in the ancient kingdoms were devoted to their people and their service to the people was more important than any other interest. The author successfully the reconciliation between Enkidu and king Gilgamesh; they managed to place their differences aside for the protection of their people Cedar forest (67:75).

The author depicts the voice of people represented by the council of elders. This section continues with the friendship between King Gilgamesh and his friend, Enkidu. The author presents the council of elders who offer their advice to the king. Being strong does not mean that one is also wise; as the elders warn the king that he should be wiser and not embrace his strength for success, the author highlights the significance of the council of elders. There is trust issue that has been presented in this section. The counselors advice the king that Enkidu should go ahead to check the way first before the king goes (68:5). The author has also depicted the hope that the people have on their king. The king is respected by all. Any harm that would get the king also affects the people; therefore, the precautions taken by the elders before the journey to the Egalmah Temple show the concern of people. The elders represent the peoples opinion in the society; therefore, they report the grievances and also advice the king about how to handle issues. The author tries to depict the old society and how the voice of people mattered even to the leaders. Unlike our modern society where leaders misuse their power to fulfill their egocentric desires, leaders in the old society respected the voice of their people.

Dreams were considered significant in the old society; it was a form of watching at the future. The author also gives the dreams and interpretation of King Gilgamesh. The old society had dream interpreters especially for the royalty. The kings dream concerned everyone in the kingdom. The kings were considered divine in the society. People believed that their power came from the gods; therefore, they acted as the messengers of gods who ruled on behalf of the gods. The king also dreamed and Enkidu helped the king interpret his dream. Some of the dreams predicted what was to come or the predicaments of the society. The kings dream was believed to affect the whole kingdom; therefore, as Enkidu interprets Gilgameshs dream that; it means that we will capture Humbaba and kill him (70:25), it was something that affected the whole kingdom. A threat to the king was considered a threat that affects the whole kingdom. The king later had another dream and Enkidu interprets it for him that they will have victory over their enemies. The fulfillment of the dreams about victory over Humbaba is expressed in tablet 5 where the king kills Humbaba and cut his tongue. The old society practiced polygamy especially the king was allowed to have as many wives as he would desire. Tablet 6 presents us with the new wife of the king, Princes Ishtar. This section presents the value accorded to the king. Princes Ishtar explains to the king that the people of Lullubu will pay tribute to the king and he will be regarded as the greatest king because of his victory. Gilgamesh is considered a worrier and a great king by his people.

In conclusion, the modern literature has undergone through various stages; and what we see today as literature is as a result of the different changes that began in the ancient societies like Greece and Mesopotamia. As we have been presented with in the text, it is important to understand the root background of literature development so as to be able to understand the modern literature.

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