A Critical Appraisal of: Beowulf and Gilgamesh

1632 words 7 pages
A Critical Appraisal of: Beowulf and Gilgamesh

There are many differences and critical comparisons that can be drawn between the epics of Beowulf and Gilgamesh. Both are historical poems which shape their respected culture and both have major social, cultural, and political impacts on the development of western civilization literature and writing. Before any analysis is made, it is vital that some kind of a foundation be established so that a further, in-depth exploration of the complex nature of both narratives can be accomplished. The epic of Gilgamesh is an important Middle Eastern literary work, written in cuneiform on 12 clay tablets about 2000 BC. This heroic poem is named for its hero, Gilgamesh, a tyrannical
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He finally reached Utnapishtim, who told him the story of the flood and showed him where to find a plant that would renew youth (Tablet XI). But after Gilgamesh obtained the plant, it was seized by a serpent, and Gilgamesh unhappily returned to Uruk.
An appendage to the epic, Tablet XII, related the loss of objects called (perhap s "drum" and "drumstick") given to Gilgamesh by Ishtar. The epic ends with the return of the spirit of Enkidu, who promised to recover the objects and then gave a grim report on the underworld. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, the most important work of Old
English literature. The earliest surviving manuscript is in the British Library; it is written in the West Saxon dialect and is believed to date from the late
10th century. On the basis of this text, Beowulf is generally considered to be the work of an anonymous 8th-century Anglian poet who fused Scandinavian history and pagan mythology with Christian elements. The poem consists of 3182 lines, each line with four accents marked by alliteration and divided into two parts by a caesura. The structure of the typical Beowulf line comes through in modern translation, for example:

Then came from the moor under misted cliffs Grendel marching God's anger he bore …

Much like Gilgamesh, the story is told in vigorous, picturesque language, with

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