The Comparison of Gilgamesh and Antigone Essay Example
In both the stories, The Epic of Gilgamesh and Antigone, we are introduced to two headstrong characters that possess the ability of ruling the people around them. Gilgamesh is known as the ruthless King along with being a brave and ambitious warrior. Antigone is known for being a rebellious, fearless and loyal person. Throughout each story we come across on how each of these characters transform and evolve to become better people and seeing to embrace their fates at the end. Gilgamesh and Antigone are both faced with circumstances that challenge them to go against the odds and fight for what they believe for. The main theme circling both these stories is love being a motivating factor for each of them to push through. Gilgamesh had the need of the love of his people and Antigone had the love for her brother. Gilgamesh goes through to find immortality only to realize his actions are what will make him immortal whereas Antigone already accepts that no matter what happens she will be immortal for her actions.
In the beginning Gilgamesh is known to be a ruthless and stuck up King. He is shown to have no mercy for those around him, especially being disrespecting towards the woman, as he abused them. “He walks around in the enclosure of Uruk, like a wild bull he makes himself mighty, head raised. There is no rival who can raise his weapon against him” (Sandars 54). Although he is know to be a strong leader, his need for being ruthless towards his people, especially towards woman led him down to go through a journey where he is led to discover he is just like anyone else around him. He realizes towards the end through everything that he is not above anyone else and it is his actions that will remain and let him be remembered even after he is gone. Antigone is shown to be a rebellious and fearless character. She fights for what she knows is right and stands firm on what she believes to be right no matter or who she has to go against. “Claim not a work in which thou hadst no hand; One death sufficeth. Wherefore should’st thou die?” (Sophocles 546-547). Antigone follows what she thought was right in her heart, going against the rules and laws knowing that she will end up with the same fate either way. Both Gilgamesh and Antigone possessed characteristics of bravery and fearlessness, but they also differed in the ways they used them. Eventually though at the end if you compare the two, Gilgamesh and Antigone end up with the same thinking, about knowing and accepting their fate.
If you look at the major themes revolving around the two stories, each of them differs from one another. In The Epic Tale of Gilgamesh, the theme revolves around the inevitability of death. The whole journey of Gilgamesh is to attain immortality so he can live on forever. The irony though is whenever he comes close to achieving immortality, it is always taken away from him until he learns his lesson. “Who is the mortal who can live forever? The life of man is short. Only the gods can live forever. Therefore put on new clothes, a clean robe and a cloak tied with a sash, and wash the filth of the journey from your body” (Sandars 57).
In his quest for immortality, after Enkidu passes away, Gilgamesh meets Siduri who is the tavern keeper who advises him to go and get married as no one in this life lives forever. Gilgamesh then realizes that after going through everything that death is inevitable, but if he truly wants to remain immortal even after dying he has to become a better person. His actions are the only thing that will be remembered by the people that will make him immortal even after he is gone. Similarly, Antigone is fully aware of the consequences she will be facing no matter what choice she makes. She knew that burying her brother or not burying him would lead her to the same path. “A specious pretext. I will go alone to lap my dearest brother in the grave” (Sophocles 85). Making the decision to bury her brother, Antigone very well knew that she would face the utmost worst consequences by going against Creon’s orders. She knew she was choosing death for herself by going against Creon and she was ready to face that. Both Gilgamesh and Antigone had love as a motivating factor for their actions. The only difference between then two was Gilgamesh lived to tell his tale, whereas Antigone took her life.
At the end we can view both characters, Gilgamesh and Antigone, as heroes in each of their own ways. Gilgamesh started off as a hero but not for all the right reasons. In the Mesopotamian times where Gilgamesh was a ruler, he was not considered the most powerful. There was always a need for him to consult his elders and the gods before any decision was made. “Thus Gilgamesh and Enkidu went together to the marketplace to notify the elders of Uruk who were meeting in their senate” (Sandars 30). Even before taking the decision on killing Humbaba, he had to consult alongside everyone under him. This may be one of the reasons he was shown to be so ruthless in the beginning, as he might have wanted to be seen as the ruler that he is.
Though his change at the end and thought of becoming a better King and a better person is what truly made him a hero in the right sense. If we look at Antigone, she was already a hero for standing up for giving her brother his final rites. In her times there was a hierarchy system so woman were always ranked below men. The King was also always ranked above everyone else. “A sinless sinner, banned awhile on earth, but by the dead commended; and with them I shall abide forever. As for thee, Scorn if thou wilt, the eternal laws of Heaven” (Sophocles 69-79). Antigone believed that above everyone else is God’s power that is the highest of them all. Which is why she was so fearless to giver her brother the proper burial that he deserved. Her fearlessness and rebellious act is what made her a true hero.
Gilgamesh and Antigone are two very heroic characters that stood by what they believed in. It was their bravery and fearlessness that led the two to go for what they felt and knew was right. As one was searching for the love and pride of his people, another was protecting the love for her family. At the end both of them realize and truly accept and embrace the fate that they are met with.