Heroic Myths and Epics • Meant to teach its members of society the appropriate attitudes, behavior, and values of the culture • Examine the relationship between individual desires and his or her responsibilities to society. • When a leader places his or her own desires before the needs of the community, both the individual and the community suffer.
Heroic Myths and Epics • Begins in in medias res, “in the middle of things”
Heroes • Models of human behavior for their society • They earn lasting fame- the only kind of immortality for human beings- by performing great deeds of valor or winning an inner battle against their desires. • Overcome massive obstacles and trials and emerge as more sensitive and thoughtful human beings. • External characteristics of the epic hero: an immortal parent, unusual birth, aristocratic social position, divine sponsorship.
Heroes (cont.) • No hero is perfect- their imperfections allow ordinary people to identify with them.
Epic of Gilgamesh • Written on clay tablets in cuneiform at least 1300 years before Homer wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey. • Discovered during excavations in Ninevah (near Mosul, Iraq) in 1845. • Existed in the oral traditions of the Sumer and were written down approx. 2100 BCE.
Epic of Gilgamesh (cont.) • Gilgamesh was a real king of Uruk in southern Mesopotamia sometime between 2700-2500 BCE. • Matriarchal religion • Major quest is the acquisition of knowledge.
Epic of Gilgamesh Writing Prompts • Analyze the role of women in the text. • Analyze the friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Does this type of relationship mirror any others in literature? • Discuss Gilgamesh and whether or not he fits into the mold of "epic hero".