A short essay I wrote for my English class.
Throughout time the writers conception of the hero has changed, and the hero’s intellect is now as powerful of a characteristic as having brawn. Gilgamesh was a very powerful hero yet Ulysses is just as powerful and he was a mortal. How can this be? In Gilgamesh the whole story is the journey to find immortality, he is searching for a concept. While Ulysses has wits so he can understand these concepts, And his is just his journey home. Now there are hero’s like batman that are all wit, batman has no super human ability. Batman uses his wit to stay in the dark till his time comes to capture the bad guys.
Gilgamesh was a very powerful hero, yet he was all about being super human and having a edge up on the mortals. “one day he(Gilgamesh) decided to show how strong and powerful he was…”(Gilgamesh the king, Zeman p1) He had the power to help the people but he didn’t realize that he was actually half human. In this story the climax is a fight and in more modern story’s it is a little more a battle of the wits. “It was the most frightening battle the people of Uruk had ever seen.”(Gilgamesh the king, Zeman p2) In Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone they need to have intellect to get to the last room, because they need to go through a chess game. In Gilgamesh he just fights Enkidu they don’t even talk first. Gilgamesh’s whole story is about him finding what it is to be human, modern hero’s are usually fighting for a cause. “Gilgamesh took a step towards Enkidu, stopped, opened his arms and embraced him. The king finally knew what it was to be human.” (Gilgamesh the king, Zeman p2) In the end Gilgamesh gains wit but in more modern story’s hero’s already have the wit and don’t need to gain much.
Ulysses is a trickster, to be a trickster you need to have wits, you can see in the 1300 year difference that the hero has changed. Ulysses is a mortal too, in older story’s to be a hero you were usually super human. In the story of Calypso he wants to see Ithaca and he gets a nymph to teach him to use a magic log to see home. “But Ulysses was crafty as she was”(Adventures of Ulysses, Evslin p114) He needed that craftiness to get home, if he didn’t have that trait he would have never escaped Calypso. He wasn’t just a trickster he was also smart in general. When he went to the island with the cyclops he used tactics to make sure he could make a escape, if need be. “he had 2 ships of the fleet moor offshore and selected 12 of his bravest men as a landing party.” (Adventures of Ulysses, Evslin p17) If Gilgamesh were in this situation he would have just landed and battled the cyclops till he won, but Ulysses is smart and a mortal.
Batman is a hero with no powers or outside forces against or with him. Ulysses had gods against him and Gilgamesh had super human powers. Batman only has a motive because his parents were killed in a robbery. In the story where his parents are murdered it explains how he is angry and wants to get back on the murderer, but he doubts himself because he has none of these powers, yet he figures it all out from looking at a bat. To figure out how to be a hero by looking at a bat takes some serious brain power. When bat man is in a fight he is always using his wits to his advantage. Such as when he hides in the dark and then pops out and surprises his enemy. Batman only uses his wits. if Gilgamesh was in any of the situations batman was in he would just use his strength to beat the enemy’s.
Throughout time the writers conception of the hero has changed, and the hero’s intellect is now as powerful of a characteristic as having brawn. Gilgamesh, Ulysses, and Batman are good steeping stones to understanding that. Gilgamesh 1800BC, Ulysses 450BC, and Batman modern day.