It is quite noticeable that Beowulf and Gilgamesh have many traits in common. Both of these fierce warriors take charge and eliminate the fears that lurk within the lands of innocent people. Yet one of these heroes stands out more than the other, and after comparing Beowulf and Gilgamesh’s loyalty, bravery, and super-human strength, it’s obvious that Beowulf is the better hero. Both of them perform very heroic deeds, but Beowulf has better intentions for his actions.
Beowulf shows a great amount of loyalty. King Hrothgar asks him to come to Denmark and fight the unruly monster, Grendel. Beowulf accepts this challenge willingly without any question. He journey’s across the sea from Sweden to Denmark where he is to face his enemy. When Beowulf reaches Denmark, he makes his way to Hrothgar, ready to square off with Grendel. Beowulf is the better hero because Grendel actually attacks the soldiers and innocent villagers, so this gives him enough incentive to get rid of him.
Gilgamesh takes it upon himself and Enkidu to face off with Humbaba, the dangerous guardian of the Cedar Forest. So he and his friend tell the Elders of their yearnings to venture into the forest to do this task, and the Elders try to stop them from going because, they too, fear the forest giant Humbaba. Everyone in the village is afraid of Humbaba, and Gilgamesh is loyal enough to go and rid them of their fears of Humbaba. The only reason that Humbaba kills people, is because they cut down his trees, and Gilgamesh is going to fight him for no reason.
Beowulf is a mighty brave hero! He decides that he will fight Grendel without weapons of any kind. Grendel had cast a spell on all the weapons of the soldiers from Denmark, so they would be of no use anyway. Beowulf lies in wait all through the night for Grendel to show up, while all the other soldiers are asleep, he stays awake. After the battle with Grendel, he ventures down deep into the lake where Grendel slithered back down into, only this time he is on a journey to kill Grendel’s mother, before she wreaks havoc upon the people for killing her son.
Gilgamesh is, too, very brave. He and Enkidu make their way into the Cedar Forest, and sleep in the woods all through the night. “It was a restless night for both. One snatched at sleep and sprang awake from dreams. The other could not rest because of the pain that spread throughout his side.” It is obviously a very rough night for these two, and it gets worse when Humbaba attacks Enkidu, but Gilgamesh jumps in to save the day!
Beowulf, with his bare hands, tears through the claws of Grendel, leaving him in awe of such a strong man. No other human could harm Grendel, but he had never seen someone as strong as Beowulf. “That shepherd of evil, guardian of crime, knew at once that nowhere on earth had he met a man whose hands were harder…” Beowulf cracks his claws into dust! Then before Grendel could make his escape, Beowulf tears off Grendel’s arm at the shoulder, leaving him to go die in his lake with his mother.
Gilgamesh leaps into action when Enkidu is attacked by Humbaba! He jumps onto Humbaba and raises his heavy axe above his head, then Humbaba pleads for mercy! This makes Gilgamesh stop and think if he could use these gifts from Humbaba if he spared his life, but Enkidu quickly reminds Gilgamesh what they came to do, and that was to kill this forest monster. Gilgamesh swiftly slices off Humbaba’s head, leaving swaying in the wind from atop a tall cedar tree. “And late that night he reached again to see if he was yet asleep, but there was only quiet breathing. The stars against the midnight sky were sparkling like mica in a riverbed. In the slight breeze, the head of Humbaba was swinging from a tree.”
Both of these loyal, brave, and strong heroes show their honor for their lands, but one has better intentions. Gilgamesh goes and kills Humbaba for no reason other than he wanted to prove to the gods that he could. Beowulf kills Grendel and his mother because they terrorize the lands of Denmark and sleigh innocent villagers and King Hrothgar’s soldiers. In all three areas of loyalty, bravery, and strength, Beowulf wins with flying colors. He is more loyal, braver, and has much more strength than a million men.
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