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Synthesizing is bringing together of multiple texts. In this case, we shall compare and contrast two legends by different authors, epic of Gilgamesh and the legend of King Arthur. Although these two literary texts have comparisons, they also have differences. The outstanding difference is that one is an Epic and the other is a legend (Danny 4). To compare and contrast the epic of Gilgamesh and the legend of king Arthur, one must first know what the words 'epic' and 'legend' mean. Basically, 'epic' is a long narrative poem about the deeds of a semi-god, also known as a superhuman hero whose actions are depended on as fate of a nation, tribe or human race ( Danny 6).This usually consists of adventure of a filled plot and is concerned with timeless human challenges ranging from honor, jealousy, hatred and war. These contain gods and goddesses and the setting is fixed in a far distance place at a time long past. Epics are based on legends and myths. A 'legend', consist of a superman who manages to solve some problems that a group of people have encountered for long. It also consists of an adventure filled plot. Having known that, there is now a better understanding of these two stories (Danny 10).
Eric of Gilgamesh is a story that revolves around Gilgamesh king of Uruk, who was two thirds god and one third men. He was physically beautiful and, very strong and very wise. His kingship was so cruel and he lorded over his subjects, raping any woman whether a wife or a daughter of his noblemen or warrior (Danny12). He accomplished building his projects through forced labor. His subjects complained to the gods and they decided to keep him under checks by creating Enkidu magnificent just like Gilgamesh. The two became good friends and Gilgamesh felt so bad when Enkidu dies from an illness inflicted by the gods. Upon the death of his friend, Gilgamesh travels to the end of edge of the world and learned about the days before the deluge and other secrets of the gods, and he recorded them on stone tablets (Danny 14). The epic begins with Enkidu. He lives with animals, suckling their breasts, grazing meadows and drinking at their watering places. In a bid to tame him he is meant to sleep with a woman but this does not happen as he is rejected since he is part of human world. He would later fight with Gilgamesh only for him to be defeated. They become friends and set off looking for an adventure to share (Danny 18).
The legend of King Arthur is a narrative that revolves around Roman Empire and its fall as their armies flee the British isle. Arthur, a heroic knight and devoted Christian, is torn between his desire to travel to Rome to serve his faith and his royalty to the land of his birth. As England falls apart, Arthur throws his lot with a band of knights who hope to restore order to their fair and pleasant land and hopes to win freedom for his comrades. With time, Arthur and his men join forces with Merlin, a shaman whose band of renegade knights were often pitched in the battle against roman forces. Forming a united front as loyal English men against the invading Saxon armies, Arthur, Merlin, and the brave beautiful Guinevere are determined to unite a sovereign Britain under one army and one king (Morris et al 55).
The legend of King Arthur is in comparison to the epic of Gilgamesh because Arthur's closest companion was Merlin while Gilgamesh's closest companion was Enkidu and neither of these two forgot their friends. Enkidu only came into contact with Gilgamesh after becoming a man. Enkidu released the animal traps when they are caught, so to make him a man the prostitutes slept with him so that the animals would be ashamed of him and reject him. King Arthur became aware of Merlin when he was still a young man (Morris et al 62). When Arthur was born, Merlin placed him in the care of sir Ector, throughout his boyhood; Arthur learned the ways of chivalry, knighthood and how to become a gentleman. At the tournament one day Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone and this is what brought upon Arthur meeting Merlin once again.
In the legend of King Arthur, Merlin exclaimed that if men forgot it was their doom. Gilgamesh along with Enkidu together fought and killed humbaba, protector of the cedar forest, and the bull of heaven, sent as punishment to Gilgamesh for killing Gilgamesh. Neither King Arthur nor Gilgamesh forgot their faithful friends. King Arthur fought many battles with Merlin at his side, supporting him using magic to help Arthur gain a better understanding of the world. Upon the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh searched a long time before finding the secret of eternal life, but he was unable to return it to Enkidu to restore his life to him. When Merlin was frozen from Morganna's twisted magic, King Arthur thought that Merlin deserted him. (Morris et al 68).
In conclusion, there are many distinct comparisons as well as contrasts that are seen in these two wondrous narratives. Some of which include the diverse contrast of the type of literary writing and the correspondence of the faithful companions of both Gilgamesh and King Arthur. This is why The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Legend of Arthur are the same yet unlike.
Although there are so many similarities between The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Legend of King Arthur, there are so many differences. One outstanding difference is that Gilgamesh was a tyrant while Arthur was a hero. Gilgamesh thought he was better than everybody else for he did not allow the brides to sleep with their husbands until Gilgamesh was with them first. Gilgamesh split Uruk up, the elders stayed at the marketplace, the animals were less than people, there was n any hunting laws (Morris et al 72). Because Enkidu fled the animals from the hunter's traps Gilgamesh sent a prostitute to make Enkidu a man so that the animals would not accept him. King Arthur was a hero because he believed in the equality of man. Instead of being at the head of the table he made all the knights sit at the round table so that there was an equivalency among the knights and their mistresses. King Arthur slept only with and what he thought to be his wife. This is one reason why The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Legend of King Arthur are distinct (Morris et al 78).
Danny P. The epic of Gilgamesh.2nd ed. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1997 (2-100)
Morris, Albert, Paul. The Epic of Gilgamesh: An Old Babylonian Version. Book Tree, 2003
Arnold C. Legends of the Arts: 50 Inspiring Stories of Creative People. Good Year Books, 2007