Lessons from Literature of the Past
Gilgamesh is one of the oldest books on earth, and its recovery and translation is evidence that old stories can be made interesting in the right authors. The story illustrates Gilgamesh’s character and abilities which define him as a strong godly hero with no human feelings and social ethics. He causes pain and oppression to his countrymen and in retaliation; the gods make Enkidu to control Gilgamesh’s powers. This shows that the ancient men greatly believed in gods, and this is further exhibited by the fact that Gilgamesh was two thirds god and one third human. Stephen points out that the council of gods determined the fate of Enkindu, and as he dies off, Gilgamesh discovers the real outcome of death. The last scene shows god Poseidon sinking ship belonging to the Phaecians. The gods are also seen to help heroes win fights, like in the case of Gilgamesh and the monster of Humbaba, where Shamash, the sun god assists them by changing the wind. The gods are thereby a major influence in the life of the people of Uruk and other ancient cities.
The friendship between Endidu and Gilgamesh initializes Gilgamesh’s discovery of friendly human interaction and civilization. At the time they went to kill the monster of Humbaba, later on, Enkidu disobeys the gods and goes with Gilgamesh to kill the monster of Humbaba. This results to the death of Enkidu, and Gilgamesh is left contemplating his own death latter on in life. It further confirms to him that immortality is not attainable unlike what he had earlier believed. The role of friendship is in this case shown to be the cause self actualization. It also shows the effects of lack of obedience.
The role of women in ancient time is also portrayed as solely to be used my men and never of any other importance to society. A woman picks to go with whichever man who throws her money first, and never rejects anyone. The woman does not decide the amount of money to be given to her, but any silver coin will do. This is also an indication of immorality in the ancient society.
In Oedipus the King, the influence of gods is also clear as shown in the phrase, “Don’t call a man god’s friend until he has come through life and crossed over into death never having been god’s victim”. People are also seen to pray to the god of poetry to relieve them after they were struck by plague.
The plague in Thebes is said by Apollo to have been caused by corruption, which they must get rid of to be save their lives. Some time back the murder of king Laius was not investigated accordingly and this brought in the plague. This shows that corruption had devastating effects in the past and similarly, in the present days. Oedipus curses the individual who must have killed King Laius and wished the person death. He had no idea that the man he was cursing was himself. This illustrates the essence of thorough thought before making a decision.
It was predicted that Oedipus would kill his father and lay with his mother. To avoid this he ran away to Corinth. To fulfill the prophecy, Oedipus rose to power, killed King Laius (who was his biological father), and he took his wife for marriage. The lesson from this is that fate is inevitable. It also shows moral decadence and social injustice, whose reward is always painful. Oedipus later gouged out his eyes and exiled himself as was prophesized by Tiresias. By attempting to change his destiny, Oedipus was disaster prone to lead a life full of suffering. By forcing the attempt, he made those he cared for get into similar trouble.
In Odyssey, the presence and influence of gods is evident. Squillace points out that the dwelling place of gods was in Olympus and is everlasting. Besides, the gods are contented with the tranquility of the place. There was an altar meant for Apollo, who was also a god.
The role of women is given as passive and ignored in the story. This is seen when the women are used by men for their own glorification. It is also evident when the suitors come into Penelope’s compound have her for marriage.
Odysseus underwent many challenging times in journey home, and lost all his men in the quest to get back home. When Odysseus was away from home, lots of suitors came to his compound to take his wife for marriage. Despite losing all his men, Odysseus came home disguised as a beggar to seek revenge. On his coming back after rough journey in the sea, he joined his son in the quest for reveng. This gives the lesson that justice is delivered, even after a long time.
All the three works of literature have a similarity in the appreciation of the influence of gods in the ancient society. We can call these, supernatural powers, which are also evident in the modern times. In all cases, injustice is treated with ill fate as seen in the case of Gilgamesh and Oedipus. In the case of Oedipus, he gets his wife after a long time, despite the influence of the wealthy men. The position of women is also displayed in the literature, where they are seen to be abused and used by men.