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Free Antigone Essays: The Human Condition

Exposing the Human Condition in Antigone

Heroism entails several things; a selfless act, courage, or the accomplishments of bold and daring expeditions. A hero can also mean courage in the face of death. Others may view this type of hero as stupid, or a martyr. Every hero has faults and these faults along with heroic deeds make the man or woman; a hero, heroine.

“Antigone” would be considered a hero in the sense of being a martyr. Because of her love for her family Antigone wanted to give her brother a proper burial, and even though he did evil deeds, she respected him. She believed that all of the dead were in a state of equality. When faced with the decision to obey the King or obey her heart, she says on page 23, in lines 86-90:

“I will bury him myself./If I die for doing that, good:/I will stay with him, brother;/and my crime will be devotion.”

This decision, to bury her brother, was very heroic in that even though she knew death was at stake, she knew where her loyalties lied.

On page 39, lines 560-575, Antigone stands up to her uncle and tells him to his face that he has disobeyed the Gods decrees. In line 562, 563, and 564 she says:

“I did not intend to pay, before the gods,/for breaking these laws/because of my fear of one man and his principles.”

Antigone accuses Kreon of overstepping the laws of the gods, by relying on his own thinking. As is brought out later, Kreon never listened to other peoples advice until it was too late. In the above passage Antigone heroically faces up to the most powerful man, the King, knowing he could kill her in an instance, but still she tells him he is wrong.

Being strongly tied to a family, where you would risk death is one thing, but as in any family a person usually takes their anger and frustrations out on individual family members, as in this passage on page 24, lines 100-103:

“Then weakness will be your plea./I am different. I love my brother/and I’m going to bury him, now.”

Antigone, non-heroically, accuses Ismene of not loving her brother, but of course Ismene loved her brother, Ismene was just afraid of the king. Antigone, in the heat of the moment, took Ismene’s frightened state as a sign of the lack of love on Ismene’s part.

Comparing Aeneas from Aeneid and Gilgamesh from the Epic of Gilgamesh

Comparison of Aeneas from Aeneid and Gilgamesh from the Epic of Gilgamesh

The dominant factor in an epic is the heroic main character. This character often is the son of a god or goddess and is favored by the gods. Heroic characters are also always hounded by constant tragedy which drives them to fulfill their fates. Most heroic characters are high in social status and share close contacts with the gods. All of these qualities of heroic characters show up in the characters of Aeneas from The Aeneid and Gilgamesh from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

In this essay I will compare and contrast the qualities and plights of both Aeneas and Gilgamesh. These two epic heroes share similar fates, yet are very different in personality.

Gilgamesh was an arrogant tyrant of his city-state who was obsessed with increasing his own influence and power while Aeneas was more aloof, letting the gods and the fates guide his actions in life. Aeneas acted as a perfect pawn of the gods and was tossed around at their whims. Gilgamesh on the contrary took fate into his own hands and attempted to gain immortality by seeking out the immortals. Gilgamesh was a man who wanted more power than mortals were allowed and wanted his influence to be known forever. Aeneas simply wanted to fulfill the prophesy of founding Rome and making his Trojan followers happy.

Out of the two heroes Gilgamesh was the one who was most aggressive and pursued the more ambitious goal, though it was one near impossible to achieve. Gilgamesh wanted to have a power that only the gods possessed. He wanted to be immortal. Aeneas never sought such an unachievable task, and was not as determined as Gilgamesh was. Aeneas only had to find a place where the defeated Trojans could settle and found a new city. Once in the story he even had to be reminded of his destiny by the Jupiter when he was distracted by his love for Dido.

The trials of Aeneas and Gilgamesh were very similar. Both led tragic lives and suffered from the wrath of the gods. Aeneas witnessed his family die, his home city burned to the ground, and was victim to the goddess Juno’s plots throughout his fated journey to Italy. Gilgamesh had seen his best friend die from the gods’ vengeance and was emotionally crushed by it.

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