Sample English Essay Paper on The Epic Stories of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey


Human beings are fundamentally social creatures who interrelate with one another for emotional, psychological, physical and moral support. Relationships are eminently paramount for mankind who is in constant search for love, acceptance, loyalty, and a feeling of belonging. Human interactions and interpersonal relationships vary with regards to closeness and emotional attachment. Essentially, an individual may have relationship with friends, family members, business acquaintances, husbands/wives, and workmates. Therefore, the term relationship may be defined as a basic long-lasting relationship founded upon strong ties and a sense of commitment to the other person. Additionally, the term ‘relationship’ was conceptualized as a relatively short-lived relationship between persons characterized by limited interactions and less emotional involvement. Depending on the outcome of different interrelations, relationships may be viewed and regarded as either being toxic or beneficial. This study presents a description of the different kinds of relationships portrayed in Gilgamesh and The Odyssey literature stories.

Thesis Statement

In both Gilgamesh and the Odyssey stories, relationships are viewed as part of social life. Accordingly, the two literature stories display a world whereby relationships are strengthened by trust, loyalty, hope, and love. On the other hand, toxic and insincere relationships have been portrayed by disloyalty, betrayal, fear, disrespect, and malicious intentions by either of the parties.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

In the epic of Gilgamesh story, relationships are portrayed in a myriad of ways. Gilgamesh, who ruled over people of Uruk as their king, was described as a cruel leader. Gilgamesh used his power to rule over people unjustly and by terrorizing them. Initially, Gilgamesh did not have a good relationship with the people of Uruk who were always terrified of his actions. Majority of people feared rather than respected King Gilgamesh. As wise as Gilgamesh was, his actions of using women as instruments for sexual satisfaction showcased his disrespect to the female gender. The relationship that Gilgamesh had with his people was full of toxic outcomes as people continued to suffer rather than benefit under his merciless rule (Ackerman 4). Additionally, Gilgamesh viewed women as objects with whom he could get sexual gratification from. Through his demeaning actions towards women, Gilgamesh clearly portrayed the chauvinist trait towards the women of Uruk.

Enkidu, a brute with the strength of dozens of wild animals, is said to have been tamed by a harlot from the temple of love in Uruk (Ackerman 21). Through this romantic relationship, a lesson is learned on how women have the power to manipulate men into performing a specific task. This was showcased when the harlot was sent by the gods to seduce Enkidu and persuade him to migrate to Uruk (Ackerman 23). Enkidu’s decision to move to Uruk commences with a brawl between him and Gilgamesh. Enkidu’s main intention was to prevent Gilgamesh from committing a heinous act of taking another person’s newly-wed wife to satisfy his sexual pleasures (Ackerman 10). Eventually, the two become great friends who are committed to each other. The newly formed relationship starts with a dangerous adventure whereby both attain a common set goal. The friendship created between Gilgamesh and Enkidu describes the real meaning of loyalty and love for one another. However, their friendship was further strengthened by a woman who got hurt after Gilgamesh refused her advances for a romantic relationship. Ishtar, who is in search for a romantic relationship, got angered by Gilgamesh’s rejection. As a result of her anger, Ishtar sought for vengeance from her father, Anu, who later released the Bull of Heaven to terrorize the people of Uruk (Ackerman 73). However, Enkidu and Gilgamesh’s robust relationship enabled them to kill the Bull of Heaven, who was a common enemy. Eventually, Enkidu dies from a fatal illness which served as repercussion of killing the Bull of Heaven. From the story, Gilgamesh is viewed to have mourned the death of his only friend. The idea of gaining mortality emanates from Enkidu’s death (Ackerman 96). This describes how the loss of a valued relationship may psychologically, emotionally and mentally disrupt an individual’s normal way of life.

The Epic of Odyssey

The Odyssey describes different relationships that are made robust by love and loyalty and those that are weakened by betrayal and disloyalty. First and foremost, Odysseus and Penelope’s relationship is strengthened by love and faithfulness. In spite of Odysseus being away for almost 20 years, his wife Penelope is still hopeful of the fact that she will see her husband again. This is despite the fact that she had many interested suitors (Picard et al. 6). Furthermore, Penelope remains faithful and true to her absent husband. Odysseus also exemplifies the same love to his wife by staying loyal and persevering through the many hardships he faced during his journey back home.

In addition, the father-son relationship between Telemachus and Odysseus is strengthened by trust and care. Although the two fairly know each other, they both display care for one another. Odysseus displays love for his son by protecting him from those who wanted to devour on Telemachus’ wealth and fortune (Picard et al. 13). This kind of relationship was also displayed by Laertes who went under depression when Odysseus was presumed to be dead. However, soon after Odysseus returns back home, Laertes’ depressive state is replaced by joy and happiness (Picard et al. 28). This describes how certain relationships may have an effect on the party involved.


In conclusion, relationships between individuals are mainly based on certain virtues such as trust, honesty, love, and loyalty. In case either of the virtues does not exist, then the relationship is perceived to be hitting the rock bottom. The above epic stories have displayed the outcome of both excellent and toxic relationships.

Works Cited

Ackerman, Susan. When Heroes Love: The Ambiguity of Eros in the Stories of Gilgamesh and David. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Picard, Barbara L, Joan Kiddell-Monroe, and Homer. The Odyssey of Homer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.