Skip Navigation

Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

Pity and Glory in "Gilgamesh" and the "Iliad"

The methods by epic poets, specifically the ancient Babylonian Gilgamesh author and Homer, allow their heroes to receive glory relying on a correlation between pity and honor. Dying heroes gain grandeur in direct proportion to a perpetrator’s loss of respect. For example, Achilles’ wrathful disrespect of Hector’s burial rights diminishes his own glory while simultaneously enhancing Hector’s. Also, a distinction must be drawn between pity and the pitiful. Often the line between a dead warrior’s honor and disgrace lies in the author’s decision to narrate his body’s preservation (pitiable) or desecration (pitiful) according to traditional burial customs; even a glorified hero loses honor as worms crawl out of his nose. Through such means the author controls the reader’s perception of warriors and their relative glory, presenting them as either pitiable or pitiful.

Presenter: Maria Bink (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: English
Location: 215 Hartwell
Time: 1:15 pm (Session III)