Gilgamesh and Plato
Gilgamesh and Plato have many themes in common. Many of the themes and ideas that Plato used in his writings can be found threaded throughout the epic tale Gilgamesh. The basic ideas that mingle are the desire to educate, the theory that man can improve himself, and the philosophy that mankind can find true joy through pure virtue and intentions.
The story of Gilgamesh written in Ancient Sumerian is one of the oldest stories in existence. The stories tell of ancient lands, rulers, and civilizations. It also informs the reader of the ways of those ancient times. The epic hero, Gilgamesh, educates the reader. Plato in his works, especially Symposium, educates the audience on his times, rulers, and rules. He wrote around 385-370 BC and the genius and philosophy of this time can be culled from his works. His great love of nature and the types of nature in his region are an example of the education to be found in his work. Also, by reading this philosophical genius, you can found out about the politics of the time.
In Gilgamesh and in Plato’s writings, you can find the realization that man can change and improve himself. On the journey of Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk changes from an arrogant young man to a wise leader. He discovers what true and honest friendship is. Plato set his Symposium at a Dionysian Festival, but the changes of the participants do not reflect a crowd at a drunken bash. Plato’s amazing banquet is a feast of change and improvement among his guests.
Lastly, both Gilgamesh and Plato’s works often strive to accomplish the discovery of true happiness. This happiness is obtained from something beyond possessions, and more on the level of pure and innocent joy in existence. The Symposium is the work that most does this from Plato. One must do good to find good and locate and achieve a peace with oneself. Often this good can be obtained from true friendship and from protecting that friendship.
By exploring the themes of the desire to educate, the theory that man can improve himself, and the idea that one can find true joy through pure virtue and intentions can be found in Gilgamesh and the writings of Plato. It is no wonder that educators and writers have been comparing the ancient work and ancient writer for hundreds of years.