Warrior Ethos in The Tale of Sohrab and The Epic of Gilgamesh

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In the tragedy of Sohrab and Rostam and epics of Gilgamesh, heroes Rostam and Gilgamesh have a passion to deal with the death of the most loved ones in their lives. Rostam loses his son, Sohrab, whom he murdered in the battlefield whereas Gilgamesh loses his colleague, Enkidu in the epic. Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk, he is a one-third man and two-thirds god, very strong and wise.

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Even though Gilgamesh is godly, he starts his kingship as a brutal tyrant. He completes his magnificent building projects in the city by oppressing people through hard labor, he also rapes any woman who impresses his imagination. People pray the gods in order to be delivered from such menace. The gods hear their cries creates a wild animal and Enkidu to challenge Gilgamesh. Enkidu lives with animals and grazes on their pasture and drinks water at their watering places, and even suckles their breasts.

A hunter spots Enkidu and sends a prostitute to tame him in the wilderness. The people consider women in making wild men such as Enkidu domesticated and bring them in the civilized world. Therefore, Harlot teaches Enkidu everything he needs to be a man. Finally, he gets introduced into human life and becomes a night watchman in the city of Uruk. Enkidu is disturbed by what he hears about the Gilgamesh’s treatment to wedding brides. He decides to challenge Gilgamesh at the wedding. Gilgamesh forces his way to bride’s chamber, Enkidu steps on the doorway and intercept Gilgamesh entrance into the chamber. They fight for a long time Gilgamesh emerging the winner of the battle. Enkidu acknowledges Gilgamesh’s superiority and they become allies hence start having adventures together.

They decide to go to cedar forest to steal trees beside it beingnevertheless forbidden for mortals. They come across a forest giant which is devoted to guarding the forest, Enlil. They fight the monster and with the help of Shamash, god of the sun they kill the giant, Humbaba. The men cut down the trees and use them to fashion humongous gate for the forest and the rest of the trees design a raft which they float on it back to Uruk. At Uruk the goddess of love, Ishtar, approaches Gilgamesh because lust has overcome her, unfortunately, Gilgamesh rejects her because of the previous mistreatment of his lovers. Ishtar becomes furious and asks her father, Anu, to request the sky’s god to send Heaven’s Bull to strike Gilgamesh. The bull comes down from the sky bringing seven years of devastation in Uruk. Enkidu and Gilgamesh wrestle the bull and slays it.

After winning the battle, the gods of the sky have a council meeting and agree that one of the two allies must suffer punishment for their transgression. Consequently, Enkidu is chosen to face death. He shares his dreams of the underworld with Gilgamesh and after ten days he dies. His death heartbreaks Gilgamesh for his entire life. As a result, he continuously mourns for Enkidu along with seeking prospect about his own death. He further exchanges his kingly robes for wild animal skin as a sign of grieving Enkidu.

In the Sohrab and Rostam tragedy, the scene starts when the army of Persians and Tartars are encamped along Oxus River waiting to witness a great fight between them. Sohrab, a youthful hero in Tartar’s army, early morning he leaves his bed and makes his solidarity way to Persian-Wisa. Commander of the Tartar army wishes to have an uncommon favor from the commander. He wants to challenge the leader from the Persian’s army with intention of seeking his father, Rostum, who he has never seen. Sohrab is discontented and restless to have the opportunity to engage in the duel. The battle day comes and the armies are on the ground ready to fight.

Tartars and Persians armies are waiting for instructions from their respective commanders, Peran-Wisa comes in front of armies and says, instead of war there will be a duel, whereby, the last man standing in the duel will have a victory from the respective army. Gudurz, an official in the Persian camp hears that statement and urges Rostum to engage in the duel since he is the oldest and mightiest warrior in the camp. Rostum turns down the request because he considers himself old to face young warrior, Sohrab. Instead, he suggests that king Kae Kau should fight. Gudurz criticizes Rostum’s words and responds with statements which trigger’s Rostum spirit hence paving his way to the battlefield.

Sohrab and Rostum make their way on the battlefield, they wrestle against each other although Sohrab is suspicious that he may be fighting against his father, Rostum lacks the same perception Sohrab had when combating. In the combat Rostum fatally stubs Sohrab. While Sohrab is laying down, he recalls the love of his father is the one which has brought him in the battle. Rostum finally realizes that he was fighting against his son when he sees his bracelet on Sohrab arm, which he had given Tahmina a long time ago to put to their child after their marriage. Tahmina hoped that the bracelet could protect him during the war.

In conclusion, the ethics of war and harmony in Gilgamesh epic and Shahnameh portrays humbleness in supreme beings. Gilgamesh epic, the giant restraints from own greediness and arrogance and inflicting misery on others he portrays his humbleness and sorrow when he exchanges his kingly garments for wild animals’ skin as a reason of mourning Enkidu. On tragedy of Sohrab and Rostam, the Sohrab’s father- Rostam cries bitterly after realizing that he had killed his son. The psychosomatic reactions of war and sorrow don’t take part in the real world; hence such reactions should be acquiesced to reasoning and violence repression to keep in check.

Works cited

Colarusso, John, and Tamirlan Salbiev, eds. Tales of the Narts: Ancient Myths and Legends

of the Ossetians. Princeton University Press, 2016.

Cross, Cameron. “”If Death is Just, what is Injustice? Illicit Rage in Rostam and Sohrab

and The Knight’s Tale.”” Iranian Studies 48.3 (2015): 395-422.

George, Andrew, ed. The epic of Gilgamesh: the Babylonian epic poem and other texts in

Akkadian and Sumerian. Penguin, 2002.

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