Themes

Themes from the Odyssey, Gilgamesh, and Job.

Shared Themes Between Classic Literary Works

Most works in literature contain themes. When these stories are analyzed it can be seen that some pieces of literature have common themes, especially stories that were written around the same time period or near the same geographical location. Some of the common themes that exist in The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Book of Job are leadership, heroism, society and the individual, the human condition, the power of love, and the importance of an identity.
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The Importance of Identity

Odysseus in Disguise

Odysseus is very consistent in knowing who he is. The theme of identity can be most clearly observed in the stories use of symbolism of disguise. Odysseus' ability to conceal his identity is liberating. He not only can move freely once arriving in the land of the Phaeacians but he also is able to properly asses the situation in his home land, Ithica, in order to figure out a plan to protect his throne and his family. Instead of simply arriving and getting into a situation that may not be how he hopes it is. Watch the short clip below to see an example of the liberation felt by Odysseus once Athena grants him a disguise.
Odysseus & Athena Disguise *The Odyssey*

Identity in the Odyssey

See the video below for a very detailed and proper analysis of the theme of identity in the Odyssey.
Identity in the Odyssey

Gilgamesh: The Unfruitful Search for Everlasting Life

To see a creative recreation of Gilgamesh's actions following the death of Enkidu watch the video below. In watching pay close attention to the loss of identity suffered by Gilgamesh once he realizes that gaining eternal life through leaving a legacy is not enough and he sets out on a quest to find eternal life.
Gilgamesh: The Unfruitful Search for Everlasting Life

Eliphaz Responds to Job (Video)

See the video below to hear Eliphaz speaking to Job and discrediting his identity. Eliphaz suggests that it is impossible that Job is who he says he is. Eliphaz says that he cannot be innocent and that he must be guilty in the eyes of the Lord. It is important to note how differently his friends treat Job now that they have reason to question his identity. To the reader they do not appear to be friends at all. However, a reader could surmise that the way that they now treat Job must be different given their new insight into his possible transgressions. They no longer see Job as an innocent, benevolent, servant of God. Instead, they now treat him as a liar and a sinner, questioning his identity.
Eliphaz Responds to Job | Job 4 | The Book of Job