Gilgamesh: An Analysis Of Virtue In A Confucian Society

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In Ancient Chinese culture, Confucius identifies virtue in The Analects as fidelity to the Way, a path or model of behavior, while in Gilgamesh, virtue in Sumerian society grows from legacy and comradeship. Both cultures recognize importance of striving to better society and build community. They also value progress and growth, but they differ in how to achieve those ends. In Chinese culture, progress and growth are measured by following the principles and mandates of the Way; in Sumerian culture, by achievement and legacy. In The Analects, success rests on harmony and respect for elders; in Gilgamesh, comradeship and working together. Virtue in Confucian society is ultimately related to order, while in Sumerian culture virtue builds community…show more content…
Gilgamesh persists in reaching his goal of immortality, but as he journeys through the Cedar Forest and beyond, Gilgamesh begins to realize that his purpose in life is not to live forever, but rather to leave something behind for eternity in his name. When Gilgamesh interacts with Utnapishtim and tries to determine how Utnapishtim was able to achieve immortality, Utnapishtim explains how he saved human life from extinction and was thus rewarded immortality from the gods. Humans are not measured by their achievements of strength and power, but instead on how they can make society stronger. Not only does Gilgamesh pass on military success and a powerful city, but he also gives the people of Uruk the knowledge he has learned of the value of respect and comradeship. Even though Gilgamesh was not successful in achieving his goal of humanity, Sumerians values knowledge for future experience above all else. As the book concludes, Gilgamesh begins to focus on the splendor and greatness of the city of Uruk that he has helped develop, and the “Legacy of Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh.” The legacy that Gilgamesh has built for himself is for all of the people of Uruk to not only remember his heroism, but also to be an example for others. Gilgamesh expresses Sumerian virtue as he gives the citizens of Uruk hope for a better future because he has left behind a safe, unified city and a legacy that…show more content…
While Chinese culture believes that societal improvement arises from strict adherence to a set of guidelines and ridged political structure, Sumerian culture encourages improving society through developing a legacy to inspire future generations. The Chinese emphasis on order is present in the familial and social hierarchy structure that fosters submissiveness and respect to elders, which diverges from Sumerian emphasis on comradery. Virtue is strictly attainable to individuals of high social status or hold political power and can fully devote their lives to studying, practicing, and understanding the Way, but most citizens can not invest this time and effort. As a result, it is the responsibility of those who have found the Way to instruct the entire society and lead by example. While Sumerian culture is similar in that those who have found virtue are responsible for the improvement of others, the guidelines of becoming virtuous are much less rigid and exclusive. The Chinese value a carefully planned journey, while the Sumerians prefer an organic

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