Evolution and Change in “Inferno” and “The Epic of Gilgamesh”

Pages: 2
Words: 592


The poem Inferno, written by Dante Alighieri, portrays a path of a human through hell that can be mainly considered a tour of numerous forms of punishment for various sins. Meanwhile, the poem The Epic of Gilgamesh focuses on the events in the mortal world, depicting the path of Gilgamesh, who seeks glory and immortality. While the most prominent themes of the poems are sin and mortality, the deep themes reveal the complexity of human life, its evolution, and fatalism.


In the first poem, Inferno, the reader sees every step the main character takes to move through the circles of Hell. Among the first sinners that Dante met was Francesca da Polenta of Ravenna. Dante’s recently discovered curiosity prompted the woman to tell Dante about her lustful story, which had sealed her destiny in the inferno (Alighieri). Francesca vibrantly told Dante her heartbreaking story, which eventually cost her and her loved one, Paolo, their lives. Dante finally faints due to unbearable pity, which indicates the beginning of the character’s evolution.

Gradually going through other circles of hell, Dante encounters other sinners. Each sinner invokes an array of emotions in the protagonist. For example, during the seventh circle of hell, Dante plucks a branch of a tree that is Pier Delle Vigne, an advisor who took his life due to a tainted reputation. While wanting to sympathize with the sinner, Dante learns that this is part of divine justice. This is the point when the main character learns about the essence of sin and stops feeling pity towards everyone in hell. The realization lies within the fatalism, inevitability of people’s punishments, and God’s justice.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

As for The Epic of Gilgamesh, the character evolution is seen through accepting his mortality. In the beginning, the reader can see how desperately Gilgamesh desires to become renowned and pursue glory. The protagonist wants to perform extraordinary acts so that his name and heroism can be remembered everlastingly. This motivates the character, but it eventually leads to Enkidu’s death as punishment for his arrogance. This is when Enkidu’s death forces the protagonist to confront his mortality.

The first step on Gilgamesh’s path after facing the death of Enkidu is to defy human mortality and find ways to become immortal. The character becomes obsessed with finding the secret that would allow him to have everlasting life. Nevertheless, after losing the plant that can give immortality, the character realizes the fatalism of life and the need to accept the eventual death (The Epic of Gilgamish). The ultimate decision of Gilgamesh is to relish the moments he has now and shares his wisdom with the people of Uruk. The evolution of Gilgamesh is indicated through the character’s friendship with Enkidu, who teaches the man that life is not only about brave achievements and eternal life.


Hence, both works illuminate the evolution of human character and fatalism by depicting sins and mortality. In the first poem, Inferno, the author shows the path of the main character and his inner changes with each circle of hell. While in the beginning, the protagonist experiences pity toward sinners, in the end, he realizes that just as sins are part of human life, punishments are part of divine justice. Conversely, the author of The Epic of Gilgamesh shows the path of a mortal person and his evolution. While in the beginning, the character wants to become a renowned man and later seeks immortality, in the end, the protagonist realizes the inevitability of death and the beauty of simple life.

Work Cited

Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. Graywolf Press, 2013.

The Epic of Gilgamish. Translated by Campbell Thompson, Creative Media Partners, 2017.