Getting Gilgamesh

The Earliest Action Hero for Young Men Today

"Friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons." —Aristotle

In an era when action heroes and comic book superheroes captivate the imaginations of young audiences, the best classic book to offer young men might be The Epic of Gilgamesh. The oldest known story in ­written form, this epic's oral tradition may well reach back five thousand years, predating Homer by more than a ­millennium. Yet the story of a semi-divine—but mortal—hero and his friend has the same appeal as Marvel's Thor or DC's Wonder Woman, both...


is a retired secondary teacher of English and philosophy. For forty years he challenged students to dive deep into the classics of the Western canon, to think and write analytically, and to find the cultural constants reflected throughout that literature, art, and thought.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #58, Fall 2021 Copyright © 2021 Salvo |


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