The persona in Ozymandias speaks of how he met a traveler who narrated to him about his experiences in an ‘antiquated land”. The traveler had seen a massive but ruined statute, having its face badly disfigured and the only thing remaining were the legs. The statute had a pedestal stating that Ozymandias was the “king of kings.” The irony in this is clearly captured as the only thing that matches the perceived majesty, and the great works of the king was desolate, flat sand land and the ruined statute. The sculptor captures the king’s passions very well in the statute, an otherwise “lifeless thing.” The inscription was meant to display the king’s great exploits that even the mightiest king would not come close to what he had achieved. It read “if anyone to know what I am let him surpass some of my exploits.” The great exploits may indeed be valid, but it does not diminish the fact that any human created legacy shall someday be overtaken by events or greater exploits.
Epic of Gilgamesh, on the other hand, is about a man who lost his best friend and set about finding the secret of immortality. It is about two men, Gilgamesh and Enkidu; once woes now turned best friends. Gilgamesh, the king, realizes that his only chance at being immortal is by making a name for himself. “I have peered over the city wall I have seen the corpses floating in the river so that it will happen to me.” So to avoid this imminent extinction, he resorts to the pursuit of fame and legacy as the foundation of a fulfilled and meaningful life. After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s best friend with the realization that humans can’t live forever and the only way we can be remembered is by establishing an everlasting legacy.
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