Gilgamesh Essay, Research Paper
Classics of World Lit. Honors
Gilgamesh: A Glance at Friendship
Throughout history the stories, poems, and songs have all held common themes. They help to explain the importance of certain aspects of life, and one of these is friendship. Friendship is a necessary aspect of life. In the ancient Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, friendship plays an avid part of the story. Gilgamesh is an oppressive king and Enkidu is like the king of the animals (?Gilgamesh?). The power of friendship is shown throughout the story in the actions of the characters.
Friendship is first shown soon after Gilgamesh and Enkidu meet. ?A companion who is your equal In strength a person loyal to a friend, Who will not forsake you and whom you Will never wish to leave? (Gilgamesh 19 ). Gilgamesh had been told that he would soon find a friend. Enkidu was Gilgamesh?s equal so the people of the city mistook him and started to praise Enkidu and this caused their meeting. ?In the silence of the people they began to laugh And clutched each other in their breathless exaltation? (24). What started in a fight ended up being a budding of a wonderful friendship.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu?s bond of friendship was immediately strong. They were like brothers, and, decided to fight evil together. Their adventure is another example of friendship. ?They had embraced and made their vow To stay together always, No matter what the obstacle ?(27). Throughout the fight against Humbaba up until the death
of Enkidu, they were inseperateable. Although Enkidu was mute and physically hurt, one friend would help the other when their weakness was evident. An example of this is when Ishtar sent the Bull of Heaven down to kill Gilgamesh. ? Enkidu, to protect his friend, Found strength? (45). Enkidu used his knowledge of animals to destroy the bull, but it cost him his life. A true test of friendship is if one will lay down thier life for the other.
The death of Enkidu destroyed Gilgamesh. He had never felt the saddess he felt when his friend died.. ?Gilgamesh wept bitterly for his friend. He felt himself now singled out for loss Apart from everyone else? (53). Gilgamesh had never valued another person?s life like he did at that point in the epic. He realized how important friends are, and he wanted to bring his friend back from the dead. Gilgamesh couldn?t bring Enkidu back to life, but his friendship with him while he was alive forever changed him.
?He looked at the walls
Awed at the heights
His people had achieved
And for a moment – just a moment –
All that lay behind him
Passed from view? (92).
Gilgamesh looks at his city with totally different view . Before meeting Enkidu he never even took the time to look at what his people had achieved, but now he was in awe of it. The quote illustrates the difference in the way he thinks from the beginning of the epic to
the end. The friendship changed Gilgamesh into a more appreciative and more compassionate person.
The theme of friendship is as important in Gilgamesh as it is in real life. Enkidu and Gilgamesh show how friendship works. They show its strength not only to withstand great hardships, but also to change a person totally. Friendship is a necessity in life. The people in the third millenium B.C., like the people of today, understood the importance of friendship and the role it plays in everyone?s life.
?Gilgamesh? World Book Encyclopedia. New York: World Book,Inc., 1988.
Mason, Herbert. Gilgamesh. New York: Peinguin Books, 1972.