The Great Companionship of Gilgamesh and Enkidu
Friendship in the third millennium BC must have been way different then how we see friendship today… Or is it? When you have a friendship with someone, you “fill their gaps” of what they don’t necessarily have. N. K. Sandars demonstrates that “filling of the gaps” in The Epic of Gilgamesh. The friendship of Gilgamesh and Enkidu benefits them both greatly by making up for each other’s limitations. You see this when they become stronger together to fight Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven, when Enkidu rationalizes with Gilgamesh and when Gilgamesh inspires Enkidu to become less of a cowardly man. When two men fight with each other; there is strength, and with strength comes protection. There are two evident situations in the Epic, when Gilgamesh and Enkidu fight with each other and protect each other. When they conquer Humbaba, Enkidu is the one to protect Gilgamesh as they walk towards the cedar forest: “Let Enkidu lead the way… Let Enkidu protect his friend, and guard his companion…” (75-76). Enkidu knowing how to get to the cedar forest makes up for Gilgamesh’s limitation of NOT knowing the path. Since Gilgamesh is ¾ God, he makes up for some of the strength that Enkidu lacks. “When two go together each will protect himself and shield his companion,” (77) Sandars implies how protection and strength are equal to each other, just like Gilgamesh and Enkidu are equal to each other in their friendship. Another concrete example of how Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s friendship come hand in hand with strength and protection is when they fight the Bull of Heaven after Ishtar gets insulted from the rejection of Gilgamesh. When Ishtar got the Bull of Heaven to “destroy Gilgamesh” (87), Gilgamesh and Enkidu team up again for one last battle, and their united strength is shown. “My friend, we boasted that we would leave enduring names behind us. Now thrust in your sward between the nape and the horns” (88) Enkidu is telling Gilgamesh...
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