Two Halves of One Whole: Comparing and Contrasting Gilgamesh and Enkidu Essay In The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by Herbert Mason, the creator of the epic introduced Enkidu to serve as the other half of the protagonist, Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh and Enkidu were alike in many ways, especially in physical attributes and loyalty, however they both came from different backgrounds and had differences in personalities and mind sets. In the beginning, Enkidu opposed Gilgamesh, but once they became partners, they aided each other in the journey to becoming heroes. Some of the many ways in which they were alike were their physical attributes of great strength and identical appearance. Both Enkidu and Gilgamesh had great strength that was unknown to man. When in the forest of Humbaba, Humbaba was described with having, “His huge and clumsy legs, his failing arms Thrashing at phantoms in this precious trees. His single stroke could cut cedar down And leave no mark on him,” (39-40). Humbaba was incredibly large and strong and in order for Gilgamesh and Enkidu to defeat him, they must have had great strength. Enkidu and Gilgamesh also looked very much alike; when Enkidu arrived in Uruk, people were shocked at the resemblance. “People said: He looks like Gilgamesh,” (22). After they met, they fought and realized how alike they were; they soon became loyal friends and clung to one another. Along with having similar attributes, Enkidu and Gilgamesh also demonstrated great loyalty to each other. Once Enkidu and Gilgamesh became friends, they were loyal to each other and helped each other during their adventure in the forest of Humbaba. “Enkidu was afraid of the forest of Humbaba And urged him not to go, but he Was not as strong as Gilgamesh in argument, And they were friends: They had embraced and made their vow To stay together always, No matter what the obstacle,” (27). Enkidu was terrified to go into the forest of Humbaba but because Gilgamesh wanted to, Enkidu did not abandon him due to the promise they had made to each other to stick together always. Enkidu remained loyal to Gilgamesh despite his disagreement in what they were doing. When Enkidu was afraid to go into the forest, Gilgamesh told him, “Forget your fear of death. I will go before you And protect you,” (35). Gilgamesh did not just want to send his friend into the forest scared, so he offered to protect him and encouraged him to go through the journey. Gilgamesh remained loyal to Enkidu by sticking with him throughout the journey in the forest of Humbaba and protecting him. Enkidu was afraid to go into the forest of Humbaba because he knew the dangers in there because of where he came from, while Gilgamesh believed he could defeat Humbaba because of how he held great power over the city of Uruk. It is this type of difference in perspective that set the two apart. This arose because of their different backgrounds. Enkidu was from the Steppe and grew up around animals. “Enkidu was ignorant of oldness, He ran with the animals, Drank at theirs springs, Not knowing fear or wisdom,” (16). Enkidu was uncivilized and was half animal, half man. While Enkidu ran with the animals, Gilgamesh was the ruler of Uruk. “As king, Gilgamesh was a tyrant to his people, He demanded, from an old birthright, The privilege of sleeping with their brides Before husbands were permitted,” (15). Gilgamesh came from a place where he was used to getting his way and ruled over everyone. Since Enkidu and Gilgamesh came from entirely different backgrounds, they also differed in personality and mind set. Besides being raised in different environments, Enkidu and Gilgamesh showed contrast in their personalities and mind sets. While Enkidu was kind, Gilgamesh was mean. When Enkidu heard of what Gilgamesh was doing to the brides, he reacted adversity. “Enkidu’s face was pale. He felt a weakness in his body At the mention of their king,” (21). Enkidu disagreed and felt it was wrong that Gilgamesh would take advantage of the women in this way. Enkidu even tried to prevent Gilgamesh from doing this to the brides. Gilgamesh, on the other hand, did not care about his people. “Sometimes he pushed his people half to death with work rebuilding Uruk’s walls, And then without an explanation let the walls go unattended and decay, And left his people dreaming of the past And longing for a change. They had grown tired of his contradictions And his callous ways,” (16). Gilgamesh worked his people to death just to let what they worked hard on go to waste. His people did not like his ways. Along with one being kind and the other mean, Enkidu was practical, whereas Gilgamesh was rash. While Gilgamesh wanted to fight Humbaba, Enkidu did not because he thought they would not be able to defeat him. Humbaba was very powerful and Enkidu said, “He hears each insect crawling toward the edge of the forest; he twitches and it dies. Do you think he could not hear two men?” (27). Enkidu thought about the consequences and likely results if they were to fight Humbaba. However, Gilgamesh was eager to fight Humbaba and said, “I will fight Humbaba, I will cut down his cedars. Tell the armorers to build us two-edged swords And double shields and tell them I am impatient and cannot wait,” (30). Gilgamesh was ready and willing to fight Humbaba and did not think of the consequences of fighting him and getting harmed himself. Before the battle, Enkidu was timid and afraid while Gilgamesh was confident in winning. However, when the actual battle began, Enkidu became the brave one while Gilgamesh became afraid and froze. While Enkidu was fighting Humbaba, “He stood still watching as the monster leaned to make his final strike against his friend, unable To move to help him,” (40). Gilgamesh froze in battle proving that Gilgamesh was just all talk and not really brave at all. This difference was also displayed when fighting the Bull of Heaven. “Enkidu, to protect his friend, Found strength. He lunged from side to side watching for his chance to seize the horns,” (45). Once Enkidu saw that his friend was in danger, he became braver and protected Gilgamesh from the Bull of Heaven. Enkidu and Gilgamesh’s differences in personality enabled them to help each other throughout their journey. Two of the many complex characters in The Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu and Gilgamesh, resembled and contrasted each other in many ways. While Enkidu and Gilgamesh both shared physical aspects and loyalty, they both originated from separate cultures and had different personalities and mind sets. The creator of this epic chose for these characters to have these similarities and differences to aid each other in their growth to becoming heroes. Once they realized their resemblance in each other, their different points of view enabled them to help each other in their journey to becoming heroes.