The Epic of Gilgamesh

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Gilgamesh and Enkidu

Throughout the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is described as being a hero, “who knew the most of all men” (Gilgamesh, pg. 3). He is described as “two-thirds a god” (Gilgamesh, pg. 4) and “the strongest one of all, the perfect, the terror” (Gilgamesh, pg. 4). Due to Gilgamesh’s great recognition, he lacks a peer, someone who is able to challenge him. However, Enkidu is formed to test Gilgamesh’s abilities. Gilgamesh and Enkidu eventually grow a strong companionship. The bond between the two characters is the most important aspect in Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh and Enkidu act as each other’s counterparts throughout the novel.

Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu are very supportive of each other. They rely on each other’s strengths and weaknesses to survive through their venture. Enkidu’s words motivate Gilgamesh when he is in doubt. For example, when Enkidu and Gilgamesh are about to fight Huwawa, Enkidu alleviates Gilgamesh’s anxiety by saying, “Do not listen to the demon. He must be killed, obliterated utterly. Listen to me” (Gilgamesh, pg. 28). In a sense, Enkidu is able to control Gilgamesh’s recklessness with his wisdom.

Gilgamesh’s harsh and fierce energy is counteracted by Enkidu’s natural wisdom. On the way to the Cedar Forest, Gilgamesh constantly has dreams, which he is unable to interpret. He begins to panic and asks Enkidu for advice and guidance. Gilgamesh is a man of action, not reflection. He does not understand the possibilities of life and is only knowledgeable of its necessities. For example, during a fit of rage, Gilgamesh destroys the Stone Men, who are the only beings who can cross the ocean. Because of such impulsive behavior, Gilgamesh confides in Enkidu’s wisdom that is supplemented with nature.

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