Friendship can often spring out of the most unexpected places. People often say that the best friendships were those that no one anticipated. In “The Epic of Gilgamesh” Gilgamesh himself finds the truest of friendships in the most unexpected of places. He finds them in a young man named Enkidu who shares his same enjoyment of competition, the desire for attention, and the love of a good fight. Gilgamesh and Enkidu start out their relationship with a good story to tellI.
Enraged by one of Gilgamesh’s decisions, Enkidu stands guard over the new bride of a citizen of Uruk allowing no one, not even the King of the and to enter the chambers of this young woman. Gilgamesh became immediately enraged that he was not being allowed to have his way with the woman and begins to fight Enkidu. The fight then ends with a new bond being formed between the two young gentleman. The qualities the form the most tight, secure, and rewarding of friendships are those of trust, loyalty, support and love and these are seen all throughout Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s journey.
The ability to trust a stranger turned friend is something that is usually built over a period time. Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s story is a little different. A man Gilgamesh has only known for days is by is side traveling with him on the hunt for a beast named Humbaba. Placing their faith in each other both Gilgamesh and Enkidu travers mountains and woods and rivers with a goal to find the wretched Humbaba. On their journey Gilgamesh has a terrible dream where he is defeated by the very enemy they are hunting and he turns to Enkidu for words of encouragement about the disturbing dream.
The trust that has been formed between Gilgamesh and Enkidu is something of a rare variety. Just strangers days before, Enkidu is now giving words of advice and counseling to King Gilgamesh. In Table IV lines 148-155 Enkidu comforts Gilgamesh with words of positivity and faith in the good fight that they are taking to Humbaba. “The one who gave you water to drink from his waterskin, Is your god who proclaims your glory, Lugalbanda. We should rely on one another, We will accomplish together a deed unheard of in the land” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, lines 152-155 p. 119).
Gilgamesh listens to Enkidu’s words of encouragement and though still slightly discouraged moves on with his journey with Enkidu still being his faithful friend, a trusted dream interpreter, and fellow warrior. After the battle with Humbaba Gilgamesh became nvolved with a fight with the bull of heaven. The bull of heaven came and began destroying Uruk. Enkidu sets up a plan with Giglamesh that he will circle the bull, and then grab him by his tail and Giglamesh will jump in to put the dagger into the bull’s neck. A comradrie like this, the total faith Enkidu puts into Giglamesh to finish slaying the bull.
Enkidu’s fate laid solely in Giglamesh’s hands. For, if he failed, Enkidu would be taken out by the bull of heaven. “Enkidu circled the bull of heaven… And Gilgamesh, like a strong, skillfull slaughterer, thrust his dagger between neck, horn, and tendon” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, lines 32-136, p. 127). Later on after the battles have ceased and both men have been rested Enkidu shares his nightmares with Gilgamesh. This sharing of dreams between the two friends shows the upmost trust. To lay out before each other insecurities and bare their souls is something such powerful, strong, confident men are frowned upon for doing.
In Tablet VII Enkidu shares his nightmare of a man who was stronger and faster than himself, fighting him and taking him away to a house with no light. ““Like a wild bull he trampled me, Save me, my friend! But you did not save me” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, lines 130-131, p. 131). The friendship that we readers see unfold throughout the story is outlined with trust between the two friends. The trust formed between these two young men from the moment they ceased fighting proves true even when it comes to the battle with Humbaba, sharing their lives with each other, and the battle of the bull of heaven.
Loyalty is one of the most prized values between friends. To be confident that another person will defend your honor when you are not around, to know that there are people that you can count on, that is the thing that everyone looks for when starting new relationships with people. The loyalty between Gilgamesh nd Enkidu is one that even transcended death. From the Shamat the harlot knew that Gilgamesh and Enkidu would be the most loyal of friends. “And so, like a wild bull, he lords it over the people. You are just like him, you will love him like your own self” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, lines 13-15 p. 07).
Hours later Gilgamesh and Enkidu meet for the first time. Not long after their first encounter they begin preparing for battle together. “There dwells in the forest the fierce monster Humbaba, You and I shall kill him and wipe out something evil from the land” Gilgamesh says to Enkidu just moments are they had met. “You an call out to me, Go on, be not afraid! If I fall on the way, l’ll establish my name” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, lines 182-183 p. 111). A friendship that just began starts with such devotion. All the while both men had been completely assured of the abilities of the other.
Enkidu had been gifted with several characteristics that made him god-like. He was handsome and strong, the “mightiest force in the land) (The Epic of Gilgamesh, line 116, p. 102) In the second tablet of The Epic of Gilgamesh in lines we see Enkidu still longing for something more, for quality friendship. “He was yearning for one to know his heart, a friend) (The Epic of Gilgamesh, line 18, p. 107). Enkidu and Gilgamesh were both mighty men. They were strong, noble, respected. The connection they made minutes after they first met led them into a friendship of love.
This love is part of what made their friendship so intense that either of them would have given their life for the other. Enkidu falls ill and it wrecks Gilgamesh. He is mourning and weeping, grieving for the loss of such a dear friend. “What now is this sleep that has seized you? Come back to me! You hear me not” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, lines 49-50, p. 133). Only great love could cause such mourning and pain. Gilgamesh immediately sends out a proclamation to the people of Uruk to make a statue in honor of the great Enkidu.
He launches into plans to give Enkidu only the best farewell. “I will lay you down in the ultimate resting place, in a perfect resting place I will surely lay you down. I will settle you in peaceful rest in that dwelling sinister, rulers of the netherworld will do you homage” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, lines 64-67 p. 134). In the midst of his grief Gilgamesh wants to make sure that everyone knows and honors Enkidu. After all the victories they had together and the nights they spent traversing the woods on the hunt, he imply just wants Enkidu to be remembered by the people of Uruk.
Though Enkidu no longer remained by Gilgemesh’s side, the love they had for each other was one of intense faith and devotion. Though the very thing that pulled Gilgemsh and Enkidu together was conflict, trust, loyalty, and love kept them the best of friends throughout the rest of their relationship. They battled together, they shared cold nights in the middle of the woods, they celebrated, and ultimately just shared life with each other. Their story is one of devotion and strength, and one of the most intense bonds formed between two characters in literature.