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The Epic of Gilgamesh: Enkidu and Gilgamesh Сharacteristics

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In the book, Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh and Enkidu set out on an adventure to kill Humbaba. The two characters, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, are complete opposites from each other and this helps them get through a tough challenge. Gilgamesh, the epic hero, and Enkidu, the foil, have many character traits that help motivate the other. Gilgamesh had multiple great qualities such as heroism, perseverance, and loyalty. He also has multiple flaws that slowed him down such as, pridefulness, self-righteousness, and selfishness. Enkidu had multiple great qualities as well. His qualities ranged from confidence, omniscience, and leadership. Gilgamesh’s two main qualities that are shown in the book are his overflowing pride, and his perseverance. Because of his pride, he does not listen to Enkidu. This is a major flaw in the book. You can also see Gilgamesh’s perseverance when he finds out that the results from this challenge might not go his way. Even after finding that out, he continues to go pray to Shamash.

Enkidu’s two main qualities shown in the book are his leadership and loyalty. His leadership can be noticed when the Elders of Uruk tell Gilgamesh to let Enkidu lead and he gladly takes the lead and guides them to the cedar forest. You can also see Enkidu’s loyalty when Gilgamesh makes a dangerous idea and Enkidu helps him stray away from the idea because they are great friends. If Gilgamesh, were a modern day epic story then Gilgamesh and Enkidu would have to acquire a few new characteristics. Gilgamesh would have to have a social media page where he posts all of his accomplishments, he would be a bad relier to texts or emails, and he would have to be always too distracted by his phone to listen to what Enkidu had to say.

Enkidu was sent to Uruk to fight Gilgamesh at the wishes of the gods that the people of Uruk prayed to. The fight had resulted in a friendship that no one in the city had seen coming. Gilgamesh and Enkidu had just enough similarities to keep them close, and enough differences to keep each other sane. One likeness they had with one another is that they were both somewhere between a god and a human. Being one-third human meant that both lacked the quality of morality, and thus were not invincible like the gods who created Enkidu, and like the gods that Gilgamesh wanted to be and thought that he was. Another similarity was that because they had godlike qualities and they were both extremely strong. This was shown when they decided they would take down Humbaba, a demon who exists to protect the forest of mortals. No one would have thought to take on this task, but both Gilgamesh and Enkidu wanted their names to live on forever, as well as thinking they were doing what the gods desired. These similarities allowed their friendship to flourish as their similar qualities would push each other.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu also showed many differences, both before they were friends and while they were friends. Gilgamesh is two-thirds god, while Enkidu was two-thirds beast. This may have created the difference in how each treated women and nature. Gilgamesh thought of himself as a god and showed it by the way he treated the people of the city and having his way with women. Since Enkidu was part animal, he respected nature, and thus had different morals than Gilgamesh. Enkidu respected normal moral ethics while Gilgamesh was drawn to lust, wealth and mortality. This shows how different the personalities of Gilgamesh and Enkidu are, but how it may make them great friends, as opposites create different thought processes, just like relationships in real life. Another key difference between the two characters is that Enkidu can interpret Gilgamesh’s dreams, while Gilgamesh can’t. This keeps Enkidu as an important part of the story in a couple different ways. Enkidu interpreting Gilgamesh’s dreams kept Gilgamesh sane, as he would wake up from the dreams second guessing himself and their plan to kill Humbaba. Enkidu would ensure Gilgamesh that the dreams are all a good thing, and that they are an omen them that their quest will be rewarded. The interpreting of the dreams also allowed Enkidu to be more of a brotherly family-like figure to Gilgamesh, as it would sooth his mind that everything would be okay. Without this quality, Enkidu would only be in the story for his strength to try to defeat Gilgamesh at first, and then to help defeat Humbaba and wouldn’t get the same attention as Gilgamesh.

In real life, no two people can be the same, yet they can still be great friends. Most times, the differences between people are what strengthens a friendship as different perspectives may keep you from trouble. The similarities and differences between Gilgamesh and Enkidu are no different and help push the narrative forward as well as enhance their friendship. Any weaknesses that Gilgamesh had were filled by Enkidu’s strengths, and any weaknesses Enkidu had were then upheld by Gilgamesh’s strengths. This was seen when they sought out Humbaba. Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu are very strong, even to the point where Enkidu thought he was stronger than Gilgamesh. Even though they were both strong, Enkidu had second thoughts of fighting Humbaba, while Gilgamesh never had any fear as that’s how he has lived his life. Ultimately, they killed Humbaba, but having someone who may think of a situation different than how you do such as Enkidu did may strengthen the relationship by making sure that decisions that are made are of best interest. The most important part of their friendship was Gilgamesh seeing Enkidu die. Gilgamesh then knew he wanted to be different from Enkidu in one way, being immortal. This pushes the narrative forward as Gilgamesh then goes through a long voyage to seek out how to become immortal. The voyage creates the moral of the story, as Gilgamesh went through many hardships in search of immortality, only to come up empty handed in the end. The moral of the story that Gilgamesh learned is that death is inevitable for those who have human traits, such as himself and Enkidu. The differences between himself and Enkidu wore off on Gilgamesh, as when he returned to Uruk he treated his people different than he had before and became a well-liked and respected king to his people. Had Gilgamesh never found a bond with Enkidu, he may have never found that he is not god-like and immortal like he thought, and thus never changed the way he treated the people of Uruk.

In conclusion, Gilgamesh begins with a very tough and unforgiving personality which is then altered only by the hand of Enkidu. Both Enkidu and Gilgamesh have taught each other very valuable lessons about life in general. In a way Enkidu became physically stronger by way of Gilgamesh, and Gilgamesh became mentally stronger by way of Enkidu. It essentially displays a co-dependent bond between the two main characters.

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