The Friendship Theme in The Epic of Gilgamesh

Essay by hilmiyildirimUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2002

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Role of Friendship in The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the first and most important epical writing of Mesopotamia, narrates the efforts of finding fame and immortality of Gilgamesh, the king of the city of Uruk, and the advancement of friendship between Gilgamesh and the steppe man, Enkidu. Fame and immortality were the aims of Gilgamesh but friendship was not. While trying to get immortality, he learnt what friendship is and the unnecessity of the other efforts.

The first friendship in the story is not the companionship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Enkidu was as a protector of animals, before knowing anything about the world and he had no differences from animals. The second friendship was with the harlot, which lasted only for a few weeks. This is not an example of a real one but this caused his civilization. After that relation, he became civilized and went to a civilized place, Uruk.

Up to this point, neither Gilgamesh nor Enkidu had ever had a real friend that was a man before. Enkidu knew only of animals, and Gilgamesh had never treated anyone as his equal. Both of them had been informed of the future friendship from the harlot and the mother of Gilgamesh. These came from the dreams of Gilgamesh, which were interpreted by his mother, Ninsun. "It will be a person, she continued....A companion who is your equal...Will never wish to leave. Gilgamesh was quiet at this interpretation. Of his dream." (Tablet I)

The formation of the friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu was very interesting and abrupt. Upon the first meeting they fought, abruptly stopped and embraced. At this point, it seems that this friendship started as a benefit relation. Gilgamesh evaluated Enkidu, and found him enough talented and powerful to be his...