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True friendship is egalitarian: everything is shared, loyalty to the friendship is equal, and the basis of the camaraderie is unselfish.

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Introduction

Kimberly Velez Dr. English Hn. Seminar: Great Books and Ideas I 12 September 2002 True friendship is egalitarian: everything is shared, loyalty to the friendship is equal, and the basis of the camaraderie is unselfish. The relationship between the king Gilgamesh and the man of the grasslands, Enkidu, is not a true and equal friendship. Loyalties and sacrifices to that friendship are inconsistent. Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu informed of their future friendship before it even develops. Gilgamesh has a dream to inform him of this predestined relationship. In his dream, as Ninsun explains, "...That you were drawn to if as if drawn to a woman means that this companion will not forsake you. He will protect and guard you with his life. This is the fortunate meaning of your dream" (pp. 10-11). ...read more.

Middle

Enkidu knew only of the grassland animals, and Gilgamesh, a tyrannical king, had never treated anyone as his equal. Ninsun's prophecy is correct, and the friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu stems from great loyalty and trust. Moreover, the formation of their bond is very abrupt. Upon meeting, they fight fiercely, stop, and embrace. This briefness gives an air of resourcefulness to the relationship, but this quality is later shattered by their loyalty to one another in following scenes. Enkidu's devotion to Gilgamesh is shown in their battles with both Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. By partaking in these battles with Gilgamesh, Enkidu is expressing his friendship. The conquests are not his idea, and he begins to protest them and to give in to his friend's will. Enkidu dies for Gilgamesh, in essence. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Enkidu beomes ill, Gilgamesh is worried about his friend's impending death. However, he also seems preoccupied with his own loneliness as well as the consequences of his own mortality: "Enkidu has died, Must I die too? Must Gilgamesh Be like that?" (pp.48) This statement reflects on Gilgamesh and how he worries for himself, on the most part, due to the fact that Enkidu is going to die. The concept of friendship sheds new light on the epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu, a true friend to the animals and a loyal friend to Gilgamesh, remains true to these ideals throughout the poem. Gilgamesh, although seemingly changed by his companionship with Enkidu, appears self-serving. Focused on his own loneliness and journey, Gilgamesh contributes far less to the companionship and therefore causes the relationship to be tarnished. ...read more.

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