Brotherhood In The Epic of Gilgamesh

Life presents many challenges, and many of these are almost impossible to overcome alone. In order to best overcome these challenges, it helps to have a brother to lean on. Brotherhood goes beyond just an average friend, it represents a deeper bond. This bond may or may not be through blood. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu was specifically created to help guide Gilgamesh through his different trials and to join him in his adventures. In The Bhagavad-Gita, Arjuna looked to Krishna for advice in a time where he had to make very important decisions.

In One Thousand and One Nights, King Shahrayar and Shahazaman had each other when each of them suffered from a great misfortune.

The importance of brotherhood is exemplified throughout these works and is still very important in modern times to help get though challenges in life. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is literally created for Gilgamesh to be his companion through everything he needed to do in life.

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Enkidu is told by Shamhat the he is “just like him” and that he “will love him like [his] own self”. Because the two are so similar, they fight at first but soon realize they cannot defeat one another. This conclusion leads them to become very close friends and to go on adventures with each other. Enkidu was glad to have Gilgamesh because “he was yearning for one to know his heart, a friend”. It is natural for someone to want to be known, so when they are suffering they have someone who already understand them to go to.

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Gilgamesh and Enkidu went on many adventures together and grew even closer as they went on these adventures. As they traveled, they were “clasping to each other, hand in hand’” as they went to the sublime temple to see Ninsun. Holding hands to them was not a romantic gesture like in modern times, but it showed companionship between the two. The elders who placed Enkidu in Gilgamesh’s life gave him advice when going on adventures. One piece of advice was: Trust not Gilgamesh, in your own strength Let your vision be clear, take care of yourself. Let Enkidu go ahead of you, He has seen the road, has traveled the way. He knows the ways into the forest And all the tricks of Humbaba, He who goes first safeguards his companion, His vision clear, he protects himself.

The importance of brotherhood is exemplified through this advice from the elders. It would be very dangerous to travel alone, but with a companion the journey can be made safely. Each of them can back the other up. Enkidu also knows the way so Gilgamesh can make his journey safely. They had such a close bond that when Enkidu died, Gilgamesh mourned for seven days. His mourning shows how close the two had become and the impact one person can have and the value of their life. While people are not specifically created for one another, Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s bond can be looked at as an example of what brotherhood should look like today. They trust one another with their own lives. They also are able to receive advice from one another.

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Arjuna looks to the divine Krishna for advice when he is placed in a troubling circumstance. Arjuna has to make a decision when he is being forced to fight his family. This would be a troubling situation for anybody, and it could be made easier by having someone to look for advice from. Arjuna is able to look to Krishna for advice on a wide variety of topics in order for him to come to terms with the situation that he is in. At the beginning Arjuna is so confused that he “collapsed into his chariot, his bow and arrows chattering, and his mind overcome with grief”. Arjuna was so overwhelmed that he literally collapsed, and without help from Krishna, he may have suffered even more. Krishna is able to give him advice so that he feels confident in what he has to do.

He exemplifies brotherhood in the sense that people with that bond can go to one another with anything and receive advice to help them overcome whatever challenge they may be facing. Arjuna wants to know how to better himself. He asks Krishna “’how may I know the man steady in his wisdom, who abides in meditation? How should that one sit, speak and move?’” Arjuna knows that meditation is important but does not know how to go about it. Arjuna knows Krishna is knowledgeable on this topic, so he is able to ask with confidence that a good answer will be provided. Arjuna provokes Krishna into appearing into his ultimate form which is too much for Arjuna’s mind to comprehend. Krishna then returns to his normal form and tells Arjuna “with your fears banished and your mind now cheerful, look once upon my form”. Arjuna is relieved to see that Krishna is back to normal.

Arjuna learns to trust in Krishna and not to push him to become something that he cannot handle. Lots can be learned from the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna, despite Krishna being a supernatural being. Krishna helps Arjuna though the toughest thing that would ever come into his life. He exemplifies the loving advice that one brother gives to another in time of need. In One Thousand and One Nights, the Kings are blood brothers that exemplify having a good bond with one another, although their actions may not be the purest in nature. The brothers were there for the other when he was in a time of sorrow. Each one had a wife who was cheating on them. This allowed the two to have a common misfortune that led to them to better console the other.

In the beginning, Shahrayar had gone ten years without seeing his brother, Shahzaman, so he sent for his brother to join him in at his castle. Before he left, Shahzaman discovered that his wife was having an affair. This caused him to be very distraught and upset while visiting his brother. Shahrayar saw this and “for a month he gathered gifts for his brother” in an attempt to make him feel better. Nothing could assuage Shahzaman except for finding someone who was in a worse situation than him. While Shahrayar was out hunting, Shahzaman discovered that Shahrayar’s wife was having an affair. This caused Shahzaman to feel better and when Shahrayar came back, he was back to his normal self. Shahrayer wanted to know what led to Shahzaman’s recovery and kept asking what the cause was.

Shahzaman wanted to protect his brother and kept saying he could not express the reason for his recovery. Shahrayer was persistent and kept insisting until finally Shahzaman told him the true reason, that Shahrayer’s wife was having an affair. This led to Sharayer becoming very upset. They then went on to “find one whose misfortune is greater than [theirs]”. Though they did not react to their misfortunes in the best way, the two brothers leaned on each other in their troubling times. Each wanted to help the other feel better and was willing to do anything for the other. This came in the form of gift giving, trying to withhold information for the better of the other and also being there in person for support.

If Gilgamesh, Arjuna and Shahzaman did not have a brother to lean on in their time of need, their stories would be extremely different. Enkidu, Krishna and Sharayer all exemplified brotherhood for the readers in modern times. All three of these texts show different aspects that go into what a brotherhood should look like. They can be looked to for examples of how a brother should act, and qualities that a brother has. Going through life without someone to lean on would be extremely difficult. It is just as important in these current times to have a brother to lean on when life presents challenges.

Works Cited

  1. Trans. Flood, Gavin, Trans. Martin, Charles. “The Bhagavad Gita” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Gen. Ed. Martin Puchner. 3rd ed. Vol. F. New York: Norton, 2012. 729-745. Print
  2. Trans. Foster, Benjamin. “The Epic of Gilgamesh” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Gen. Ed. Martin Puchner. 3rd ed. Vol. F. New York: Norton, 2012. 38-88. Print
  3. Trans. Wa-layla, Alf Layla “The Thousand and One Nights” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Gen. Ed. Martin Puchner. 3rd ed. Vol. F. New York: Norton, 2012. 1176-1197. Print.

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Brotherhood In The Epic of Gilgamesh. (2022, Jan 08). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/brotherhood-in-the-epic-of-gilgamesh-essay

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