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The Epic of Gilgamesh

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Compare Gilgamesh and Enkidu in The Epic of Gilgamesh

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Enkidu is as loyal, courageous, and determined as Gilgamesh. However, his humility exceeds that of Gilgamesh.

In the story, Enkidu challenges Gilgamesh's exercise of jus primae noctis (the right of the first night, where the king beds a young bride before her husband does). Enkidu asserts that this practice is a flagrant abuse of a king's power. He challenges Gilgamesh but is overcome by the latter's superior strength.

Despite his defeat, Enkidu graciously accepts Gilgamesh's offer of friendship. He acknowledges that Gilgamesh's "strength surpasses the strength of men," and he willingly pledges to follow him. Although Enkidu is as brave a warrior as Gilgamesh, he is more cautious in nature. Unlike Gilgamesh, Enkidu prefers to ensure that a possibly successful plan is in place before he ventures forth. 

When Gilgamesh voices his resolve to confront Humbaba (the watchman of the cedar forest), Enkidu begs him to first inform Shamash (the sun god) of his plans. Gilgamesh takes Enkidu's advice and petitions Shamash for protection and courage. For his part, Shamash decides to have compassion on Gilgamesh. The sun god appoints strong allies to assist Gilgamesh in his quest; he deploys the fiercest of the natural elements to give the advantage to Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

In the story, Enkidu has a special skill that Gilgamesh is not likewise gifted with: he can interpret dreams. When Gilgamesh has a frightening dream about his destiny, Enkidu interprets the vision for his friend. According to Enkidu's interpretation, the gods have gifted Gilgamesh with superior strength and supremacy in battle.

Later, when Gilgamesh dreams about a fierce bull in the wilderness, Enkidu reassures him. He tells Gilgamesh that the bull simply represents Shamash the Protector. In moments of peril, Shamash stands ready to aid Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Enkidu's gift of interpreting dreams allows him to comfort and strengthen Gilgamesh when the latter begins to doubt his abilities. 

Perhaps the greatest traits shared by both Gilgamesh and Enkidu are courage, loyalty, and tenacity.

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Gilgamesh is the established, tyrannical King of Uruk at the beginning of the epic, while Enkidu is a relatively unknown demigod created by Anu. Gilgamesh is depicted as the wisest and strongest demigod, who embodies civilization and has human features. In contrast, Enkidu is portrayed as a product of the wilderness, who is more like a animal than a human.

Unlike the physically attractive Gilgamesh, Enkidu is covered in hair and resembles a wild beast. Enkidu is eventually civilized after his encounter with a harlot sent from Uruk and his time spent with the shepherds. Enkidu then travels to Uruk to challenge Gilgamesh and loses to the famous king. The two demigods become inseparable friends and journey throughout the land, engaging in a series of heroic exploits.

Both Enkidu and Gilgamesh are considered heroes and are revered for their strength and courage. They bravely challenge the ferocious giant Humbaba and defeat the Bull of Heaven sent by Ishtar.

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Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu are heroic (willing to perform challenging deeds) and extremely strong. The two share the exact same lineage/parentage. 

These heroes differ in important areas too, as Gilgamesh is the bolder of the two. He is bold to the point of being brash and he enjoys the power he holds over others (at least he does at the opening of the epic story). 

Enkidu is a helper and protector. He is a figure of sympathy, helping the animals escape traps and later confronting Gilgamesh to save the city from his hubris and greed. Enkidu is less adventurous than Gilgamesh. 

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