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The Power Of Friendship Essay

1023 words - 5 pages

Throughout epics there always seems to be someone alongside the hero helping and keeping him on the path of his journey. This relationship can be seen as a friendship or can even go so far as to call it a brotherhood. The companion of the hero not only stands as character foil but also a guide emotionally and physically. Even through death the lesson taught by the companion still persist, and guide the hero to a greater understanding self, and the world. The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Iliad, by Homer, both exemplify some of the lessons a companion teaches the hero. Both epics portray a hero’s need for a motivational friend or ally to help stand against overwhelming odds, and complete their journey. Without Enkidu many of Gilgamesh’s conquest could not have been possible or would have been left incomplete, and if Patroclus had not fought in Achilles place the Trojan’s would have lost the war.
Epic heroes always have some sort of emotional issue they can not overcome alone whether it is hubris or a lack of confidence in their selves their companion is the one to motivate them back into action. In The Iliad Patroclus tries to motivate Achilles to help the Greeks but is unsuccessful and instead fights in Achilles armor hoping to raise their morale. However this endeavor results in his death. Patroclus’ death provides enough motivation for the grieving Achilles to return to the war seeking revenge for his lost friend. Even in Gilgamesh Enkidu motivates Gilgamesh when he begins to doubt himself: “Why my friend, do you raise such unworthy objections...this has dragged on long enough. The time has come to pour the copper into the mold” (Gilgamesh 5. 25-28). Enkidu reprimands Gilgamesh for doubting his abilities and proceeds to goad him to believe in his strength, and confronting Humbaba while expressing disappointment for his delayed actions. Without the motivation of their companions Gilgamesh and Achilles would not have been able to overcome their emotions like Gilgamesh’s fear and doubt, or Achilles excessive pride.
Some companions of heroes end up teaching the hero a lesson about the world. It could be verbal or mental but the hero always seems to come about some understanding of the world their mistakes, or their selves because of the companion. Death proves to be a powerful lesson to be learned from companions. Because of Enkidu Gilgamesh became aware of death, and began another journey because of his fear of dying like Enkidu: “Shall I not die too? Am I not like Enkidu … I have grown afraid of death, so I roam the steppe” (Gilgamesh 9. 1-4). The realization of death made Gilgamesh lose the certainty of his fate, and without the guidance of Enkidu required him be to go on a journey to gain an understanding of the subject from mortals and immortals. Through Patroclus’ death Achilles could overcome his hubris: “Then let me die now. I was no help To him when he was killed out there. He Died Far from home, and he needed me to protect him” (Homer 18....

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