In this literary analysis paper, I will be discussing the very common argument on The Epic of Gilgamesh and how there is believed homosexuality in this story. The love story per say is between the main character Gilgamesh, and his partner in crime Enkidu. They are best friends who start out with a struggle in their relationship, and they end up going on many adventurous challenges together. I will further explain this theory and put some support behind it by using textual examples as well as two outside sources to further complete my thinking and try to put myself in the authors shoes to see what they were thinking while writing the story of Gil and his partner.
The story is based in Uruk, which is in the southern part of Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh is a hero who starts off as the epitome of a bad ruler who is arrogant, oppressive and brutal as the book states. The ruler was not like by very many people, as he would fill his sexual needs with soon to be brides the night before their big day.
He ends up meeting Enkidu, the minotaur that was raised by beasts in the wilderness, whom the Gods created and sent him down to Gil to make him a better person. they have a fight at the beginning of their relationship, but end up becoming significantly close to each other, maybe just a little bit closer than the normal bromance that two guys normally have for each other.
Since Enkidu was half man and half beast, he need to be civilized so that he could be like the rest of the characters. Despite the fact that Enkidu does indeed complete his civilization by sleeping with Shamhat; whom is a prostitute, for 7 days and 6 nights, he first denies her before he decides that he wants to do it. The reason for his denial is because he and Gil have a romantic relationship for one another and he did not want to betray Gils love by cheating on him. As stated before, he really did not want to do it but he needed to in order to be civilized, so he put his feelings aside and did it for the betterment of himself, despite him not wanting to hurt his relationship with Gil. In opposition, Gil aslo rejected Ishtar, feeling the same way of not wanting to hurt Enkidu in return, but they say that he chose to reject Ishtar due to her past of showing cruelty to her previous lovers. When he rejects her, it makes her wrath come alive due to her being extremely angry that she was rejected, which would hint to the audience that she has not even thought of the possibility of them being together or is at all aware of the possible relationship between the two.
Enkidu is originally sent down by the Gods to make Gil less of an arrogant, rude leader, and make him more humane, and a better person in general, and it works. Before he was civilized he was simply there to do a job, but after the fact he felt like he needed human companionship. This feeling is put in to show the audience that he is now one of the people, since he did not need companionship before that sequence of events happened. When he arrives he helps him become a better person; they go on many adventures such as going into the woods to kill Humbaba together, and eventually when Enkidu dies, Gil goes on a quest for immortality because his lover had left such an impact on his life and changed him so much. However, other people could argue that they just have a really deep friendship.
Some may say that the intention of the twos relationship is nowhere near a loving one, that it is just in their culture to be that close to each other. Online, you can find people defending this theory by saying in their culture, males greet each other by kissing three times on the cheek, or even kissing on the lips during a long period of absence, but they are just friends and nothing else. French and Italian cultures normally do this; kissing of the cheeks when being greeted to show respect and to show love to their friends or family, much like how Americans shake hands or hug. It also may be used as a counterargument that Enkidu slept with a woman, as well as Gil having relations with other women so that in itself proves that there is no relation between the two, but it is still a very common argument and belief of many. A person could also argue that if you switched the two to the opposite gender, that there wouldnt even be a question if they were homossexual or not, and that it was obvious that they were just friends.
Nobody will ever really know the true intentions of the relationship between the two bold characters, but with every good story comes speculation and conspiracies. Some people like to just enjoy the reading and not worry about who loved or didnt love who, and why some things were even written in the story that caused speculation. I, for one love to wonder different outcomes of stories and wonder why things happen. Why didnt the author just flat out say whether they were meant to be a couple or not? If the author didnt intend for them to be together, why did they make them so close to where some people could think that they were together? As we may never know, I still believe this theory and I have got more to prove it.
Not only did they go on adventures together, during those adventures they did all the things that a couple would normally do. On their quest to the Cedar Forest, it was cold outside so they even cuddle. Now some say they were just looking for warmth, but if they really were looking for that they would start a fire or find anything else to create warmth. Normal guy friends would never even get close enough to their friends to even make it seem like they were cuddling, they would just deal with the coldness. Though no other persons were there to say anything about them cuddling, they still did it despite that fact that it might look a little sketchy and homosexual to others if someone were to be walking through and spot them sleeping. As stated before, even if the closest of guy friends who didnt have a relationship would not cuddle with one another, even if nobody was on the same planet as them.
In this literary analysis paper, I discussed the very common argument on The Epic of Gilgamesh and how there is believed homosexuality in this story. In conclusion, there are both very valid arguments on both sides of this, and after further research I still stand by my point that Enkidu and Gil have a deeper romantic relationship between them. Despite almost everything that I looked up shot down the statement that they love each other, saying that there was not enough proof. Being that there are other greek mythology stories that also have the same underlying theories, I continue to believe that it is very present in this story and many others that are exactly like it and that there is more than enough proof. Some may not want to believe it for different reasons, maybe being they dont want to sexualize this story like that, or that they just dont support that kind of lifestyle. As stated before, nobody will ever really know the actual true intentions of the romance or lack thereof, it is pretty obvious to see that there is just a little bit more going on between the two than you would think if you didnt dive deep into the subject. Most will have to read the story a few more than once to actually see and really analyze the words that are written and the actions between the two, and think of what a normal friendship would do in the same situations, compared to a couple.