In the Sumerian epic, The Epic of Gilgamesh, the author, David Ferry, depicts a heroic warrior– Enkidu. For the purpose of this essay, a heroic warrior can be defined as a man or women endowed with great gratitude and courage, that possesses many noble qualities, in addition to being selfless. Ferry illuminates Enkidu’s heroic characteristics through the telling of his creation, expression of gratitude, and courageous and nobel actions.
In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is created by Aruru, the God of creation, to strike a balance against Gilgamesh’s tyrannical ways of nefariousness. The creation of Enkidu in the epic shows the ultimate and almighty power of the Gods, and the impuissance of human. Enkidu’s birth, purpose, and death are at the will of the gods. “[Enkidu] is twice the size of ordinary men, stronger and taller than a battlement. He is like a star that has fallen from the heavens” that foreshadows his powerful abilities (Pg. 12). In other words, Enkidu is considered a precious creation from heaven. Even though the Gods decided to form Enkidu out of their “divine spittle” and allow him to live a savage life, he already has a sense of righteousness and goodwill (Pg. 5). He displays this by constantly releasing the animals from hunter’s traps for them to “get away” so as to express his gratitude for their milk (Pg. 7). These characteristics of righteousness and goodwill that Enkidu possesses makes him a unique hero towards the citizens and animals of Uruk.
Enkidu possesses a virtuous and instinctively chivalrous personality, which renders him a greater hero. When Enkidu is first clothed and nourished by the bread and wine, he displays his appreciation by using his weapon to “guard the flocks and shepherds against the wolves and lions that preyed upon them”, in hopes that the “shepherds could lie down in peaceful sleep” to express his gratitude (Pg. 13). In expressing Enkidu’s gratitude, he takes on the role of being a shepherd. These deeds exemplify Enkidu’s noble and gracious characteristics that make him a hero. This role that Enkidu has taken on as a shepherd foreshadows his role in the epic. The people of Uruk cry for a “wise shepherd [and] protector of the people” and in taking on a role of a shepherd already, Enkidu is fulfilling the cries of the citizens, as a hero would. (Pg. 5).
In this epic, Enkidu learns that the people of Uruk are oppressed and virgin brides are being fornicated by their uncontrollable king, Gilgamesh . Enkidu grows furious and demands to be “take[n] to Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh, whose aura and power cannot be withstood. I will cry out in Uruk, [and] challenging him” (Pg. 14). Amongst the people of Uruk, no one dare challenge the king; however, Enkidu has the courage to do so. In displaying his courage and nobility, “Enkidu st[ands] a guardian on the