Two Narrations About Brotherly Relationships

The Epic of Gilgamesh depicts the story of two friends, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, who were striving to be famous and immortal. This story is also interpreted as the story about brotherly relationships and the formation of human qualities. There is also a biblical story that narrates about two siblings, Cain and Abel. Both stories end with the death of one of the brothers and, therefore, they are often identified. To my mind, the stories are different since they depict contrary ideas about human virtues and moral values. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the stories in detail and to define why both narrations have the right to existence.

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is the greatest story about Gilgamesh, the kind of Uruk, who was the embodiment of human deadly sins. The king is of divine birth and, thus, he was half-human and half-god. Owing to his strong physical power, he allowed himself to be harsh and rude with people. The inhabitants of Uruk were not contented with the king’s rule and complained that he abused his power by forcing women to sleep with him. Enkidu, however, was described as a half-wild creature deprived of human qualities and behaves like an animal (McCaughrean, Geraldine p. 12). Gilgamesh decides to help him by sending a woman Shamhat who turns Enkidu into a man. The couple decided to marry and leave the previous way of life (McCaughrean, Geraldine p. 31). Now, Enkidu cultivated the virtues of humility and mercy in Gilgamesh. Due to their friendship, Enkidu managed to cultivate good virtues in Gilgamesh. The death of Enkidu inspires Gilgamesh to survive and to escape from death (McCaughrean, Geraldine p. 45). In general, the story discovers the role of friendship as the trigger point in forming moral values. The scope of the story also lies in the constant searching and improving the personality. Thus, Enkidu taught Gilgamesh to constraint his rudeness, whereas Gilgamesh made Enkidu be human and civilized.

The biblical story of Cain and Abel discovers other moral problems. Their story is depicted in Genesis 4:1-16. According to the Scripture, Cain and Abel were brothers and sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was a farmer and Abel, his younger brother was a shepherd. The Bible gives the contrasting description of the brother, where Cain took the side of the evil and Abel was the embodiment of all good human qualities. Therefore, Cain is portrayed as the first murderer who killed Abel because of jealousy and hatred for his brother. Thus, the story depicts how jealousy may corrupt people. That death of Abel is sometimes compared with the death of Jesus who died for the sake of justice. Thus, Abel is depicted as the son of God, and Cain is regarded as a mere mortal. The narration only proves that human nature is already sinful while God is the one who will help humankind to get rid of the deadly sins.

Though both stories reveal brotherly relationships, they differ to a great extent. Hence, the first story depicts the improvement and mutual cooperation between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, whereas in Cain and Abel’s biblical narration we observe the degradation of a human personality being reluctant to fight with the sins and vices. Consequently, the motives of the stories are different since they illustrate relationships between brothers in contrast.


McCaughrean, Geraldine. The epic of Gilgamesh. US: Eerdmans Yiung Readers, 2003.

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