What is the noble companion archetype found in The Epic of Gilgamesh?

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Answered by: Andre, An Expert in the Myths, Gods and Beliefs Category
The noble companion archetype:

If one interprets Jung’s shadow, as in most cases, a primordial darkness in the unconscious of the epic hero, then it is the “Noble companion” archetype that is our hero’s illumination. This noble companion archetype is a consistent thread in the epics, myths, or fables of civilization, but who are they? Its form can take on that of a brother, sister, lover or friend, but take precaution in conceptualizing our subject as a case in “sidekicks” though I’m sure the connection exists in our modern pantheon of super-hero’s. The noble companion, as is the case with Ekindu of Patroclus, can send the hero into both fits of rage or mourning, or as with Isis, release the bonds of death. The link between the epic hero and this particular archetype is intuitive, internal as well as dream like; a creative regeneration of the other for it would not be far off to say that this archetype is the creative function of the imagination, or of course the gods. Perhaps, it is the epic of Gilgamesh, along with the Iliad that can more aptly express this noble archetype in the multiple similarities the narratives share.

The parallels are many. The bonds of affection for Patroclus is already developed as the “good Patroclus, dearest to my heart” from the mouth of Achilles. To make it plain, Patroclus is not the better warrior, rather what the narrative suggest is that he is the better man for “ Althought Achilles is stronger than you are, you are older and , therefore, wiser than he is. Counsel him now. Perhaps he will take your words to heart.” (62). Achilles superior qualities as a soldier are mirrored by his great faults, namely his arrogance, temper, and youth. The shadows are rooted deep in the son of Peleus tightly wounded and explosive. It is that nucleus of negation which seeks its relief and projection upon Patroclus who is of a better nature. When Patroclus take the field it is not him, rather the best of Achilles as the reader must “ let him place his armor upon you and permit you to lead the Myrmidons into battle. With godlike Achilles armor upon you, the Trojans may think that you are indeed he, and thy may retreat in fear.’(62).

Patroclus , like Ekindu, must perish perish. Yet if our Noble archetype is the best of god-like mortals, a culmination of the Greek Arete, then why must they pass away? Our answer may be found in chaos. In chaos there is energy both free and potential. In chaos there is creativivty and change for the individual who can suffer it , for both the Greeks and Trojan’s fought over “the body of Achilles friend”. The noble archetype is a game-changer in the narrative, effecting the psychology of the hero. It is a transition often painful, a catalyst for the emergence of the shadow.

Ekindu interestingly is created by the gods with the direct intention of humbling Gilgamesh and his pride for “ Now create a equally strong and courageous man […] make the spirit in Ekindu’s heart like that of a warrior god so that it will match the untamed spirit in Gilgamesh’s heart’(176). As a fighter our archetype is equal to the son of Ninsun, only less in the fortunes of fate, but greater in his humility. Ekindu is not earthly/worldly blessed by pomp, power, or prestige rather he is a man who “ lived like a wild creature away form the company of human beings and among the animals of the plain”(176). Gilgamesh is civilized to the point of excess while ekindu gradually assimilates to such a life , all the while begrudgingly so.

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