Thursday, July 03, 2008

outright lovers

I’d heard that there was a gay element to the close friendship between Gilgamesh the king and Enkidu the wildman. But when I read translations I didn’t come across much evidence. Sure, they were buddies, but we’re all familiar with the ultra-het buddy flick, right?

David Damrosch gives some backup to the homoerotic rumors:

“[Gilgamesh’s mother, the goddess] Ninsun [predicts] that Gilgamesh will ‘caress and embrace’ Enkidu like a wife, using the same verbs that described Enkidu’s lovemaking with Shamhat.” Shamhat was the (female) temple prostitute sent to tame the wildman who was running around the forest freaking everybody out. She was quite good at her job. “Ninsun’s language suggests that Gilgamesh and Enkidu have [an] intimate relationship, and [Ninsun’s interpretations of Gilgamesh’s dreams] slyly insinuate that they may be outright lovers. This hint is given by the choice of objects that Gilgamesh starts to love and caress in his dreams: the words for ‘meteor’ and ‘ax,’ kisru and hassinnu, strongly suggest two sexually loaded terms: kezru, a male prostitute, and assinnu, a eunuch who would take the female role in sexual rituals at Ishtar’s temple.”

source: The Buried Book: the loss and rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh, by David Damrosch

No comments: