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In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is a wild man created as an answer to Gilgamesh's cruelty and ends up protecting animals in the wilderness by destroying hunters' traps. Shamhat, the priestess of Ishtar (goddess of love and war), persuades him to join civilization during a one-week orgy. Enkidu and Gilgamesh befriend each other after an incredible fight in the city and they go on heroic adventures together, including the slaying of Humbaba, the guardian of the Cedar Forest.

The gods later strike him with a fatal disease for killing Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. He first curses Shamhat for bringing him to civilization but then blesses her when he is reminded that she caused him to meet Gilgamesh. Enkidu's death fills Gilgamesh with violent grief and an incredible fear of death. Gilgamesh spends the rest of the poem searching for immortality, but his repeated failures force him to accept that death is part of living.

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