The Epic of Gilgamesh
How we cite our quotes:
Take my hand, my friend, we will go on together.
Your heart should burn to do battle
—pay no heed to death, do not lose heart! (4.273-283)
Bring out the tissues again, because this is basically the, "I can't carry it for you, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you" of ancient Mesopotamia.
"Now Gilgamesh is your beloved brother-friend!
He will have you lie on a grand couch,
and will have you lie in the seat of ease, the seat at his left,
so that the princes of the world kiss your feet.
He will have the people of Uruk go into mourning and moaning over you,
and fill the happy people with woe over you.
And after you he will let his body bear a filthy mat of hair,
will don the skin of a lion and roam the wilderness." (7.124-137)
Here, Shamash is telling Enkidu to wash out his filthy mouth and stop cursing the trapper and Shamhat because they were the ones who brought him out of the wilderness—thus unleashing the chain of events that ultimately led to him being struck by the gods with a mysterious illness. But what do you think of Shamash's argument? Is having even just one great friendship a good trade-off for dying young?
"Should my heart not be wretched, my features not haggard?
Should there not be sadness deep within me? …
My friend, whom I love deeply, who went through every hardship with me,
Enkidu, whom I love deeply, who went through every hardship with me,
the fate of mankind has overtaken him." (10.47-48, 52-63)
This is Gilgamesh to Siduri, the underworld innkeeper in the underworld who has just locked Gilgamesh out of her tavern because he looks a total mess. But Gilgamesh defends himself: his friend has just died, so should he really look any different? It's a form of respect to mourn deeply for your friends.