topic: brotherhood (and a bit of homosexual-ness)

13 September 2012

(15/9/12): well this is awkward. no comments....:O

Hello all! (warning, this post contains homosexuality (in the literary context, nothing more! So if it'll offend you, please ignore this and go on your merry way!)

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
 Shall be my brother"

The quote accurately describes what I'm trying to say. A relationship with spilled blood is a different one than with one with flowers.

   I've told myself that I will not budge until this entire post is written, edited, and published. So it shall be.
   Now, the universe has brought together this chain of events and memories that go as follow:
  • The film "Alexander" (2004) with Colin Farrell and Jared Leto
  • The studying of "The Epic of Gilgamesh" in English class
  • The studying of Classical Greece, the Persian Wars etc... in World History
  • and not-so-recently, the watching of BBC's "Henry V" ("We few, we happy few, we band of brothers")
    There are similarities between these that you may notice, and of course the title: brotherhood. I have been feeling a sense of envy for the gender of man. That being a man has such different context than being a girl. To be in the army, for example, creates a strong bond between a sector of soldiers that cannot be made in the streets of Rome, or in the courts or in the house. The blood, the survival, the united feeling of brotherhood and fighting against a common enemy: the honour, the glory! I'm a massive fan of Shakespeare's  histories (have yet to read more of his tragedies), especially the Richard III, Henry IV and Henry V plays. I made a post about it here on Voyage, if you'd like to read it. (go on, go on: read it)

  Since then, I've been curious about the relationship between males. Friendships in particular. Even today, friendship between boys (men) are casual, happy, loving and fun, mostly. What the general idea between female friendships is drama, boy trouble, sleepovers, and giggles. Now which friendship would you choose? The happy loving fun one. Now, I'm proud to be a girl, don't get me wrong (though I'm not super feminist) But boys have this special friendships with each other, one that doesn't need too much talking, one that flows and just comes naturally: whereas from my experiences, girls need to talk and explain to understand each other (my best friend and I are like that). I've been envious of that sort of friendship.

 It's really hard to explain. I hope you all know what I'm trying to say!

 You may have heard me rant about my love for "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini?

An Archetype 
 I'm seeing something alarmingly similar to this in many many types of media. The brotherhood between to opposites. You might be familiar with:

  • Jem and Will from The Infernal Devices
  • Phineas and Gene from "A Separate Peace"
  • The King of the Hunt and the Irial (From one of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely books)
  • Alexander and Hephastion ("Alexander" (2004))
  • Thor and Loki from "Thor" and "The Avengers" !!! 

They have personalities that complement each other. I've seen it with most commonly a brash, arrogant muscled (blond) hero and his "sidekick" or "companion" who is level-headed, calm and a critical thinker (usually dark haired) and both of them for an "unlikely" friendship (it seems likely to me) that makes them friends for a lifetime.

   Please don't get offended, but I'm OK with homosexuals. They're people, humans: in my opinion, everything's chill. They've taken that lovely brotherhood relationship to the next level, and love  is a beautiful thing. The way they form relationships is much more complex than the usual male-female relationship, which is most often portrayed with lust and romance. The love between two males, in the comparisons and works I've read, is usually more subtle and more romantic than lust-orientated. Now, I'm talking about in the past. Nowadays...well there's literature read for pleasure that argues what I've just said. My two main examples are The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the film "Alexander". In the future, I might read more literature

 Before I start, here's a quick summary I've written for those who don't know Epic of Gilgamesh:
  Gilgamesh is created by the gods, two thirds god one third human, and rules over a kingdom. He becomes too powerful, and uncontrollable, since no one can rival his strength. So the gods create another, a man called Enkidu. He's as beautiful, and goes off to challenge Gilgamesh. They fight: but become friends afterwards. Enkindu and Gilgamesh then head off into the forest to defeat it's gaurdian Hammrabi or something (because this god told them to) and before they leave, Gilgamesh's mother asks Enkidu to look after her son and protect him. Enkidu later dies, and Gilgamesh becomes rage-mode furious.

  I noticed that the both of them had a "homosexual"-like relationship, and then decided to see if my suspicions were correct. It was. There's this article online that explains everything more in deph, but here's an excerpt:

"Gilgamesh, king of Uruk (called Ereck in Gen 10:10), is described as “most handsome.” But because he is two-thirds god and one-third human, he distresses the citizens of Uruk with his insatiable sexual appetite and boundless energy. So the gods create a companion for him, named Enkidu, a wild, hairy man with “long tresses like those of a woman.” After a prostitute is sent to tame and train Eniku, who also is “handsome … just like a god,” he is brought into Uruk, where he meets Gilgamesh. Meanwhile Gilgamesh has had two dreams, one of a falling star and the second of a mighty axe, toward which he feels strangely attracted. His mother explains, “A mighty comrade will come to you … [and] like a wife you’ll love him, caress and embrace him” (Tablet I). When Gilgamesh and Enkidu finally meet, at first they fight furiously, but then they “kissed each other and formed a friendship.” Gilgamesh persuades Enkidu to go with him to subdue the monster Humbaba, who lives in the Cedar Forest; so the king and his companion “took each other by the hand,” first to go have great weapons fashioned (Tablet II) and then to seek the blessing and prayer of Queen Ninsun, Gilgamesh’s mother (Tablet III). After Gilgamesh has a series of bad dreams, Enkidu comforts him, saying, “’Take my hand, friend, and we shall go [on] together, [let] your thoughts dwell on combat!’” (Tablet IV)." (in my version, it was the "embraced and formed a friendship")

   In ancient Assyria and in that time period, being homosexual and being with prostitutes wasn't considered bad at all. It was considered normal. Now I wish I could've seen more of Gilgamesh and Enkidu's story, but I think it's beautiful in it's own way. It reminds me, of course, of the film "Alexander"

   Alexander was portrayed as being homosexual, for his fellow comrade and soldier and childhood friend (taught by Aristotle like Alexander) Hephastion (Jared Leto). All this may be fiction for the film, but Alexander was taught by Aristotle. I've only seen three quarters of the film, but it was enough to feel the beauty of their relationship as well. War-minded, conquering Alexander and loving gentle Hephastion. I don't like Alexander. He was magnificent and remarkable in his achievements, admirable in his skills and knowledge: but he destroyed and he killed in cold blood and anger and was a war-monger. Nonetheless, the way the film portrayed their complicated relationship with so many layers that it's so difficult to maybe express it in words, really touched me. Here's what my explanation won't do justice (I'll explain with pictures and quotes)

above: Hephaisition, below: Alexander
(Hephastion is like, pale with blue cracked lips and sweating and barely alive. He's going to die in a matter of minutes)

"Hephaistion: [on his death bed] I'll feel better. Soon I'll be up.
Alexander: We leave for Arabia in the spring, I can't leave without you!
Hephaistion: Arabia... you used to dress me up like a sheik and wave your wooden scimitar...
Alexander: You were the only one who'd never let me win. The only one who's ever been honest with me. You saved me from myself. Please don't leave me, Hephaistion.
Hephaistion: ...I remember the young man who wanted to be Achilles, and then out did him.
Alexander: And then what happens? That was a myth only young men believe!
Hephaistion: But how beautiful a myth it was.
Alexander: How we reach, we fall! Oh, Hephaistion.
Hephaistion: I worry for you without me.
Alexander: I am nothing without you! "

(The scene where Hephasistion eventually dies while Alexander rants about his aspirations with conquering the world. Bah, Alexander! He wasn't REALLY with Hephasistion when he died)

Earlier, a scene I actually watched: (Roxane is Alexander's Persian wife, whom he's just married that day)

Hephaistion: [crying softly, he shows Alexander a ring] I found it in Egypt... the man who sold it to me said it came from a time when man worshiped sun, and stars. I'll always think of you as the sun, Alexander. And I pray your dream will shine on all men.
[puts the ring on Alexander's ring finger, then embraces him]
Hephaistion: I wish you a son. You're a great man. Many will love you, Alexander, but none so pure and deep...
Roxane: [Roxane enters]
Hephaistion: [Hephaistion exits guiltily]
Roxane: You... love him?
Alexander: He is Hephaistion. There are many different ways to love.

Love that last quote. Well said, Alexander, well said.

My point of this whole post is to appreciate brotherhood. Friendship. I see so little friendship played out between boys in YA lit. It's always the boy spending time with the girl and solving out their problems. But that unexplainable relationship between two boys, not homosexually, is something I'd like to see.

It's different for girls. We have our own ways of friendship :) So I hope I haven't just lost a hundred readers because of this discussion/topic post. It's taken me an hour and a half to type up fully! What do you all think about this? Do you understand what I'm trying to say?

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