The setting in both is quite differing, while in the Epic of Gilgamesh the uncivilized moves to the city, the opposite happens in the Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition whereby it is the Civilized that seeks to explore the territory of the uncivilized.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh the initial reaction from the civilized was fear of the uncivilized as is evidenced by the behavior of the trapper who feared Enkidu initially and was even afraid of approaching him. In the Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition, the Indians were friendly at first and even gave food but on the next day, they had fled their villages. This may be deemed to be fear of the unknown. The second thing is that while there was no language barrier in the Epic of Gilgamesh it was not the same in the Chronicle of Narvaez whereby the Indians did not understand the visitors and only made threatening gestures before they left.
After initial contact the reactions differed I both stories, while the Indians fought the Governor and his men, in the Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition, Enkidu slept with the harlot for a week in the Chronicle of Gilgamesh. There was treachery by the Indians after the initial fight whereby Chief Dulchanchellin pretended to collaborate with the visitors but was in fact drawing them into a trap for them to be killed.
Another similarity is that in both the uncivilized helped the civilized. In the Epic of Gilgamesh Enkidu helped the shepherds by fighting off the wild animals while in the Chronicle of the Narvaez expedition the Indians became a guide for the visitors, though this help was given unwillingly by the captured Indians. We see a sort of symbiotic relationship as Enkidu helped and was assisted but we see the help only coming from the Indians in the Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition.
While the Indians decided to fight the Spanish for a long time, Enkidu’s fury died off immediately he was thrown to the ground. A similarity is that in both cases the civilized were stronger than the uncivilized. This can be shown by the repulsion of the Indians and the narrators own admittance that they had superior weapons while in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu was thrown to the ground.
Another difference in the interactions is that in the Epic of Gilgamesh there was an intermediary (the harlot) but in the chronicles there was none and hence the difficulty in understanding who was talking about what.
The other point is that while we know of the religion of the civilized in the Chronicles of Narvaez w are not told about the religion of the Indians. In the Epic of Gilgamesh they share the religion and they are even seen to have been created by the same god.
Another fact of the interaction that emerges is that Enkidu was civilized and shifted from being a wild man to a point where he is described as a Bridegroom. We also see some of the Indians being baptized and thus moving from being uncivilized. The narrator proceeds to describe how in the end several Indians came down to the formerly deserted villages with crosses in their hands.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh women have played an important role in the interaction (by even teaching Enkidu) the opposite is seen in the Chronicle of Narvaez whereby the women are more inconsequential in the interactions as between the two societies.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the stark comparison of the lives of Gilgamesh and Enkidu differ greatly. They appear and are the direct opposites of each other. While Enkidu lived in the wild with the animals running in the bush and even eating grass, Gilgamesh lived in luxury and had what he pleased. This included all the women in the land and he was even supposed to sleep with the hand virgins before their husbands could. Further, Enkidu is described as being unable to feed himself as he is described to have been drinking milk from the breasts of the animals and ate grass like he wild beasts. This is in contrast to the city dwellers who drank wine and ate bread. The uncivilized are deemed to be untamed, wild and ignorant. For example, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is even unable to feed himself while in the other narrative the Indians were showed corn as if they were not expected to have the ability to have come across the crop.
In the Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition, the natives were viewed as savages and having inferior weapons in that they used arrows and the like which though were described as strong and capable of ripping through trees, were quite inferior to the other weapons which our narrator and crew had. The other point to note is that while the Spanish had ships and capable of interacting with the rest of the world, the Indians used canoes and were generally unexposed. What this portrays is that the Civilized are considered to be better of in terms of technological advancement and general welfare of the society.
Another point is that the civilized lived in an organized society and the King was thought to be divine and his authority was no to be questioned. The civilized lived in walled cities (Uruk) and under the Law while the uncivilized enjoyed a lot of freedom in comparison as they could do what they pleased. This is shown by the fact that Enkidu in the Epic of Gigamesh, lived in the wild with the animals. In the Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition, we see scattered settlement of the Indians, general disorganization of the populace and there is described the large number of wild animals including bears and lions which were found in the description of the narrator as to what the land was like. There was little organization and apart from the Chiefs, no other hierarchy can be depicted from the Indian Society.
Religion is at the center of life in the civilized societies and therein (in the Epic of Gilgamesh) are described several gods and there is also mention of a temple whereby they used to go and worship. The people revered their ruler and believed that he was a direct appointee of their god. We find in the manner that Gilgamesh was described in the narrative with details of ‘his beauty’ being expounded on. However, Enkidu is not necessarily described as having any religion of his own and was simply described as living among the animals. In the Chronicle of Narvaez the narrator keeps referring to God and prays severally. However, there is no mention of the Indians praying whatsoever. The lack of the religions of the uncivilized in both narratives can only point towards their wild nature. In the end, the Indians are accepted to Christianity according to the author and thus introduction of civilization seems to include a new religion by the allegedly superior peoples.
Freedom of the people is another point to note in both narratives. The Civilized societies take control of every man and the will of the King is supreme as he is assumed to have divine authority. In both narratives the civilized societies seem to live under the weight of their rulers. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the King was not questioned and seemed to do as he pleased. In the Chronicle of Narvaez, the King also was the ultimate source of authority and appointed Governors to rule over the people. The Indians in the narrative seem to have a little more freedom than their counterparts and did not have a centralized point of authority. This can be seen by the number of rebellion and attacks on the narrator and his crew even when a truce had been negotiated with the Chief or he was captured. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is seen as being free to roam the fields like the other wild animals. He was not subject to anyone’s authority and this can be contrasted by the trapper who had to go back and report his troubles to Gilgamesh.
While women in the Epic of Gilgamesh seem to have freedom (even to indulge in prostitution), the Native Indians in the Chronicle of Narvaez seem to have full control of their women to the extent of leaving them in the wake of an advancing enemy. The same are held as hostages until they are released. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, moral decadence is described in the society with Gilgamesh having authority to even sleep with the men’s brides and take away their Virginity. He is generally immoral to the point that he is described as being able to take even the wives of the noble.
The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by N.K.Sandars (Penguin Classics, 1960, revised 1964, 1972), copyright N.K. Sandars, 1960, 1964,1972. Reproduced by permission of penguin books, Ltd., London.
Vaca, Cabeza de. Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition. New York: Penguin Group. Print.