Gilgamesh is a fearless warrior god-king. Then his best bud Enkidu dies, and Gilgamesh has an existential crisis and goes on a little adventure across the world to discover a way to escape death.
The way I figure is that these pharaoh types have trouble viewing other people as humans. This actually makes them extraordinarily good rulers because you have to treat people like cattle in that job. (You can’t be constantly asking yourself which people are angels of the Lord in disguise.) So along comes Enkidu, the first person Gilgamesh has ever viewed as a peer. (Brother love can be stronger than erotic love, in my opinion.)
So Gilgamesh has finally discovered his mirror neurons and begun projecting himself onto Enkidu. Then Enkidu dies. It stands to reason that this is Gilgamesh’s first encounter with mortality since his goldfish died as a kid, and the first time he’s had to consider his own.
His lamenting and grief are beautiful to me because they are a pure, childlike expression of love. All the more so because of their extravagance, which should be unseemly in a fully grown god-king. Gilgamesh eulogizes his friend’s death the way you’d expect an innocent six-year-old kid emperor to eulogize his best bud. “Everybody in the kingdom has to talk about this guy and remember him forever!” I think this is how Calvin would react if Hobbes died. Despite the centuries between us and the story’s origin, it’s kinda touching.