To choose between a friend devoted to being a loyal, and a friend who displays supreme brilliance is to choose which end of a double-sided sword you would prefer to grip tightly in one hand. While each, on the surface appear to be excellent character attributes, a brilliant friend devoid of loyalty can be harmful to an individual. On the same note, a loyal friend lacking any resemblance of brilliance can be just as harmful.
A friend of brilliance, who for the sake of argument holds no other positive character attributes, can be one who only appears to be a friend. In Shakespeare’s Othello the character Iago, a brilliant man indeed, appears to be one of Othello’s most dear and closest friends. In Othello’s eye’s, Iago is everything that a man would want in a friend. But Iago, being the cunning and brilliant man that he is, devises intricate plans to ruin Othello’s life, and as a brilliant man, succeeds. This then, the brilliant friend, is not one that would be regarded as beneficial to have at your side.
On the other hand, a loyal friend, also lacking any other attributes, can without thought or reason cause disturbances in a person's life. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men Lennie is more loyal a friend than any friend could imagine. The problem with Lennie is that he lacks greatly in the area of brilliance, so much so that he could be described, in a word, as an idiot. Along with this he possesses a physical strength that causes him, and his most precious friend, a world of trouble. However loyal Lennie may be, he is also extremely detrimental in the life of his friend. Thus, a loyal friend may not be one that would be regarded as beneficial to have at your side either.
If however, using a common belief among what the word “friend” means, this would include, most importantly, loyalty. What kind of a friend is not loyal? A friend, as I for one have always believed, is someone who can be trusted and someone who sticks with you through thick and thin. With this being the case, a friend is by default already loyal, and so I would choose a friend who is brilliant. This is a friend who would provide endless opportunities for learning, and what is a life that is void of endless education? A brilliant friend, who possesses all qualities that a friend should inherently possess, will then bring endless joy in any person’s life.