Document #1 (B) : The Epic of Gilgamesh

I will make the story known to the lands. I will teach about him who experienced all things. It was Anu who had granted Gilgamesh the totality of knowledge. Gilgamesh, who saw the Secret, who discovered the Hidden and brought knowledge of the time before the Flood, who journeyed to distant lands, who built the walls of Uruk and its holy sanctuary.

Go up to the wall of Uruk and walk around, examine its foundation, inspect its brickwork. The wall encloses one league city, one league palm gardens, one league lowlands, three leagues of the Ishtar Temple and an open area. Find there the copper tablet box and undo the fastening of its secret lock of bronze. Take and read aloud from the lapis lazuli tablet how Gilgamesh endured every hardship.

Supreme over other kings, lordly in appearance, he is the hero, born of Uruk. Mighty net, he is protector of his people, a raging flood-wave who destroys even walls of stone. Offspring of Uruk’s king and a goddess, Gilgamesh is strong to perfection. It was he who opened the mountain passes, who dug wells on the flank of the mountain. It was he who crossed the ocean, who explored the world, seeking life. It was he who reached by his own sheer strength Utanapishtim, the Faraway, who restored the cities that the Flood had destroyed. Who can compare with him in kingliness? Who can say like Gilgamesh: “I am King!”? Two-thirds of him is god, one-third of him is human. The Great Goddess Ninhursag designed the model for him body, she prepared his form as the most beautiful of men, perfect in form.

He walks around in enclosure of Uruk, like a wild bull he makes himself mighty, head raised above others. There is no rival who can raise a weapon against him. There is no woman who is beyond his reach. Gilgamesh arrogantly intimidates the young men and he ravishes the young women, so much so that the people cried out to the gods, imploring the Lord of Uruk, Anu, to release them from his oppression.

Anu listened to their complaints and the gods called out to Ninhursag: “it was you who created mankind, so now create a rival to it. Let him be equal to Gilgamesh’s stormy heart, and let them be a match for each other so that Uruk might have some peace!”

When Ninhursag heard this she created within herself a child of Anu. She washed her hands and pinched off some clay and threw it into the wilderness. In the wilderness she created valiant Enkidu, born of Silence, endowed with strength. His whole body was shaggy with hair and he had a full head of hair like a woman. He knew neither people nor a settled life, and was clothed in only a rough loincloth. He ate grasses with the gazelles and jostled at the watering hole with the animals; as with the animals, he quenched his thirst with water alone.

A notorious trapper visited the watering hole and came face-to-face with him. On seeing the wild man, the trapper’s face went pale with fear and Enkidu retreated with the animals; the trapper’s heart pounded and he was miserable to the core. The trapper returned home and addressed his father: “Father, a certain fellow has come from the mountains. He is the mightiest in the land. He continually goes over the mountains, he continually jostles at the watering hole with the animals, and he continually plants his feet opposite the watering hole. I was afraid. He filled in the pits that I had dug, wrenched out my traps, released from my grasp the wild animals. He does not let me make my rounds in the wilderness.”

The trapper’s father spoke to him saying: “My son, there lives in Uruk a certain Gilgamesh. There is no one stronger than he. Go to Urak and tell Gilgamesh of this Man of Might. he will give you a prostitute to take with you. The woman will overcome the fellow as if she were strong. When the animals are drinking, have her disrobe and expose herself. When he sees her he will draw near to her, and his animals, who grew up in his wilderness, will become alien to him.”

He heeded his father’s advice and went off to Uruk and declared to Gilgamesh: “a certain fellow has come from the mountains. He is the mightiest in the land. He continually goes over the mountains, he continually jostles at the watering hole with the animals, and he continually plants his feet opposite the watering hole. I was afraid. He filled in the pits that I had dug, wrenched out my traps, released from my grasp the wild animals. He does not let me make my rounds in the wilderness.”

Gilgamesh advised the trapper to find the prostitute, which he did, and they set off on the journey. For two days they sat at the watering hole, where the animals arrived and drank. Then he, Enkidu, offspring of the mountains, who eats the grasses with the gazelles, came to drink at the watering hole with the animals, with the wild beasts be slaked his thirst. Then Shamat the prostitute exposed herself and he took in her figure. She spread her robe and he lay upon her. His lust groaned over her, for six days and seven nights Enkidu stayed aroused and had intercourse with the prostitute until he was sated with her charms. But when he turned his attention to his animals the gazelles saw Enkidu and darted off, the wild animals distanced themselves from his body. Enkidu was diminished, his running was not as before. But then he drew himself up, for his understanding had broadened. So he sat down with the prostitute and she said: ‘Enkidu, you have become like a god. Why do you gallop around the wilderness with the wild beasts? Let me take you to Uruk, to the holy temple, the residence of Anu and Ishtar, the place of Gilgamesh who is wise to perfection, but who struts his power over the people like a wild bull.”

What she was saying found favor with him. Becoming aware of himself, Enkidu sought a friend and he replied: “Take me away with you to the holy temple, to the place of Gilgamesh. I will challenge him. Let me shout out in Uruk that I am the mighty one! Lead me in and I will change the order of things, for he who is the mightiest was born in the wilderness.”

Shamat helped cloth him and brought him to the hut of the shepherds. They placed food in front of him, they placed beer in front of him. Enkidu knew nothing about eating bread for food, and of drinking beer he had not been taught. The prostitute spoke to Enkidu, saying: “Eat the food Enkidu, it is the way one lives. Drink the beer, it is the custom of the land. Enkidu ate the food until he was sated, he drank the beer, seven jugs! and became expansive and sang with joy! He splashed his shaggy body with water and rubbed himself with oil, and turned into a human. He put on some clothing and became like a warrior. He took up his weapon and chased lions so that the shepherds could eat. He routes the wolves and chased the lions. With Enkidu as their guard, the herders could lie down.

In oder to protect the Cedar Forest Enlil assigned Humbaba as a terror to humans. Humbaba’s roar is a Flood, his mouth is Fire, and his breath is Death! He can hear 100 leagues away any rustling in his forest! And whoever goes down into his forest will be struck with paralysis!

The noble counselors of Uruk arose and delivered their advice to Gilgamesh: ‘You are young Gilgamesh, your heart carries you off and you do not know what you are talking about. Humbaba’s roar is Flood; his mouth is Fire, his breath is Death. Who among the even the Igigi gods can confront him?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s