Go BackHe who saw everything in the broad-boned earth, and knew what was to be known Who had experienced what there was, and had become familiar with all things He, to whom wisdom clung like cloak, and who dwelt together with Existence in Harmony He knew the secret of things and laid them bare. And told of those times before the Flood In his city, Uruk, he made the walls, which formed a rampart stretching on And the temple called Eanna, which was the house of An, the Sky God And also of Inanna, Goddes of Love and Battle Look at it even now: where cornice runs on outer wall shining brilliant copper -see, There is no inner wall; it has no equal. Touch the threshold - ancient. Approach the palace called Eanna. There lives Inanna, Goddess of Love and Battle. No king since has accomplished such deeds. Climb that wall, go in Uruk, walk there, I say, walk there. See the foundation terrace, touch then the masonry - Is not this of burnt brick, And good? I say; The seven sages laid its foundation. One third is city; One third is orchards; One third is clay pits- Unbuilt-on land of the Inanna Temple search these three parts, find the copper table-box Open it. Open its secret fastening. Take out the lapis-lazuli tablet. Read aloud from it. Read how Gilgamesh fared many hardships Surpassing all kings, great in respect, a lord in his form He is the hero, He is of Uruk, He, the butting bull He leads the Way, He, the Foremost, He also marches at the rear, a helper to his brothers He is the Great Net, protector of his men. He is the furious flood-wave, Who destroys even stone walls. The offspring of Lugulbanda, Gilgamesh is perfect in strength The son of the revered Cow, of the woman Rimat-Ninsun. Gilgamesh inspires perfect awe. He opened the mountain passes, he dug the well on the mountain's flank. He crossed to the far shore, traversed the vast sea to the rising Sun. He explored the rim, sought life without death. By his strength he reached Ziusudra the Faraway He who restored living things to their places Those which the Flood had destroyed Amidst the teeming peoples, Who is there to compare with him in kingship? Who like Gilgamesh can say: 'I am king indeed?' His name was called Gilgamesh From the very day of his birth, He was two-thirds god, one third man, The Great Goddess Aruru designed him, planned his body, prepared his form A perfect body the gods gave For the creation of Gilgamesh Shamash the Sun gave beauty Adad the Storm gave courage And so he surpassed all others. He was two-thirds god, one third man, The form of his body no one can match Eleven cubits high he is, nine spans his chest As he turns to see the lands all around him. But he comes to the city of Uruk. Long was his journey, weary, worn down by his labours He inscribed upon a stone when he returned This story.
TABLET IIOut I went, into the world, but there was none better, none whom he, Gilgamesh, could not best. And so, with his arms, he returned to Uruk. But in their houses, the men of Uruk muttered: 'Gilgamesh, noisy Gilgamesh! Arrogant Gilgamesh!' All young men gone - Defeated by Gilgamesh, and no son was left to his father. All young girls made women by Gilgamesh His lusts are such, and no virgin left to her lover! Not the daughter of a warrior, Nor the wife of a nobleman! Yet he is king and should be The people's careful shepherd. He is king and should be Shepherd of the city. He is wise, he is handsome, he is firm as a rock. In heaven the gods heard Heard the lament of the people, And the gods cried out to the Great God, higher king of Uruk: 'Strong as a wild bull is this Gilgamesh So he was made by Aruru, the godess None there is who can - not one None who can survivea him in fighting. No son left to his father. Gilgamesh, he takes them all, and is he He the king? Shepherd of the people? No virgin left to her lover, For he lusts strongly! No, nor the wife of the nobleman! The Great God heard this, then To the Goddess of Creation, Aruru - Cried all the gods: 'You created this Gilgamesh! Well, create him his equal! Let him look as into mirrors - Give a second self to him, yes; Rushing winds meet rushing winds! Let them flow heart to heart against - Give them each other to fight, Leaving Uruk in peace!' So the Goddess of Creation took and formed in her mind This image, and there it was conceived - in her mind, and it was made of material That composes the Great God, He of the Firmament. She then plunged her hands down into water and pinched off a little clay. She let it drop in the wilderness Thus the noble Enkidu was made. For this was he the very strength of Ninurta, the God of War, was his form, rough bodied, long hair, His hair waved like corn filaments - Yes, like the hair of that goddess Who is the corn, she , Nisaba. Matted hair was all over his body, like the skins of the cattle. Yes, like the body of that god. Who is the cattle, he, Samugan. This Enkidu was innocent of mankind. He knew not the cultivated land. Enkidu was in the hills With the gazelles - They jostled each other With all the herds He too loved the water-hole. But one day by a water hole A trapper met him Yes, face to face, Because the herds of wild game Had strayed into his territory. On three days face to face - Each day the trapper wa terrified, Frozen stiff with fear. With his game he went home, Unable to speak, numb with fright. The trapper's face altered, new - A long journey does that to one, Gives a new visage upon returning - The trapper, his heart all awe, told his father: 'Father, what a man! No other like him! He comes from the hills, strongest alive! A star in heaven his strength, Of the star essense of An, the Sky Father Over the hills with the beasts Eating grass Ranges across all your land, Goes to the wells. I fear him, stay far away. He fills in my pits Tears up my game traps Helps the beasts escape; Now all the game slips away - Through my fingers.' His father opened his mouth, Told the son, the trapper: 'My son, in Uruk lives Gilgamesh. None can withstand him, None has surpassed him, As a star in heaven his strength Of the star-essence of An, the Sky Father. Go to Uruk, find Gilgamesh Praise the wild man's strength ask for a temple hierodule from the Temple of Love, Such a child of pleasure; Bring her and let her power fo woman Subdue this wild man. When he goes to the wells, He will embrace the priestess And the wild beasts will reject him.' To Uruk the trapper went And said to Gilgamesh: 'Like no other, wild, Roaming in the pastures, A star in heaven his strength Of the star-essence of An, the Sky Father. I am afraid, stay far away; he helps the beasts escape Fills in my pits Tears up my game traps.' Gilgamesh said: 'Trapper, return, Take a priestess, child of pleasure - When he goes to the wells He will embrace the priestess And the wild beasts will reject him.' Then returned with the hierodule And three days to the drinking hole, There sat down Hierodule facing the trapper, Waiting for the game. First day, nothing. Second day, nothing. Third day, yes. The herds came to drink, and Enkidu - Glad for the water were the small wild beasts, And Enkidu was glad for the water - He of the gazelles and wild grass, Born in the hills. The priestess saw this man Wild from the hills. 'There, woman,'the trapper, 'Bare your breasts now; This is he, Have no shame, delay not, Welcome his love, Let him see you naked, Let him possess your body. As he approaches, take off your clothes, Lie with him, teach him, The savage, your art of woman, For as he loves you, then The wild beasts, his companions, They will reject him.' She had no shame for this, Made herself naked Welcomed his eagerness Incited him to love, Taught the woman's art. Six days, seven nights, That time lying together, Enkidu had forgotten his home Had forgotten the hills After that time he was satisfied. Then he went back to the wild beasts - But the gazelles saw him and ran, The wild beasts saw him and ran. Enkidu would follow, but weak, His strength gone through woman; Wisdom was in him, Thoughts in his hear - a man's. So he returned to the priestess. At her feet he listened intently 'You have wisdom, Enkidu. Now you are as a god. Why the beasts? Why the hills? Come to Uruk of the strong walls To Inanna's Temple of Love, And to the Eanna, Where the Sky God An can be found. Gilgamesh is there, strong, Raging like a wild bull, over all Is his strength.' Favourably as he speaks, he hears her words. He comes to know his own heart And his desire to find a friend. He tells her, the priestess: 'Take me, girl, to the sacred pure Dwelling of Love and Sky God's house Where lives Gilgamesh of perfect strength, He who rages like a bull over all, And I will summon him forth and challenge him And I will shout in Uruk: "I am the mightiest! Yes, I can change the order of what is! Anyone born on the steppe is mighty and has strength"' 'Then let us go that he may see your face And I will show you Gilgamesh, for I know well where he is. Come Enkidu, to Uruk of ramparts, Where all are dressed for festival, Where each day is a festival, Where there are boys, Where there are girls, Deliciously ripe and perfumed, Who drive the great ones from their fretted couches To you, Enkidu, of joy in life I will show Gilgamesh of joy in life See him, see his face Radiant is his manhood, of full-bodied vigour His body ripe with beauty in every part. So exceeding you in strength, Needing no sleep by day or by night. Restrain you folly, Enkidu. Gilgamesh - Shamash the Sun is proud, Also An, the God of Firmament, Also valiant Enlil, his son, And Enki, his son also - All have given wisdom. Before you come from the open plains Gilgamesh will have dreamed of it.' And so Gilgamesh rose from his bed And to his mother, in revealing dreams, said: 'Mother, I saw in a dream last night That there were stars in heaven And a star descended upon me like unto The essence of An, the Sky God. I tried to lift it up, but it was too heavy for me, I tried to move it, but it would not be moved. The land of Uruk was around it, The land was placed roud about it. All the people were pressing towards it. All the nobles also came round it, And all my friends kissed its feet. I was drawn towards it as to a woman And I laid it at your feet And you said it was my equal.' She, the Wise, the Custodian of Knowledge, Says to her lord - She, Ninsun, Custodian of Knowledge, Says to Gilgamesh: 'Your equal was a star of heaven Which descended upon you like unto The essence of An who his the God of the Firmament You tried to lift it but it would not be moved And I called it your equal, comparing it to you. You were drawn to it as to a woman. The meaning of this Is of a strong friend who saves his companion He is the strongest of the land; he has strength. As a star in heaven his strength, The strength of An of the Firmament and his host. So that you are drawn to him overwhelmingly. And this means he will never forsake you. Such is your dream.' Gilgamesh says again to his mother: 'Mother, another dream In Uruk of the ramparts lay an axe - All were gathered around it, Uruk-land was standing round about it. The people pressed towards it; I laid it at your feet. I was drawn to it as to a woman. For you called it my equal.' She, the Wise Custodian of Knowledge, says to her son - 'The axe is a man You were drawn to it as to a woman For I called it your equal And it was to rival you. This means a strong friend standing by his friend He is the strongest of the land; he has strength. The essence of An of the Firmament, is his, So strong is he.' Gilgamesh then spoke to his mother 'Now according to the word of God Enli Let a counsellor and friend come to me That I may acquire a companion And to him I shall be friend and counsellor also.' And as Gilgamesh revealed his dream The girl was speaking to Enkidu As they sat together. Go Back
NOTES ON TABLET II 1. Seven cups or seven jugs (see 1988 fragment) are symbolic, representing the sacred number of the seven initiatory planets, i.e. the Moon (Nanna/Sin), Sun (Utu/Shamash), Venus (Inanna/Ishtar), Mars (Nergal), Earth, Saturn (Ninurta), Mercuri (Nabu) and Jupiter (Marduk). 2. The 'sheepfold' was probably a reference to the rites of the Shepherd, or the King of the Land (See Tablet IV, note 1). 3. Eating of the bread and drining of the superior form of beer constituted probably a ritual of some kind, intended to prepare a candidate to the role of king and priest, a combination that was routine these days. 4. See note 1.For six days and seven nights Enkidu made love to that girl And the girl said to him She said to Enkidu: 'When I look at you, Enkidu, You seem to be like a god. Why the wild beasts? Whe the roaming over the steppe? Come with me, Come to ramparted Uruk. There the holy temple of Eanna Where the Great God An lives, Come with me, Enkidu, to the holy dwelling To the temple, Sky God's house, For Gilgamesh of may deeds lives there. You are so like him. You will love him as yourself, Rise up from the earth, Come to a shepherd's bed!' There came upon his heart The truth of what she said. He heard her words And they were good. She divided her clothing in two, One garment for him, One for her Holding his hand she led him Led him like a child. And they came to the hut of the shepherds Which is in the sheepfold. All the shepherds gathered round him, Pressed round him, were drawn to him Thronged round the wild man. Of her instruction the priestess is proud, This is a man who is like Gilgamesh in form, Taller he is in form, He was born in the mountains, And like the star-essence of the Sky Father An, his strength is more powerful. And Enkidu sat at their table That he might eat of their produce. But he knew the milf of wild creatures, Which he sucked in the wilds. Theshppherds placed thier own food before him, and He choked, he looked, He stared at it, at them, Enkidu knows nothing of this, He knows not eating food, What is this drink? This strong drink? He has not been taught it. Bread was set before him - he knows it not. Beer was set before him - he knows it not. Enkidu did not eat bread, He squeezed his eyes together, stared, The girl then spoke: She said to Enkidu: 'Enkidu, eat that food. It is our de in life. Drink this strong drink. It is what is done here.' So Enkidu ate the food, Ate until he was full. He drank that strong drink Seven cups of it (1). (A fragment of about 1,400 BCE published by Gernot Wilhelm gives a slightly different account of the preceding:) The priestess said to him, said to Enkidu: 'You are exquisite Enkidu! Why do you run to and fro with the beasts of the steppe? You are like a god in your nature Who is there like you among men?' Again the priestess said to him, said to Enkidu: 'Come, Enkidu! Let us go to the place of the sheepfold (2)'. She drew out a single garment And he clothed himself. Leading him, she held his hand, And like a god was his countenance. She led him to the place of the sheepfold, The shepherds/people were gathered together, And the people spoke amongst themselves: 'Look how he resembles Gilgamesh in his appearance! He is small in size but extremely strong in his bony frame. As soon as he was born in the mountains, He was in thehabit of sucking the milk of animals.' They set bread before him He examined it and was puzzled by the bread. They set beer before him. He creased his eyes together and gazed at it; He was puzzled by the beer. The priestess said to him, Said to Enkidu: 'Eat the bread, Enkidu, That you will be worthy of godliness! Drink the fine beer, That you will be worthy of kingship!' Enkidu ate the bread, He drank the fine beer (3), And indeed seven jugs of it (4). (We now return to the main version of the text) He felt so free, he felt so happy He rejoiced so in his heart! His face became radiant. He rubbed all the shaggy growth, The hair of his body. He annointed himself with oil And thus he became a man. He donned clothing - Look! He is like a man! He takes up his weapon, He attacks the lions So the shepherds might have peace at night. He caught wolves, He captured lions, And the chief cattlemen could rest. Enkidu was their watchman, A man of strength, An unparalled hero! To the shepherds he said: 'I am a man now. I can eat bread at the table, I can drink strong drink. But I have the strength of he who roams the steppe. I am stronger than you. No one is stronger. You see I catch wolves, You see I capture lions. Because of me the shepherds can rest at night, Because of me the chief catlemen can lie down. I am become the king of the sheepfold.' And Enkidu sat at the table, He ate the food He drank the strong drink He felt good in his heart. He made merry Then he looked up And saw a man He told the girl: 'Girl, bring the man. Why is he here? I must know his name!' The girl called the man, Went to him, said to himL 'Sir, where are you going? Why have you taken this, your difficult course?' The man spoke, spoke to Enkidu: 'Into the people's special place,, Their very own meeting-house, Even into it has he intruded! Set aside rules and laws for wedlock! On the city he heaped shame! Strange practices he has imposed Upon a city helpless to resist. For the king of ramparted Uruk Has altered the unaltered way, Abused, changed the practices. Any new bride from the people is his; Gilgamesh, king of ramparted Uruk, He may mate with any new bride. Before the lawful husband may have her. The gods have ordained this In their wisdom, by their will. It was so decreed from the moment of birth When his umbilical cord was cut out.' At the mans's words The face of Enkidu paled. Fury grew within his heart, His eyes became fightful to look upon Enkidu spoke his anger, Said to the man: 'This cannot contine to be! I will go to ramparted Uruk. I will meet Gilgamesh I will bring his excesses to an end!' Enkidu set out for Uruk Enkidu walked in front The girl walked behind When he entered ramparted Uruk The people thronged round him When he stopped in the street, In Uruk of the ramparts, Saying of him: 'He is like Gilgamesh in form! He is smaller in size But stronger in bone. He is a match for Gilgamesh! He is the strongest of the steppe, strength is his, Milk of wild creatures He once sucked. There will be endless clash of arms in Uruk!' The nobles rejoiced: 'Here is a hero For all who are honourable! To match divine Gilgamesh Here is his equal!' Now for the Goddess of Love Is the bed made ready Of the evening, ready to receive Gilgamesh for his pleasures. Now he is coming along But Enkidu appears in the street And bars his way To Gilgamesh is opposed The might of Enkidu The divine Gilgamesh is face to face With his equal, Enkidu of the steppes. The king of ramparted Uruk Sees his equal, who has strength, Smaller in size, but stronger of bone Like unto Gilgamesh to the hair. Gilgamesh sees his shaggy growth - On the steppe the grass Sprouts in as much abundance Gilgamesh drew himself up And stood before him In the market-place of the land Was there they met, And Enkidu blocked the gate With his foot and Would not let Gilgamesh enter They they grappled their belts and wrestled like champions Rushing wind meets rushing wind, Heart to heart against - Holding fast like bulls. They shattered absolutely the doorpost of the holy gate And the wall shook with this fateful act. The doorway of the house of the family Where the bride awaited Gilgamesh, There they struggled. They fought in the street, They battled in the market. But in the end, Brought Enkidu to the earth, His own foot still on the ground, And won the contest. His anger vanished He turned away But when he turned away Enkidu said to him Spoke to Gilgamesh: 'As one single and unique Your mother bore you She the wild cow of the steerfolds, She, Ninsun the Wise, she the Strong You are raised above all men You are king of the people by decree Of Enlil, son of the Great God An!' Go Back
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