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- The Babylonian Story of the Deluge - 6/8 -


To the Third Tablet probably belongs the fragment in which Enkidu relates to Gilgamish a horrifying dream which he had had. In his dream it seemed to him that there were thunderings in heaven and quaking upon earth, and a being with an awful visage, and nails like all eagle's talons, gripped him and carried him off and forced him to go down into the dark abyss of the dread goddess, Irkalla. From this abode he who once "went in never came out, and he who travelled along that road never returned, he who dwelleth there is without light, the beings therein eat dust and feed upon mud; they are clad in feathers and have wings like birds, they see no light, and they live in the darkness of night." Here Enkidu saw in his dream creatures who had been kings when they lived upon the earth, and shadowy beings offering roasted meat to Anu and Enlil, and cool drinks poured out from waterskins. In this House of Dust dwelt high priests, ministrants, the magician and the prophet, and the deities Etana, Sumukan, Eresh-kigal, Queen of the Earth, and BÍlitsÍri, who registered the deeds done upon the earth.

When Gilgamish heard this dream, he brought out a table, and setting on it honey and butter placed it before Shamash.

The Fourth Tablet.

Gilgamish then turned to Enkidu and invited him to go with him to the temple of Nin-Makh to see the servant of his mother, Ninsunna, in order to consult her as to the meaning of the dream. They went there, and Enkidu told his dream, and the wise woman offered up incense and asked Shamash why he had given to her son a heart which could never keep still. She next referred to the perilous expedition against the mighty King Khumbaba, which he had decided to undertake with Enkidu, and apparently hoped that the god would prevent her son from leaving Erech. But Gilgamish was determined to march against Khumbaba, and he and Enkidu set out without delay for the mountains where grew the cedars.

The Fifth Tablet.

In due course the two heroes reached the forest of cedars, and they contemplated with awe their great height and their dense foliage. The cedars were under the special protection of BÍl, who had appointed to be their keeper Khumbaba, a being whose voice was like the roar of a storm, whose mouth was like that of the gods, and whose breath was like a gale of wind. When Enkidu saw how dense was the forest and how threatening, he tried to make Gilgamish turn back, but all his entreaties were in vain. As they were going through the forest to attack Khumbaba, Enkidu dreamed two or three dreams, and when he related them to Gilgamish, this hero interpreted them as auguries of their success and the slaughter of Khumbaba. The fragmentary character of the text here makes it very difficult to find out exactly what steps the two heroes took to overcome Khumbaba, but there is no doubt that they did overcome him, and that they returned to Erech in triumph.

The Sixth Tablet

On his return to Erech, Gilgamish

1. Washed his armour, cleaned his weapons, 2. Dressed his hair and let it fall down on his back. 3. He cast off his dirty garments and put on clean ones 4. He arrayed himself in the [royal head-cloth], he bound on the fillet, 5. He put on his crown, he bound on the fillet. 6. Then the eyes of the Majesty of the goddess Ishtar lighted on the goodliness of Gilgamish [and she said], 7. "Go to, Gilgamish, thou shalt be my lover. 8. Give me thy [love]-fruit, give to me, I say. 9. Thou shalt be my man, I will be thy woman. 10. I will make to be harnessed for thee a chariot of lapis-lazuli and gold. 11. The wheels thereof shall be of gold and the horns of precious stones. 12. Thou shalt harness daily to it mighty horses. 13. Come into our house with the perfume of the cedar upon thee. 14. When thou enterest into our house 15. Those who sit upon thrones shall kiss thy feet. 16. Kings, lords and nobles shall bow their backs before thee. 17. The gifts of mountain and land they shall bring as tribute to thee. 18. Thy ... and thy sheep shall bring forth twins. 19. Baggage animals shall come laden with tribute. 20. The [horse] in thy chariot shall prance proudly, 21. There shall be none like unto the beast that is under thy yoke."

In answer to Ishtar's invitation Gilgamish makes a long speech, in which he reviews the calamities and misfortunes of those who have been unfortunate enough to become the lovers of the goddess. Her love is like a door that lets in wind and storm, a fortress that destroys the warriors inside it, an elephant that smashes his howdah, etc. He says, "What lover didst thou love for long? Which of thy shepherds flourished? Come now, I will describe the calamity [that goeth with thee]." He refers to Tammuz, the lover of her youth, for whom year by year she arranges wailing commemorations. Every creature that falls under her sway suffers mutilation or death, the bird's wings are broken, the lion is destroyed, the horse is driven to death with whip and spur; and his speech concludes with the words: "Dost thou love me, and wouldst thou treat me as thou didst them?"

When Ishtar heard these words she was filled with rage, and she went up to heaven and complained to Anu, her father, and Antu, her mother, that Gilgamish had cursed her and revealed all her iniquitous deeds and actions. She followed up her complaint with the request that Anu should create a mighty bull of heaven to destroy Gilgamish, and she threatened her father that if he did not grant her request she would do works of destruction, presumably in the world. Anu created the fire-breathing (?) bull of heaven and sent him to the city of Erech, where he destroyed large numbers of the people. At length Enkidu and Gilgamish determined to go forth and slay the bull. When they came to the place where he was, Enkidu seized him by the tail, and Gilgamish delivered deadly blows between his neck and his horns, and together they killed, him. As soon as Ishtar heard of the death of the bull she rushed out on the battlements of the walls of Erech and cursed Gilgamish for destroying her bull. When Enkidu heard what Ishtar said, he went and tore off a portion of the bull's flesh from his right side, and threw it at the goddess, saying, "Could I but fight with thee I would serve thee as I have served him! I would twine his entrails about thee." Then Ishtar gathered together all her temple women and harlots, and with them made lamentation over the portion of the bull which Enkidu had thrown at her.

And Gilgamish called together the artisans of Erech who came and marvelled at the size of the bull's horns, for their bulk was equal to 30 minas of lapis-lazuli, and their thickness to the length of two fingers, and they could contain six Kur measures of oil. Then Gilgamish took them to the temple of the god Lugalbanda and hung them up there on the throne of his majesty, and having made his offering he and Enkidu went to the Euphrates and washed their hands, and walked back to the market-place of Erech. As they went through the streets of the city the people thronged about them to get a sight of their faces. When Gilgamish asked:

"Who is splendid among men? Who is glorious among heroes?"

these questions were answered by the women of the palace who cried:

"Gilgamish is splendid among men. Gilgamish is glorious among heroes."

When Gilgamish entered his palace he ordered a great festival to be kept, and his guests were provided by him with beds to sleep on. On the night of the festival Enkidu had a dream, and he rose up and related it to Gilgamish.

The Seventh Tablet.

About the contents of the Seventh Tablet there is considerable doubt, and the authorities differ in their opinions about them. A large number of lines of text are wanting at the beginning of the Tablet, but it is very probable that they contained a description of Enkidu's dream. This may have been followed by an interpretation of the dream, either by Gilgamish or some one else, but whether this be so or not, it seems tolerably certain that the dream portended disaster for Enkidu. A fragment, which seems to belong to this Tablet beyond doubt, describes the sickness and death of Enkidu. The cause of his sickness is unknown, and the fragment merely states that he took to his bed and lay there for ten days, when his illness took a turn for the worse, and on the twelfth day he died. He may have died of wounds received in some fight, but it is more probable that he succumbed to an attack of Mesopotamian fever. When Gilgamish was told that his brave friend and companion in many fights was dead, he could not believe it, and he thought that he must be asleep, but when he found that death had really carried off Enkidu, he broke out into the lament which formed the beginning of the text of the next Tablet.

The Eighth Tablet.

In this lament he calls Enkidu his brave friend and the "panther of the desert," and refers to their hunts in the mountains, and to their slaughter of the bull of heaven, and to the overthrow of Khumbaba in the forest of cedar, and then he asks him:

"What kind of sleep is this which hath laid hold upon thee? "Thou starest out blankly (?) and hearest me not!"

But Enkidu moved not, and when Gilgamish touched his breast his heart was still. Then laying a covering over him as carefully as if he had been his bride, he turned away from the dead body and in his grief roared like a raging lion and like a lioness robbed of her whelps.

The Ninth Tablet.

In bitter grief Gilgamish wandered about the country uttering lamentations for his beloved companion, Enkidu. As he went about he thought to himself,

"I myself shall die, and shall not I then be as Enkidu? "Sorrow hath entered into my soul, "Because of the fear of death which hath got hold of me do I wander over the country."

His fervent desire was to escape from death, and remembering that his ancestor Uta-Napishtim, the son of Ubara-Tutu, had become deified


The Babylonian Story of the Deluge - 6/8

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