Literary Stories

The Epic Of Gilgamesh (Tablet II)

Tablet II
Tablet II
                                               TABLET II

As Enkidu was sitting before the woman, her loins he embraced, her vagina he opened. Enkidu forgot the place where he was born. Six days and seven nights Enkidu continued to cohabit with the harlot.

The harlot opened her mouth and spoke to Enkidu: “I gaze upon thee, O Enkidu, like a god art thou! Why with the cattle dost thou roam across the field? Come, let me lead thee into Uruk of the plazas, to the holy house, the dwelling of Anu. O, Enkidu arise, let me conduct thee to Eanna, the dwelling of Anu, the place where Gilgamesh is, perfect in vitality. And thou like a wife wilt embrace him. Thou wilt love him like thyself. Come, arise from the ground and find a place for yourself.”

He heard her word and accepted her speech. The counsel of the woman entered his heart. She stripped off a garment, clothed him with one. Another garment she kept on herself. She took hold of his hand. Like a god she brought him to the fertile meadow, the place of the sheepfolds. In that place they received food; and the shepherds spoke of Enkidu, whose birthplace was the mountain, with the gazelles he was accustomed to eat herbs, with the cattle to drink water, with the water beings he was happy. Milk of the cattle he was accustomed to suck. Bread they placed before him. He broke it off and looked and gazed. Enkidu had not known to eat food. To drink ale he had not been taught.

The harlot opened her mouth and spoke to Enkidu: “Eat food, O Enkidu, the provender of life! Drink ale, the custom of the land!”

Enkidu ate food till he was satiated. Ale he drank, seven goblets. His spirit was loosened, he became hilarious. His heart became glad and his face shone. The barber removed the hair on his body. He was anointed with oil. He became manlike. He put on a garment, and he was like a man. He took his weapon; lions he attacked, so that the night shepherds could rest. He plunged the dagger; lions he overcame. The great shepherds lay down; Enkidu was their protector. The strong man, the unique hero, remained awake.

A particular man had been invited to a wedding. To Uruk he ventured, to the wedding he would go. Enkidu was making love to Shamhat when he lifted up his eyes and saw the man. He spoke to the harlot: “O, Shamhat, lure on the man. Why has he come to me? Let me learn his reason.”

The woman called to the man, who approached to him and he beheld him. “Where dost thou venture?  Why is the course of thy activity so burdensome?”

Then he opened his mouth and spoke to Enkidu: “I have been asked to a wedding, for to contract marriage is the destiny of men, and I shall lard the wedding table with delicious foods for the nuptial feast. For the King of Uruk of the plazas, open the veil, perform the marriage act! For Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk of the plazas, open the veil, perform the marriage act! He shall first couple with the bride-to-be before the bridegroom. By the decree pronounced by a god, from the cutting of his umbilical cord such is his fate.”

At the speech of the man, Enkidu’s face grew pale.

(About nine lines missing.)

Enkidu went in front, and the harlot behind him. He entered into Uruk of the plazas. The people gathered about him. As he stood in the streets of Uruk of the plazas, the men gathered, saying in regard to him: “Like the form of Gilgamesh he is formed; though shorter in stature, and thicker in bone. In sooth it must be he who was born in the highlands, and milk of cattle he was accustomed to suck.”

In Uruk were held the customary festivals of sacrifice. The young men rejoiced, and they set up a champion: To the hero of fine appearance, to Gilgamesh, like a god, he became a rival to him.

For Ishtar a couch was stretched, and Gilgamesh lay down, and afterwards in the night he met the maiden bride. Enkidu approached and stood in the streets. He blocked the path of Gilgamesh during the exhibit of his power.

All the land of Uruk surrounded Gilgamesh; all the people were gathered around him. A crowd assembled to watch him, and all the men had gathered to see. They bowed down and kissed his feet. For Ishtar a couch was stretched, and Gilgamesh, like unto a god, was made substitute.

Against him Enkidu proceeded, his hair luxuriant. He started to go towards him. They met in the plaza of the district. Enkidu blocked the gate to the wedding-house with his foot, not permitting Gilgamesh to enter. They seized each other, like oxen. They fought. The threshold they demolished; the wall they impaired. Gilgamesh and Enkidu seized each other. Like oxen they fought. The threshold they demolished; the wall they impaired. Gilgamesh bent his foot to the ground, and his wrath was appeased. His breast was quieted. When his breast was quieted, Enkidu to him spoke, to Gilgamesh: “As a unique one, thy mother bore thee. The wild cow of the stall, Ninsun, has exalted thy head above men. Kingship over men Enlil has decreed for thee.

Enkidu said unto Gilgamesh, “Why do you desire to do this thing that is exceedingly difficult? Why dost thou desire to do this thing that is very difficult? Why dost thou desire to go down to the forest?” They kissed one another and so became bonded in friendship.

[In a missing section Gilgamesh introduces Enkidu to his mother.]

“He is the mightiest in the all the land, possessed of great strength. No man is stronger than he; he is like unto a star from highest heaven. He is tall in stature, like unto a battlement.”

The mother of Gilgamesh, who knows everything, opened her mouth to speak, and spake thus unto her son: “……………… Enkidu hath neither kith nor kin. With luxuriant hair like unto a woman, he was born in the wild place and hath no brethren.”

The eyes of Enkidu filled with tears. He clutched his heart; sadly he sighed. The eyes of Enkidu filled with tears. He clutched his heart; sadly he sighed. The face of Gilgamesh was grieved. He spoke to Enkidu: “My friend, why are thy eyes filled with tears? Thy heart clutched, why dost thou sigh sadly?”

Enkidu opened his mouth and spoke to Gilgamesh: “Attacks, my friend, have exhausted my strength. My arms are lame, my strength has become weak.”

Gilgamesh opened his mouth and spoke to Enkidu: “…..Humbaba, the terrible, …………………… let us destroy him that his power shall be no more. Let us go down to the cedar forest, and make Humbaba affright within his lair.”

Enkidu opened his mouth and spoke to Gilgamesh: “Know, my friend, in the mountain, when I moved about with the cattle to a distance of one double hour into the heart of the forest, but who would penetrate within it, to Ḫumbaba, whose roar is a flood, whose mouth is fire, whose breath is death? Why dost thou desire to do this, to advance towards the dwelling of Ḫumbaba?”

Gilgamesh opened his mouth and spoke to Enkidu: “I will climb the slopes of the forest, to the dwelling of Ḫumbaba. I will go down to the forest.”

Enkidu opened his mouth and spoke to Gilgamesh: “How can we venture to the home of Humbaba, to keep safe the cedar forest? Enlil has decreed him to be a seven-fold terror. We must not together go down to the cedar forest, whose guardian, O warrior Gilgamesh, is a power without rest, Humbaba, whose voice is the Deluge. His speech is the inferno, and his breath is death. He can hear the movements of the forest at a double hour. Who would venture into his forest? Adad is the first, but Humbaba is the second. None among even the Igigi would oppose him, to keep safe the cedar forest, for Enlil has decreed him to be a seven-fold terror. To enter his forest is to be seized by shaking.”

Gilgamesh opened his mouth and spoke to Enkidu: “Whoever, my friend, overcomes terror, it is well (for him) with Shamash for the length of his days. Mankind will speak of it at the gates. Wherever terror is to be faced, thou, forsooth, art in fear of death. Thy prowess lacks strength. I will go before thee, though thy mouth calls to me; ‘thou art afraid to approach.’ If I fall, I will establish my name. Gilgamesh, the corpse of Humbaba, the terrible one! Thou were born in the wilderness. The lion feared thee, all of which thou knowest. When thou callest to me, thou afflictest my heart. I am determined to enter the cedar forest. I will, indeed, establish my name. The work, my friend, to the artisans I will entrust. Weapons let them mold before us.”

The work to the artisans they entrusted. At the forge the workmen sat in council. Hatchets the masters molded: Axes of three talents each they molded. Lances the masters molded; blades of two talents each, a spear of 30 mina each attached to them. The hilt of the lances held 30 mina in gold. Gilgamesh and Enkidu were equipped with 10 talents each.

He sealed fast Uruk’s seven gates. He brought together the assembly, and the people gathered in the street of Uruk of the plazas, where Gilgamesh took to his throne. In the street of Uruk of the plazas the people sat before him. Thus he spoke to the elders of Uruk of the plazas:

“Hear me, O elders of Uruk! I would tread the path to the terrible Humbaba, whose name fills the lands. I will conquer him in the cedar forest, like a strong offspring of Uruk. I will let the land hear that I am determined to conquer him in the cedar forest. A name I will establish.”

To the young men of Uruk, Gilgamsh spoke thus: “Hear me, O young men of Uruk! You who understand combat, see that I shall tread the path to the terrible Humbaba, and face him in battle. Unto me giveth me your blessings, that I may see you again and return to Uruk safely. When I return I shall celebrate the New-Year twice over, two times in one year. Let the rejoicing commence, and the drums beat out in honor of Ninsun!”

Enkidu offered his counsel to the elders of Uruk and the young men of the city: “Tell Gilgamesh that he must not go down to the cedar forest, whose guardian is a power without rest, Humbaba, whose voice is the Deluge. His speech is the inferno, and his breath is death. He can hear the movements of the forest at a double hour. Who would venture into his forest? Adad is the first, but Humbaba is the second. None among even the Igigi would oppose him, to keep safe the cedar forest, for Enlil has decreed him to be a seven-fold terror. To enter his forest is to be seized by shaking.”

The elders of Uruk of the plazas brought word to Gilgamesh: “Thou art young, O Gilgamesh, and thy heart carries thee away. Thou dost not know what thou proposest to do. We hear that Humbaba is enraged. Who has ever opposed his weapon? To one double hour in the heart of the forest, who has ever penetrated into it? Humbaba, whose roar is a deluge, whose mouth is fire, whose breath is death. Why dost thou desire to do this? To advance towards the dwelling of Humbaba?”

Gilgamesh heard the report of his counselors. He saw and cried out to his friend: “Now, my friend, thus I speak. I fear him, but I will go to the cedar forest; I will go with thee to the cedar forest.”




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About the author

Sydney Chesterfield

Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Humanitarian, mad lover of children and unflinching fighter for equality on all grounds viz. Women's rights, child rights, sine die.

Twitter: @syd_field