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The Epic Of Gilgamesh (Tablet IV)

Tablet IV
Tablet IV
                                             TABLET IV

At twenty leagues they took a meal; at thirty leagues they took a rest. The walked for six weeks, nearer still to Mount Lebanon. Before Shamash they dug a hole. Then Gilgamesh went up upon the height of a mountain, and poured his sacrificial meal into the hole, saying: “Mountain, bring a dream unto me! Let me see dream-visions, O Shamash.”

Enkidu prepared a House for the God of Dreams, and a great wind chilled them. Enkidu attached a covering, while Gilgamesh rested his chin on his knees and succumbed to sleep. In the middle of the night, his sleep was disturbed, and he rose to speak to his friend. “My friend, hast thou called me? Why have I awakened? Hast thou touched me? Hath a god passed by? Why art my muscles trembling? Enkidu, my friend, I have had a dream. The dream that I dreamed was very terrible; in the valleys between the mountains we were walking. A great mountain fell down upon us.”

Enkidu heard this dream and said to him: “My friend, this dream is favorable, for it tells us that we shall triumph over Humbaba. The mountain which thou sawest in thy dream is Humbaba. The dream foretells that we shall kill Humbaba and dispatch his corpse to the wasteland. Come morning Shamash shall send us a favorable omen.”

At twenty leagues they took a meal; at thirty leagues they took a rest. They walked for six weeks, nearer still to Mount Lebanon. Before Shamash they dug a hole. Then Gilgamesh went up upon the height of a mountain, and poured his sacrificial meal into the hole, saying: “Mountain, bring a dream unto me! Let me see dream-visions, O Shamash.”

Enkidu prepared a House for the God of Dreams, and a great wind chilled them. Enkidu attached a covering, while Gilgamesh rested his chin on his knees and succumbed to sleep. In the middle of the night, his sleep was disturbed, and he rose to speak to his friend. “My friend, hast thou called me? Why have I awakened? Hast thou touched me? Hath a god passed by? Why art my muscles trembling? Enkidu, my friend, I have had another dream. The dream that I dreamed was very terrible; heaven thundered, earth quaked; day grew dark, darkness came up; lightning set in, fire flared up, sated with destruction and filled with death. Then suddenly the light darkened, the fire was quenched, turned into smoke. You were born in the wilderness. May we take counsel?”

Enkidu heard this dream and said to him: “My friend, this dream is favorable. We draweth close to the forest and soon shall see battle. Thou shalt soon see the radiance of the god Humbaba, whom thou fearest. Like a bull thou shalt batter him, making him kneel to your strength. The old man thou seest is thy god Lugalbanda. Come morning Shamash shall send us a favorable omen.”

At twenty leagues they took a meal; at thirty leagues they took a rest. They walked for six weeks, nearer still to Mount Lebanon. Before Shamash they dug a hole. Then Gilgamesh went up upon the height of a mountain, and poured his sacrificial meal into the hole, saying: “Mountain, bring a dream unto me! Let me see dream-visions, O Shamash.”

Enkidu prepared a House for the God of Dreams, and a great wind chilled them. Enkidu attached a covering, while Gilgamesh rested his chin on his knees and succumbed to sleep. In the middle of the night, his sleep was disturbed, and he rose to speak to his friend. “My friend, hast thou called me? Why have I awakened? Hast thou touched me? Hath a god passed by? Why art my muscles trembling? Enkidu, my friend, I have had another dream. The dream that I dreamed was very terrible; I dreamed I saw a Thunderbird in the sky. It flew like a cloud, and its mouth was fire and its breath death. A strange man stood before me and the bird seized my arm in his talons…….”

Enkidu heard this dream and said to him: “My friend, this dream is favorable. Thou dreamed that thou sawest a Thunderbird in the sky. It flew like a cloud, and its mouth was fire and its breath death. A strange man stood before thee and the bird seized thine arm in his talons. The man thou hast seen was Shamash. We shall bring about the destruction of Humbaba. We shall bind his wings. Come morning Shamash shall send us a favorable omen.”

At twenty leagues they took a meal; at thirty leagues they took a rest. They walked for six weeks. Before Shamash they dug a hole. Then Gilgamesh went up upon the height of a mountain, and poured his sacrificial meal into the hole, saying: “Mountain, bring a dream unto me! Let me see dream-visions, O Shamash.”

Enkidu prepared a House for the God of Dreams, and a great wind chilled them. Enkidu attached a covering, while Gilgamesh rested his chin on his knees and succumbed to sleep. In the middle of the night, his sleep was disturbed, and he rose to speak to his friend. “My friend, hast thou called me? Why have I awakened? Hast thou touched me? Hath a god passed by? Why art my muscles trembling? Enkidu, my friend, I have had another dream. The dream that I dreamed was very terrible; I grappled with a wild bull who pounded the ground to dust. I fell to my knees before the bull, and the bull gave me water to drink from his water-skin.”

Enkidu heard this dream and said to him: “My friend, the god to whom we venture is not the wild bull. Shamash in the wild bull, and he protects us both. The one who gave water unto thee is Lugalbanda, who bringeth honor to thee. We therefore must join together to accomplish a great deed, the likes of which hath never before occurred in the land. Come morning Shamash shall send us a favorable omen.”

At the entrance to the forest Enkidu opened his mouth to speak and sayeth unto Gilgamesh: “Why dost thou cry? O Gilgamesh, son of Uruk, stand tall!”

Shamash heard what he had said, and from the sky he sent forth a booming voice: “Hurry to stand against Humbaba! Let him enter not the forest; let him enter not his grove! Let him put not on the seven cloaks! One he wears, but six hath he shed!”

Humbaba gave forth a mighty roar, and his voice was like thunder. The forest shook with his bellows, and he sounded like Adad, the God of the Storm.

Enkidu opened his mouth to speak and said to Gilgamesh: “Mine arms grow stiff, and my knees quake” Gilgamesh opened his mouth to speak and said to Enkidu: “Why should we speak as cowards? Did we not cross the mighty mountains? Fear not! Let your voice resound like a drum! Let the stiffness fall from thy arms and the quaking from thy knees! Take my hand, and let us go forth together. Let thine thoughts to combat turn! Forget death and focus on life! He who goes in advance will save the companion. Provide for his road and save thyself!”

And the two men arrived at the Forest of Cedar, ceased to speak, and stood still.




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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