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The Epic Of Gilgamesh (Tablet VIII)

Tablet VIII
Tablet VIII                                          
                                               TABLET VIII

As dawn broke, Gilgamesh offered lamentations for his friend: “O, Enkidu, thou who wert raised by thy mother the gazelle and thy father the donkey, who wert fed by the asses of the wilderness with their milk, who wert taught the pastures by the wild beast. O, Enkidu, mayest all the ways of the Forest of Cedar forever mourn thee! Let the elder of Uruk lament thee, and all the people of Uruk who cheered us on. Let the mountains and valleys mourn thee like a mother her son. Let the trees of the forest through which we fought, cypress and cedar alike, lament thee. Let all the wild beasts, the hyena, the panther, the cheetah, the stag, the jackal, the lion, the wild bull, the deer, and ibex, lament thee!

“Let the holy river Ulay, where we walked in our strength, mourn thee. May the pure Euphrates, whose waters we used for libations, mourn thee. Let the young men who watched us slay the Heaven-Bull lament thee, and let the plowman pay homage unto thee, calling out thy name whilst making his furrow.

“May the shepherd who made milk and butter for thy mouth mourn thee, and the shepherd boy who made clarified butter for thee, and the brewer who brewed thine ale. May, too, the harlot who anointed thee with aromatic oils mourn thee. Let all the people mourn thee as a brother, and this very day I shall myself mourn thee most of all.

“Hearest me, O youths of Uruk! Hearest me, O elders of Uruk! I mourn for Enkidu, lamenting with more fervor than any hired mourning woman! It is as though an evil gale hath robbed me of my trusty axe, my dagger and shield, my festive robe, and girdle.

“My friend, thou wert a swift wild ass, a donkey of the mountains, a panther of the wilderness. Together we climbed mountains, slew the Heaven-Bull, and ended the life of Humbaba, who dwelt in the Forest of Cedar. Now that thou art lost in sleep, can thou hearest me?”

Enkidu lifted not his head, and when Gilgamesh felt for his heart, there was no heartbeat. He covered the face of his friend as thou he were a bride. He circled him like an eagle, pacing like a lioness worried for her lost cubs. He tore out his curly hair and stripped off his fine garments as though they had become an abomination.

At the breaking of the dawn, Gilgamesh called out unto all the land: “O blacksmith, lapidary, and coppersmith! O goldsmith and jeweler! Fashion a statue of my friend whose features shall be of lapis lazuli, whose skin shall be made of gold! On a fine, grand couch, on a fine couch I will let thee recline. I will place thee upon a couch, a seat to the left. The kings of the earth shall kiss thy feet. The people of Uruk shall lament for thee, and the nations shall mourn for thee, and in mourning my hair shall become matted and into the wild I will wander in the skin of a lion.”

At the breaking of the dawn, Gilgamesh unsealed his treasury and examined all the wealth within. Gold and ivory and all manner of wealth he provided for Enkidu in abundance. [The lines describing the exact nature of the wealth are mutilated.] Fatted oxen and sheep he sacrificed for his friend, and Shamash carried the meat to the lords of Hades. Sacrifices he made unto Ishtar and Namra-sit and displayed them to Shamash, praying that the gods would welcome Enkidu and walk beside him. Offerings he made to Ereshkigal and to Dumuzi and displayed them to Shamash, praying that the gods would welcome Enkidu and walk beside him. Offerings he made to Namtar and Hushbisha and displayed them to Shamash, praying that the gods would welcome Enkidu and walk beside him. Offerings he made to Quassu-tabat and Ninshuluhha and displayed them to Shamash, praying that the gods would welcome Enkidu and walk beside him. Offerings he made to Bibbu and Dumuzi-abzu and displayed them to Shamash, praying that the gods would welcome Enkidu and walk beside him.

[Another speaks in a broken section] “……… the judge of the Anunnaki.”

When Gilgamesh hear what had been spoken he conceived a plan to dam the river.

At the breaking of the dawn, Gilgamesh opened the gate and carried out a great table of wood. He filled a carnelian dish with honey and a dish of lapis lazuli with butter and displayed them to Shamash.

[The rest is missing.]


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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