Gilgamesh VII

The story so far: Gilgamesh is a great king in ancient Mesopotamia. Feeling restless and desirous of immortality, he goes off in search of a way to vanquish death. Along the way, he meets the wild man who will become his best friend, Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu have many adventures, including the battle against the Bull of Heaven, but they also anger the gods. Enkidu has a dream, which he relays to Gilgamesh below.

Tablet VII

(The first two columns of this tablet are missing in the Assyrian Version. …)

'I … I … Then daylight came.' [And] Enkidu answered Gilgamesh:

'Hear the dream which I had last night: Anu, Enlil, Ea, and heavenly Shamash [Were in council].

And Anu said to Enlil:

'Because the Bull of Heaven they have slain, and


They have slain, therefore'—said Anu—'the one of them

Who stripped the mountains of the cedar

[Must die!]'

But Enlil said: 'Enkidu must die;

Gilgamesh, however, shall not die!'

Then heavenly Shamash answered valiant Enlil:

'Was it not at my… command

That they slew the Bull of Heaven and Huwawa?

Should now innocent

Enkidu die?' But Enlil turned

In anger to heavenly Shamash: 'Because, much like

One of their… comrades, thou didst daily go down to


Enkidu lay down (ill) before Gilgamesh.

And as his tears were streaming down, (he said):

'O my brother, my dear brother! Me they would

Clear at the expense of my brother!'


'Must I by the spirit (of the dead)

Sit down, at the spirit's door,

Never again [to behold] my dear brother with (mine)

eyes ?'

(The remainder is lost. In a deathbed review of his life, Enkidu seems to bemoan the events that had led up to this sorry state, cursing the successive steps in his fated life. One of his curses, preserved in an Assyrian fragment, is directed against the gate that lamed his hand.)

Enkidu lifted up [his eyes],

Speaking with the door as though [it were human]:

'Thou door of the woods, uncomprehending,

Not endowed with understanding!

At twenty leagues away I found choice

thy wood,

(Long) before I beheld the lofty cedar.

There is no counterpart of thy wood [in the land].

Six dozen cubits is thy height, two dozen thy breadth.

Thy pole, thy pole-ferrule, and thy pole-knob

A master-craftsman in Nippur built thee

Had I known, 0 door, that this [would come to pass]

And that this [thy] beauty

I would have lifted the axe, would have

I would have set a reed frame upon [thee]!'

(A long gap follows. When the text sets in again, Enkidu-continuing his bitter survey-invokes the curse of Shamash upon the hunter.)

'destroy his wealth, diminish his power!

May his [way be repugnant] before thee.

May [the beasts he would trap] escape from before him; [Let not] the hunter at[tain] the fullness of his heart!' [Then his heart] prompted (him) to curse [the harlo]tlass:

'Come, lass, I will decree (thy) [fa]te,

[A fa]te that shall not end for all eternity!

[I will] curse thee with a great curse,

[An oath], whose curses shall soon overtake thee.

[ surfeit of thy charms.


[ shall cast into thy house.

[ the road shall be thy dwelling place,

[The shadow of the wall] shall be

thy station,

] thy feet,

[The besotted and the thirsty shall smite] thy cheek I


Because me [thou hast … ]

And because [ ] upon me.'

When Shamash heard [these words] of his mouth,

Forthwith he called down to him [from] heaven:

'Why, 0 Enkidu, cursest thou the harlot-lass,

Who made thee eat food fit for divinity,

And gave thee to drink wine fit for royalty,

Who clothed thee with noble garments,

And made thee have fair Gilgamesh for a comrade? And has (not) now Gilgamesh, thy bosom

friend, Made thee lie on a noble couch?

He has made thee lie on a couch of honor,

Has placed thee on the seat of ease, the seat at the left,

That [the prin]ces of the earth may kiss thy feet!

He will make Uruk's people weep over thee (and)


Will fill [joyful] people with woe over thee.

And, when thou art gone,

He will his body with uncut hair invest, Will don a lion skin and roam over the steppe.'

[When] Enkidu [heard] the words of valiant Shamash, [ . . . ] his vexed heart grew quiet.

(Short break. Relenting, Enkidu changes his curse into a blessing. He addresses himself once again to the girl)

'May return to thy pl[ace] … [Kings, prin]ces, and nobles shall love [thee]. [None shall on account of thee] smite his thigh. [Over thee shall the old man] shake his beard. [ … the young] shall unloose his girdle. [ . .. I carnelian, lapis, and gold. [May he be paid] back who defiled thee, [May his home be emptied], his heaped-up storehouse. [To the presence of] the gods [the priest] shall let thee enter,

[On thy account] shall be forsaken the wife,

(though) a mother of seven.'

[ … Enkl]du, whose mood is bitter,

[ . . . ] lies down all alone.

That night [he pours out] his feelings to his friend: '[My friend], I saw a dream last night:

The heavens [moaned], the earth responded;…

I stood [alo]ne.

his face was darkened.

Like unto [ ] was his face.

[ like] the talons of an eagle were his claws.

[ he overpowered me.

[ he leaps.

[' he submerged me.

(mutilated or missing)

[ … he transformed me,

So that my arms were [ ] like those of a bird. Looking at me, he leads me to the House of Darkness,

The abode of Irkalla,

To the house which none leave who have entered it,

On the road from which there is no way back,

To the house wherein the dwellers are bereft of light,

Where dust is their fare and clay their food.

They are clothed like birds, with wings for garments, And see no light, residing in darkness.

In the House of Dust, which I entered,

I looked at [rulers], their crowns put away;

I [saw princes], those (born to) the crown,

Who had ruled the land from the days of yore. [These doubl]es… of Anu and Enlil were serving meat roasts;

They were serving bake[meats] and pouring Cool water from the waterskins.

In the House of Dust, which I entered, Reside High Priest and acolyte,

Reside incantatory and ecstatic,

Reside the laver-anointers of the great gods,

Resides Etana, resides Sumuqan.

Ereshkigal [lives there], Queen of the

nether world,

[And Belit-]Seri, recorder of the nether world, kneels

before her.

[She holds a tablet] and reads out to her. [Lifting] up her head, she beheld me: Saying: 'Who has brought this one hither?'

(The remainder of the tablet in the Assyrian Version is missing. …)

Source: Akkadian Myths and Epics—The Gilgamesh Epic. Trans. E. A. Speiser. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Collections. Accessed 15 December 2002.

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