GO TO HE WHO SAW ... PART I
HE WHO SAW EVERYTHING - PART II
A verse version of the Epic of Gilgamesh by Robert Temple, Rider, an imprint of Random Century Group Ltd., London, Sydney, Auckland, Johannesburg, 1991. All rights reserved. Here included for research and study purposes.
TABLET VIThe dirt of his travels, Gilgamesh washed from his hair, A beauteous sheen he put to his weapons, Polishing them. Down along his back it fell, The shining clean hair of his head. All the soiled garments, he cast them off. Clean, new clothes he put on. About him now, wrapped, Clinging to him, a cloak with its fringe, His sparkling sash was fastened onto him, His tiara on his head. But when Inanna had seen this, When She, the Goddess of Love and War, had seen this / She raised an eye indeed to the beauty of Gilgamesh: 'O Gilgamesh, will you not be my lover? Give me that fruit the tree of man yields to woman. I will give you myself as wife: you shall be my husband! For you I will give a chariot made of lapis-lazuli Yes, too, and of gold! Its horns - they shall be of brilliant brass. Storm demons I will hitch to it for your mules! There shalll be a great fragrance of cedar On the occasions when you enter our house Its very threshold, the very dais itself - As your feet touch them Your feet shall be kissed by them! And all the kings and the lords And the princes - all of them - These shall be humbled before you. I will make all the yield of the hills, All the yield of the plains Be brought to you as tribute. All your goats shall bear twins All your sheep shall bear twins. The ass shall better the mule for burdens, While your chariot horses will be famed For their speed in racing. (Here three lines are mutilated and cannot be read) 'But what advantage would it be to me to take you in marriage? In the cold season you would surely fail me! Like a pan full of burning coals which go out You ae but a back door which does not stay shut But flies open in the raging wind. You are the great palace which collapses on its honoured guests The head-dress that unravels, The pitch that blackesn the hands of the bearer, The water-skin that rubs the back raw as it is carried, The limestone which undermines the rampart A siege engine thrown up agains the walls of the enemy, The shoe that pinches the foot of its owner What lover did you love for ever? Which of your shepherds is there Who has satisfied you for long? Come, I will tell you the tales of your lovers: For Tammuz, your young husband, For him we wail year after year! He who dies each autumn and comes back each spring! The spotted shepherd-bird you loved, That bird which rolls and tumbles in its flight, And you struck him, broke his wing. And now he stands in the groves and calls: "Kappi!" - that bird's hoarse cry, Which is to say,"My wing!" Then you loved the lion, perfect in its strength, But you dug for him seven pits and again seven. Then you loved the stallion, great in battle, but you made for him the whip and thong and the spur. And you decreed that he run seven-double hours, And that it is for him to make muddy and then to drink. For his mother, Silili, you decreed lamentation! You also loved the shepherd with his herd, He piled ash cakes high for you without cease, And on this burning charcoal daily offered you his young and succulent kids But you struck him And turned him into a wolf So that now his own herd boys drive him off And his own dogs bite at his thighs. Then you loved Ishullanu, the palm-gardener of your father Who brought you baskets of dates everyday You raised your eyes and looked at him And you went and said to him: "O my Ishullanu, let me tast of your vigour! Put forth that which you have, Into my own, O Ishullanu!" But Ishullanu said to you: "What are you asking of me? Has not my mother baked, have I not eaten, That I should partake of food with such strong odour, with such foul stench? He brightened your table every day. You raised your eyes and looked at him, and as he was not willing to be yours, You struck him and turned him into a mole. If you loved me, would you treat me the same as them? Can mere reeds protec one from the frost, as the saying is?" When you had heard these his words, You struck him and turned him into a mole. You placed him in the middle of... He cannot ascend the.... he cannot go down.... And if you loved me, You would treat me the same as them.' When Inanna heard this - She, the Goddess of Love and Battle heard this - She was infuriated. She went to heaven immediately And saw her father An, the Sky God Before him she wept, And before her mother, Antum, she wept. And she said: 'Father, Gilgamesh has insuted me! He enumerated all my evil deeds! He has said I am foul odour and I am evil!' An spoke, said to the glorious Inanna: 'Are you the father? You have quarreled with Gilgamesh the King. And so he told you your evil deeds, The odour of them.' Inanna spoke to her father An: 'Father, please give me the Bull of Heaven So that he can smite King Gilgamesh even in his own home. And if you don't give me the Bull of Heaven I will go down to the Underworld and smash its doors! I will place those above below! The doors will be left wide open and the dead will get out, Eat all the food, And the dead will then outnumber the living! An spoke Said to glorious Inanna: 'If you desire from the Bull of Heaven, There there will be seven years Of barren husks in the land of Uruk. Have you gathered enough grain for the people? Have you grown enough fodder for the beasts?' Inanna spoke, said to her father An: 'I have stored enough grain for the people I have provided enough fodder for the animals If there should be seven years of no crops I have gathered grain for the people I have grown fodder for the beasts.' (Here three lines are lost) When An heard this speech of Inanna He gave her the tether of the Bull of Heaven, So that Inanna might lead it to Uruk. When she came to the gates of Uruk (Here one line is missing) He went down to the river... seven.... the river With the snort of the Bull of Heaven, pits were opened And a hundred men of Uruk fell into them. With his second snort, pits were opened And two hundred young men of Uruk fell into them With his third snort, pits were opened And Enkidu fell in one of them Enkidu leapt out of it and seized the bull by the horns The Bull of Heaven retreated before him And brushed him with the hairy tip of its tail, As it spewed foam from its mouth. Enkidu spoke, said to Gilgamesh: 'My friend, we boasted....' (Here eight lines are lost) And between the nape of his neck and the horns of his head... (Here one line is lost) Enkidu chased him and .... the Bull of Heaven He seized him by the thick hairy tip of his tail. (Here three lines are mutilated) He thrust his sword between the nape of his neck And the horns of his head When they had killed the Bull, they tore out his heart And placed it before Shamash the Sun They stepped back and fell down before Shamash in homage. Then the two brothers sat down. Then Inanna mounted up upon the wall of the city There at ramparted Uruk and Springing on to the battlements she uttered a curse: 'Woe be unto you, Gilgamesh, who has insulted me By slaying the Bull of Heaven!' When Enkidu heard the curse of Inanna, He tore loose the right thigh of the Bull of Heaven, Flung it skywards up into her face: 'If I could reach you, I would do the same to you as to him! I would hang his entrails at your side!' Then Inanna called the votaries of the temple The sacred harlots and courtesans of the temple And with them she set up a wailing lamentation Over the right thigh of the Bull of Heaven. (There is no break here, but it is as well to explain that the ancient Egyptian constellation of the Thigh, which was in fact a bull's thigh was the ancient equivalent to our Plough or Great Bear or Big Dipper - all these three being the same). (2) But Gilgamesh called the armourers and craftsmen The artisans admired the thickness of the bull's horns Each horn is thirty minas of lapis-lazuli; Two fingers thick is the coating of each Six gur measures of oil would measure their capacity, Would be what they would contain, this being 1,500 quarts. And just this much ointment did he then present To his own special god, Lugulbanda the Pure. As for the horns, he brought them Into his princely bedchamber and hung them there. They washed their hands in the Euphrates, They embraced one another as they went on, Riding through the main streets of Uruk. There heroes are all gathered round to see them, Gilgamesh to the sacred lyre-maids of Uruk, Says these words: ' Who is the most splendid among the heroes? Who is the most glorious among men?' Who has strength and courage no one can match? 'Gilgamesh is the most splendid among heroes! Gilgamesh is the most glorious among men!' (3) In his palace, Gilgamesh holds a great feast. Down the heroes lie on their night couches, Enkidu also lies down, and sees a dream, Enkidu rises up to reveal his dream, Saying to his friend: 'My friend, why are the Great Gods in council?' NOTES ON TABLET VI 1. Tammuz, known earlier to the Sumerians as Dumuzi, was the shepherd-king who was the patron deity of Kullab, a Sumerian riverside city that was later absorbed by Gilgamesh's city of Uruk, though the texts are careful to specify that Gilgamesh himself was from Kullab within Uruk. Tammuz married Ishtar, the Goddess of Love and War, whom he often offended. He was carried down to the Underworld but pleaded with his brother-in-law Utu/Shamash the Sun to save him. He seems to have been granted a reprieve for half of each year and thus to have been a prototype for Persephone and other figures of later mythology who came to represent the retrn of spring after the death of winter. The earlier references in the Epic to sacred sheepfolds and shepherds are connected with the cult of Tammuz. 2. Enkidu's flinging of the Thigh has some significance in terms of ancient astronomical-religious mythology. In the course of every 24 hours, the Thigh makes a complete spin around the Pole Star, ina a motion resembling 'being flung'. The Thigh is clearly depicted in numerous places, particularly the various zodiacs carved in stone at Denderah in Egypt. It was such a major constellation that it was common to the ancient civilised Mediterranean world. A further elaboration of ideas must be avoided here, but the interested reder is referred tto Sir Norman Lockyer's The Dawn of Astronomy and to de Santillana and von Dechend's Hamlet's Mill for further information. 3. This is a clear trace of a choral response by a group of lyre-maids in the sacred dramatic form of the Epic, of which a whole section has recently been excavated and now inserted into Tablet X. This slip of the stylus gives us the crucial information that the performances were accompanied by lyre music and that in a processional scene such as this the girl musicians would also chant echoing choral response, very like those preserved in the new fragment of Tablet X. TABLET VII '..... then twilight came.' And Enkidu answered Gilgamesh: 'My friend, hear a dream I had last night An, the Sky God, Enlil, his son, Enki, son of Enlil, And Shamash the Sun, All held council together, And An said to Enlil: 'Because they have slain the Bull of Heaven And have slain Humbaba, He who watched over the mountains, Watched them from Cedar Tree - one among of them Must die!' - So said An. But Great Enlil said: 'Enkidu must die! Gilgamesh, however, shall not die!' Then heavenly Shamash the Sun answred great Enlil: 'Was it not at your very own command That these necessities took place - The slaying of the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba? And now you say, Innocent Enkidu should die?' But at this Enlil became enraged. He turned in anger to heavenly Shamash: 'Just because you used to go down to them Everyday as if you yourself were his comrade!' Enkidu lay down before Gilgamesh, very ill. Gilgamesh, his tears running down, said to him: ' My brother, my dear brother! They wish to let me go but to take you as the price for this!' Also he said: 'Must I sit down by the spirit of the dead, By the door of the spirit of the dead? And never again to see my dear brother with my eyes? [Here there is a considerable break. As can be seen from what follows, Enkidu curses the fates and the stages that have led him to leave the wild steppe and coming to a civilised life. We can assume that in the lost portion he gave further vent to his frustration and dejection and that Gilgamesh too made complaint against Enkidu's unfortunate fate and the decision of the gods that Enkidu must die and be taken from him] Enkidu.... lifted up his eyes, spoke as if to the door, As though the door were human: 'O door! Door to the forest! Insensible thing! Possessed of no understanding! From a distance of 20 intervals I thought your timber fine! Then I beheld the lofty cedar! Nowehere in the land is there Any semblance, any compare with your wood! Six dozen are the cubits to your height, Two dozen are the cubits to your width... Your ple, your pole ferrule and your pole=knob.... Truly a craftsman of Nippur made you....(2) But, o door, had I known that this beauty of yours Would bring to pass such disaster, I would have taken the axe and would have.... I would have made a reed frame to [encompass?] you (3) [Here several lines are lost. When Enkidu's speech resumes, he makes clear that he constructed the door himself, evidently from the felled cedar tree he so admired. A recurring theme of Sumerian and Babylonian literature is the felling of a sacred tree and making some special or sacred object from it.] 'O door, I made you, set you in place ................................................you When I am gone, may a king........you Or perhaps a god....... you. He may place his name on you, eradicating mine.' He ripped out.... he tore down. As Gilgamesh listened, hurriedly his.... As Gilgamesh heard his friend Enkidu speak thus, his tears were flowing. Gilgamesh opend his mouth, said to Enkidu: '........illustrious Strange things may be spoken by the wise. Why does your heart say such strange things, my friend? Precious was your dream, but the terror is great. Your limbs are paralysed like ....... But despite the terror, precious is the dream: Misery was released for the healthy; Woe befell the healthy from this dream. .... and I will pray to the Great Gods.' [Here eleven lines are missing.] With daybreak Enkidu looked up, Tears streaming from him to radiant Shamash the Sun: 'I pray, o Shamash, that the hunter, that rogue, He who hunted not Who stopped my getting as much game as my friend - Let him not get as much game as his friend. Take what he owns, lessen his power. May his way offend you. May all the game escape from him. May his heart be never full.' And he bitterly cursed the priestess: 'O you, priestesss, I pronounce your fate - A fate which shall be yours for all eternity! Hearken, for I curse you now with a great curse And may my curses attack you on the instant: You shall not build a house in which to offer your charms. You shall never enter the tavern where the young girls are. Your lovely breasts.... May the drunkard defile your trysting place with vomit, May you be violated by all the troops. ....... shall cast into your house. Your home shall be the road.... The dust of the crossroads is where you shall dwell. The desert shall be your bed. The shadow of the wall is where you shall linger, Your feet torn by thorns and brambles. And men crazed by lust panting for drink shall strike your cheeks! Because you have...... me And because you have brought death upon me' When these words were heard by Shamash the Sun, Straight away he called down from heaven to Enkidu: ' Enkidu, why do you curse the priestess Who introduced you to food fit for the gods, To drink fit for kings? She who clothed you nobly! She who gave you Gilgamesh as friend, And now Gilgamesh is a brother to you. Has he not placed you on a beauteous couch? You are on the throne of ease, The throne at his left hand So that the rulers of the earth kiss your feet! Lamentations and weepings from the people of Uruk shall he cause for you; Those with hearts full of joy he shall make mourn When you have turned back (4). He will let his body become long-haried, He will clothe himself with the skin of the dog (5), And he will roam the steppe.' These words of Shamash quieted Enkidu, calmed his angry heart. [Here two lines are missing. Enkidu retracts his cursing of the priestess and blesses her instead] 'O you priestess, I pronounce your fate - The mouth has cursed you It turns and blesses you. Lords and governors shall love you He who is one league away shall smite his thigh in admiration of you He who is two leagues away shall shake his hair in desire of you May all the young men will loosen their clothes for you May you be laden with carnelian, lapis lazuli and gold. And he who defiled you - may he be paid back! May his home be stripped, His full storehouse emptied. May the priest lead you into the presence of the gods. And for you the wife be abandoned, Though she be the mother of seven.' Enkidu, cast down in sorrow, Drifts into a sad and lonely sleep. Then in the night to his friend He pours out the heaviness of his heart: 'My friend, this night I dreamed. The whole cosmos was roaring And an echo resounded from the earth: This is an omen of death, As I was standing there between the heavens and earth, I saw a young man whose face was dark. His face was like Zu, bird god from the Underworld. .... with claws like an eagle's talons. He overcame me.... ..... he climbs.... ..... submerged me. [Here seven lines are missing] He transformed me into a double of his body So that my arms were now clad in feathers like those of a bird. Fixing his gaze on me, he led me to the House of Darkness There where Irkalla lives, He, the God of the Dead. No one who enters that house comes forth again. It is the one-way road from which there is no return; Those residing there are bereft of the light for ever, Where dust is their food and mud their sustenance. They are dressed as birds, with garments of wing feathers. They see no light but crouch in darkness, There in the House of Dust, into which I came, I saw kings, their crowns set aside - Those who had once ruled on earth through the ages, humbled, No longer were they born to the crown. And the twins of An and Enlil were there (6), Serving the roast meat, The fried and baked food, Pouring cold water out from the skins. In the house of Dust where I came Sit the high priest and the acolyte, Sit the cantor and the shaman, Sit the attendants of the sacred ablutions, There sat Etana, once king of Kish, There sat Sumugan, he, the god of the Cattle, And also Ereshkigal, who is the Queen of the Underworld. Belit-Seri, her scribe, kneels before here. And she reads out from a tablet to her. She, the scribe, lifts her head, sees me and says: 'Who brought this one?' [Here 50 lines are missing. But the following fragment where Gilgamesh is speaking is believed to come from the lost remainder of this tablet] 'Remember all my travels with him! My friend saw a dream of unfavourable omen The day the dream was ended. Enkidu lay stricken one day, two days, Enkidu's suffering on his bed worsened: A third day, a fourth day... A 5th day, a 6th day, a 7th, An 8th, a 9th and a tenth day. Enkidu's suffering on his bed increases; An 11th day, a 12th day... Enkidu lay stricken on his bed of agony. Finally he called Gilgamesh and spoke to him: 'My friend........ has cursed me! Not like one who falls in battle shall I die, For I feared the battle.... My friend, one who dies in battle is blessed. But as for me...' NOTES ON TABLET VII 1. A few words of explanation would be helpful with reference to these squabbling gods. Since the Gilgamesh tales are, at origin, accounts of cosmic happenings in the heavens, what is going on behind the scenes in these tales is generally of a cosmic nature. The gods An, Enlil and Enki are not merely grandfather, father and son in the sense familiar from Greek religion of Uranus, Cronos (Saturn), Jupiter. They actually represent three separate bands of the sky. Hence it is that a dispute or quarrel between them may represent conflicts between those regions of the sky. Different star constellations lie in different regions or bands of sky, so that the gods of the bands have affinities with different mythological figures identified with those constellations. For instance, Enki's band of sky is the Southern Sky. The star Canopus was therefore especially sacred to him, lying as it does within the constellation of Argo deep in the Southern sky. Enki's special city of Eridu was the southernmost city of Sumer, near the Persian Gulf, and its southern position in Sumer corresponded to the southern position of Enki's sky band. In Tablet IX we encounter Enki's direct intervention in advising the construction of an ark to survive the Great Flood (the prototype of the sotry of Noah). This ark corresponds to Enki's constellation of Argo. It follows therefore that the gods representing different bands of sky will champion those mythological beings who have been assigned constellations in their own bands and oppose mythological beings whose celestial homes are in other bands. As for Shamash/Utu, as the sun he moves through all the bands and is not identified with any of them. Therefore, it is not surprising that he does not take part in these favouritisms, and defends both Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Furthermore, he is able to be like a comrade to them because he is not remote and associated with a sky band, but is actually a moving cosmic body, as indeed was Humbaba, with whom he had direct associations, since Humbaba was identified with the planet Mercury (the planet nearest to the Sun). (See also Tablet IX, note 13). 2. Enkidu's statement that the pole, pole-knob and pole-ferrule were made by a master craftsman of the city of Nippur does not refer to himself (since Enkidu was not from Nippur), and it is possible that he merely wishes to praise the handiwork by saying by saying they are as good as if a master craftsman of Nippur had made them. The master-craftsman of a major city was generally one of the Seven Sages, the mysterious 'fish-men' who before the time of the Flood were supposed to have founded the Sumerian culture, and who were known as apkallus, or in much later time were called by the name of Oannes (see Introduction). These aquatic culture heroes tended to be referred to as 'master craftsmen' in a manner that is somewhat reminiscent of Masonic lore. Nippur, which has been mentioned twice before the Epic in connection with the door to the Cedar Forest, was one of the seven original cities of Sumer founded by the Seven Sages. Nippur's master-craftsman was therefore its fish-man culture hero, or apkallu. 3. The whole business of Humbaba, the cedar and the door may concern the motions of the planet Mercury. As we have seen, Humbaba was identified with the planet and the monster face of Humbaba, which is represented on some ancient terra cota pieces as a mass of convoluted intestines, symbolised the convoluted motions of Mercury as plotted in the skies by the ancient astronomers. (These plottings do yield a mass of convoluted loops, half of which are invisible because they are below the horizon.) Cutting off the head of Humbaba could thus mean cutting off the visible portion of these loops, or terminating the planet's year. In which case the plaent would have to start a new year. This may indeed be what the Epic is telling us in code. The word babu for door in modern Arabic as bab or gate also had the meaning of origin or commencement of a motion. Thus the expression cedar door is symbolic for th commencement of the motion of the planet Mercury. Contemporary with the Gilgamesh Epic in Egypt, the word seb had the dual meaning of cedar and planet Mercury, which can hardly be a coincidence. The Akkadian word babu also means vagina, which was not only a door, but also led to a birth or commencement. Similar multiple symbolisms applied to the words used for pillars, gateposts, bolts and so forth, always with cosmic myths implied. 4. Since several scholarly translators have given no indication of this meaning to this line, explanations seems warranted. Campbell Thompson simply left untranslated the word arkika; Speiser, Gordon and Heidei all translated it simply as 'after' and then inserted various speculative words referring to going or dying which do not appear in the text, implying that the line meant 'After you have died' or something similar. This does accord with the apparent context, but nevertheless too many glosses appear in translations of the Epic which conceal the deeper meanings which occasionally glint above the surface. It is my opinion that in this line we have a possible reference to a retrograde orbital motion in accordance with the cosmic mythology underlying the Gilgamesh literature. 5. All other translators have lamely suggested, without real justification, that kalbi means lion, and that this passage says Gilgamesh would don a lion skin. Perhaps they were thinking of Heracles, for as one translator, Cyrus Gordon, rightly points out in commenting on this passage, Heracles did indeed derive from Gilgamesh and did wear a lion skin. But the fact is that the word 'kalbi' means dog here just as certainly all translators agree it does in line 115 of the original text on Tablet XI, where the gods are described as cowering like dogs. However awkward it may be, therefore, there is no doubt that the skin which Gilgamesh is described as about to put on is the skin of a dog, not the skin of a lion. This has possible cosmic references, in particular to the Dog Star, Sirius. 6. It is interesting that the Great Gods An and Enlil are thought to have had doubles living in the Underworlld, and engaged in the sort of mental activity that one would expect of a zombie. Behind this must lie the astronomical awareness that the sky bands of An and Enlil continued under the Earth, and that the Great Gods were present in teh Underworld as well as in the sky overhead. In his 1986 article, 'The Sun at Night and the Doors of Heaven in Babylonian Texts', Wolfgang Heimpel discusses the enigmatic references to the Sun God passing through the Underworld every night. These are best understood by reference to the elaborate study of Maja Pellikaan-Engel on Hesiod and Parmenides. Having accepted the tradition of the Great Gods having counterparts below the earth, the poet has here represented An and Enlil in the character almost of automatons, as meaningless shades of the actual gods.
TABLET XIGilgamesh said to him / Said to Ziusudra the Faraway: 'I look upon you now, Ziusudra, but your appearance is not strange. You are like myself. I had imagined you as a great warrior. But you lie on your side, reclining at ease. Tell me, how did you enter the Assembly of the Gods - how find everlasting life?' Ziusudra said to him, said to Gilgamesh: 'O Gilgamesh, I will disclose unto you a hidden thing. Yes, a secret of the gods will I tell unto you: You know the city Shuruppak, which lies upon the River Euphrates. That city was of great antiquity And ancient were the gods who still lived within it In their hearts they resolved To bring on the Great Flood (There is no break here, but it is necessary to make some remarks about Abubu, or Great Flood, so see note 1 at the end). 'Present there were An the Great God Valiant Enlil, his son, Counsellor of the Gods, Their assistant Ninurta, the God of War and Hunting, Ennugi, their inspector of canals, And also Ninigiku, which is to say Enki - For he too was present with them. And Enki repeats what they say to Ziusudra, Speaking through the wall of Ziusudra's reed hut: 'Reed hut, reed hut! Wall of the hut, wall of the hut! Listen o reed hut! Consider, o wall of the hut! O man of Shuruppak, o you son of Ubara-Tutu, Tear down your hut of reeds, Build of them a reed boat Abandon things Seek life Give up possessions Keep your soul alive! And into the boat take the seed of all living creatures. The boat you will build Will have dimensions carefully measured Its length and its width shall be equal And roof it as I have my subterranean watery abyss." I understood and said to my lord Enki: "My lord, behold. What have you commanded of me Shall I honour and carry out But tell me, what shall I answer To the city, to the people, to the elders?" Enki opened his mouth to speak Said to me, his servant: "Thus, O Mortal, shall you speak to them, saying I have learned that the god Enlil is ill-disposed toward me No longer can I reside here in the city. Never again, No, never. Can I turn my face to this soil which is Enlil's. I must go down therefore, Down to dwell with my lord Enki, Towards the marshes of the south, And enter his sweet-watered Deep Into his very Abyss (2). But he will shower down upon you Abundance and plenty. The choicest of birds, The rarest of fishes Oh, what great harvest riches shall this land enjoy! Yes, He who orders the grainheads in the evening What a shower of wheat shall He rain down upon you!'" (3) On the horizon there appeared The first intimations of dawn. The land was gathered about me. (Here two lines are missing. When the text resumes, Ziusudra is still speaking to Gilgamesh) The child brought bitumen, The strong brough the rest of what was needed On the fifth day I laid out the plan The floor space was one iku (4) Its sides were ten gar high, Each edge of its square roof measured ten gar (5) (The ark was therefore an exact cube measuring 120 cubits on each side. This is hardly the description of a physical sailing ship!) I delineated its exterior shape And fashioned it together Cross-pinned it six times (6) Thus dividing it into seven (7) And the ground plan I divided into nine parts (8) I drove water plugs into it Saw to the punting holes and laid up what was needful Into the furnace I poured six [or three] shar measures (9) of bitumen Followed by three shar measures of asphalt. The basket-bearers carried three shar measures of oil Besides one shar measures of oil stowed away the the boatman (10) I slaughtered bullocks for the people Every day I slew sheep (11) As though it were river water I gave to the workmen Red wine, white wine, must, oil To feast as if it were New Year's day I opened the container and laid my hands in unguent On the seventh day the boat was completed .......was very difficult The edges of the floor above and below Showed 2/3 of the floor [were above, 1/3 below?] (12) Whatever I had I loaded aboard, Whatever I had of silver I loaded aboard, Whatever I had of gold I loaded aboard Whatever I had of seed of all living creatures I loaded aboard. I caused all my family and kinsfolk to go aboard. The beasts of the field, The wild creatures of the plain, All the craftsmen - All these I made to go aboard. Shamash the Sun had set for me a specific time, saying: 'When He who rains down His misfortune in the twilight Does rain down His misfortune like a blight, Then board your boat without further ado And make sure your door is safely pulled to.' That precise time had indeed arrived: 'When He who rains down His misfortune in the twilight Does rain down His misfortune like a blight'. (This rhymed utterance provides the true message of Enki's disguised message to the people of Shuruppak given earlier) I scrutinised all the weather signs; How awesome was the weather to behold! I borded the boat without further ado And made sure that the door was safely pulled to. I committed the navigation of the great house and its contents To the boatman Puzur-Amurri (14). When on the horizon The first intimations of dawn A black cloud rose from the horizon (15) Inside it Adad the storm thundered, While Shullat and Hanish, the storm-heralds, rose ahead, Movind as advance messengers over hill and plain. Nergal, the God of the Underworld, tore out the posts. Ninurta, the God of War and Irrigation, came forth and burst the dikes. The Anunnaki - the Great Gods - raised their torches, Lighting up the land with their brightness. Astonishment at Adad the Storm reached to the very heavens. He turned to blackness all that had been visible. He broke the land like a pot. For a whole day the South Storm blew, Gathering speed as it blew, drowning the mountains, Overcoming the people as in battle. Brother saw not brother. From heaven no mortal could any longer be seen. Even the gods were struck by terror at the deluge, And, fleeing, they ascended to the celestial band of An (16). The gods cowered like dogs (17), Crouching by the outer wall of that celestial band. Inanna, Goddess of Love and Battle, cried out like a suffering mortal - She, the sweet-voiced, She, the Lady of the Gods, How did she lament aloud, crying: 'Verily, the Old Age has crumbled into dust! Because I spoke evil in the Assembly of Gods! Oh, how could I command havoc for the destruction of my people When I myself gave birth to my people? Now the spawn of fishes, the sea is glutted with their bodies!' The Anunnaki - the Great Gods -wept with her, Their lips were shut tight in distress in the Assembly, one and all. For six days and seven nights The flood wind blew as the South Storm swept the land. At sunrise in the seventh day The South Storm, bringer of the flood, and Which had fought like an army, abated its attack. The sea grew quieter, The storm subsided, The flood ceased. I looked at the weather; It had gone quiet. All men had returned to clay. The land had been levelled like a terrace. O opened a dove flap And light fell upon my face. I bowed, sat down and wept, Tears flowing down my cheeks. I peered in every direction but the sea was everywhere, In each of the 14 regions There emerged a mountain peak for that point (18). The boat came to rest on Mount Nisir (19). Mount Nisir held the boat fast, Allowing no shifting position. One day, a second day, Mount Nisir held the boat fast, Allowing no shifting position. A 3rd day, a 4th day and a 6th day, Mount Nisir held the boat fast, Allowing no shifting position. When the seventh day dawned, I brought a dove out and set it free. The dove went forth but then returned. The dove found no resting-place and turned back (20). I brought out a swallow and set it free. The swallow went forth but then returned The swallow found no resting-place and turned back (21). I brought out a raven and set it free. The raven flew forth but saw the waters were sinking, She ate, circled, croaked, but did not return back. Then I sent forth all the four winds And offered a sacrifice On the peak of the mountain I poured out a libation. Twice seven were the cult-vessels I set up, Heaping upon their pot-stands sweet cane, Cedar, myrthle, The gods smelled the savour. The gods gathered like fliers around the sacrificer. Now when Inanna, the Lady of the Gods, arrived, She lifted up the magnificent jewels which An the Great god Had made according to her desire, and said: 'O ye gods here present! Just as surely as I shall not forget The lapis lazuli around my neck, So shall I remember these days, Never forgetting them. Let the gods come to the offering. But let not Enlil come to the offering; For he, unreasoning, brought on the deluge And delivered my people over to destruction!' Now when Enlil arrived and saw the boat, He waxed wroth, He was filled with fury against the heavenly Igigi gods and said: 'What! - Has any mortal escaped? No mortal was to survive the destruction!' Ninurta, God of War, opened his mouth to speak, said to valiant Enlil: 'Who besides the god Enki could devise such a plan? The god Enki alone understands every matter.' Enki opened his mouth to speak, saying to valiant Enlil: 'O wisest of gods, O great warrior hero, How could you, taking no counsel, Bring on the deluge? He who has sinned, on him lay his sin. He who has transgressed, on him lay his transgression But oh be merciful, lest all be destroyed. Be long suffering, that man may not perish. Rather than your bringing on the deluge, Oh, that a lion had come to diminish mankind! Rather than you bringing on the deluge, Oh, that a famine had arisen To lay mankind low. Rather than you bringing in the deluge Oh, that Erra, god of Pestilence, had come To strike mankind down. What is more, it was not I Not I who revealed the Secret of the Great Gods, I allowed Ziusudra, he ho abounds in wisdom To see a dream It was thus that he perceived The secret of the Great Gods Now then take counsel concerning him.' Then Enlil went up into the ship. He grasped my hand, He caused me to go aboard, He caused my wife to go aboard, He made her to kneel beside me He stood there between us, He touched our foreheads and blessed us; "Until now, Ziusudra has been a more mortal But from now shall Ziusudra and his wife Be like unto us gods. Ziusudra shall reside far away - At the confluence of the celestial rivers - There shall he dwell!" And so they took me and made me reside far away, At the confluence of the celestial rivers. But now, o Gilgamesh, as for you, Who will assemble the gods for you That you may find the Life that you seek? Come, do not lie down, sleep not For six days and seven nights'. (22) As he sits on his haunches, Sleep breathes upon him like a light rain in a mist (23). Ziusudra says to her, says to his wife: 'Behold, the strong one who seeks Life-Everlasting! Sleep breathes upon him like rain in a mist.' His wife says to him, to Ziusudra the Faraway: 'Oh, touch him Let the man awake, That he may return in peace Along the route by which he came. That he may return to his land By the portal through which he came.; Ziusudra says to her, says to his wife: 'Mankind being wicked, he will seek to deceive you. Bake some little cakes of bread And put them by his head. She put these by his head And she marked on the wall the days he slept. His first cake of bread dried out, His second was gone bad, His third was moist and soggy, His fourth turned white, His fifth had a mouldy look, His 6th was still fresh His 7th - just as he was touched, he awoke. Gilgamesh says to Ziusudra, the Faraway: 'Hardly did sleep steal over me, when suddenly you touched me and woke me!' Ziusudra says to him Says to Gilgamesh: 'Not so, Gilgamesh! Count your cakes of bread, They will show you how many days you have slept. The first cake is dried out, The second is gone bad, The third is mois and soggy, The crust of the fourth has turned white, The fifth has a mouldy look, The sixth is still fresh. The seventh, the moment it was baked - at this instant you did awaken.' Gilgamesh says to him Says to Ziusudra the Faraway: 'Ah, but what shall I do, Ziusudra? Where shall I go? Now that the Snatcher has laid hold of my entrails? Death lurks in my bedchamber, death follows my footsteps already!' Ziusudra says to him, Says to Urshanabi the Boatman 'Urshanabi, may the landing-place not welcome you. May the place of crossing reject you! He who approaches its surrounding rim Deny him its rim!' (25) The man beforewhose face you have walked Whose body is covered in long hair The grace of whose form skins have distorted Let him wash his long hair clean as snow in water - Let him throw off his skins, Let the sea carry them away, So that the fairness of his body may be seen Let him place a new band around his head Let him cover his nakedness with a fresh garment Until he will accomplish his journey Let not his garment have a mouldy look - Let it be quite new.' Urshanabi took him and brought him to the place of cleansing He washed his long hair He threw off his skins That the see might carry them away, That the fairness of his body might be seen He placed a new band around his head He covered his nakedness with a fresh garment, Until he should arrive in his city, Until he should accomplish his journey. The garment did not have a mouldy look But was quite new. Gilgamesh and Urshanabi boarded the ship. They launched the ship on the waves and they glided forth, His wife says to him Says to Ziusudra the Faraway: 'Gilgamesh has come hither, He has wearied himself, He has exerted himself. What gift will you make to him (26) That he may return to his land?' That he, Gilgamesh, raised up his pole, And brought the ship hear to the shore (27). Ziusudra says to him Says to Gilgamesh: 'Gilgamesh, you have come hither, You have wearied yourself, You have wearied yourself. What gift shall I make to you That you may return to your land? Gilgamesh, I will disclose unto you A hidden thing. Yes, a secret of the gods will I tell unto you: There is a plant, Its thorn is like the buckthorn, Its thorns will prick your hands As does the rose If that plant shall come to your hands You will find new life'. No sooner had Gilgamesh heard this Than he opened the water-pipe (28) He tied heavy stones on his feet in the manner of the pearl divers They pulled him down into the deep There he saw the plant. He took the plant, though it pricked his hands. He cut the heavy stones from his feet The sea cast him up upon its shore Gilgamesh says to him Says to Urshanabi the Boatman: 'Urshanabi, this is the plant that is different from all others. By its means a man can lay hold of the breath of life. I shall take it to Uruk of the ramparts. I shall cause.... To eat the plant.... It shall be called Man Becomes Young in Old Age. I myself shall eat it, that I may return to the state of my youth.' There I myself shall eat the plant that I may return to the state of my youth.' After 20 intervals they broke off a morsel. After 30 more rested for the night. Gilgamesh saw a well whose water was cool He descended into it to bathe in the water A serpent smelled the fragrance of the plant It darted up from the well and seized the plant: Sloughing its skin in rejuvenation as it returned. Then Gilgamesh sat down and wept. His tears flowed down his cheeks. He took the hand of Urshanabi, the Boatman: 'For whom have my hands laboured, Urshanabi? For whom has my heart's blood been spent? I have not obtained any advantage for myself. I have only obtained an advantage for the earth-lion (29)'. And now the tide will bear it twenty-double hours away! When I opened the water-pipe And... the gear I noted the sign which was set for me As a warning: I shall withdraw, And leave the ship on the shore.' After twenty intervals They broke a morsel And thirty more Rested for the night (30) When they arrived in Uruk of the ramparts Gilgamesh says to him Says to Urshanabi the Boatman: 'Go up, Urshanabi, walk on the ramparts of Uruk (31) See the foundation terrace Touch, then, the masonry - Is not this of burnt brick And good? I say The seven sages laid its foundation One third is city. One third is orchards. One third is margin land. There there is the precinct of the temple of Inanna/Ishtar These three parts And the precinct Comprise Uruk (Written down according to its original and collated Palace of of Ashurbanipal, King of the World, King of Assyria).
NOTES TO TABLET XI1. The biblical Great Flood is a tradition which is known to be derived directly from the Sumerian-Babylonian one. What, then, are the origins of the latter? The Babylonian word for the Great Flood, Abubu, is yet another key word to be borrowed from the Egyptians. The word evidently comes from the Egyptian Agb-hu-bua, which literally means the celestial Deluge - Inundation - Great, or in other words, the celestial Great Flood. With both linguistic validity and identity of meaning, the origin of this term from the Egyptian and identity of meaning, the origin of this term from the Egyptian astro-religion can hardly be doubted. As to the actual symbolic significance of the Great Flood, that is far too complex a matter to be discussed briefly here. But it was never intended to be taken literally as an actual physical deluge on the earth. That is a later misunderstanding whcih arose amongst the uninitiated. Not only is the word for the Great Flood derived from the Egyptian, but so is the Hebrew word used for the ark in the Bible. The ark in the Book of Genesis is called teba, an unusual word which only occurs elsehere at Exodus 2:3-5, as a description of the Egyptian reed container in which the baby Moses was placed. This word comes from the Egyptian word teba meaning box, chest or coffer. We shall see in a moment that the Babylonian ark was not a ship at all but a perfect cube, and that box or chest was indeed a better descriptive term. It is misleading for English translations of the Bible to imply that the ark was a ship, since the Hebrew word used for it does not mean ship. In connection with teba, it should be noted that in Egyptian the related verb teben means to cycle, to revolve in a circle and teb means a cycle of time. Thus we see something of the celestial connections of the ark. 2. For an explanation of Enki's hideaway, see the introduction, page xxii. 3. This is a conscious deception on Enki's part. He wishes the inhabitants of Shuruppak to believe this mundane meaning of the words, neglecting the real meaning, which by a play on words states the truth: 'What a rain of misfortune shall He rain down upon you!' Possibly because gods are not supposed to lie, Enki wishes to have the truth spoken but in a disguised manner which is intended to be misunderstood. Since none of the inhabitants of Shuruppak are meant to survive, the deception hardly seems worth the trouble. (Doubltess Enki had an eye to what posterity would have to say.) Thoughout the ancient world puns and plays on words were used to explain why the utterances of gods made through oracles appeared to be inacurate prophecies. This was a common practice, for instance, in Greece, where many responses of the Oracle of Delphi took this deceptive form - or at least were said afterwards to have done so. 4. An iku or one field, was a square measure of one hundred musar, or about 3,600 square metres, which is approximately one modern acre. However, iku was also the name of the constellation now called Pegasus, or more particularly of what is now called the Square of Pegasus. Among the Babylonians, the Square of Pegasus was represented by a field in the sky defined by four stars which do indeed make nearly a square shape in the heavens. Iku was meant to be the home of the God Enki (his other home was Eridu, identified with the star Canopus in Argo, the stellar constellation associated in Greek and Egyptian tradition with the ark, as well as the Greek ship Argo, whose name has the same derivation of the word ark (see Tablet VII, note 1). Some extremely interesting information about Iku is given by Werner Papke in his book 'Die Sterne von Babylon'. He shows that the heliacal rising of Sirius, which was New Year's Day of the most fundamentally important calendar to the Egyptians and the Babylonians, if taken as day one, means that the heliacal rising of the constellaton Iku took place 240 days or 2/3 of a year. This, I deduce, may be another reason why Ziusudra's boatman, Urshanabi, is called the Priest of Two-Thrids, and why Enki and Gilgamesh are both two-thirds (see also Tablet IX, note 11). 5. Ten gar is equal to 120 cubits and a cubit is thought to have been roughly half a meter in modern measurements. That means that the measurements of this original ark were a mere sixty metres on each side, which is approximately the size of a large house. Clearly there was no room inside such a small structure for the biblical two of every kind. It is mysterious what these measurements are intended to convey to us. Was there any actual cubical structure of these dimensions built somewhere? We do not know. It would be interesting to compare these measurements with the dimensions of temples excavated by archeologists. Sacred buildings may have attempted to emulate or reproduce these dimensions,a nd arheologists may well not have thought to look for such correspondences. 6. Geometrically, this indicates the construction of a cube from a central joint with a strut affixated to the centre of each of the six faces. 7. The six faces plus the centre? Other translators have suggested six decks inside, with the top being the seventh surface. 8. Retaining the motif of 'thirds': by dividing the square into thirds both vertically and horizontally, one gets nine equal nine squares within the original square. The resulting ennead may have had some arcane significance in sacred geometry akin to the tetractys (a triangular pattern of ten dots believed to represent the perfect number) of the later Greek Pythagoreans. Doubtless the three horizontal strips would also be meant to represent the three sky bands (see Tablet VII, note 1), or at least to echo them. 9. Shar means 3,600 and the unit of volume is left unspecified, but assuming it was the sutu (just over two modern gallons), one shar was thus equal to approximately 8,000 modern gallons. 10. This line and the six preceding ones reflect the pretence of the poet/compiler of the Epic that he is describing an actual boat. To return to an astro-religious level, note how boatman Urshanabi stows away two-thirds of the three shar measures of oil - a correspondence which was doubtless thought appropriate. 11. Divination by the entrails of sheep on a daily basis would be customary for such an enterprise as this among the Babylonians: the meat would afterwards be consumed. Knowledge of this would betaken for granted amongst all the poet/compilers's contemporaries, obviating any need for comment or explanation. 12. This passage is fragmentary. Two-thirds is preserved and is known not to refer to the entire ship because of a masculine pronominal suffix, whereas the noun for the boat is feminine. It must therefore refer tot he floor. The meaning may be that the lower of the three horizontal strips of the floor corresponded to the southern sky band of Enki - below the equator. 13. Cyrus Gordon (see Bibliography) wryle observes that Ziusudra disregards Enki's advice to leave all his possessions behind. 14. Amurru, of which Amurri is a genitive in the construct state, was a figure in Babylonian mythology whose name was identified with teh West, the West Wind, the Gate of the West Wind, as well as West Star, referring to the star Mirfak in the constellation Perseus (known as Amurru by the Babylonians). The star is in the Milky Way and is pointed to directlyby a diagonal drawn across Iku from the star Markab tot he star Alpheratz. In addition, an amazing survival of specific mateiral from the Epic is found in Greek mythology attached to the figure of Perseus: Perseus and his mother were thrown into the sea in a wooden chest in the shape of a cube. Thus both the Babylonian and the Greek figures, Amurru and Perseus wee identified with the same constellation, sailed in cubical arks. Like Amurru, Perseus had associations with the West, for he visited the place of the gorgons, beyond the Western ocean. Furthermore, Perseus like Amurru had a direct connection with Pegaus/Iku. Pegasus in Greek myth though a son of the Ocean, also sprang from the blood of Medusa after Perseus slew her. Pegasus thus came into being because of an action by Perseus.Finally, like the Babylonian ark whose floor was associated with Pegasus/Iku (see note 4 above), Pegasus in Greek myth also came to rest on a mountain peak, Mount Helicon. 15. A black cloud is here described as having a heliacal rising int he manner of a star. 16. An's sky band was the equatorial band which was above that of Enki. This line gives support to the earlier suggestion that one-third of the ark's floor was below, correlated with Enki's sky band (see note 12 above), for here we have clear evidence that two sky bands were above the deluge and only one sky band, that of Enki in the south, was below it. It is also important that the storm which created this deluge is described as the South Storm, namely one in the band of Enki, the southern sky below the equator. 17. See Tablet VII, note 5. 18. These are the 14 mountain peaks associated with the adjoining 14 major oracle centres above the geodetic baseline known to the Egyptians, Minoans and Babylonians. The peaks were geodetic survey-markers and the purpose of these geodetic points was for survey purposes to allow no shifting of position. The Greek historian Herodotus records that the the oracle centre of Dodona was founded by doves flying form Egyptian Thebes. Mount Tomaos was the geodetic marker for Dodona and the Greek ark of Deucalion (the Greek Noah) was said to have landed on this peak. A rival tradition maintained that Deucalion's ark landed on Mount Parnasos, the geodetic marker for the oracle of Delphi. The biblical tradition states that Noah's ark landed on Mount Ararat, which was the geodetic marker for the ancient oracle centre of Metsamor. (Further investigation reveals that Mount Tomaros and Mount Ararat are on precisely the same line of latitude, indicating that the Greek and Hebrew arks in ostensibly separate traditions landed on exactly the same latitude as each other, which can hardly be a coincidence.) Precisely one degree of latitude south of the oracle of Dodona and Metsamor is the oracle of Delphi, and of Delos, once of major oracular importance but defunct as an oracle by about the 7th BCE. The mountain-marker for Delos was Mount Cynthus. Mountain peaks were used for signalling and surveying purposes for thousands of years. Indeed, the use of mountain peaks for the lighting of bonfires as a signalling system is referred to by the Greek playright Aeschylus as occurring at the time of Homer. J.H. Quincey has reconstructed this system, complete with a map in an article entitled 'The Beacon sites in the Agamemnon'. 19. A variant name for Mount Nisur was Mount Nimush. Speiser identifies it with the modern mountain Pir Omar Gudrun. The precise identity of Mount Nisir requires further research, as does the entire geography of the Epic. However, Mount Nisir seems to have been a mountain in the Zagros range east of Babylon itself and like Babylon, precisely seven degrees of latitude south of Mount Ararat. 20. There is a contradiction here, since the 14 mountain peaks had already emerged. 21. Swallows were used in the ancient world as messenger birds, in the same way as were doves - or carrier-pigeons, as we call these specialised birds today. There is much evidence to suggest that messenger birds were used by the priests as well as by the long-distance navigators of antiquity. Pliny refers to the use of shore-sighting birds by navigators from Ceylon in Roman times. But far earlier earlier nautical uses of shore sighting doves are reconted in his book Prehistoric Crete by R. W. Hutchinson, who maintains that Sumerian sea captains must have been using them by the third millenium BCE. Jason used them in his Argo voyage as well. In ancient times there was a secret carrier-piegeon and carrier-swallow network connecting the oracle centres which enabled the priests to be in instant touch by bird telegraphy so that they could fake oracular prophecies by getting information in advance. The returning of the dove and of the swallow are esoteric references to this network, intended to be unintelligible to the uninitiated. Similarly, an esoteric Egyptian pun is preserved in the use of the expression turned back as applied to Ziusudra's dove and swallow. Un in Egyptian means dovecote, but it also means to turn back. This pun thus referred to the doves from the un performing an un. Once again we see the trace of a sacred Egyptian pun lingering on in a language where it had ceased any longer to be a pun or have a double meaning. 22. See Introduction. 23. Other translators give kima imbari the violent connotatio of 'like a whirlwind' or 'rain storm', whereas imbaru in fact conveys the image of mist or fog. 24. Once again we have a tradition deriving from the Egyptians. The reference is to the non-phonetic Egyptian hieroglyph for 'time', which was a little round baked cake of bread. The bread cakes are thus visual/word puns expressing the passage of time. 25. The word ahu, which appears in the original text, should not be translated as 'shore'. Speiser and Heidel force that meaning on the word, whereas it really means rim, edge, surrounding region. Not many lines later, and again after that, the correct word for shore, kibru, occurs and recurs (see note 27 below), demonstrating by its proximity and constant use that ahu cannot have been intended in the sense of shore. Once more, the rim of the cosmic wheel by which Gilgamesh travelled to Ziusudra in the first place is referred to here (see also Tablet IX, note 1). 26. It was customary to make a gift to a departing guest. 27. Because an actual shore is referred to here, the appropriate word, kibru, is used, as it is again a few lines further on. Previous translators have wrongly assumed that the wheel rim mentioned ealier must be this shore. 28. This strange word, ratu, is mentioned also in the Babylonian creation poem as a cosmic connection - a 'pipe' in the figurative sense - between the city of Eridu and the temple of Esagila, which corresponded respectively with the god Enki's two abodes, the star Canopus in Argo and the Iku or Pegasus Square. Endowing the word with the sense of channel rather than pipe, it may well be the comsic river Eridanus, as the constellation is known today, may be the transit channel across the sky which is intended here. 29. The 'earth-lion' is believed to refer to the serpent. Some esoteric meaning is intended, but it is not clear. 30. These two recent stages of 50 intervals - literally 'double hours' - each, over two days altogether, represent two/thirds of the journey made in Tablet IV to the Cedar Forest. Once again the motif of two-thirds recur (See Tablet IV, note 3, and Tablet IX, note 13). 31. See Tablet IX, note 33.
BACK TO GATEWAYS TO BABYLON