© 2013 Diana

The Epic of Gilgamesh (XVIII-X BC)



Tablet II

For six days and seven nights

Enkidu made love to that girl

And the girl said to him

She said to Enkidu:

‘When I look at you, Enkidu,

You seem to be like a god.

Why the wild beasts?

Whe the roaming over the steppe?

Come with me,

Come to ramparted Uruk.

There the holy temple of Eanna

Where the Great God An lives,

Come with me, Enkidu, to the holy dwelling

To the temple, Sky God’s house,

For Gilgamesh of may deeds lives there.

You are so like him.

You will love him as yourself,

Rise up from the earth,

Come to a shepherd’s bed!’

There came upon his heart

The truth of what she said.

He heard her words

And they were good.

She divided her clothing in two,

One garment for him,

One for her

Holding his hand she led him

Led him like a child.

And they came to the hut of the shepherds

Which is in the sheepfold.

All the shepherds gathered round him,

Pressed round him, were drawn to him

Thronged round the wild man.

Of her instruction the priestess is proud,

This is a man who is like Gilgamesh in form,

Taller he is in form,

He was born in the mountains,

And like the star-essence of the Sky Father An, his strength is more powerful.

And Enkidu sat at their table

That he might eat of their produce.

But he knew the milf of wild creatures,

Which he sucked in the wilds.

Theshppherds placed thier own food before him, and

He choked, he looked,

He stared at it, at them,

Enkidu knows nothing of this,

He knows not eating food,

What is this drink? This strong drink?

He has not been taught it.

Bread was set before him – he knows it not.

Beer was set before him – he knows it not.

Enkidu did not eat bread,

He squeezed his eyes together, stared,

The girl then spoke:

She said to Enkidu:

‘Enkidu, eat that food.

It is our de in life.

Drink this strong drink.

It is what is done here.’

So Enkidu ate the food,

Ate until he was full.

He drank that strong drink

Seven cups of it (1).

(A fragment of about 1,400 BCE published by Gernot Wilhelm gives a slightly different account of the preceding:)

The priestess said to him, said to Enkidu:

‘You are exquisite Enkidu!

Why do you run to and fro with the beasts of the steppe?

You are like a god in your nature

Who is there like you among men?’

Again the priestess said to him, said to Enkidu:

‘Come, Enkidu! Let us go to the place of the sheepfold (2)’.

She drew out a single garment

And he clothed himself.

Leading him, she held his hand,

And like a god was his countenance.

She led him to the place of the sheepfold,

The shepherds/people were gathered together,

And the people spoke amongst themselves:

‘Look how he resembles Gilgamesh in his appearance!

He is small in size but extremely strong in his bony frame.

As soon as he was born in the mountains,

He was in thehabit of sucking the milk of animals.’

They set bread before him

He examined it and was puzzled by the bread.

They set beer before him.

He creased his eyes together and gazed at it;

He was puzzled by the beer.

The priestess said to him,

Said to Enkidu:

‘Eat the bread, Enkidu,

That you will be worthy of godliness!

Drink the fine beer,

That you will be worthy of kingship!’

Enkidu ate the bread,

He drank the fine beer (3),

And indeed seven jugs of it (4).

(We now return to the main version of the text)

He felt so free, he felt so happy

He rejoiced so in his heart!

His face became radiant.

He rubbed all the shaggy growth,

The hair of his body.

He annointed himself with oil

And thus he became a man.

He donned clothing –

Look! He is like a man!

He takes up his weapon,

He attacks the lions

So the shepherds might have peace at night.

He caught wolves,

He captured lions,

And the chief cattlemen could rest.

Enkidu was their watchman,

A man of strength,

An unparalled hero!

To the shepherds he said:

‘I am a man now.

I can eat bread at the table,

I can drink strong drink.

But I have the strength of he who roams the steppe.

I am stronger than you.

No one is stronger.

You see I catch wolves,

You see I capture lions.

Because of me the shepherds can rest at night,

Because of me the chief catlemen can lie down.

I am become the king of the sheepfold.’

And Enkidu sat at the table,

He ate the food

He drank the strong drink

He felt good in his heart.

He made merry

Then he looked up

And saw a man

He told the girl:

‘Girl, bring the man.

Why is he here?

I must know his name!’

The girl called the man,

Went to him, said to himL

‘Sir, where are you going?

Why have you taken this, your difficult course?’

The man spoke, spoke to Enkidu:

‘Into the people’s special place,,

Their very own meeting-house,

Even into it has he intruded!

Set aside rules and laws for wedlock!

On the city he heaped shame!

Strange practices he has imposed

Upon a city helpless to resist.

For the king of ramparted Uruk

Has altered the unaltered way,

Abused, changed the practices.

Any new bride from the people is his;

Gilgamesh, king of ramparted Uruk,

He may mate with any new bride.

Before the lawful husband may have her.

The gods have ordained this

In their wisdom, by their will.

It was so decreed from the moment of birth

When his umbilical cord was cut out.’

At the mans’s words

The face of Enkidu paled.

Fury grew within his heart,

His eyes became fightful to look upon

Enkidu spoke his anger,

Said to the man:

‘This cannot contine to be!

I will go to ramparted Uruk.

I will meet Gilgamesh

I will bring his excesses to an end!’

Enkidu set out for Uruk

Enkidu walked in front

The girl walked behind

When he entered ramparted Uruk

The people thronged round him

When he stopped in the street,

In Uruk of the ramparts,

Saying of him:

‘He is like Gilgamesh in form!

He is smaller in size

But stronger in bone.

He is a match for Gilgamesh!

He is the strongest of the steppe, strength is his,

Milk of wild creatures

He once sucked.

There will be endless clash of arms in Uruk!’

The nobles rejoiced:

‘Here is a hero

For all who are honourable!

To match divine Gilgamesh

Here is his equal!’

Now for the Goddess of Love

Is the bed made ready

Of the evening, ready to receive

Gilgamesh for his pleasures.

Now he is coming along

But Enkidu appears in the street

And bars his way

To Gilgamesh is opposed

The might of Enkidu

The divine Gilgamesh is face to face

With his equal, Enkidu of the steppes.

The king of ramparted Uruk

Sees his equal, who has strength,

Smaller in size, but stronger of bone

Like unto Gilgamesh to the hair.

Gilgamesh sees his shaggy growth –

On the steppe the grass

Sprouts in as much abundance

Gilgamesh drew himself up

And stood before him

In the market-place of the land

Was there they met,

And Enkidu blocked the gate

With his foot and

Would not let Gilgamesh enter

They they grappled their belts and wrestled like champions

Rushing wind meets rushing wind,

Heart to heart against –

Holding fast like bulls.

They shattered absolutely the doorpost of the holy gate

And the wall shook with this fateful act.

The doorway of the house of the family

Where the bride awaited Gilgamesh,

There they struggled.

They fought in the street,

They battled in the market.

But in the end,

Brought Enkidu to the earth,

His own foot still on the ground,

And won the contest.

His anger vanished

He turned away

But when he turned away

Enkidu said to him

Spoke to Gilgamesh:

‘As one single and unique

Your mother bore you

She the wild cow of the steerfolds,

She, Ninsun the Wise, she the Strong

You are raised above all men

You are king of the people by decree

Of Enlil, son of the Great God An!’



1. Seven cups or seven jugs (see 1988 fragment) are symbolic, representing the sacred number of the seven initiatory planets, i.e. the Moon (Nanna/Sin), Sun (Utu/Shamash), Venus (Inanna/Ishtar), Mars (Nergal), Earth, Saturn (Ninurta), Mercuri (Nabu) and Jupiter (Marduk).

2. The ‘sheepfold’ was probably a reference to the rites of the Shepherd, or the King of the Land (See Tablet IV, note 1).

3. Eating of the bread and drining of the superior form of beer constituted probably a ritual of some kind, intended to prepare a candidate to the role of king and priest, a combination that was routine these days.

4. See note 1.

A verse version of the Epic of Gilgamesh by Robert Temple, Rider, an imprint of Random Century Group Ltda, 1991, London, Sydney, Auckland, Johannerburg. All rights reserved. Here included for help in research and studies purposes

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