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Mesopotamia / Religion /
Mesopotamian texts /
Gilgamesh
Tablet 5

Detailed articleArticle with explanations


Column 1
Gilgamesh and Enkidu froze and stared into the woods'
great depth and height. When they spied
Humbaba's path, they found the opening toward
straight passage. Then they were able to find and see
the home of the gods, the paradise of Ishtar's other self,
called Imini-most-attra'ctive.
All beauty true is ever there
where gods do dwell, where there is
cool shade and harmony and
10. sweet-odored food to match their mood.

Column 2
Missing.

Column 3
Then Gilgamesh envisioned yet again
another dream
high up in the hills where boulders crashed.
Again Enkidu said to his brother,
as he unraveled this dreary story for his king:
"Brother, your song is a fine omen.
This dream will make you well.
Brother, that vision you saw is rich
20. for on that mountain top
we can capture Humbaba and
hurl his earthly form from
towering cliffs through sky to
earth, making his shape
as flat and wide as it is round and high."
"Mountain, mountain in the sky,
Break the god and make him die."

Column 4
Mountain-on-high then sent the myth into Enkidu's sleep,
and a chill from the high winds forced him to rest,
30. since he was blown around as grain is on open field.
Curled up in a ball, Gilgamesh rested
in blessed sleep, the best of friends at the worst of times.
But by the moon's half way course, he rose
and then began to speak:
"Brother, if you made no noise, what sound woke me?
If you didn't jostle me, what shook my body?
There was no god nearby, so why am I so stunned?
Brother, I've had a third vision in sleep
and I am deeply frightened to recall it all.
40. Sky screamed. And Mother Earth moaned.
Sun went out of light and blackest night
enveloped the heavens.
Then came flashes of lightning, source of fire.
Storm clouds raced nearby and swept all life away
from out of the sky above our heads.
Brightness dissolved, light evaporated;
cinders turned to ash.
When we leave the mountain, this is what we will remember."
When Enkidu learned this myth as told,
50. he replied to Gilgamesh:
"Shamash, your god, creates a great attraction
for both of us. Shamash now approves
of this attack upon Humbaba. Take the sign
as some divine dream to urge us on."
Shamash himself said such words to Gilgamesh
as if in prayer:
"Do not balk now, favored one.
Brace yourself for battle and proceed."
Heavenly winds blasted down from out of the sky
60. about and all around Humbaba. From east and
west, with sand and grain, they blew him
back and forth. His giant self became
fatigued. His awesome strength dwindled.
Not even his great right foot could step away in flight.
So in this way, by Shamash's intervention,
Humbaba-the-awful beast was brought so low.

Column 5
Missing.

Column 6
The dying beast called out for mercy once
and part of what he said could still be heard over the howling winds:
"Please, Gilgamesh! Have mercy on me, wounded.
70. I shall freely give you all the lumber of my mighty realm
and work for you both day and night."
It was Enkidu then who shouted louder
than the beast and with his words he
urged a swift conclusion:
"Kill the beast now, Gilgamesh. Show
no weak or silly mercy toward so sly a foe."
Taking his companionís mean advice, Gilgamesh
seiftly cut the beast, splattering blood upon
his cloak and sandals then. Soiled by this
80. violent conflict, the friends began their
journey back to Urukís towering walls
expecting now to be received as heroes who
had fought and won a legendary battle.



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