A Sacred Friendship Forged, The Plot to Conquer Humbaba
Columns I - VI
Column I
Then Enkidu and Gilgamesh joined in
sacred friendship and sealed their solemn
bond with noble kiss.
Column II
Enkidu and Gilgamesh often sat then together,
visited Ninsun's shrine, conversed
of many plans and fashioned a future together.
Once, informed by fears of
future sorrow, Enkidu began
to weep and warn his friend of

Domestication of Enkidu

10. coming horror. He said:
"If we go there beyond here to where
Humbaba-the-awful lives,
there will be a gruesome war
in a place no one calls home,
where no one wants to stay for long
or go to rest or rest to gain
the strength to reach the forests."
The Great One rose within
and robed herself appropriately
Gilgamesh and Huwawa (version A) or Humbaba
Gilgamesh and Huwawa (version B)
20. covering herself,
ringing her curls beneath her crown
to ascend the altar, where she stood
lighting the first signals of charcoal for the incense
and preparing sacred cups that hold the
precious liquids which will be spilled.
Then Ninsun asked Shamash: (Sun God)
Why have you called my only son away
and shaped his mind in so disturbed a way?
30. For now, he says, you invite him to begin a
pilgrimage that ends where Humbaba
directs a never ending battle,
along a foreign, lonely road
far within the forests dark and damp
where a man like him might just kill
a god like Humbaba or be killed
to dissolve the pain that you, Shamash, oppose."
Column III
Humbaba stirs within the darkened wood
and in the hearts of men there rises fear.
40. When Enkidu spoke at last to Gilgamesh
he said these words of warning:
"I knew this monster's reputation long ago.
Fire and death mix in his breath,
and I for one do not wish now
to challenge such a demon."
But Gilgamesh retorted: "All glory
will be ours if now we conquer
this unprecedented foe and risk the
woe that frightens others."
50. And Enkidu said then in swift reply:
"How shall we go towards woods
so fiercely guarded?"
Column IV
Enlil it was who sent Humbaba there
to scare away intruders with fierce
and frightening howls. Great Gilgamesh
remembered that when he spoke words like these
to Enkidu: "Only gods live forever
with Shamash, my friend; for even our
longest days are numbered. Why worry over
60. being like dust in the wind? Leap up for
this great threat. Fear not. Even if I were
to fail and fall in combat,
all future clans would say I did the job."
Special weapons then were ordered to be made
for their assault upon Humbaba.
Axes, swords, and combat saddles were prepared
and all of Uruk's population flocked round
their great departure.
Column V
The awful monster's reputation
70. made Uruk's gentle people fear
for their great king. And after
all the plans were made to start
out to fight Humbaba, a group
came forward to see the king.
The elders spoke to Gilgamesh:
"Fear the force that you control, hot-headed boy;
Be sure you watch where you direct
your every, heavy swing in battle.
Vanguards protect.
80. Friends save friends.
Let Enkidu lead on the way
through forests that he knows.
He knows how to fight in woodlands;
he knows where to pick his fight.
Enkidu will shield his bosom too
as well as that of his companion
so as to protect them both.
He'll traverse any ditch of any width.
Enkidu will guard our king.
90. Be sure to bring him safely back."
Gilgamesh said to Enkidu:
"Arise, my other self, and speed your way to Egalmah
to where my mother sits, kind Ninsun.
She understands all I need to know.
She'll tell us where we should go and what to do."
Again the men embraced as teammates do.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu set out to Egalmah.
Column VI
Upset by all his thoughts of coming battles
and concerned by his consultations with the gods,
100. Gilgamesh then sadly set his palace rooms in order.
His weapons were prepared, his helmet shined
and garments freshly cleaned.
Citizens of Uruk came to say good-bye and
wish their daring king farewell.
"Go careful through this risky, bold adventure,
mighty lord. Be sure of your own safety first of all."
So spoke the elders of his town and then continued:
"Let Enkidu take risks for you and have him
lead the way through woods he knows so well.
110. Pray that Shamash show him, as your guide,
the nearest path and choicest route to
where you dare to go.
May great Lugalbanda favor you in combat with Humbaba."
Then Enkidu himself spoke finally to his king:
"The time is right for us to now depart.
Follow me, sir, along the savage way
to where a worthy opponent,
the awful beast Humbaba,
waits for your challenge in the
120. dark woodlands that he guards.
Do not fear this. Rely on me
in every matter for your most and let me act
as careful guide for you most daring venture."
Tablet I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII
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