The Death of Enkidu
Columns I, III, IV
Column I
Enkidu confessed this dream to Gilgamesh:
"The gods all gathered round last night
and Anu told Enlil that one of us should die
because of what we've done against their names.
Though Shamash intervened for us,
saying we had slain Humbaba and the bull
with his consent, the others sought revenge."
Then Enkidu fell ill and soon lost his full strength.
Saying words like these as his friend lay dying,
10. Gilgamesh intoned:
"Why should you be so condemned and why should
I go right on living?
Will my own sad eyes soon never look on you again?
Shall I descend to depths beneath
this earth to visit worlds reserved
for those who've died?"
Enkidu glanced up, addressing the entryway
on which his hand was morbidly crushed:
"Door of all forests, that confuses wind and rain,
20. deaf, dumb, and blind portal;
I admired your firm texture
before I first saw the mighty trees
aloft that gave force to you.
There is nothing on earth that could replace
your splendor or your worth.
At two hundred feet in height, at forty feet around are
your mighty posts, your priceless hinge
cut and crafted in Nippur's holy ground.
if I had guessed that you'd become this,
30. I would have shattered you to pieces
with my ax and have been more careful not
to wound my hand so badly on your frame."
Column III
Then cursing the hunter whom he first met
and the girl whom he first loved, Enkidu raged:
"Slash him. Cut half his face.
Raise up floods beneath his feet
so that no animal is safe."
And at his sacred, former lover Enkidu did swear:
"Get up, witch, and hear your fortune
40. guaranteed now and forever.
I damn you off and damn you down.
I'd break your teeth with stones and let
your mouth hang open
until you'd say thanks to your killer
who would favor you by letting you
lie homeless on an open road
in some foul ditch.
May all and any who can hurt you now
often cross the paths you take.
50. I hope you live in fright, unsure of hope
and starved always for the touch of love.
food and drink almost divine
so that you were taken for a god.
The fine lover, my thoughtless boy, invested you
with robes of gold, robes of blue
60. and, more important, gave your dear friend
the thought that he should do whatever need
be done and still more too.
Did your brother, Gilgamesh, give you as fine a bed
as any on earth or any there in heaven?
Did he promote the likes of you to fame
unrivaled, so that rulers kneel to kiss
the ground you walk upon?
He will also show the Uruk people how to mourn for you.
An entire people will cry upon your death
70. and he will go in tears
ignoring the dirt and dust and mud
that stain his hands and hair.
So in despair will his mind be
as off he roams in lonely woods wearing rags."
Shamash responded from on high:
"The fine lover, my Enkidu, is cursed by you
who gave you bread and meat and stew,
the same who offered you some wine,
Shamash responded from on high:
"The fine lover, my Enkidu, is cursed by you
who gave you bread and meat and stew,
the same who offered you some wine,
When Enkidu heard these sad words
he was speechless and in his heart
he knew that Shamash spoke the truth.
His anger fled and Enkidu resolved
to die in peace.
Column IV
80. With these last words the dying Enkidu did pray
and say to his beloved companion:
"In dreams last night
the heavens and the earth poured
out great groans while I alone
stood facing devastation. Some fierce
and threatening creature flew down at me
and pushed me with its talons toward
the horror-filled house of death
wherein lrkalla, queen of shades,
90. stands in command.
There is darkness which lets no person
again see light of day.
There is a road leading away from
bright and lively life.
There dwell those who eat dry dust
and have no cooling water to quench their awful thirst.
As I stood there I saw all those who've died
and even kings among those darkened souls
have none of their remote and former glory.
100. All earthly greatness was forfeit
and I entered then into the house of death.
Others who have been there long
did rise to welcome me."
Hearing this, great Gilgamesh said to his handsome mother:
"My friend, dear Enkidu, has seen his passing now
and he lies dying here upon a sad and lonely cot.
Each day he weakens more and wonders how much more
life may yet belong to his hands and eyes and tongue."
Then Enkidu resumed his last remarks and said:
110. "Oh Gilgamesh, some destiny has robbed me
of the honor fixed for those who die in battle.
I lie now in slow disgrace, withering day by day,
deprived as I am of the peace that comes to one
who dies suddenly in a swift clash of arms."
Tablet I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII
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