The Epic of Gilgamesh


Tablet IX


Over his friend, Enkidu, Gilgamesh cried bitterly, roaming the wilderness.
   "I am going to die!--am I not like Enkidu?!
   Deep sadness penetrates my core,
   I fear death, and now roam the wilderness--
   I will set out to the region of Utanapishtim, son of Ubartutu,
                 and will go with utmost dispatch!
   When I arrived at mountain passes at nightfall,'
   I saw lions, and I was terrified!
   I raised my head in prayer to Sin,
   to ... the Great Lady of the gods my supplications poured
                     forth, 'Save me from... !"'
He was sleeping in the night, but awoke with a start with a dream:
A warrior(!) enjoyed his life--
he raised his axe in his hand,
drew the dagger from his sheath,
and fell into their midst like an arrow.
He struck ... and he scattered them,
The name of the former ...
The name of the second ...

(26 lines are missing here, telling of the beginning of his quest.]

The Scorpion-Beings
The mountain is called Mashu.
Then he reached Mount Mashu,
which daily guards the rising and setting of the Sun,
above which only the dome of the heavens reaches,
and whose flank reaches as far as the Netherworld below,
there were Scorpion-beings watching over its gate.
Trembling terror they inspire, the sight of them is death,
their frightening aura sweeps over the mountains.
At the rising and setting they watch over the Sun.
When Gilgamesh saw them, trembling terror blanketed his face,
but he pulled himself together and drew near to them.
The scorpion-being called out to his female:
   "He who comes to us, his body is the flesh of gods!"
The scorpion-being, his female, answered him:
   "(Only) two-thirds of him is a god, one-third is human."
The male scorpion-being called out,
saying to the offspring of the gods:
   "Why have you traveled so distant a journey?
   Why have you come here to me,
   over rivers whose crossing is treacherous!
   I want to learn your ...
   I want to learn ..."

[16 lines are missing here. When the text resumes Gilgamesh is speaking.]

   "I have come on account of my ancestor Utanapishtim,
   who joined the Assembly of the Gods, and was given eternal life.
   About Death and Life I must ask him!"
The scorpion-being spoke to Gilgamesh ..., saying:
   "Never has there been, Gilgamesh, a mortal man who could do that(?).
   No one has crossed through the mountains,
   for twelve leagues it is darkness throughout--
   dense is the darkness, and light there is none.
To the rising of the sun ...
To the setting of the sun ...
To the setting of the sun ...
They caused to go out..."

[67 lines are missing, in which Gilgamesh convinces the scorpion-being to allow him
passage.]

   "Though it be in deep sadness and pain,
   in cold or heat ...
   gasping after breath ... I will go on!
   Now! Open the Gate!"
The scorpion-being spoke to Gilgamesh, saying:
   "Go on, Gilgamesh, fear not!
   The Mashu mountains I give to you freely (!),
   the mountains, the ranges, you may traverse ...
   In safety may your feet carry you.
   The gate of the mountain ..."
   To the rising of the sun ...
To the setting of the sun ...
To the setting of the sun ...
They caused to go out..."

[67 lines are missing, in which Gilgamesh convinces the scorpion-being to allow him
passage.]

   "Though it be in deep sadness and pain,
   in cold or heat ...
   gasping after breath ... I will go on!
   Now! Open the Gate!"
The scorpion-being spoke to Gilgamesh, saying:
   "Go on, Gilgamesh, fear not!
   The Mashu mountains I give to you freely (!),
   the mountains, the ranges, you may traverse ...
   In safety may your feet carry you.
   The gate of the mountain ..."
As soon as Gilgamesh heard this
he heeded the utterances of the scorpion-being.
Along the Road of the Sun L he journeyed--
one league he traveled ...,
dense was the darkness, light there was none.
Neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.
Two leagues he traveled ...,
dense was the darkness, light there was none,
neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.

[22 lines are missing here.]

Four leagues he traveled ...,
dense was the darkness, light there was none,
neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.
Five leagues he traveled ...,
dense was the darkness, light there was none,
neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.
Six leagues he traveled ...,
dense was the darkness, light there was none,
neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.
Seven leagues he traveled ..
dense was the darkness, light there was none,
neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.
Eight leagues he traveled and cried out (!),
dense was the darkness, light there was none,
neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.
Nine leagues he traveled ... the North Wind.
It licked at his face,
dense was the darkness, light there was none,
neither what lies ahead nor behind does it allow him to see.
Ten leagues he traveled ...
... is near,
... four leagues.
Eleven leagues he traveled and came out before the sun(rise).
Twelve leagues he traveled and it grew brilliant.
...it bears lapis lazuli as foliage,
  bearing fruit, a delight to look upon.

  (25 lines are missing here, describing the garden in detail.]

  ... cedar
  ... agate
  ... of the sea ... lapis lazuli,
  like thorns and briars ... carnelian,
 rubies, hematite,...
  like... emeralds (!)
  ... of the sea,
  Gilgamesh ... on walking onward,
 raised his eyes and saw ...

Tablet X
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