In the beginning there was Apsu the Primeval, and Tiāmat, who is Chaos. There were no other beings. The waters were not separated; they and the earth mingled, and there was no ground for the growth of anything. Then nothing bore name; no destinies had been ordained.
Then the Gods came into existence: Lakhmu and Lakhamu. Ages passed. Other Gods came into existence: Anshar and Kishar. Ages passed. Then Ea, Anu, and Bel came into existence.
The Gods considered how the waters might be separated from each other, how the earth might be separated from the waters, how names might be given and destinies ordained. And as the Gods considered these things, the realm of Tiāmat, the Mother of All, was made small for her. She conceived a hatred for the Gods; with Apsu she plotted the destruction of those whom she had borne.
Then, behold! Tiāmat roused up the Ancient Monsters; she spawned monsters never known before. She made ready to destroy the Gods. The Gods felt their realm shake, and they were affrighted.
Then Anshar opened his mouth and spoke to Anu, his son. He said to Anu, "Go forth and appease Tiāmat, so that the Gods may not be destroyed by her who bore them." Anu went forth. He saw the monsters that Tiāmat had formed; his heart failed him, and he turned back to the dwelling-place of the Gods. They were filled with fear when they looked upon the countenance of Anu.
Then Ea was sent forth to appease Tiāmat. He saw the Ancient Monsters that she had roused up. They were sharp of tooth and cruel of fang; they bore merciless weapons. Ea was affrighted, and he turned back to the dwelling-place of the Gods. The Gods looked upon his countenance and they were affrighted. The lesser Gods wailed bitterly, crying, "What has changed that she should conceive this hatred for us? We do not understand the evil will of Tiāmat!"
Then Marduk, his heart prompting him, rose in the assembly of the Gods. He opened his mouth and spoke, saying, "Lo, I, Marduk, will be the champion of the Gods if ye decree in your council that whatever I do shall remain unaltered, and that whatsoever my mouth speaketh shall never be changed nor made of no avail." Then the Gods said, 'Thou shalt be the chiefest among the great Gods; established shall be the words of thy mouth; irresistible shall be thy command; none of the Gods shall transgress thine ordinances! O Marduk, thou art our champion!"
They prepared for him a lordly chamber; they bestowed upon him the sceptre, the throne, and the ring. And the Gods girded weapons upon their champion: they gave him his bow and his spear; they put a club in his right hand and he grasped it; they hung a quiver by his side. He himself prepared a great net for the taking of the monsters that Tiāmat had formed and the Ancient Monsters that she had roused up.
Tiāmat raged; she was full of wrath against the Gods. With terror and with splendour she clothed her monsters so that their crested heads were lifted high. She gave them invincible weapons. With poison in. stead of blood their bodies were filled. The dwelling-places of the Gods were shaken as she gave the battle signal to her hosts, as Tiāmat uttered the spell that aroused them for battle.
Then Marduk went into his chariot; the lightning and the thunderbolt were in his hands. The Gods beheld him and knew that none could inspire such terror as he. He harnessed his four horses; he yoked them to the chariot. Ferocious, high of courage, swift of pace were Marduk's horses; moreover, they had been trained to trample enemies underfoot. They gnashed with their teeth and their bodies were flecked with foam. So Marduk went forward, and the seven winds he had created followed in his course. They were the Storm and the Hurricane; the Whirlwind, the Four-fold Wind and the Seven-fold Wind; the Wind that has no Equal, and the Wind that is called the Evil Wind. The Gods followed Marduk.
Now when Marduk neared where Tiāmat was, the movement of Tiāmat's host ceased; the monsters were affrighted by the appearance of Marduk. But Tiāmat rushed on; she uttered angry cries; with unbent neck she taunted the Gods. All things were shaken.
Marduk let loose the Evil Wind. Tiāmat's mouth was opened; the wind rushed in and filled her belly. She lay down: no more could she give battle-orders to her monsters. Marduk drove his spear through the heart of Tiāmat. He stood upon her prone body. Then, sweeping his net around, he took the monsters in his net. The whole world was filled with their cries.
He trampled on Tiāmat, and she, the Mother of All, was as a reed that is broken. With his club he shattered her skull. He cut channels for the blood to flow out of her, and he bade the winds bear her blood away into the secret places.
As a man splits a flat fish, Marduk split the body of Tiāmat. He set one half of her above as a covering for the heavens; he fixed bolts there so that the floods that are above may not be voided upon the earth, and he stationed a watchman to guard the bolts. Of the other half of Tiāmat's body he made the earth. He divided all that was made between Anu, Bel, and Ea--the Heavens, the Earth, and the Abyss. He fixed the stars in their places; he ordained the year and divided it; he caused the Moon God to shine, and he gave him the night for his portion.
Thereafter Marduk devised a plan. He opened his mouth and he spoke to Anu, Bel, and Ea. "My blood I will take and bone I will fashion; I will make man to inhabit the earth so that the service of the Gods may not fail ever." So Marduk spoke, and man began to live upon the earth.
Into the Temple where his mother dwelt Gilgamish went, and when she saw by the look upon his face that he was bent upon going on some strange journey or upon doing some terrifying deed, his mother cried out to Shamash, the Sun God, asking him why he had given her son a heart that could never keep still. And Gilgamish, hearing her cry, said to her, "Peace, O woman! I am Gilgamish, and it must be that I shall see everything, learn everything, understand everything." Then his mother said to him, "These longings are yours, O Gilgamish, because not all of you is mortal. Two-thirds of your flesh is as the flesh of the Gods and only one-third is as the flesh of men. And because of the
God's flesh that is on you, you must be always daring, always rest. less. But yet, O my son, you have not immortal life. You must die because a part of you is man. Yea, Gilgamish, even you must die, and go down into the House of Dust."
And Gilgamish, hearing his mother say this, groaned loudly, terribly; the tears flowed down his cheeks; no word that was said to him might content him. He groaned, he wept, even although in the courts of the Temple he heard the women sing:
Who is splendid among men,
Who is glorious among heroes?
And answer back, one to the other:
Gilgamish is splendid among men,
Gilgamish is glorious among heroes.
In a while he rose up and he said, "O Ninsunna, O my mother, what is it to die?"
Then Ninsunna, his mother, made answer, and said, "It is to go into the abode out of which none ever returns: it is to go into the dark abyss of the dread Goddess, Irkalla. They who dwell there are without light; the beings that are there eat of the dust and feed on the mud." So his mother said, and Gilgamish, the great king, groaned aloud, and the tears flowed down his face.
Gilgamish dwelt in Erech, and was king over the people there. The works that he did in Erech were mighty, surpassing the works of men. He built walls round the city that were an hundred cubits in thickness and in height over a hundred cubits. He built towers that were higher than any that men had builded before. He built great ships that went upon the great sea. All these things he did because Gilgamish had a restless heart. But the people of Erech groaned because of the labours he laid upon them; they groaned and sent up prayers to the Gods.
The Gods harkened to the prayers of the people of Erech; they said in the Council of the Gods, "Behold, Gilgamish lays upon the people labours that crush them. The life goes out of them, and they no longer can offer sacrifice to the Gods. He lays these labours upon them because he alone is mighty in the world. But if we make one who is mightier than he, Gilgamish will be abashed when he sees that one, and no longer will he think that he is lord of all; then will he not engage in labours that give his people no rest."
The Gods called upon the Goddess Aruru. And Aruru considered in her heart how she would make one who was mightier than Gilgamish. Thereafter she washed her hands and she took clay and mixed her spittle into it. And Aruru made a being, a living male creature that was in the likeness of the God Anu. His body was covered all over with hair so that he appeared to be clothed in leaves. The Gods named him Enkidu, and they gave him the wild places of the earth for his portion.
And Enkidu, mighty in stature, invincible in strength, lived in these wild places. Gilgamish passed through the land he dwelt in, but saw him not. Gilgamish passed through the land to make war upon Khumbaba who dwelt in the country where the forests of cedars are. Those who went with him were struck with awe when they saw the cedars in their height and in their closeness of growth together; they were worn out because of their journey and the fear that possessed them, and they prayed to the Gods to deliver them from under the hand of a king who had a heart that was so restless. They came upon Khumbaba whose voice was like the roar of a storm, whose breath was like a gale of wind. They fought the armies of Khumbaba, these soldiers of Gilgamish, and Gilgamish himself fought Khumbaba and with his own hand slew him. And then Gilgamish and his army passed through the country where Enkidu maintained himself, but they saw not Enkidu. And Enkidu, mighty in stature, invincible in strength, drank the water that the wild cattle drank and ate the herbs that the gazelles lived on; he was a friend to the wild beasts and he knew not the faces of men.
Now when Gilgamish returned to Erech, his city, after having overthrown Khumbaba, he heard the women in his palace sing:
Who is splendid among men,
Who is glorious among heroes?
And he heard the women answer back, one to the other:
Gilgamish is splendid among men,
Gilgamish is glorious among heroes.
But he remembered what had been told him about the House of Dust and the Abyss of the Goddess Irkala; he groaned, and the tears coursed down his face.
Below the forest of cedars dwelt a hunter, a young man who dug pits and laid nets for the wild beasts that were upon the mountains. One day, expecting to find many wild beasts in his pits and his nets, he went to them, but behold! the pits he had digged were filled up and the nets he had laid were torn; also the prey had been taken out of the nets and the pits. Then the young man, the hunter, went up the mountain, and coming nigh a pit he had made he watched, for he saw something at the pit. He saw the shoulders and the head of a man. And he watched the man come out of the pit, and he had upon his shoulders a gazelle that had fallen into it. And behold! the man went to where a company of gazelles stood waiting, and they were not fearful of the man. He laid down the gazelle he carried, and the gazelle joined the company of gazelles. Then the man went back and filled up the pit with earth, and went with great strides towards the forest. The young man, the hunter, saw that he was all naked and covered with hair; and that the hair on his head was long and like a woman's. The hunter was affrighted, and he went from the place. He came upon others of the pits he had digged, and they were all filled up; there was no creature near any of them, nor was there one under any of the nets he had laid.
Then was the hunter made anxious. He said within himself, "What shall become of me? I till no land, and I know of no way of living save by my nets and my pits! But if the creatures that have been snared are taken out of my pits and from under my nets, what shall I do to find food for myself and my parents?" He wept as he spoke thus to himself, and, carrying no beast, he went back to the hut where his father was.
His father heard what the young man said and considered it. "This is one who is friendly to the beasts and knows not the faces of men," he said. "What he has done he will do again and yet again, and there will be no prey left for us in the pits or under the nets. Therefore, we must have him led away from this place. Often have you brought beasts to the Temple in Erech to be sacrificed there to Anu and Ishtar and the rest of the Gods. Go to that city and into the place of the mighty Gilgamish, and have those in the Temple give you a woman of the Temple to go with you. And when the one who has not seen the faces of men sees the face of the woman of the Temple, and sees her take off her veil, he will be amazed; he will go to the woman of the Temple, and she will speak with him and will draw him from this place."
The young man, the hunter, did as his father instructed him: he went into Erech, the city that Gilgamish ruled over, and he went within the Temple. He spoke to Ninsunna, the mother of Gilgamish. And having heard what he had to tell, the mother of Gilgamish brought to him a woman of the Temple; she put the woman's hand in the hunter's hand, and the young man brought the woman out of that place and into the mountainous region where he had looked upon Enkidu.
It was then that Ishtar the Goddess stood before Gilgamish in her terrible beauty. She said unto him, "Thou, O Gilgamish, shalt be my man; I shall be thy woman. Thou shalt come into my house, and those who sit upon the thrones shall kiss thy feet. Gifts from the mountain and the lowland shall be laid before thee. I shall make to be harnessed for thee a chariot of lapis-lazuli and gold; the wheels of it shall be gold and the horns upon it shall be precious stones. Thou shalt harness to it mighty horses; they shall prance proudly; there shall be no horses like unto the horses that shall be under thy yoke. All these things shall be for thee when, with perfume of cedar upon thee, thou shalt come into my house."
Gilgamish made answer to the Goddess; in wrath he spoke to Ishtar, the Beautiful One, the Terrible One, answering her: "Thy lovers have perished. Thy love is like to a door that letteth in the storm. Thy love is like a fortress that falls upon and crushes the warriors within it. The lover of thy youth, Tammuz, even he, was destroyed; destroyed are all the men whom thou hadst to do with. The creatures who come under thine influence rejoice, but they rejoice for a while only: the wing of the bird is broken through thee; the lion is destroyed; the horse is driven to death. Thou sayst thou lovest me, Ishtar. Loved by thee I should fare as they have fared."
When Ishtar heard the words that Gilgamish spoke she was filled With wrath. She left the place where he was. She meditated evil against him. In a while she made a fire-breathing bull and sent it down into Erech to destroy Gilgamish and Gilgamish's people.
The young man, the hunter, went back into the mountain regions where he had digged pits before and spread his nets. He brought the woman of the Temple with him. He made her to sit nigh the place where the wild beasts came to drink; he bade her draw to her the wild man if he should come to drink with the beasts.
Then the hunter went away. The Temple woman sat by the pool, plaiting the tresses of her hair. One by one the beasts came to drink, but finding there the scent of a human creature they went away.
At last Enkidu, the wild man, came down to the pool. He did not have the power of scent that the beasts had. He went into the drinking-place and he filled his palms with water, and he raised them up to his mouth, and he drank. The Temple woman saw him there in his great stature, with the hair on his head long and flowing as if it were a woman's, and the hair on his skin making him look as if he were dressed in leaves. She called out; she spoke, and Enkidu heard her voice.
He saw her; she held her arms out to him; she took off her veil. Then Enkidu was astonished. He went towards her, and she took his hand, and she led him away. He came under the spell of the Temple woman's beauty; he would not leave her, but stayed where she stayed at the edge of the forest. On the sixth day he rose up and went away from where she stayed. His heart had become hungry to look upon the wild beasts whose friend he had been. He went towards where the companies of gazelles were. The gazelles fled from him. He went to where the wild cattle grazed, and the wild cattle fled as soon as he came near to them. He went to where the panthers were, and the panthers bounded away when he came near to them. Then Enkidu was sore in his heart. He cried out, "Why do my friends, the beasts, forsake me?" He did not know that the beasts had wind of another human creature in the wind that was from him. Wherever he went the beasts fled from him. Then Enkidu was made ashamed; his knees gave way under him; he swooned away from shame.
When he rose up again he went back to where the Temple woman stayed, and the beasts still fled before him. The Temple woman waited for him; she smiled upon him; she held out her arms to him, and spoke flattering words to him. He stayed with her and she spoke to him of Erech, and of the Temple, and of Gilgamish the Mighty. At last she led him with her to Erech, Gilgamish's city.
It was then that Gilgamish had his struggle with the fire-breathing bull that Ishtar, in her anger, had sent against him and his people. Multitudes of the inhabitants of the city had been destroyed by the bull. Gilgamish--even he--was not able to prevail against the Bull of Heaven. He lodged an arrow in the neck of the bull. Still it came on against him, and Gilgamish had to flee from before it.
And the bull came upon the way along which Enkidu was coming with the woman of the Temple. He laid his hands against the front of the bull, and held it. Then Gilgamish came and delivered mighty blows between its horns and its neck, and when the bull would have trampled upon him, Enkidu, with his mighty strength, pulled it backwards. Gilgamish with Enkidu attacked the bull again. Long they fought against the fury of the fire-breathing bull, but at length the two of them slew Ishtar's mighty creature.
The Goddess appeared upon the battlements and cursed them for having destroyed the Bull of Heaven. And Enkidu, fearless before Gods and before men, tore the flesh from the side of the bull and threw it at the feet of Ishtar. The Goddess and all the women of the Temple made lamentations over the portion of the bull that had been flung up to them.
But Gilgamish called together the people of the city. He showed them the creature that had been slain. They looked, and they marvelled at the size of the horns, for they were horns that could hold six measures of oil. Gilgamish took the horns of the Bull of Heaven to the Temple of the God Lugalbanda, and he hung them before the seat of the God. He made friends with Enkidu. And he and Enkidu went down to the river Euphrates, and there they washed, and they came back and they stood in the market-place. All men marvelled at the stature and power of these two, Gilgamish and Enkidu. Gilgamish took Enkidu to his palace; he gave him the raiment of a king to put on; he gave him a chair, and he had him sit on his left side; he gave him food fit for the Gods to eat, and wine fit for a king to drink. These two mighty men became friends, and they loved each other exceedingly.
Together Gilgamish and Enkidu hunted; together they made war; the lion and the panther of the desert fell to their bows and spears. And at last the people of Erech had rest from their labours, for no longer did Gilgamish make them weary raising great buildings, and they had peace, for no longer did he bring them to make war upon the people of far lands.
A time came when Enkidu longed for the life of the forest. Thither he went. And Gilgamish, when he knew that his friend has gone from Erech, put on coarse attire; he arrayed himself in the skin of a lion, and he pursued Enkidu. And Enkidu was glad because of this, for he knew that his friend, the noble Gilgamish, would not forsake him. Together they lived in the forest; they hunted together and they became more and more dear to each other.
Later Enkidu had a dream that terrified him. He dreamt that there were thunderings in the heavens and quakings in the earth. He dreamt that a being came before him and gripped him in talons that were the talons of an eagle, and carried him down into a dread abyss. There Enkidu saw creatures that had been kings when they were upon the earth; he saw shadowy beings offering sacrifices to the Gods. He saw in the House of Dust priests and magicians and prophets dwelling. He saw there Bêlit-sêri who writes down the deeds done upon the earth.
Enkidu was terrified; he knew not the meaning of the dream that had come to him. To Ninsunna he went, and he told her his dream. She wept when she heard him tell it. But she would not tell him the meaning that it had.
Thereafter Enkidu lay down on the well-decked bed that Gilgamish, his friend, had given him. He groaned upon his bed. Gilgamish came to comfort him, but Enkidu, although he had joy of Gilgamish's coming, could not banish from his heart the thing that had been shown him in his dream. For ten days he lay upon his bed with Gilgamish beside him. In two days more his sickness became more grievous. Then Enkidu lay silent, and Ninsunna said to her son, "Now is Enkidu dead."
Long gazed Gilgamish upon Enkidu, his friend in the palace, his companion in the hunt upon the mountains and in the forest, his brave ally in his fight against the Bull of Heaven. Long gazed Gilgamish upon his friend lying there. Then Gilgamish said:
"What kind of sleep is this that is upon
"Thou starest out blankly and hearest me not.
"Shall this sleep be upon Gilgamish also? Shall I lie down and be as Enkidu?
"Sorrow hath entered into my soul.
"Because of the fear of death that hath come upon me my heart is restless; I shall go; I shall wander through the lands."
Then Gilgamish touched the breast of his friend, and he found that the heart in his breast was still. Tenderly, as though leaving it over a bride, Gilgamish laid the covering over Enkidu. He turned away; he roared in his grief as a lion or as a lioness robbed of her young. And when his roarings had ceased, his mother said to him, "What dost thou desire, my son, and what is it that will quiet the grief and the restless. ness that are in thine heart?"
Gilgamish said to her, "My desire is to escape death which hath taken hold of Enkidu, my friend."
His mother said, "Only one hath escaped death; the one is Uta-Napishtim the Remote, thine ancestor."