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The Epic of Gilgamish, tr. by R. Campbell Thompson [1928], at



Column I.

(The Cause of the Flood).

 2Gilgamish unto him spake, to Uta-Napishtim the Distant:
"Uta-Napishtim, upon thee I gaze, (yet) in no wise thy presence
Strange is, (for) thou art like me, and in no wise different art thou;
5.Thou art like me; (yea) a stomach for fighting doth make thee consummate,
[Aye, and to rest (?)] on thy back thou dost lie. [O tell me (?)], how couldst thou
Stand in th’ Assemblage of Gods to petition for life (everlasting)?"

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Uta-Napishtim (addressing him thus) unto Gilgamish answer'd:
"Gilgamish, I unto thee will discover the (whole) hidden story,
10.Aye, and the rede of the Gods will I tell thee.
                                         The City Shurippak 1
(O ’tis) a city thou knowest!—is set [on the marge] of Euphrates,
Old is this city, with gods in its midst. (Now), the great gods a deluge
Purposed to bring: . . . . . . there was Anu, their sire; their adviser
Warrior Enlil; Ninurta 2, their herald; their leader(?) Ennugi;
Nin-igi-azag—’tis Ea—, (albeit) conspirator with them,
20.Unto a reed-hut their counsel betray’d he: "O Reed-hut, O Reed-hut!
Wall, wall! Hearken, O Reed-hut, consider, O Wall! O thou Mortal,
Thou of Shurippak, thou scion of Ubara-Tutu, a dwelling
25.Pull down, (and) fashion a vessel (therewith); abandon possessions,
Life do thou seek, (and) thy hoard disregard, and save life; every creature
Make to embark in the vessel. The vessel, which thou art to fashion,
30.Apt be its measure; its beam and its length be in due correspondence,
(Then) [on] the deep do thou launch it." And I—sooth, I apprehending,
(This wise) to Ea, my lord, did I speak: '[See], Lord, what thou sayest
35.Thus, do I honour, I'll do—(but) to city, to people, and elders
Am I, forsooth, to explain?' (Then) Ea made answer in speaking,
Saying to me—me, his henchman!—'Thou mortal, shalt speak to them this wise:
"’Tis me alone (?) whom Enlil so hateth that I in your city
40.No (more) may dwell, nor turn my face unto the land which is Enlil's.
[I will go] down to the Deep, (there) dwelling with Ea, my [liege] lord,
(Wherefore) [on] you will he shower down plenty, yea, fowl [in great number(?)],
45.Booty of fish . . . . [and big] the harvest.
. . . . . . . . causing a plentiful rainfall (?) to come down upon you."' 3


[(Then) when something] of morning had dawn’d . . . .

(Five lines mutilated).

55.Pitch did the children 4 provide, (while) the strong brought [all] that was needful.
(Then) on the fifth day (after) I laid out the 5 shape (of my vessel),
Ten gar each was the height of her sides, in accord with her planning(?),
Ten gar to match was the size of her deck (?), and the shape of the forepart (?)

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60.Did I lay down, (and) the same did I fashion; (aye), six times cross-pinn’d her,
Sevenfold did I divide her . . . ., divided her inwards
Ninefold: hammer’d the caulking within her, (and) found me a quant-pole,
65.(All) that was needful I added; the hull with six 1 shar of bitumen
Smear’d I, (and) three shar of pitch [did I smear] on the inside; some people,
Bearing a vessel of grease, three shar of it brought (me); (and) one shar
(Out of this) grease did I leave, which the tackling (?) consumed; (and) the boatman
70.Two shar of grease stow’d away; (yea), beeves for the . . . I slaughter’d,
Each day lambs did I slay: mead, beer, oil, wine, too, the workmen
[Drank] as though they were water 2, and made a great feast like the New Year,

(Five mutilated lines "I added salve for the hand(s)," "the vessel was finish’d . . . Shamash the great." "was difficult," " . . ? I caused to bring above and below," "two-thirds of it"):


80.[All I possess’d I] laded aboard her; the silver I laded
All I possess'd; gold, all I possess’d I laded aboard her,
All I possess’d of the seed of all living [I laded aboard] her.
Into the ship I embark’d all my kindred and family (with me),
85.Cattle (and) beasts of the field (and) all handicraftsmen embarking.
(Then) decreed Shamash the hour: " . . . . (?)
Shall in the night let a plentiful rainfall(?) pour down . . . . 2
(Then) do thou enter the vessel, and (straightway) shut down thy hatchway."
90. 3Came (then) that hour (appointed), . . . . . . (?)
Did in the night let a plentiful rainfall(?) pour down . . . . (?)
View’d I the aspect of day: to look on the day bore a horror,
(Wherefore) I enter’d the vessel, and (straightway) shut down my hatchway,
(So, too) to shut down the vessel to Puzur-Amurri (?), the boatman,
95.Did I deliver the poop (of the ship), besides its equipment.


      (Then), when something of dawn had appear’d, from out the horizon
Rose a cloud darkling; (lo), Adad (the storm-god) was rumbling within it,
100.Nabu and Sharru were leading the vanguard, and coming as heralds
Over the hills and the levels: (then) Irragal wrench’d out the bollards;
Havoc Ninurta let loose as he came, th’ Anunnaki their torches
105.Brandish’d, and shrivell’d the land with their flames; desolation from Adad
Stretch’d to (high) Heaven, (and) all that was bright was turn’d into darkness.

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(Four lines mutilated "the land like . . .," "for one day the st[orm] . . ., " "fiercely blew . . . . " "like a battle . . . ").

Nor could a brother distinguish his brother; from heaven were mortals
Not to be spied. O, were stricken with terror the gods at the Deluge,
Fleeing, they rose to the Heaven of Anu, and crouch’d in the outskirts,
115.Cow 'ring like curs were the gods (while) like to a woman in travail
Ishtar did cry, she shrieking aloud, (e’en) the sweet-spoken Lady
(She of the gods): 'May that day turn to dust, because I spake evil
120.(There) in th’ Assemblage of Gods! O, how could I utter (such) evil
(There) in the Assemblage of Gods, (so) to blot out my people, ordaining
Havoc! Sooth, then, am I to give birth, unto (these) mine own people
Only to glut (with their bodies) the Sea as though they were fish-spawn?'
125.Gods—Anunnaki—wept with her, the gods were sitting (all) humbled,
(Aye), in (their) weeping, (and) closed were their lips amid(?)]the Assemblage.
Six days, a 1 se’nnight the hurricane, deluge, (and) tempest continued
Sweeping the land: when the seventh day came, were quelléd the warfare,
130.Tempest (and) deluge which like to an army embattail’d were fighting.
Lull’d was the sea, (all) spent was the gale, assuaged was the deluge,
(So) did I look on the day; (lo), sound was (all) still’d; and all human
Back to (its) clay was return’d, and fen was level with roof-tree.
135.(Then) I open’d a hatchway, and down on my cheek stream’d the sunlight,
Bowing myself, I sat weeping, my tears o’er my cheek(s) overflowing,
Into the distance I gazed, to the furthest bounds of the Ocean,
140.Land was uprear’d at twelve (points), and the Ark on the Mountain of Nisir
Grounded; the Mountain of Nisir held fast, nor gave lease to her 2 shifting.
One day, (nay,) two, did Nisir hold fast, nor give lease to her shifting.
Three days, (nay), four, did Nisir hold fast, nor give lease to her shifting,
Five days, (nay,) six, did Nisir hold fast, nor give lease to her shifting.
145.(Then), when the seventh day dawn’d, I put forth a dove, and released (her),
(But) to and fro went the dove, and return’d (for) a resting-place was not.
150 (Then) I a swallow put forth and released; to and fro went the swallow,
She (too) return’d, (for) a resting-place was not; I put forth a raven,
Her, (too,) releasing; the raven went, too, and th’ abating of waters
Saw; and she ate as she waded (and) splash’d, (unto me) not returning.
155.Unto the four winds (of heaven) I freed (all the beasts), and an off’ring
Sacrificed, and a libation I pour’d on the peak of the mountain,
Twice seven flagons devoting, (and) sweet cane, (and) cedar, and myrtle,

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160.Heap’d up beneath them; the gods smelt the savour, the gods the sweet savour
Smelt; (aye,) the gods did assemble like flies o’er him making the off’ring.
Then, on arriving, the Queen (of the gods) the magnificent jewels
Lifted on high, which Anu had made in accord with her wishes;
'O ye Gods! I will (rather) forget (this) my necklet of sapphires,
165.Than not maintain these days in remembrance, nor ever forget them.
(So), though (the rest of) the gods may present themselves at the off’ring,
Enlil (alone of the gods) may (himself) not come to the off’ring,
Because he, unreasoning, brought on a deluge, and therefore my people
Unto destruction consign’d.'
                           170.Then Enlil, on his arrival,
Spied out the vessel, and (straightway) did Enlil burst into anger,
Swollen with wrath ’gainst the gods, the Igigi 1: 'Hath any of mortals
’Scaped? Sooth, never a man could have lived through (the welter of) ruin.'
(Then) did Ninurta make answer and speak unto warrior Enlil,
175.Saying: 'O, who can there be to devise such a plan, except Ea?
Surely, ’tis Ea is privy to ev’ry design.' Whereat Ea
Answer’d and spake unto Enlil, the warrior, saying: 'O chieftain
Thou of the gods, thou warrior! How, forsooth, how (all) uncounsell’d
150.Couldst thou a deluge bring on? (Aye,) visit his sin on the sinner
Visit his guilt on the guilty, (but) O, have mercy, that (thereby)
He shall not be cut off; be clement, that he may not [perish].
O, instead of thy making a flood, let a lion come, man to diminish;
O, instead of thy making a flood, let a jackal come, man to diminish;
O, instead of thy making a flood, let a famine occur, that the country
185.May be [devour’d(?)]; instead of thy making a flood, let the Plague-god
Come and the people [o’erwhelm];
     Sooth, indeed ’twas not I of the Great Gods the secret revealéd,
(But) to th’ Abounding in Wisdom 2 vouchsafed I a dream, and (in this wise)
He of the gods heard the secret. Deliberate, now, on his counsel'.
190.(Then) to the Ark came up Enlil; my hand did he grasp, and uplifted
Me, even me, and my wife, too, he raised, and, bent-kneed beside me,
Made her to kneel; our foreheads he touch’d as he stood there between us,
Blessing us; 'Uta-Napishtim hath hitherto only been mortal,
Now, indeed, Uta-Napishtim and (also) his wife shall be equal
195.Like to us gods; in the distance afar at the mouth of the rivers
Uta-Napishtim shall dwell'. (So) they took me and (there) in the distance

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Caused me to dwell at the mouth of the rivers.
                                      But thee, as for thee, pray,
Who will assemble the gods for thy (need), that the life which thou seekest
Thou mayst discover? Come, fall not asleep for six days, aye, a se’nnight!"

(But Gilgamish is too mortal to resist even sleep).

200.(Then), while he sat on his haunches a sleep like a breeze breathed upon him.
Spake to her, Uta-Napishtim, yea, unto his wife: "O, behold him,
E’en the strong fellow who asketh for life, (how) hath breathéd upon him
205.Sleep like a breeze!" (Then) his wife unto Uta-Napishtim the Distant
Answer 'd: "O, touch him, and let the man wake, that the road he hath traversed
He may betake himself homeward in peace, that he by the portal
Whence he fared forth may return to his land." Spake Uta-Napishtim,
210.(Yea), to his wife: "(How) the troubles of mortals do trouble thee also!
Bake then his flour (and) put at his head, but the time he is sleeping
On the house-wall do thou mark it. 1" (So straightway) she (did so), his flour
Baked she (and) set at his head, but the time he was sleeping she noted
215.On the house-wall. (So), first was collected his flour, (then) secondly sifted,
Thirdly, ’twas moisten’d, and fourthly she kneaded his dough, and so fifthly
Leaven she added, and sixthly ’twas baked; (then) seventh—he touch’d him,
All on a sudden, and (so from his slumber) awoke the (great) fellow!


Gilgamish unto him spake, (yea) to Uta-Napishtim the Distant:
220."(Tell me), I pr’ythee (?), was 't thou, who when sleep was shower’d upon me
All on a sudden didst touch me, and (straightway) rouse me (from slumber)?"
Uta-Napishtim to Gilgamish [spake, (yea), unto him spake he]:
"Gilgamish, told was the tale of thy meal . . . and (then) did I wake thee:
225.['One'—was collected] thy flour: [(then) 'two']—it was sifted; (and) 'thirdly'
Moisten’d: (and) 'fourthly'—she kneaded thy dough [(and) 'fifthly'] the leaven
Added: (and) 'sixthly'—’twas baked: [(and) 'seventh'] —’twas I on a sudden
Touch’d thee and thou didst awake." To Uta-Napishtim, the Distant, 2
230.Gilgamish answer'd: "O, [how] shall I act, (or) where shall I hie me,
Uta-Napishtim? A Robber 3 (from me) hath ravish’d my [courage,]
Death [in] my bed-chamber broodeth, and Death is wherever I [listen] ."


[Spake] to [him, (yea),] to the boatman Ur-Shanabi Uta-Napishtim:

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235."’Tis thou, Ur-Shanabi . . . the crossing, will hate thee,
(Sooth), to all those who come to its marge, doth its marge set a limit:
(This) man for whom thou wert guide—are stains to cover his body,
Or shall a skin hide the grace of his limbs? Ur-Shanabi, take him,
240.Lead him to where he may bathe, that he wash off his stains in the water
(White) as the snow: let him cast off his pelt(s) that the sea may remove (them);
Fair let his body appear: of his head be the fillet renewéd,
Let him, as clothes for his nakedness, garb himself in a mantle,
245.Such that, or ever he come to his city, and finish his journey,
No (sign of) age shall the mantle betray, but preserve (all) its freshness."
Wherefore Ur-Shanabi took him, and where he might bathe did he lead him,
Washing his stains in the [water] like snow, his pelt(s), [too], discarding,
250.So that the sea might bear them away; (and) his body appearéd
Fair; [of] his head he [the fillet] renewed, and himself in a mantle
Garb’d, as the clothes for his nakedness, [such that or ever his city
Reach he], or ever he finish his journey, [the mantle betray not
255.Age, but] preserve [(all) its freshness].
                                       (So) into their vessel embarkéd
Gilgamish, (aye), and Ur-Shanabi, launching (their) craft [on the billow],
They themselves riding aboard (her).

(The magic gift of restored youth).

                                    To Uta-Napishtim, the Distant 1,
Spake (then) his wife: "Came Gilgamish (hither) aweary with rowing,
260.What wilt thou give wherewith he return to his land?" and the meanwhile
Gilgamish, lifting his pole, was pushing the boat at the seashore.
(Then answer'd) Uta-Napishtim to him, (yea), [to] Gilgamish [spake he]:
"Gilgamish, (hither) didst come (all) aweary with rowing; (O, tell me),
265.What shall I give thee (as gift) wherewith to return to thy country?
Gilgamish, I will reveal thee a hidden matter . . . I'll tell thee:
There is a plant like a thorn with its root (?) [deep down in the ocean],
Like unto those of the briar (in sooth) its prickles will scratch [thee],
270.(Yet) if thy hand reach this plant, [thou’lt surely find life (everlasting)] ."
(Then), when Gilgamish heard this, he loosen’d) 2 [his girdle about him],
Bound heavy stones [on his feet], which dragg’d him down to the sea-deeps,
[Found he the plant]; as he seized on the plant, (lo), [its prickles did scratch him].

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275.Cut he the heavy stones [from his feet] that again it restore him
Unto its shore.


Gilgamish spake to him, (yea), to the boatman Ur-Shanabi (this wise):
"(Nay, but) this plant is a plant of great wonder(?), Ur-Shanabi," said he,
"Whereby a man may attain his desire—I'll take it to Erech,
280.(Erech), the high-wall’d, and give it to eat [unto . . . .].
'Greybeard-who-turneth-to-man-in-his-prime' is its name and I'll eat it
I myself, that again I may come to my youthful condition."

(The Quest ends in Tragedy).

Broke they their fast at the fortieth hour: at the sixtieth rested.
285.Gilgamish spied out a pool of cool water, (and) therein descending
Bathed in the water. (But here was) a serpent who snuff’d the plant's fragrance,
Darted he up [from the water (?)], and snatch’d the plant, uttering malison
290.As he drew back. Then Gilgamish sate him, (and) burst into weeping.
Over his cheeks flow’d his tears: to the boatman Ur -Shanabi [spake he(?)]
"(Pr’ythee), [for] whom have toiléd mine arms, O Ur-Shanabi, (tell me),
295.(Pr’ythee), for whom hath my heart's blood been spent? (yea), not for mine own self,
Have I the guerdon achieved; (no), ’tis for an earth-lion (only)
Have I the guerdon secured—(and) now at the fortieth hour
(Such an) one reiveth (it)—O, when I open’d the sluice and . . .ed the attachment, 1
(Aye), I noted the sign (?) which to me was vouchsafed as a warning,
300.Would I had turn’d and abandon’d the boat at the marge (of the ocean)!"
Broke they their fast at the fortieth hour: at the sixtieth rested,
(So in the end) to the middle of Erech, the high-wall’d, arrivéd.


(The Pride of the Architect).

Gilgamish spake to him, (yea), to the boatman Ur-Shanabi (this wise):
"Do thou, Ur-Shanabi, go up and walk on the ramparts of Erech,
Look on its base, and take heed of its bricks, if its bricks be not kiln-burnt,
305.(Aye), and its ground-work be not bitumen, e’en seven courses,
One shar the city, (and) one shar the gardens, and one shar the (2)
. . . . the Temple of Ishtar, amass’d I three shar and . . . (?) of Erech 2.


49:2 Assyrian Version.

50:1 The modern Fara.

50:2 Son of Enlil, and the god of war and hunting.

50:3 Two difficult lines.

50:4 Singular.

50:5 Lit. "her."

51:1 Var. "three."

51:2 Lit. "water of the river."

51:3 Two difficult lines.

52:1 Lit. "and."

52:2 Text has "the vessel."

53:1 Gods of heaven.

53:2 Atra-hasis, another name for Uta-Napishtim.

54:1 A difficult passage, capable of other interpretations. But if this is the correct one, Uta-Napishtim is mocking the "strong man" who seeks eternal life, with the tally of the number of hours (or days?) he sleeps, unable even to stay awake.

54:2 As before "Unto him, unto Uta-Napishtim."

54:3 So as it stands, but it is not intelligible.

55:1 Lit. "to him, (yea), to Uta-Napishtim."

55:2 The word is not spelt quite correctly, if this is right.

56:1 Lit. "furniture." The incident is lost in one of the previous gaps. Is it referable to the "dam" in the Fifth Tablet, Column VI?

56:2 Unfortunately there are two difficult words in these two lines.

Next: The Twelfth Tablet: Gilgamish, In Despair, Enquires of the Dead