The Epic of Gilgamesh

Tablet V

Translated by Maureen Gallery Kovacs

This is based on the printed edition by Maureen Gallery Kovacs:
Kovacs, M. G. (1989). The epic of Gilgamesh. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.
The electronic edition was modified slightly from that prepared by Wolf Carnahan, 1998. See the Gilgamesh menu page for more information.
Please report errors to me (link at end of page). -Alan Humm
Summary: In The fifth tablet Gilgamesh & Enkidu find and defeat Humbaba. They chop down the giant cedar and raft back to Uruk.

... They stood at the forest's edge,
gazing at the top of the Cedar Tree,
gazing at the entrance to the forest.
Where Humbaba would walk there was a trail,
the roads led straight on, the path was excellent.
Then they saw the Cedar Mountain, the Dwelling of the Gods,
the throne dais of Imini.
Across the face of the mountain the Cedar brought forth luxurious foliage,
its shade was good, extremely pleasant.
The thornbushes were matted together, the woods(?) were a thicket
... among the Cedars,... the boxwood,
the forest was surrounded by a ravine two leagues long,
... and again for two-thirds (of that distance),
...Suddenly the swords...,
and after the sheaths ...,
the axes were smeared...
dagger and sword...
alone ...

Humbaba spoke to Gilgamesh saying:

“He does not come (?) ...
Enlil.. .”
Enkidu spoke to Humbaba, saying:
“Humbaba... ‘One alone...’
‘Strangers ...’
‘A slippery path is not feared by two people who help each other.’
‘Twice three times...’
‘A three-ply rope cannot be cut.’
‘The mighty lion—two cubs can roll him over.‘”
Humbaba spoke to Gilgamesh, saying:
“An idiot and a moron should give advice to each other,
but you, Gilgamesh, why have you come to me!
Give advice, Enkidu, you ‘son of a fish,’ who does not even know his own father,
to the large and small turtles which do not suck their mother's milk!
When you were still young I saw you but did not go over to you;
... you,... in my belly.
...,you have brought Gilgamesh into my presence,
... you stand..., an enemy, a stranger.
... Gilgamesh, throat and neck,
I would feed your flesh to the screeching vulture, the eagle, and the vulture!”
Gilgamerh spoke to Enkidu, saying:
“My Friend, Humbaba's face keeps changing!”
Enkidu spoke to Gilgamesh, saying:
“Why, my friend, are you whining so pitiably,
hiding behind your whimpering?
Now there, my friend,...
in the coppersmith's channel ...,
again to blow (the bellows) for an hour, the glowing (metal)(?)
...for an hour.
To send the Flood, to crack the Whip.
Do not snatch your feet away, do not turn your back,
... strike even harder!”
... may they be expelled.... head fell ... and it/he confronted him...
The ground split open with the heels of their feet,
as they whirled around in circles Mt. Hermon and Lebanon split.
The white clouds darkened,
death rained down on them like fog.
Shamash raised up against Humbaba mighty tempests—
Southwind, Northwind, Eastwind, Westwind,
Whistling Wind, Piercing Wind, Blizzard, Bad Wind, Wind of Simurru,
Demon Wind, Ice Wind, Storm, Sandstorm—
thirteen winds rose up against him and covered Humbaba's face.
He could nor butt through the front, and could not scramble out the back,
so that Gilgamesh's weapons were in reach of Humbaba.
Humbaba begged for his life, saying to Gilgamesh:
“You are young yet, Gilgamesh, your mother gave birth to you,
and you are the offspring of Rimnt-Nlnsun (?) ...
(It was) at the word of Shamash, Lord of the Mountain,
that you were roused (to this expedition).
O scion of the heart of Uruk, King Gilgamesh!
... Gilgamesh...
Gilgamesh, let me go (?), I will dwell with you as your servant (?)
As many trees as you command me I will cut down for you,
I will guard for you myrtle wood...,
wood fine enough for your palace!”
Enkidu addressed Gilgamesh, saying:
“My friend, do not listen to Humbaba, ”
{10 lines are missing. Apparently Humbaba sees that Gilgamesh is influenced by Enkidu, and moves to dissuade Enkidu.}
“You understand the rules of my forest, the rules...,
further, you are aware of all the things so ordered (by Enlil).
I should have carried you up, and killed you
at the very entrance to the branches of my forest.
I should have fed your flesh to the screeching vulture, the eagle,
and the vulture.

So now, Enkidu, clemency is up to you.
Speak to Gilgamesh to spare my life!”
Enkidu addressed Gilgamesh, saying:
“My friend, Humbaba, Guardian of the Cedar Forest,
grind up, kill, pulverize(?), and destroy him!
Humbaba, Guardian of the Forest, grind up, kill, pulverize(?),
and destroy him!
Before the Preeminent God Enlil hears...
and the ...gods be filled with rage against us.
Enlil is in Nippur, Shamash is in Sippar.
Erect an eternal monument proclaiming...
how Gilgamesh killed(?) Humbaba.”
When Humbaba heard...

{About l0 lines are missing.}

“... the forest.
and denunciations(?) have been made.
But you are sitting there like a shepherd...
and like a ‘hireling of his mouth.’
May he not live the longer of the two,
may Enkidu not have any ‘share’(?) more than his friend
Enkidu spoke to Gilgamesh, saying:
“My friend, 1 have been talking to you but you have not been listening to me,
You have been listening to the curse of Humbaba!”
... his friend
... by his side
.. they pulled out his insides including his tongue.
... he jumped(?).
...abundance fell over the mountain,
...abundance fell over the mountain.
They cut through the Cedar,
While Gilgamesh cuts down the trees,
Enkidu searches through the urmazallu.
Enkidu addressed Gilgamesh, saying:
“My friend, we have cut down the towering Cedar
whose top scrapes the sky.
Make from it a door 72 cubits high, 24 cubits wide,
one cubit thick, its fixture, its lower and upper pivots will be out of one piece.
Let them carry it to Nippur, the Euphrates will carry it down, Nippur will rejoice.
They tied together a raft...
Enkidu steered it...
while Gilgamesh held the head of Humbaba.

Tablet VI
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