The Epic of Gilgamesh

Tablet VIII

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 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 eighth tablet Gilgamesh mourns Enkidu, but in the end he dies.

Just as day began to dawn Gilgamesh addressed his friend, saying:
“Enkidu, your mother, the gazelle,
and your father, the wild donkey, engendered you,
four wild asses raised you on their milk,
and the herds taught you all the grazing lands.
May the Roads of Enkidu to the Cedar Forest mourn you
and not fall silent night or day.
May the Elders of the broad city of Uruk-Haven mourn you.
May the peoples who gave their blessing after us mourn you.
May the men of the mountains and hills mourn you.
May the...
May the pasture lands shriek in mourning as if it were your mother.
May the ..., the cypress, and the cedar
     which we destroyed (?) in our anger mourn you.
May the bear, hyena, panther, tiger, water buffalo(?), jackal,
lion, wild bull, stag, ibex, all the creatures of the plains mourn you.
May the holy River Ulaja,
     along whose banks we grandly used to stroll, mourn you.
May the pure Euphrates,
     to which we would libate water from our waterskins, mourn you.
May the men of Uruk-Haven, whom we saw in our battle
     when we killed the Bull of Heaven, mourn you.
May the farmer ...,who extols your name in his sweet work song, mourn you.
May the ... of the broad city,
     who ... exalted your name, mourn you.
May the herder ...,
     who prepared butter and light beer for your mouth, mourn you.
May ..., who put ointments on your back, mourn you.
May ..., who prepared fine beer for your mouth, mourn you.
May the harlot, ... you rubbed yourself with oil and felt good, mourn you.
May ...,... of the wife placed(!) a ring on you ..., mourn you
May the brothers go into mourning over you like sisters;
... the lamentation priests, may their hair be shorn off on your behalf.
Enkidu, your mother and your father are in the wastelands,
I mourn you ...

“Hear me, O Elders of Uruk, hear me, O men!
I mourn for Enkidu, my friend,
I shriek in anguish like a mourner.
You, axe at my side, so trusty at my hand—
you, sword at my waist, shield in front of me,
you, my festal garment, a sash over my loins—
an evil demon appeared and took him away from me!
My friend, the swift mule,
     fleet wild ass of the mountain, panther of the wilderness,
Enkidu, my friend, the swift mule,
     fleet wild ass of the mountain, panther of the wilderness,
after we joined together and went up into the mountain,
fought the Bull of Heaven and killed it,
and overwhelmed Humbaba, who lived in the Cedar Forest,
now what is this sleep which has seized you?
You have turned dark and do not hear me!”

But his (Enkidu's) eyes do not move,
he touched his heart, but it beat no longer.
He covered his friend's face like a bride,
swooping down over him like an eagle,
and like a lioness deprived of her cubs
he keeps pacing to and fro.
He shears off his curls and heaps them onto the ground,
ripping off his finery and casting it away as an abomination.
Just as day began to dawn, Gilgamesh ...
and issued a call to the land:
“You, blacksmith! You, lapidary! You, coppersmith!
You, goldsmith! You, jeweler!
Create ‘My Friend,’ fashion a statue of him.
... he fashioned a statue of his friend.
His features ...
...,your chest will be of lapis lazuli, your skin will be of gold.
{10 lines are missing here.}
“I had you recline on the great couch,
indeed, on the couch of honor I let you recline,
I had you sit in the position of ease, the seat at the left,
     so the princes of the world kissed your feet.
I had the people of Uruk mourn and moan for you,
I filled happy people with woe over you,
and after you (died) I let a filthy mat of hair grow over my body,
and donned the skin of a lion and roamed the wilderness.”
Just as day began to dawn,
he undid his straps ...
“ I... carnelian,
{85 lines are missing here.}
... to my friend.
... your dagger
to Bibbi ...”
{40 lines are missing here.}
“ ... the judge of the Anunnaki.”
When Gilgamesh heard this
the zikru of the river(!) he created ...
Just as day began to dawn Gilgamesh opened(!) ...
and brought out a big table of sissoo wood.
A carnelian bowl he filled with honey,
a lapis lazuli bowl he filled with butter.
He provided ... and displayed it before Shamash.

{All of the last column, some 40-50 lines, is missing.}

Tablet IX
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