‘[My friend, whom I loved so deeply,]
~~who with me went through every danger,
Enkidu, whom I loved so deeply,
~~who with me went through every danger:
‘he went to the doom of mortal men.
~~Weeping over him day and night,
I did not surrender his body for burial —
~~"Maybe my friend will rise at my cry!" —
‘for seven days and seven nights,
~~until a maggot dropped from his nostril.
After he was gone I did not find life,
~~wandering like a trapper in the midst of the wild.
‘O tavern-keeper, I have looked on your face,
~~but I would not meet death, that I fear so much.’
Said the tavern-keeper to him, to Gilgamesh:
~~‘O Gilgamesh, where are you wandering?
‘The life that you seek you never will find:
~~when the gods created mankind,
death they dispensed to mankind,
~~life they kept for themselves.
‘But you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
~~enjoy yourself always by day and by night!
Make merry each day,
~~dance and play day and night!
‘Let your clothes be clean,
~~let your head be washed, may you bathe in water!
Gaze on the child who holds your hand,
~~let a wife enjoy your repeated embrace!
‘For such is the destiny [of mortal men,]
~~that the one who lives . . . . . . . . . ’
[Said] Gilgamesh to her, [to the ale-wife:]
‘O tavern-keeper, why do you talk [this way?]
~~My heart is [still very] sick for my friend.
O tavern-keeper, why do you talk [this way?]
~~My heart is [still very] sick for Enkidu.
‘But you dwell, O tavern-keeper, on the shore [of the ocean,]
~~you are familiar with all [the ways across it.]
Show me the way, [O show me!]
~~If it may be done [I will cross] the ocean!’
Said the tavern-keeper to him, [to Gilgamesh:]
~~‘O Gilgamesh, never [before] was there one like you!
Who [but the Sun God] can travel [that journey?’]
Andrew George, The Epic of Gilgamesh (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2000) 123-5
A R George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic (Oxford: OUP, 2003) pls. 17-19
18th century BC