Epic of Gilgamesh

Epic of Gilgamesh

In the story of Humbaba, Humbaba was the guardian of the Forest of Cedar. Humbaba has seven garments, each of which spreads terror. Shamash tells Gilgamesh that Humbaba is wearing only one garment at the time. If Humbaba puts on all seven garments, Gilgamesh will be unable to defeat him. The greatest lesson which Gilgamesh learns in the forest is that death is a fact of human life. Gilgamesh is bitter that only the gods can live forever. He learns that life is short, and the only thing that lasts forever is fame.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu go to the mountain of the gods, which is forbidden to mortals. They take their axes and chop down some trees. Humbaba becomes upset at them for destroying his forest. During the fight, Gilgamesh prays to Shamash. Shamash hears him and sends thirteen storms against Humbaba. Humbaba reminds them that he is the servant of Enlil, the god of earth, wind, and air—a greater divinity by far than Shamash. If Gilgamesh kills him, he will surely bring a curse down upon himself. Enkidu tells Gilgamesh to kill Humbaba, before Enlil finds out and tries to stop them. They will become famous by killing Humbaba and stealing his cedars.

Gilgamesh does not care about the consequences of his actions. Even though, this journey is important to both Gilgamesh and Enkidu, it is not completely supported by the gods. Gilgamesh and Enkidu are on a sacred quest, supported by a god, Shamash. Their adventure is being done without permission from the superior god Enlil. The cedar trees are sacred possessions of the gods. Gilgamesh and Enkidu want to make the cedar trees into monuments or idols, which honor themselves instead of the gods. The journey leads them to discover their abilities, but also to understand the boundaries that make up their spiritual world.

In the story of the Bull of Heaven, Ishtar is upset at Gilgamesh. She demands that her father Anu, sends down the Bull of Heaven. She wants the bull to kill Gilgamesh. Anu warns her that the bull will cause seven years of famine. Ishtar tells him that she has everything taken care of regarding the people of Uruk. Anu gives Ishtar what she wants. Ishtar is willing to sacrifice the people of Uruk, in order to have Gilgamesh killed.

Ishtar has the bull fall on the city of Uruk. A crack opens up in the earth, and one hundred men fall into it and die. Again the bull bellows and again the ground cracks open. One hundred more men are swallowed up. The third time this happens, Enkidu attacks the bull. The bull tries to fight back, but Enkidu grabs it by its horns and wrestles with it. Enkidu grabs its tail and holds the bull, so that Gilgamesh can kill it. Then they cut out the bull’s heart and offer it as a sacrifice to Shamash, the sun god.