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Now in the Temple there were tables on which were inscribed the history of Uta-Napishtim the Remote, of him whom the Gods had made immortal. These tables had the very words of Uta-Napishtim upon them. And these are the words that were written there:

"I lived in Shurippak, the city of the sun, a city that was old, and had the Gods dwelling in it. The Gods decided in their hearts to destroy mankind by wind and by flood, so that none would be left living. on the earth. Anu, the Father of the Gods, was there when this thing was thought upon, and Enlil, the Warrior of the Gods, and En-urta, the Messenger of the Gods. But the Gods considered again, and they decided to leave living on the earth one man and his family.

"Ea went to the place where I was. He cried to me where I slept;

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he cried to me to come out of my house and to build a ship; he cried to me to abandon all my possessions and to save my life.

"He told me of the dimensions of the ship I was to build; he told me of the measures of grain I was to take on board that ship. And he commanded that I should go before the elders and people of the city and say to them that Enlil bore ill-will towards them and that he was set upon destroying them. Then I said to Ea, 'Whither shall I sail when I have built the ship?', and he said, 'To the Gods. Trust thy ship upon the flood and be not fearful.'

"I spoke to the elders and the people of the city. They but mocked me. I gathered my servants around me and I began the building of the ship. I made it a hundred and twenty cubits in length; I covered it with pitch and bitumen; I provided a strong steering-pole for it. And when the ship was built I loaded it with grain, and took my family on board it. The beasts of the field and of the wilderness, also the birds came on board it; they came in pairs. When all was made ready the God Shamash appeared before me. He signified to me that at even-tide a great flood would be loosed upon the earth.

"A rain-flood came at even-tide. I watched the darkness coming and the storm. Terror possessed me as I watched. I went within where my family were and the beasts and birds were in pairs, and I bolted down the doors; yea, I bolted down the nine parts which I had made inside the ship. I committed the ship and all that was on board of it to the mercy of the Gods.

"Then a black cloud came up, and out of the black cloud and the whirlwind the Gods thundered. The Star Gods of the Southern Sky brandished their torches. Every gleam of light was turned to darkness. Floods descended out of the heavens. The waters attacked mankind as in a battle. Fathers no longer saw their children; brother no longer saw brother. The rains descended until the waters mounted to the tops of the hills. As they mounted up, the Gods themselves were filled with fright; they went out of their own places; they went into the high heaven of Anu. Ishtar, the Lady of the Gods, cried out like a woman in travail. Yea, Ishtar lamented, crying against herself for speaking of this flood in the presence of the Gods. The Gods of the Southern Sky wailed with her, and for six days and six nights rain fell and the wind beat down all that was upon the land.

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"But after the seventh day the raging flood ceased; the whirlwind and the rain-storm ceased, and the waters no longer rose. I looked over the waters; I saw that calm had come. Calm had come, but the land had been laid out flat, and mankind had been turned to mud. I bowed myself down; I fell upon my face and tears flowed down my cheeks. I looked to the four quarters of the world and all that I saw was the open sea. Then for twelve days the ship went on. The ship rested on the mountain of Nisir and it moved no more.

"And when, after seven days, the ship still rested, I opened an air-hole and light fell upon my face. I let a dove fly forth. The dove came back to the ship for there was no place for her to light. I let a swallow fly forth. The swallow also returned. I let a raven fly forth. The raven did not return; she saw the land come up through the sinking waters; she ate; she pecked on the ground; she croaked, and did not come back to me.

"Then I brought out all that was on board the ship; I brought all to where the four winds blew. I offered up a sacrifice. I poured out a libation where I stood upon the peak of the mountain. There Ishtar, the Lady of the Gods, appeared before me; she cursed Bel for having brought about the flood.

"The God Bel was wroth seeing that a portion of mankind had been saved from the flood. He raged. He cried out, 'None shall be left alive; no man shall be left living in this destruction! But the God En-urta pleaded with Bel for mankind, and Bel relented. Then the God Ea went to the ship, and took me by the hand, and brought me forth and brought my wife forth; he turned our faces towards one another and made us kneel together. He blessed us, saying, 'Formerly Uta-Napishtim and his wife were mortals; now let Uta-Napishtim and his wife be like the Gods themselves, having immortal life.'"


The tables having been read to the end, Gilgamish said, "How may I go to where Uta-Napishtim is, and what is the way to his dwelling? I would go to him whom the Gods have made undying and find out from him how a man may save himself from going down into that abyss that is Irkalla's."

His mother said, "All that we know is that the dwelling-place of Uta-Napishtim is beyond Mount Mashu, where the sun rises and sets."

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Thereupon Gilgamish set out for Mount Mashu. In the foothills of the mountains he was attacked by lions; he killed many of the lions, but others followed him almost till he had reached the top of the mountain. And when he came nigh to the top of the mountain he saw the dread guardians of the place where the sun rises and sets. They were the Scorpion Men, and they were fearful even to look upon. And Gil. garnish said when he saw them, "Would that Enkidu, my friend, were with me now, for only with his help might I overcome the guardians here, the glance of whose eyes makes me tremble." He went on; he came before the dread guardians of the mountain-top, and he, even Gilgamish, bowed himself humbly before them.

The Scorpion Men said, one to the other, "The bodies of those who come this way we devour, but behold! the man who comes towards us has flesh that is two-thirds flesh of the Gods. We may not devour his body." With voices that made shake the rocks of the mountain-top they bade Gilgamish pass by. And they cried out to him that he was entering into a region of darkness, and that no one who had gone that way had ever come out of that darkness.

And, lo! Even as they spoke Gilgamish went into the darkness. The sight of the sky and the mountain was cut off from him. The darkness became thicker and heavier as he went on; no mortal had ever gone through darkness such as this darkness. For a space that was equal to a day and a night, Gilgamish went on, went through a deep and deeper darkness. He thought that the light would never come into his eyes again. And then he came into a place where there was light. He saw bright daylight all round him. He saw before him a garden that was filled with bright flowers and glowing fruits.


This was the place and this was the garden of the Goddess Siduri-Sabitu. In the garden was the Tree of the Gods: Siduri-Sabitu guarded it. Gilgamish saw the Goddess. Siduri-Sabitu sat upon a throne beside the sea. She said to him:

"Who are you who come to this Place with wasted cheeks, and with face bowed down?

"Your heart is sad; your form is dejected, and lamentation is in your heart! None such as you come here, to the garden in which is the Tree of the Gods."

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She ordered her servants to close the gate of the garden against him. Gilgamish laid hands upon the gate and he shook it so that its foundations rocked. He said to the Goddess, "I go to where Uta-Napishtim the Remote is, to Uta-Napishtim, my ancestor."

She spoke to him from her throne while his hands were still upon the gate, making its foundations rock. And he said to her, "I am Gilgamish, and Enkidu, who was my friend, has become like the dust. The fate of my friend lies heavily upon me, and therefore do I travel this way so that I may speak with my ancestor, Uta-Napishtim, and be rid of my fear of death. O Sabitu, thou who sittest by the sea, and hast charge of the gate, speak to me, and tell me the way to the land where Uta-Napishtim abides. Give to me a description of the way. If it be possible, I will cross the sea to come to his country. If it be impossible to cross the sea, I will cross over the land, even if it be a land that darkness rests upon."

Then the Goddess Siduri-Sabitu, the guardian of the gate, knowing that two-thirds of his flesh was as the flesh of the Gods, made answer to Gilgamish. She said to him, "The sea that I sit beside and that thou dost look upon is the Waters of Death. None have crossed these waters heretofore save Shamash, the Sun God."

"I would cross these waters," Gilgamish said.

Said Siduri-Sabitu, sitting on her throne beside the sea, "There is a Ferryman, Ur-Shanabi, who crosses this water. Find him, and may. hap he will ferry thee across to where Uta-Napishtim is."

He waited by the sea until he saw the Ferryman, Ur-Shanabi. He went into his boat. For fifty days and nights they voyaged across the Waters of Death, and the Ferryman warned Gilgamish not to touch with his hand the waters they passed over. They reached the limits of the Waters of Death; they came to the land where Gilgamish's ancestor, Uta-Napishtim, had his abode.


Uta-Napishtim the Remote walked with his wife by the waters. He saw the boat of Ur-Shanabi coming towards him. He, astonished that another beside Ur-Shanabi was in the boat, waited by the shore.

Gilgamish came out of the boat, and he went to the two figures that stood by themselves. Uta-Napishtim knew his descendant, and he spoke kindly to Gilgamish.

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Then Gilgamish told him of what had happened to him in the world of men; he told how his friend Enkidu had been taken from him, becoming as dust, he who had been like the panther of the desert, he who had aided him to destroy the Bull of Heaven. "Shall not I myself also be obliged to lay me down and never rise up to all eternity?" he cried to Uta-Napishtim. And again he cried, "I was horribly afraid. I was afraid of death, and therefore have I fled from my own country." But Uta-Napishtim the Remote made answer to Gilgamish, and he said, "None may find out the day of their death, for Mammitum, the Arranger of Destinies, has settled it, and none knows but Mammitum."

And as Uta-Napishtim spoke Gilgamish ate and refreshed himself. Having refreshed himself he lay in the boat and drowsiness overpowered him; he fell into a slumber. Then Uta-Napishtim said to his wife, "Behold the one who would find immortality; he cannot keep drowsiness away from him." Gilgamish slept. For six days the wife of Uta-Napishtim baked bread and laid it beside him. On the seventh day when she brought him bread, she touched him, and Gilgamish wakened up.

Then all day he questioned Uta-Napishtim about the ways of escaping death. Uta-Napishtim told him that at the bottom of the sea that he had crossed, and in the middle of it, there grew a plant, and that he who ate of it nine days after it had been gathered would escape death. Having told him this, Uta-Napishtim told the Ferryman to make ready to take Gilgamish back across the Waters of Death.

The Ferryman made ready; the wife of Uta-Napishtim gave Gilgamish bread to last him for his journey across. When they came to the middle of the sea, Gilgamish fastened stones to his feet and let himself sink down in the water. He found the plant that grew at the bottom of the sea, and, rejoicing, he gathered it. He went into the boat and they came to a land under the mountain. The land was pleasant, and Gilgamish rested himself there. Not yet had come the time for him to eat the plant he had gathered.

A serpent smelled the plant and came to where Gilgamish was. Now Gilgamish would bathe in the water of a pool, for he needed the refreshment of water. He went into the pool. And while he was in the pool the serpent came upon the plant and ate it--yea, ate all of

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the plant. Then was Gilgamish left without that which would have given him escape from death. He wept, and the spirit of Enkidu came before him, and told him of the Land of the Dead and of how men fared who entered into it.

Next: Ishtar's Descent into the World Below