Dumuzi, King Gudea of Lagash, Ningishzida, and Enki
Gilgamesh Kills the Snake and Cuts Down the Tree of Knowledge
Amongst all the myth and folklore surrounding Lugal-Banda’s adventure, one thing we can take for granted is that the general was given a promotion due to what happened during the campaign against Susa. The king lists say that Lugal-Banda (“King Banda”) inherited the throne and reigned 1200 years and was raised to the status of a god. At the end of Lugal-Banda’s reign, En-Me-Bara-Gesi, a king of the Etana dynasty in Kish, became the leading ruler of Sumer around 2700 B.C. Etana the Shepherd was one of the longer-lived kings of the first dynasty of Kish, beating even Lugal-Banda by 300 years. Enmebaragesi conquered Elam and it is said that he tried to carry away the weapons of Elam as booty. Although he was king of Kish, he also constructed a temple to Enlil in Nippur, helping to indicate that while Kish was held as the political capital of Akkad, Nippur was the spiritual capital. Nippur also had a temple dedicated to Inanna that had been there since the end of the Uruk period (3200 B.C.). The next king of Uruk to rule after Lugal-Banda is cited as: “Dumuzi, the fisherman, whose city was Kuara, ruled for 100 years. He captured Enmebaragesi single-handed.” As indicated earlier, he is said to be the king who first enacted the Sacred Marriage Rite5. The next king was a son of Lugal-Banda’s wife, Ninsumun. His name was Gilga-Mesh (“Gilga the Hero”) and he was said to be two-thirds god and one-third human. The king lists say that his father is something like a phantom, which may have meant that Lugal-Banda was his foster father. Being two-thirds god probably meant that he had spiritual mother apart from her birth mother. His spiritual mother was Ninsun, which is believed to be another name for the goddess Sirtur, Dumuzi’s mother. He reigned a meager 126 years but became one of the most popular heroes of the ancient world, far surpassing the fame of the man he called his “holy father”.
The least fairy-tale-like of the Gilgamesh texts is about a conflict he has with King Agga of Kish, the son of Enmebaragesi. Gilgamesh and Agga opens with envoys from Kish coming to Uruk, carrying a message for Gilgamesh to submit to them. An assembly is convened and Gilgamesh eloquently argues how Kish should be put to the sword, citing that they could not submit to Kish because there were too many wells to be dug. The elders reply that is the very reason they should submit to Agga, but Gilgamesh has faith in Inanna. So he takes the case to the able-bodied men of the city, adding to his argument that they had never submitted to Kish before. The macho men in the assembly vow to give Agga a horrifying experience and Gilgamesh rejoices and tells his servant Enkidu:
“On this account let the weaponry and arms of battle be made ready. Let the battle mace return to your side. May they create a great terror and radiance. When he comes, my great fearsomeness will overwhelm him. His reasoning will become confused and his judgment disarrayed.”
It is said that not 10 days passed before Agga laid Uruk to siege. Unfortunately, it was the people of Uruk who became confused in battle. Gilgamesh asked his warriors to choose their most courageous warrior for a plan. They choose Birhurtura, who allowed himself to be captured and beaten by Agga and his men. As they beat him, he continued to boast of Gilgamesh‘s unbelievable power. Gilgamesh then climbed up onto the rampart and started casting down multitudes by “leaning over the side“. The able-bodied men were stationed at the city’s gate but only Enkidu fought on the outside of it. When Gilgamesh’s actions matched Birhurtura’s prophecy, Agga’s army became disheartened. The people of Uruk defeated the army and captured Agga. Gilgamesh then came and spoke to Agga saying:
"Agga my overseer, Agga my lieutenant, Agga my military commander! Agga gave me breath, Agga gave me life. Agga took a fugitive into his embrace, Agga provided the fleeing bird with grain."
Just how and when Gilgamesh served under Agga’s command goes unanswered, but Agga is released and the able-bodied men praise Gilgamesh as “The Great Rampart of An”.
We now return to Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld, which calls back to the ancient days when heaven was first separated from earth and Enki sailed off to conquer Kur. The South Wind, which in later texts is described as a giant bird’s wing, uprooted a haluppu tree from the Euphrates. It isn’t known for sure what the haluppu is, but the willow tree is a popular suggestion. Inanna, respectful of Enlil’s words, picked up the tree and planted it into her garden in Uruk. She watered it with her feet, hoping that it would grow up to be a nice chair and bed.
Ten years went by but the bark did not split, and then a snake that could not be charmed (or “immune to incantations”) made itself a nest in the tree. The Anzu bird then settled into it’s branches with it’s young and a lilitu made itself a home in the trunk. All of this caused Inanna began to weep bitterly.
The lilitu, or Lilith, has long been associated with the Creation story in Jewish legend. Although the Anzu (“Heaven-Wisdom”) bird is not mentioned in the Garden in Eden, it’s name does bear some association with the Tree of Wisdom of Good and Evil that Eve at from. The Anzu, the Lilitu and the snake appear to symbolize Elamite nomads settling on what the Sumerians saw as their holy garden of Uruk. The use of these particular symbols is repeated by the prophet Yesha-Yahu when he describes how God is angry with the nations of the world. Once again, the bird-succubus-snake combination represents foreigners invading sacred territory, this time as Edomites infiltrating the Holy Land:
For Yahweh has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. The streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and the dust of it into sulfur, and the land of it shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke of it shall go up for ever; from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever. But the ka’at [desert owl?] and the [porcupine / screech owl] shall possess it; and the [great] owl and the raven shall dwell therein: and he will stretch over it the line of confusion, and the plummet of emptiness. They shall call the nobles of it to the kingdom, but none shall be there; and all its princes shall be nothing. Thorns shall come up in its palaces, nettles and thistles in the fortresses of it; and it shall be a habitation of jackals, a court for ostriches. The wild animals of the desert shall meet with the wolves, and the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; yes, the Lilit shall settle there, and shall find her a place of rest. There shall the dart-snake make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shade; yes, there shall the kites be gathered, everyone with her mate. Seek you out of the book of Yahweh, and read: no one of these shall be missing, none shall want her mate; for my mouth, it has commanded, and his Spirit, it has gathered them. He has cast the lot for them, and his hand has divided it to them by line: they shall possess it forever; from generation to generation shall they dwell therein. -Isaiah 34:8-17
The parasitic nature of these birds and snakes manifest themselves in the Norse World Tree Yggdrasil as well. The evil serpent Nidhogg constantly gnawed at it’s roots and the World Tree also suffered hardship from supporting the birds and stags that lived in it’s branches as well. The damage that was done to the great tree was counteracted by the care given to it by the Norns, who poured muddy water on it’s branches every day. 13
Lilith also appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the impression given in this commentary on the book of Yesha-Yahu is that the Dead Sea community regarded the ‘wild animals’ of the Edomite desert to be evil spirits:
“And I, the Sage, declare the grandeur of his radiance in order to frighten and terrify
all the spirits of the ravaging angels and the bastard spirits, demons, Lilits, owls and [jackals...] and those who strike unexpectedly to lead astray the spirit of knowledge.…”
-Songs of the Sage, 11QPsAp
To the Sumerians lilitu were female demons who caused dysfunctions in sexuality and pregnancy. Their male equivalent were called lilu. They were thought to inhabit desert wastelands and as the word lil indicates, they were associated with the air or wind, which was symbolized by birds, most notably owls. The lilu and lilitu were faceless succubi who could prey on men in their dreams and render them helpless to their sexual advances. This caste of demons were known to the Hebrews as lilum, considered as an enemy of newborn infants and believed to perpetuate madness and despair, especially regarding unhappy wives and barren marriages. In Rabbinic legend, they were the sons and daughters of Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Lilith and another like her, Naamah (one of Kayin’s kindred, Tuval-Kayin’s sister), were also said to have gone to Schlomo's judgement seat, disguised as harlots of Jerusalem. Some legends say that Lilith ruled as queen in Zmargad and Sheba and was the demoness who killed the sons of Iyov (Job).
In Rabbanic legend, Lilith was made of filth and sediment instead of dust. From Adam's union with the Lilith (or Naamah) sprang Amadeus (Asmodius), the king of demons and all his horde, which still plague mankind. Lilith became offended that Adam wanted her to lie beneath him sexually, saying, "Why must I lie beneath you? I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal." Adam tried to compel her to obey him by force, but this only enraged Lilith, and she using the name of God as a magic word, she flew up into the air and left him. This ancient defiance to male sexual domination has led Lilith to be conceived as a modern heroine by feminist groups and music fairs. Adam complained that his “helpmeet” deserted him and so God dispatched the angels Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof after her. They found her at the Red Sea (Her kindred were said to be attracted to water), bearing 100 lilum a day. The angels threatened to drown her if she did not return but Lilith rebutted, "How can I die when God has ordered me to take charge of all newborn children?” Lilith then made a deal with the angels that if their names or likenesses were on an amulet displayed above the newborn child, she would spare the child. But for her actions God punished her, making 100 of her children die daily, and if she could not kill a human infant because of the amulet, she was forced to take it out on one of her kindred instead.
In Greek allegory, Lilith was known as Lamia, the beautiful queen of Libya, which was just west to Egypt and the Red Sea. Lamia was the daughter of the gods Belus (derived from the name Ba’al) and Libya. Zeus became Lamia’s lover and gave her the power to remove and replace her own eyes at will. But his wife Hera became enraged with jealousy and killed all of Lamia's children and turned her legs into a snake‘s tail. After this, Lamia found and ate all the children she could find for she could not bear to see a happy mother with her children. Her kindred were evil spirits called lamiae. These blood-sucking creatures were half-serpentine, with claws on their front legs and hooves on their hind legs. If you were bitten by a lamia, it could only be cured by the sound of a lamia’s roar.
Returning to the Gilgamesh story, Inanna goes to her brother Utu to help get rid of the snake, Anzu, and Lilitu that invaded her haluppu tree, but Utu does not stand before her in the matter, so she brings her problem to her other brother, Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh did stand by her on the matter though. He strapped on his belt of 50 minas weight, which to him felt more like the 30 shekels, a frequent sum found through scripture. He then lifted his heavy bronze axe and killed the snake. The Anzu bird and it’s young then flew back to the mountains and the phantom maiden took refuge in the wilderness. Gilgamesh then uprooted the tree, cut it up, bundled the wood, and made Inanna a bed and a chair out of it. This is probably representative of Gilgamesh building a temple for her. He also used the wood he also made two objects, a pikku and mukku. It has been speculated that objects were musical instruments, such as a drum and drumstick.5 If so, there may be some connection to this and the Greek story of Daphne, who was turned into a tree to escape Apollo’s lust at which one of her branches were then taken by the god to make a guitar. In any case, Gilgamesh continuously used the pikku and mukku to play in the main square, always praising himself in his abilities. But then the widows and young women began to bring accusations against him for taking young virgins as his own. This somehow caused his two sacred toys to fall into the netherworld. He tried to reach in after them but couldn’t get them and began to cry, promising to treat the carpenter’s wife like his mother or sister if he could just get them back. Enkidu offered to go into the netherworld and get them back for him, but Gilgamesh warned him of the rules that had to be obeyed while he was there: no clean garments, no ointment, no spear throwing, no shoes, no shouting, and no kissing or hitting your wife or child. But Enkidu didn’t listen and was caught doing all those things, and so got trapped in the netherworld.
Gilgamesh appealed to Enlil, saying that Enkidu had not fallen in battle, but Enlil did not stand by him on the matter. He then went to Eridu and made the same appeal to Enki, who had Utu open a hole into the netherworld and bring out Enkidu with a breeze. The two hugged and kissed and asked each other and Gilgamesh asked what the order of the netherworld was like, so Enkidu sat down to tell him, though he felt they would both weep at what he had to recall. Enkidu revealed that the people who had had the most sons were the happiest in the netherworld, with the man having seven sons being a companion of the gods, who sat on a throne and listened to judgments. Eunuchs were propped in the corner. Those eaten by a lion still felt the pain in their hands and legs. The leprous man was still separated from everyone else. The man who fell in battle did not have his mother or father to hold his hand and his wife still wept for him. The man who had no funerary offerings had to eat the bread crumbs tossed out on the street. But stillborn children played on a table of gold and silver laden with honey, and the ones who had died in their sleep now laid on the bed of the gods. But the ones Enkidu did not see were those who had been burned alive, since their spirit had went up into the sky with the smoke.
A version of this story found in Ur has Gilgamesh ask Enkidu if he saw a citizen from Girsu who had refused water to his mother and father. Enkidu says that they were put before a thousand Amorites and somehow restricted from something. The citizens of Sumer and Akkad are said to drink muddy water. Gilgamesh asks about his parents and is told they drink muddy water as well. Another text from Ur says that he returned to the city, outfitted himself with weapons, and then declared to Utu as he came from his bedchambers that his parents would drink clean water. He and the people of Uruk wept for nine days and then repulsed the people of Girsu. Another version from Me-Turan ends saying:
His heart was smitten, his insides were ravaged. The king began to search for life. Now the lord once decided to set off for the mountain where the man lives.
This ending serves as a transition to the next legend: Gilgamesh and Huwawa, sometimes given the anti-climatic name Gilgamesh and the Land of the Living. I’m no linguist but I think the definition they were shooting for was Land of Life, referring to the cedar forests of Lebanon. There are two versions of this story, with Version A being a little bit longer and in better shape. It begins with Gilgamesh telling his slave Enkidu that he was going to set off to the mountain where “the man” lives. Enkidu warns him that he should tell Utu since the Mountains of Cedar-Falling were his department. Gilgamesh sacrificed a white kid for Utu and asked him to be his helper. Utu replied that Gilgamesh was a prince in his own right but asked why he wanted to go to the cedar mountains, to which Gilgamesh replied:
"Utu, I have something to say to you -- a word in your ear! I greet you -- please pay attention! In my city people are dying, and hearts are full of distress. People are lost -- that fills me with dismay. I craned my neck over the city wall: corpses in the water make the river almost overflow. That is what I see. That will happen to me too -- that is the way things go. No one is tall enough to reach heaven; no one can reach wide enough to stretch over the mountains. Since a man cannot pass beyond the final end of life, I want to set off into the mountains, to establish my renown there. Where renown can be established there, I will establish my renown; and where no renown can be established there, I shall establish the renown of the gods."
Utu accepts his tears and tells Gilgamesh that there will were seven brothers, each one having a specific strength, who would help him. Gilgamesh rejoiced and called the people of the town saying, "Citizens! You who have a wife, go to your wife! You who have children, go to your children! Warriors, whether experienced or inexperienced, who have no wife, who have no children -- let such people join me at my side as the Companions of Gilgamesh." Fifty bachelors join him and he goes to the smith to have weapons made, then has men cut down ebony trees, apricot trees, haluppu trees, and square trees. The eldest of the seven brothers, who had lions’ paws and eagle’s claws, guided them to the mountains. One by one, he crossed the seven mountains of heaven, and after crossing the seventh mountain his intuition led him to the cedar trees and they began chopping them down. They scared Huwawa (or Humbaba) into his lair, where he began releasing his “terrors”, which affected everyone differently. Version B says the terrors flew at them like spears. Gilgamesh fell asleep while Enkidu was stricken with a profound longing. The fifty bachelors began flailing around Gilgamesh like puppies. Then Enkidu woke from his daydream and shuddered. He rubbed his eyes, noticing an eerie silence, and tried to wake Giilgamesh, saying:
"You who have gone to sleep, you who have gone to sleep! Gilgamesh, young lord of Kulaba, how long will you sleep for? The mountains are becoming indistinct as the shadows fall across them; the evening twilight lies over them. Proud Utu is already on his way to the bosom of his mother Ningal. Gilgamesh, how long will you sleep for? The sons of your city who came with you should not have to wait at the foot of the hills. Their own mothers should not have to twine string in the square of your city."
In version B aggressive words are enough, but in Version A Enkidu rubs oil- which cost the proverbial 30 shekels- on Gilgamesh’s chest to wake him up. Gilgamesh stood up like a bull, chided his laziness and vowed:
"By the life of my own mother Ninsun and of my father, holy Lugal-Banda! Until I discover whether that person was a human or a god, I shall not direct back to the city my steps which I have directed to the mountains."
Enkidu tried to make life appear more attractive, saying that Gilgamesh hadn’t seen Huwawa like he had. Enkidu told him that Huwawa‘s mouth was like a dragon‘s maw, his face a lion’s grimace, his chest like a raging flood, his brow devoured reed beds, and his tounge always wet with blood. Enkidu told Gilgamesh that he could go on to the mountains but he would go back home and tell his mother he was alive, though he would eventually have to tell her he was dead. In Version A Gilgamesh says:
"Look, Enkidu, two people together will not perish! A grappling-poled boat does not sink! No one can cut through a three-ply cloth! Water cannot wash someone away from a wall! Fire in a reed house cannot be extinguished! You help me, and I will help you -- what can anyone do against us then? When it sank, when it sank, when the Magan boat sank, when the magilum barge sank, then at least the life-saving grappling-pole of the boat was rescued! Come on, let's get after him and get a sight
of him! If we go after him, there will be terror! There will be terror. Turn back? Is that your advice? Is that your advice? Turn back? Whatever you may think -- come on, let's go after him!”
To which Enkidu replies:
“Before a man can approach within even sixty times six yards, Huwawa has already reached his house among the cedars. When he looks at someone, it is the look of death. When he shakes his head at someone, it is a gesture full of reproach. When he speaks to someone, he certainly does not prolong his words. You may still be a young man, but you will never again return to the city of the mother who bore you!"
This in itself causes Gilgamesh to freeze in terror. Huwawa then called out, saying:
"So come on now, you heroic bearer of a sceptre of wide-ranging power! Noble glory of the gods, angry bull standing ready for a fight! Your mother knew well how to bear sons, and your nurse knew well how to nourish children on the breast! Don't be afraid, rest your hand on the ground!”
Gilgamesh rested his hands on the ground and then came up with a plan reminiscent of Bugs Bunny. He called out to Huwawa saying that he would like to know where in the mountains he lived because he had brought his big sister, Enmebaragesi (Agga’s father), to be Huwawa’s wife. He then offered his little sister Ma-tur as a concubine if he could get his hands on those terrors, promising that he just wants to be his kinsman. Apparently taking him seriously this time, Huwawa hands over his first terror to him. Gilgamesh then trades eca flour (food of the gods), a waterskin, and two pairs of shoes for the rest of his terrors. After each trade, the Uruk warriors lopped off branches and bundled them at the foot of the hill for some reason. Version B only preserves the part about the shoes. Acting as if he was going to kiss Huwawa in order to seal the pact, Gilgamesh punches him in the cheek. Huwawa bares his teeth and starts rebuking Gilgamesh’s epithet as a hero. Gilgamesh demands the monster sit down and Huwawa obeys but begins to weep. For all of Enkidu’s hype, the monster turns out to be a big cry baby.
Huwawa Gilgamesh and Enkidu then throw a halter over him, reign him like a horse, and tie his arms up. Huwawa tugs at Gilgamesh’s hands, asking to talk to Utu. He calls out to Utu that he had never known any parents and that Gilgamesh had sworn by heaven, earth and the mountains. Gilgamesh feels pity for him and suggests to Enkidu that they allow the captured bird to run back to his mother’s embrace. In version B, Gilgamesh suggests that Huwawa act as their guide back. In Version A, Enkidu replies,
"Come on now, you heroic bearer of a sceptre of wide-ranging power! Noble glory of the gods, angry bull standing ready for a fight! Young lord Gilgamesh, cherished in Uruk, your mother knew well how to bear sons, and your nurse knew well how to nourish children! -- One so exalted and yet so lacking in judgment will be devoured by fate without him ever understanding that fate. The very idea that a captured bird should run away home, or a captured man should return to his mother's embrace! -- Then you yourself would never get back to the mother-city that bore you!”
Enkidu also mentions something about captured priests going back to their temples and in Version B he warns that Huwawa could somehow mix up the mountain routes and get them lost in the mountains. At this point the rest of Version B is lost. Huwawa asks Enkidu how he could speak such hateful words to Gilgamesh. That only ticked Enkidu off and the slave cut his throat immediately, possibly aided by Gilgamesh. They then cut off his head and put it in a leather bag. When they entered Enlil’s temple and placed his head before him, Enlil grew angry, saying:
"Why did you act in this way? Was it commanded that his name should be wiped from the earth? He should have sat before you! He should have eaten the bread that you eat, and should have drunk the water that you drink! He should have been honored by you!”
Enlil then took the seven terror auras and gave them to the fields, the rivers, the reed-beds, the lions, the palace, and the last he gave to Nungal, goddess of prisoners.
Gilgamesh’s next adventure is called Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven, which starts off with the words, “I will sing a song of the man of battle, the man of battle…..”. Gilgamesh is described as having a long black beard and great athletic prowess, but the rest of the first segment of the text is corrupted. A couple lines are also missing from segment B, which opens with Inanna threatening Gilgamesh that she will not let him dispense justice in her holy temple. In a later Babylonian epic, this is because he spurns her advances and dares to sing a song about the evil fates of those who become Inanna’s lovers. Gilgamesh tells Inanna that he will not take over her portion as long as she doesn’t get in his way. Enraged at Gilgamesh, Inanna goes to An and asks that the Bull of Heaven be released. An warns that the bull would muddy the waters and leave huge cowpats. Inanna is willing for that to happen as long as it means the bull will kill Gilgamesh. She replies that if she does not get her way she will shout and it will be heard from heaven to earth, at which An becomes frightened and gives her the Bull. She grasped the lapus lazuli tether and guides it to the earth from on top of the ramparts. The great bull devoured the pasture, broke the palm trees and drank a mile of river water in one gulp. When it stood, it submerged Uruk. The text is more damaged at this point and harder to follow. At first Gilgamesh just sits in the tavern and drinks while telling his bard to play. Then he is before the great bull, threatening to turn it’s horns into oil flasks for Inanna’s temple. Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the men of the city defeat the bull and it falls into the dust. Enkidu calls out to Gilgamesh and offers the final stroke to him. Gilgamesh smites the bull’s skull with his axe weighing seven talents, so overbalancing the bull that it rose up and it’s blood rained down on the harvested crop. Like a master chef, Gilgamesh cut a slab of meat form the bull and threw it at the top of the ramparts, hitting Inanna and causing her to flee like a pigeon. Standing by the bull’s head and weeping bitter tears, Gilgamesh asks something like "Just as I can destroy you, so shall I do the same to her?" Gilgamesh then divides the meat among the people of Uruk and fulfills his promise to turn the bull’s horns into oil flasks for Inanna. It seems there is no grudge. The text ends saying that for the death of the Bull of Heaven it is sweet to praise Inanna, whatever that means.
Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven
Gilgamesh and bull, lion and god Most of texts of The Death of Gilgamesh are in poor state, so the story has to be pieced together through different versions that have been found in Nibru and Me-Turan, versions which have their own variances. Each text opens with praises for the hero Gilgamesh, citing his different titles, each line ending with “….has laid down and is never to rise again.” It says that he becomes ill and is bedridden for six days. His skin breaks out and he despaired as he could not eat or drink and it became clear that he was on his death bed. When Gilgamesh arrived at the assembly of the gods, they review the adventures of his life: fetching the cedar tree, killing Huwawa, setting up monuments for future generations, setting up temples to the gods, and having reached Ziusudra (Noah) in his dwelling place (this text has yet to be found). He also is said to have brought divine powers of forgotten lore to Sumer and correctly carried out the rites of hand and mouth washing. Enlil councilled Enki and Enki said to An that after they had granted immortality to Ziusudra they had made Enki promise never to give it to a mortal again, but Enki wanted to make an exception for Gilgamesh because of his mother. But instead it was decided that Gilgamesh would become one of the judges of the dead and that his word would be as heavily weighed as Ningishzida and Dumuzi. Gilgamesh became depressed but was told to not to be depressed since he was now to be counted as one of the Anuna gods:
"Oh Gilgamesh! Enlil, the Great Mountain, the father of gods, has made kingship your destiny, but not eternal life -- lord Gilgamesh, this is how to interpret (?) ...... the dream. The ...... and ...... of life should not make you feel sad, should not make you despair, should not make you feel depressed. You must have been told that this is what the bane of being human involves. You must have been told that this is what the cutting of your umbilical cord involved. The darkest day of humans awaits you now. The solitary place of humans awaits you now. The unstoppable flood-wave awaits you now. The unavoidable battle awaits you now. The unequal struggle awaits you now. The skirmish from which there is no escape awaits you now. But you should not go to the underworld with heart knotted in anger.
Gilgamesh is told not to be depressed because his family, the city elders, and his friend Enkidu would soon be joining him. The floodgates were opened and the Euphrates was diverted so that a great stone tomb with golden beams could be made in the river bed. When the tomb was finished:
His beloved wife, his beloved children, his beloved favorite and junior wife, his beloved musician, cup-bearer and ......, his beloved barber, his beloved ......, his beloved palace retainers and servants and his beloved objects were laid down in their places as if ...... in the purified (?) palace in the middle of Uruk.
Gilgamesh sets out gifts for Ereshkigal, Namtar, Dumuzi, and a bunch of other gods so that his friends and family would be received graciously. The circumstances regarding Enkidu’s death are changed in the later Babylonian legends that are made of him. One of the tablets from Nibru ends with praises for Gilgamesh but the one from Me-Turan replies to Gilgamesh’s depression by saying that Enlil provides people with offspring so that they will make funerary statues to set aside in temples so that their names, once uttered, would not sink into oblivion. That text ends with praises for Ereshkigal.
This kind of mass suicide following the death of a king or noble is also attributed to the Sumerians by the tomb of the noblewoman Pu-Abi in a royal cemetary found by the famed archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley. This tomb was found untouched in Ur of the Chaldees. The queen wore golden jewelry and semi-precious stones. Buried with her were vessels of gold and silver, musical instruments, a small board game with game mechanics similar to Parchesi, two chariots with three oxen, and 59 bodies, six of whom were guards and 19 of them court ladies. They were still holding the cups that they poisoned themselves with. Pu-Abi’s tomb dated to 2500 BC, about a few hundred years after Gilgamesh.