The Epic of Gilgamesh
Important Quotations Explained
mouth is fire; his roar the floodwater;
his breath is death. Enlil made him guardian
of the Cedar Forest, to frighten off the mortal
who would venture there. But who would venture
there? Humbaba’s mouth is fire; his roar
is the floodwater; he breathes and there is death.
He hears the slightest sound somewhere in the Forest.
Enlil made him terrifying guardian,
Whose mouth is fire, whose roar the floodwater.
could I offer
the queen of love in return, who lacks nothing at all?
Balm for the body? The food and drink of the gods?
I have nothing to give to her who lacks nothing at all.
You are the door through which the cold gets in.
You are the fire that goes out. You are the pitch
that sticks to the hands of the one who carries the bucket.
You are the house that falls down. You are the shoe
that pinches the foot of the wearer. The ill-made wall
that buckles when time has gone by. The leaky
water skin soaking the water skin carrier.
. . . your mother is a gazelle,
and . . . your father who created you, a wild ass.
[You were] raised by creatures with tails,
and by the animals of the wilderness, with all its breadth.
The paths going up to and down from the forest of cedars
All mourn you: the weeping does not end day or night
for you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
Make merry day and night.
Of each day make a feast of rejoicing.
Day and night dance and play!
Let your garments be sparkling fresh,
Your head be washed; bathe in water.
Pay heed to a little one that holds on to your hand,
Let a spouse delight in your bosom.
so they traveled until they reached Uruk.
There Gilgamesh the king said to the boatman:
“Study the brickwork, study the fortification;
climb the ancient staircase to the terrace;
study how it is made; from the terrace see
the planted and fallow fields, the ponds and orchards.
One league is the inner city, another league
is orchards; still another the fields beyond;
over there is the precinct of the temple. . . . ,
Three leagues and the temple precinct of Ishtar.”
Measure Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh
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