The two heroes stand in awe before the vast forest’s gates, marveling at the cedar trees’ height, breathing in their incense. Humbaba’s footsteps have left clear paths through the woods. An enormous mountain looms in the distance, the place where Ishtar and the other gods are enthroned. They begin to walk toward it. That night Gilgamesh pours flour on the ground, an offering to Shamash the sun god. He prays that Shamash will visit him in a dream and grant him a favorable omen. Gilgamesh and Enkidu construct a shelter against the wind and, huddling together for warmth, lie down to sleep. In the middle of the night Gilgamesh has a dream.
Gilgamesh wakes up frightened and asks Enkidu if he called out to him. Then he tells Enkidu what he dreamed: They were walking through a deep gorge when a huge mountain fell on top of them. Enkidu promptly interprets the dream and says it is nothing to fear. He says that the mountain is Humbaba, and that he and Gilgamesh will topple Humbaba and his dead body will lie on the plain like a mountain. The two companions continue their journey through the forest.
After a few days, Gilgamesh makes another offering of flour to Shamash. Embracing each other for warmth, the two men lie down to sleep. At midnight, Gilgamesh wakes up again, filled with foreboding, and, unsure of what woke him, asks if Enkidu touched him. Then he tells Enkidu about his newest dream. In it, a wild bull attacked him, and he was helpless on the ground. He could hear the bull bellowing and could feel its hot breath on his face. Then someone offered him water. Again, Enkidu interprets the dream as fortunate. He says that the bull is not their enemy Humbaba, but Shamash, who blesses Gilgamesh by fighting with him. The man who brought water, Enkidu says, is Gilgamesh’s father, Lugulbanda.
The companions walk and walk, and together they cover hundreds of leagues. Then they dig another well and make another offering of flour to Shamash. It rains that night, but after a time, they fall asleep. A third dream comes to Gilgamesh. This time he dreams that the earth is shaking amidst the noise of thunder and lightning, and fire and ashes fall from the sky. Once again, Enkidu interprets the dream favorably. Even so, Gilgamesh is scared. He prays to Shamash, desperately pleading for his protection. Shamash answers and explains that Gilgamesh and Enkidu are experiencing the effects of the aura that rises from Humbaba’s garments. Humbaba has seven garments, each of which spreads terror. Shamash tells Gilgamesh that Humbaba is wearing only one of them now, and that if he dons all seven, Gilgamesh will be unable to defeat him. Time is of the essence in carrying out this attack.
At last the companions reach the mountain of the gods, the place forbidden to mortals. Gilgamesh and Enkidu take their axes and chop down some trees. Then they hear Humbaba, the guardian of the forest, roaring. A terrible confusion follows. The noise of clashing swords, daggers, and axes surrounds them, and Gilgamesh and Enkidu cry out in terror. They call to each other, reminding each other that they can prevail.
In the heat of the battle, Gilgamesh offers up a desperate prayer to Shamash. Shamash hears him and unleashes thirteen storms against Humbaba. Humbaba staggers and reels under this divine onslaught, and at last Gilgamesh overtakes him. But Humbaba pleads for mercy and says he knows Gilgamesh is Ninsun’s son. He tells Gilgamesh that if he is spared, he will be Gilgamesh’s servant. At first, Gilgamesh considers being compassionate, but Enkidu is pitiless. Enkidu urges Gilgamesh to make a quick end of the monster.
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