Epic of Gilgamesh/William Muss-Arnolt/Tablet XII

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“Today, had I but left my ball in the shop of the carpenter! O wife of the carpenter, like a mother unto me, had I but left it! O daughter of the carpenter, like a sister unto me, had I but left it! Today my ball and my mallet fell down to Hades.”

Enkidu answered Gilgamesh and said unto him: “Weep not, my master, for this day I shall go down to Hades and retrieve for thee thy mallet and thy ball.”

Gilgamesh answered Enkidu and said unto him: “If thou art to goest down unto Hades, thou must heed my advice. Dress not in a clean garment, or thou shalt be revealed as a stranger. With sweet-smelling bull’s fat must thou no more anoint thyself, or the dead shalt gather around thee on account of this sweet odor. The bow thou must not stretch upon the ground, or those that were slain with the bow shalt gather round about thee. The staff thou must not carry in thy hand, or the spirits of death will tremble before thee. Sandals thou must not tie to thy feet; a (war) cry thou must not shout here on earth; thy wife whom thou lovedst, thou must not kiss; thy wife whom thou hatedst, thou must not smite. Thy son whom thou lovedst, thou must not kiss; thy son whom thou hatedst, thou must not smite. The woes of the netherworld have overtaken thee; as well as she that is dark, she that is dark, mother Ninazu, who is dark, whose white, shining body is not clothed with a garment, whose breasts were bare like stone.”

But when Enkidu wend down unto Hades, he paid no heed to the advice of Gilgamesh. He dressed in a clean garment, and he was revealed as a stranger. With sweet-smelling bull’s fat he anointed himself, and the dead gathered around him on account of this sweet odor. The bow he did stretch upon the ground, and those that were slain with the bow gathered round about him. The staff he carried in his hand, and the spirits of death trembled before him. Sandals he tied to his feet; a (war) cry he shouted here on earth; his wife whom he loved, he kissed; the wife whom he hated, he smote. Thy son whom he loved, he kissed; the son whom he hated, he smote. The woes of the netherworld overtook him; as well as she that is dark, she that is dark, mother Ninazu, who is dark, whose white, shining body is not clothed with a garment, whose breasts were bare like stone.”

From the Netherworld, Enkidu cried out to the world above. Namtar has not snatched him away. Asakku has not snatched him away not. The netherworld has snatched him away. The lurking demon of Nergal, the merciless, has not snatched him away. The netherworld has snatched him away. The battlefield has not slain him, but the netherworld has snatched him away.

Then Gilgamesh went alone to Ekur the House of Enlil and prayed: “Father Enlil, my ball has fallen into the netherworld, and my mallet has fallen in as well. Enkidu has sunk down to the shades to retrieve them, but the netherworld has seized him! Namtar has not snatched him away. Asakku has not snatched him away not. The netherworld has snatched him away. The lurking demon of Nergal, the merciless, has not snatched him away. The netherworld has snatched him away. The battlefield has not slain him, but the netherworld has snatched him away.” Father Enlil answered him not.

Then Gilgamesh went alone to Ur the House of Sin and prayed: “Father Sin, my ball has fallen into the netherworld, and my mallet has fallen in as well. Enkidu has sunk down to the shades to retrieve them, but the netherworld has seized him! Namtar has not snatched him away. Asakku has not snatched him away not. The netherworld has snatched him away. The lurking demon of Nergal, the merciless, has not snatched him away. The netherworld has snatched him away. The battlefield has not slain him, but the netherworld has snatched him away.” Father Sin answered him not.

Then Gilgamesh went alone to Eridu the Temple of Enki and prayed: “Father Enki, my ball has fallen into the netherworld, and my mallet has fallen in as well. Enkidu has sunk down to the shades to retrieve them, but the netherworld has seized him! Namtar has not snatched him away. Asakku has not snatched him away not. The netherworld has snatched him away. The lurking demon of Nergal, the merciless, has not snatched him away. The netherworld has snatched him away. The battlefield has not slain him, but the netherworld has snatched him away.”

Father Enki helped him and spoke to the hero and lord Shamash: “Break open the chamber of the grave and open the ground, that the spirit of Enkidu, like a wind, may rise out of the ground.”

When Shamash, the hero and lord, heard this prayer, he broke open the chamber of the grave and opened the ground, and caused the spirit of Enkidu to rise out of the ground, like a wind. Gilgamesh and Enkidu hugged and kissed one another, and shared their thoughts and queries.

“Tell me, my friend, O tell me, my friend; the appearance of the land, which thou hast seen, O tell me!"

But Enkidu replied: “I cannot tell thee, my friend, I cannot tell thee. If I would describe to thee the appearance of the land that I have seen, surely, Gilgamesh, thou wouldst sit down and weep.”

And Gilgamesh said unto him: “Then let me sit down and weep!”

“Bitter and sad is all that formerly gladdened thy heart, my body like an old garment that the worm does eat. Enkidu, what formerly gladdened thy heart, all is cloaked in dust.”

“Woe!” cried Gilgamesh, who threw himself to the ground.

“Woe!” cried Enkidu, who threw himself to the ground.

“Didst thou seest the man with one son?” “I saw him. He weepeth over a peg fixed in his wall.” “Didst thou seest the man with two sons?” “I saw him. He eateth bread atop two bricks.” “Didst thou seest the man with three sons?” “I saw him. He drinketh water atop a saddle.” “Didst thou seest the man with four sons?” “I saw him. His heart rejoiceth like the man with a team of donkeys.” “Didst though seest the man with five sons?” “I saw him. He entereth the palace with the ease of a scribe.” “Didst thou seest the man with six sons?” “I saw him. He sitteth enthroned among the lesser gods in the assembly.” “Didst thou seest the man with no son?” “I saw him. He eateth bread as hard as a kiln-fired brick.” “Didst thou seest the eunuch of the palace?” “I saw him. He standeth in the corner like a standard.”

“Didst thou seest him who was struck by the mooring-pole?” “I saw him. Woe unto his mother and father, for when the pegs are removed, he roams about.” “Didst thou seest him who died before his time?” “I saw him. He rests on a soft couch, and drinks pure water.” “Didst thou seest the hero slain in battle?” “I saw him. His father and mother remember him, and his wife weepeth for him. Yea! the spirit of such a man is at rest.” “Didst thou see the man whose corpse remains unburied upon the field?” I saw him. His spirit does not find rest in Hades.” “Didst thou seest the man whose spirit has no one who cares for it?” “I saw him. He consumes the dregs of the bowl, the broken remnants of food, that are cast into the street.”