EABANI, the name of the friend of Gilgamesh, the hero in the Babylonian epic (see GILGAMESH, EPIC OF).
Eabani, whose name signifies "Ea creates," pointing to the tradition which made the god Ea the creator of mankind, is represented in the epic as the type of the primeval man.
The goddess Irnina (a form of Ishtar, q.v.) in revenge kills Eabani, and the balance of the epic is taken up with Gilgamesh's lament for his friend, his wanderings in quest of a remote ancestor, Ut-Napishtim, from whom he hopes to learn how he may escape the fate of Eabani, and his finally learning from his friend of the sad fate in store for all mortals except the favourites of the god, like Ut-Napishtim, to whom immortal life is vouchsafed as a special boon.
A separate stratum in the Gilgamesh epic is formed by the story of Eabani - introduced as the friend of Gilgamesh, who joins him in his adventures.
There can be no doubt that Eabani, who symbolizes primeval man, was a figure originally entirely independent of Gilgamesh, but his story was incorporated into the epic by that natural process to be observed in the national epics of other peoples, which tends to connect the favourite hero with all kinds of tales that for one reason or the other become embedded in the popular mind.
The goddess consents, and creates Eabani, who is described as a wild man, living with the gazelles and the beasts of the field.
Eabani, whose name, signifying "Ea creates," points to the tradition which made Ea the creator of humanity, symbolizes primeval man.
Through a hunter, Eabani and Gilgamesh are brought together, but instead of becoming rivals, they are joined in friendship. Eabani is induced by the snares of a maiden to abandon his life with the animals and to proceed to Erech, where Gilgamesh, who has been told in several dreams of the coming of Eabani, awaits him.
At first, indeed, Eabani curses the fate which led him away from his former life, and Gilgamesh is represented as bewailing Eabani's dissatisfaction.
The sun-god Shamash calls upon Eabani to remain with Gilgamesh, who pays him all honours in his palace at Erech.
In the 5th tablet Gilgamesh and Eabani reach the forest.
This adventure against Khumbaba belongs to the Eabani stratum of the epic, into which Gilgamesh is artificially introduced.
The two friends by their united force succeed in killing the bull, and then after performing certain votive and purification rites return to Erech, where they are hailed with joy In this adventure it is clearly Eabani who is artificially introduced in order to maintain the association with Gilgamesh.
The 7th tablet continues the Eabani stratum.
The reason why the flood episode and the interview with the dead Eabani are introduced is quite clear.
That the astro-theological system is also introduced into the epic is clear from the division into twelve tablets, which correspond to the yearly course of the sun, while throughout there are indications that all the adventures of Gilgamesh and Eabani, including those which have an historical background, have been submitted to the influence of this system and projected on to the heavens.
The eleventh tablet narrates the deluge; the twelfth associates the apotheosis of Eabani with the zodiacal emblems of the resurrection.
" this Hebrew metre may be recognized in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, written at least a thousand years earlier:- Ea-bdini ibri kutdni I Nimru sha Geri, " Eabani, my friend, my little brother !