But this book itself was a farrago of heterogeneous elements - pieces of genuine history, ancient stories once told in Babylon of Gilgamesh or Etanna, literary forgeries of the days soon after Alexander, like the oldest part of the "Testament of Alexander," variations due to Egyptian patriotic sentiment, like that which made Alexander the son of the last Pharaoh, Nectanebus.
But he was a profoundly interested observer of affairs at home and among 1 The Assyrian term abubu is used of the great primeval deluge (in the Gilgamesh epic), and also of the local floods common in the country.
Created to become a rival to Gilgamesh, he strikes up a friendship with the hero, and together they proceed to a cedar forest guarded by Khumbaba, whom they kill.
EPIC OF GILGAMESH, the title given to one of the most important literary products of Babylonia, from the name of the chief personage in the series of tales of which it is composed.
Though the Gilgamesh Epic is known to us chiefly from the fragments found in the royal collection of tablets made by Assur-bani-pal, the king of Assyria (668-626 B.C.) 'for his palace at Nineveh, internal evidence points to the high antiquity of at least some portions of it, and the discovery of a fragment of the epic in the older form of the Babylonian script, which can be dated as 2000 B.C., confirms this view.
Equally certain is a second observation of a general character that the epic originating as the greater portion of the literature in Assur-bani-pal's collection in Babylonia is a composite product, that is to say, it consists of a number of independent stories or myths originating at different times, and united to form a continuous narrative with Gilgamesh as the central figure.
This view naturally raises the question whether the independent stories were all told of Gilgamesh or, as almost always happens in the case of ancient tales, were transferred to Gilgamesh as a favourite popular hero.
While the existence of such a personage as Gilgamesh may be admitted, he belongs to an age that could only have preserved a dim recollection of his achievements and adventures through oral traditions.
Gilgamesh becomes a god, and in certain portions of the epic clearly plays the part of the sungod of the spring-time, taking the place apparently of Tammuz or Adonis, the youthful sun-god, though the story shows traits that differentiate it from the ordinary Tammuz myths.
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.
Gilgamesh is artificially brought into contact with Ut-Napishtim, to whom he pays a visit for the purpose of learning the secret of immortal life and perpetual youth which he enjoys.
During the visit Ut-Napishtim tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood and of his miraculous escape.
In its final form, the outcome of an extended and complicated literary process, the Gilgamesh Epic covered twelve tablets, each tablet devoted to one adventure in which the hero plays a direct or indirect part, and the whole covering according to the most plausible estimate about 3000 lines.
A brief summary of the contents of the twelve may be indicated as follows: In the 1st tablet, after a general survey of the adventures of Gilgamesh, his rule at Erech is described, where he enlists the services of all the young able-bodied men in the building of the great wall of the city.
The people sigh under the burden imposed, and call upon the goddess Aruru to create a being who might act as a rival to Gilgamesh, curb his strength, and dispute his tyrannous control.
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 3rd tablet, very imperfectly preserved, Gilgamesh appeals through a Shamash priestess Rimat-Belit to the sun-god Shamash for his aid in the proposed undertaking.
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 basis of the 6th tablet is the familiar nature-myth of the change of seasons, in which Gilgamesh plays the part of the youthful solar god of the springtime, who is wooed by the goddess of fertility, Ishtar.
Gilgamesh, recalling to the goddess the sad fate of those who fall a victim to her charms, rejects the offer.
A divine bull is sent to wage a contest against Gilgamesh, who is assisted by his friend Eabani.
The 9th and 10th tablets, exclusively devoted to Gilgamesh, describe his wanderings in quest of Ut-Napishtim, from whom he hopes to learn how he may escape the fate that has overtaken his friend Eabani.
In the 10th tablet the goddess Sabitu, who, as guardian of the sea, first bolts her gate against Gilgamesh, after learning of his quest, helps him to pass in a ship across the sea.
In the r i th tablet, Ut-Napishtim tells the famous story of the Babylonian flood, which is so patently attached to Gilgamesh in a most artificial manner.
Ut-Napishtim and his wife are anxious to help Gilgamesh to new life.
In the 12th tablet Gilgamesh succeeds in obtaining a view of Eabani's shade, and learns through him of the sad fate endured by the dead.
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 complete edition of the Gilgamesh Epic by Paul Haupt under the title Das babylonische Nimrodepos (Leipzig, 1884-1891), with the 12th tablet in the Beitrage zur Assyriologie, i.
The old Babylonian hero Gilgamesh and the Egyptian Bes (perhaps of foreign extraction) are nude, and so in general are the figurines of the Ishtar-Astarte type.
One of the most famous of these was the Epic of Gilgamesh, in twelve books, composed by a certain Sin-liqi-unninni, and arranged upon an astronomical principle.
Downward the eagle and his burden fell, and in the epic of Gilgamesh we find Etana in the nether world.
A fragment of one such version belongs to the period of the First Dynasty of Babylon, 2 and part of a still earlier Semitic version of another portion of the Gilgamesh Epic has also been recovered.
In Babylonian myth a serpent, apparently in a well or pool, deprived Gilgamesh of the plant which rejuvenated old age, and if it was the rightful guardian of the wonderful gift, one is reminded of the Hebrew story, now reshaped in Gen.
" 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 !