Gilgamesh and the Death of Gugalanna

1 Gilgamesh, with his blue black beard and strong arms was well known as a powerful warrior. He was the wise king of Uruk and had long fought against criminals and evil men. He had also made a name for himself in wrestling and other contests of strength.

2 One day Gilgamesh's mother, the goddess Ninsun, handed him his Axe of the Road and told him to wash it in the river by the juniper trees. This was a task that he had carried out many times before, and one he had grown quite used to.

3 To do this he would need to row a boat down the river and through the marshes. When he was done he would take his ax and cut down several trees that grew there and bring them home. He brought with him his mother's and his sister Pectur's sheep that he intended to sheer.

4 The queen of heaven was residing in the Apsu and noticed the powerful lord of Uruk as he went. "I will have you Gilgamesh. You will be my man and I will never let you go. You will be mine to do with as I will. I won't let you go to my temple, An's cherished Eanna, and pass verdicts. I will not let you preside over the Gipar courts."

5 As Gilgamesh went he heard Inanna's longings. He was offered several favors by the powerful and influential queen of heaven. As he traveled he communed with his mother and told the goddess what he had heard.

6 "Do not let her gifts enter the house," Ninsun advised. "Her tender touch would weaken your warrior's arm." Ninsun knew that the goddess of war would not help her son's warrior nature if she was sleeping with him.

7 Gilgamesh listened to his mother and turned his attention to Inanna. "Great lady, you must not prevent me from carrying out my duties. I will go to the mountains and fill your holy pens with wild sheep and bulls, but I will not become your lover. I will even fill your treasury with silver and carnelian."

8 Inanna snorted angrily. Her anger began to rise and the color drained away from her face until it looked like tamerisk. She was not used to being refused. She was particularly not used to being refused by the lord of her own favorite city.

9 Returning to An's domain, the queen of heaven shed tears before the god of heaven. She hoped that An would come to the aid of his cherished goddess. She was like a favorite child to him.

10 "Why are you crying dear Inanna?" An asked of the weeping goddess.

11 "It is Gilgamesh, he's a bull on the rampage in Uruk. All I wanted to do was give myself to him, " Inanna pleaded invoking the city where An had a Ziggurat, and the city where An had given her the Eanna. "Look at me," she pleaded, "I'm crying. All I ask is that you give me the bull of heaven to kill the lord of Uruk."

12 "Gugalanna would have no food on earth. His food lies at the horizon where the sun rises." An knew that the bull of heaven, An's own divine canal inspector, would destroy the land. His hooves could be heard as thunder in the storms.

13 "Then I will scream until your realm falls down upon the earth." At that, Inanna began to scream. Her scream was unlike the screams of any other creature. Her screams were terrifying. It covered the land like a blanket.

14 An was forced to comply to Inanna's wishes if for no other reason than to calm her down. There was nothing that could be said to her to calm her down. She wanted what she wanted and no mere words could explain to her that she could not have it.

15 "I will give Gugalanna, the bull of heaven, to you as you wish," he told her knowing that there would be problems.

16 Taking the reigns of the bull of heaven, Inanna headed away from heaven and towards Uruk. She pulled him along insistently like an ox driver. Ereshkiga's husband, Gugalanna, the divine canal inspector of An, was being treated like an unruly pet.

17 He consumed all of the water in the Engilua canal and stripped the countryside bare of grass. He consumed Uruk's date palms and everything else that he could get a hold of. Nothing could quench his godly appetites.

18 The sheep of the goddess Ninsun, and those of Pectur broke free of their pens and ran in fear out into the countryside. Their fence had already been destroyed by Gugalanna in his rampaging.

19 Gilgamesh's musician, Lugal Gabangal, having seen what Inanna had done, ran from the scene of devastation. He needed to tell the lord Gilgamesh of the trouble as quickly as he could. The king needed to know that his lands were being ravaged.

20 When he reached his lord, Lugal Gabangal found that he was drinking with his adviser Enkidu. He attempted to tell his lord, but his master did not hear immediately.

21 "My musician. Come join us. Get your lyre ready. I would love to hear a drinking song."

22 "Drink!" replied the musician. "Drinking is your problem. That's why you can't keep your mind on something more important!"

23 "Fill my bronze goblet with beer and join us in revelry," Gilgamesh urged.

24 "My lord Gilgamesh, you may eat, and you may drink, but that has nothing to do with me."

25 "What is so important then?" Gilgamesh inquired of his musician.

26 "Inanna has brought the bull of heaven down to earth. He is drinking the water from the canals for miles and eating everything that grows in all of the city of Uruk."

27 "You did well," Gilgamesh stated becoming instantly more alert.

28 He ran from his chambers out into the countryside where the devastation was taking place. Enkidu followed only a moment behind him. His beautiful city was being destroyed and he needed to put a stop to it.

29 "Gugalanna!" Gilgamesh taunted. "Yes, I'm talking to you. I am going to cut you into pieces for the butcher. I am going to feed the entire countryside with your carcase. You horns are going to be turned into oil flasks for Inanna's temple." The bull bellowed in rage at Gilgamesh's words. Who was this mortal to threaten him?

30 Inanna watched from the tops of the city's walls as Gilgamesh taunted her bull. She may have been treating him badly, but Inanna counted the bull as her friend. She cared for him the way a master cares for his servants.

31 Gilgamesh took the bull's head in his powerful arms while Enkidu circled around behind the great beast. The people of Uruk were prepared with ropes to take the beast down when their heroes had stopped it. They were quickly covered with the dust that the bull kicked up.

32 "Strike him now Gilgamesh," Enkidu called when he had taken hold of the bull's tail. "Your mother the goddess Ninsun outdid herself when she took to having children, and your nurse maid made you strong when she suckled you and your little sister Pectur! Don't be afraid of this warrior. He has no strength. Take your Axe of the Road and strike him down."

33 Gilgamesh struck the god down with his enchanted Axe. The bull of heaven reared up from the strike and over balanced. The blow was so powerful that he spattered the head of the creature all over the countryside where blood came down like rain.

34 "I have killed the bull of heaven, and I will now destroy you." As he beheld the carnage, Gilgamesh was angered at the cause. Events beyond his control had caused him to kill a majestic god to defend his city. He took his knife in hand and cut the hind leg off of the bull and flung it at the queen of heaven. As it impacted the wall, the ramparts were destroyed, but Inanna was only angered.

35 When he was done he did what he said he would with the body. The poor and starving of Kullab and the greater Uruk area were fed with the meat of the bull. Meanwhile Pectur, Gilgamesh's little sister, took it upon herself to rebuild the countryside. She brought the cattle and sheep back to the countryside and repaired much of the damage that the bull of heaven had wrought.

Return Home