The Epic of Gilgamesh or He Who Saw the Deep
c. 2100–1200 BCE
Notable lines and passages
He had seen everything, had experienced all emotions,
from exaltation to despair, had been granted a vision
into the great mystery, the secret places,
the primeval days before the Flood.
First lines, George translation
She did for the man the work of a woman,
his passion caressed and embraced her.
For six days and seven nights
Enkidu was erect, as he coupled with Shamhat
Utnapishtim said to Gilgamesh, "I will reveal to you a mystery.
I will tell you a secret of the gods."
Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands. Gilgamesh, fill your belly. Day and night make merry. Let days be full of joy, dance and make music day and night. And wear fresh clothes. And wash your head and bathe. Look at the child that is holding your hand, and let your wife delight in your embrace. These things alone are the concern of men.
What should I do and where should I go?
A thief has taken hold of my flesh!
For there in my bed-chamber Death does abide,
and wherever I turn, there too will be Death.
When at last they arrived, Gilgamesh
said to Urshanabi, "This is
the wall of Uruk, which no city on earthcan equal.
See how its ramparts gleam like copper in the sun.
Climb the stone staircase, more ancient than the mind can imagine,
approach the Eanna Temple, sacred to Ishtar,
a temple that no king has equaled insize or beauty,
walk on the wall of Uruk, follow its course
around the city, inspect its mighty foundations,
examine its brickwork, how masterfully it is built,
observe the land it encloses: the palm trees, the gardens,
the orchards, the glorious palaces and temples, the shops
and marketplaces, the houses, the public squares."
Last lines, Mitchell version