Cultural Discourse looks at a broad range of cultural issues.
16th April 2017

Ebert’s new Gilgamesh Epic is out!

posted in Uncategorized |

 

 

An excerpt from Gilgamesh Redux by John David Ebert:

This book can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.com/Gilgamesh-Redux-John-David-Ebert/dp/1545388962/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492470617&sr=8-1&keywords=gilgamesh+redux

LUGALBANDA

 

the army of enmerkar on its way to aratta:

a horizon splayed with sticks of bronze spears heavy chariots copper helmets human swarm of living flies ravaging the planar surface of the flat carnelian desert

coffee brown fog of dust sand debris unleashed from a cleft in the earth that stains the lapis blue sky to erase the sun a dim copper disk wan and pale in the vanilla air eyes ripped out of their sockets teeth made into mortars and pestles grinding sand a dustrain that draws the onagers pulling the carts to a dead stop

a sickness ravaged lugalbanda the eighth son of enmerkar and he plunged to the sand a mud effigy as his seven brothers surrounded him raised him up and carried him upon their shoulders a pale christ walking mourners in a death dirge to the mouth of a nearby cave an ancient paleolithic mausoleum for the gods uttu ninhursag and inanna would not heed them and he was laid out flat on his back gone wasted and wrack with fever and ruinous dread of the demon that the sandstorm had blown inside of him some wayward creature with blue splayed batwings thin spindly legs and a ruinous gibbering toothless mouth that had blown into him and now had him turned upside down

a bird’s nest of provisions they made him dates figs dried meat cheese palm baskets of eggs in oil chunks of animal fat loaves of bread with date syrup ingots of butter leather skins of water jugs of dark beer and white beer and red wine incense oil aromatic oil

and they carefully placed his bronze axe by his head and tied his iron dagger imported from the mountains to his chest while sweat leaked from him in profuse oily patches that mixed with the dust from the storm to create a mud man who lay dying in the dark recesses of the cave

if the sun god restored him he would arise from the cave an archaic lazarus but if it took him to irkalla his body would remain stiffened and petrified for them to retrieve for proper burial on the way back from aratta and with that mournful discussion the brothers filed forth from the cave and emerged back out into the calcium colored daylight beyond the cavern entrance to continue their journey to aratta

two and a half days in the wasted darkness and he lay begging for the sun god to drive the demon out of him but he could only lie helpless a broken rag doll and wonder whether the darkness would claim him and he would sink into it and feel himself dropping down into irkalla losing his body and becoming a shade with feathers and the thought drove terror into him and he begged the sun god to restore him to health

on that night the star of inanna gleamed directly through the mouth of the cave a burning vanilla stone and he prayed to the mistress of harlots to rescue him prayed to her to restore him to health and the light of the mistress of the great above washed quietly over him and the soft luminescence suffused the cavern with a dull gentle glow of warmth from her light

later the same night the moon boat of nanna-sin floated into view over the black sea and washed an effulgence into the cave that was mother of pearl and he prayed to the god to heal him restore him to his energies so that he could go find his brothers and fight with them at the battle of aratta

when after three days the sun god uttu rose out of a crack in the earth and washed the cave clean with his gold lemon yellow turquoise light lugalbanda awoke and felt that the demon had been driven forth from him for his fever was gone and he had an appetite and was able to eat some of the provisions left behind for him by his brothers

on that day lugalbanda rose from his cave and set forth a lone stick figure like an elongated shadow of a man striding forth out upon the flat desert a shadow in search of its body

he wandered the rusty hills until the trees erupted out of the dirt all around him and rocks thrust their way up and formed skeletons of earth and he began running a shadow no longer the shadow had found its maker and attached itself to the pale wan wasted body that the gods had regenerated and he could feel it growing now becoming larger and fuller as he ran that day until the sun gave way at the edge of the earth and splintered into pieces and he found himself in a copse of trees in a forest clearing and checked the leather satchel his brothers had given him and inside of it he found two flint stones that he rubbed together  to make a fire and smiled to see the flames light the leaves and kindling that he had prepared and the glowing coals luminesced in the night like some strange jellyfish lighting up the clearing and he rolled some dough upon a flat stone and cooked himself some bread and ate it with date syrup and slept in the all consuming darkness where the fiery amber stars walked over the lid of the sky while he slept

in the morning he spotted a lone black bull snuffling its way through the woods and he set a trap for it then stripped a branch from a juniper tree that was curled up like an old man and he tied the snorting bull to the tree and later in the day he caught two wasted leprous goats that could barely walk and tied them both to trees and that night he slept again beneath the burning stars of anu and zangara the god of dreams came to him surfacing with a kind of spongy liquidity out of the dream fabric and bade him sacrifice the animals at dawn and feed them to the gods and when he awoke the sky was still charcoal and he grabbed his iron dagger and he went over to the bull and stabbed it repeatedly over and over again until it collapsed in a muddled bloody heap as though it had been deflated and then he cut the heads off the goats and carefully poured their blood into a hole he had dug into the earth and as the sky swelled to a bloated purple color he waited for the gods to come for their feast and soon they came and fed greedily upon his offerings as though they had never eaten such fine food before

but the portal through which they had entered into this world was left open behind them and black gibbering creatures with fangs and claws came through behind them some of them had serpents for arms and some had arms and legs that were like sticks ending in sharp snapping mouths with ragged teeth and some were red with yellow eyes like coals that glowed in the dark and some wriggled as they moved through the air and others sailed on spiny wings and had no faces and these creatures began to split apart mitotically reproducing themselves as clones that spread through the air and lugalbanda stood looking up in the twilight from the forest floor mouth open in amazement at such horrors and the gods enki enlil ninursaga inanna and ninurta went to war against them sending blazing currents of blue white light that neutralized them and caused them to freeze up and disintegrate into a black sooty ash that stained the air and soon they were all gone and the portal was closed and the gods were gone too and lugalbanda lay upon the forest floor and fell asleep exhausted

in the morning when he awoke he didn’t know where he was he had somehow during the battle above him the previous night lost all sense of direction but when he crested a nearby hill he could see the swale of brownish yellow landscape that swept out beyond him in all directions and in the far distance there was an enormous hill with a tree upon it larger than he had ever before seen in his life and as he approached the tree he could see that it was something so ancient massive and gnarled that it had been left over from a previous age and he realized then that it must be the tree of the famed anzu bird which as the dawn splashed its red streaks upon the lavender sky he could see the enormous bird spread its wings wings that had claws and he could see as it raised its triangular beak that it had razored teeth like some incredibly huge archaeopteryx and he watched and waited for it to leave soaring into the heavens a huge black thing that soon disappeared over the edge of the earth

lugalbanda made his way to the tree and he climbed it all the way to the nest at the top that was woven of juniper and boxwood and inside the nest was a single young hatchling and lugalbanda reached into his satchel and set out some sweetmeats for the creature and dough laced with honey and sprinkled it with cedar scent and rouged its eyes with kohl and then when he was certain that the young bird had been taken care of he descended the prehistoric tree and hid behind a limestone rock to await the return of its mother

when the creature returned it was carrying a buffalo in its talons and when it cried out to its youngling in the nest there was no response and it dropped the buffalo and hastened to the nest to find out why there had been no greeting to its mother and it found that its hatchling had been cared for and provided with food and was well looked after and the anzu bird looked up and lugalbanda could hear it speak and it said that whoever was responsible for caring for its young should show himself forth and he would be rewarded by the anzu bird and given the name he who is made great by anzu

lugalbanda stepped forth from behind his rock a tiny figure dwarfed by a prehistoric tree and a monstrous bird and admitted that he had been the one responsible for caring for the bird and that he was willing to allow the anzu bird to determine his fate but when the bird offered him strength and weapons lugalbanda turned these things down and instead asked only for the power to run faster than anyone on earth without ever tiring and so the bird granted his wish bestowed upon him this power and they set forth lugalbanda speeding over the hill while the anzu bird flew above and spied out the troops of his father’s army while lugalbanda could see the dust they raised upon the horizon and he thanked the bird but the bird advised him to tell no one of his special powers lest he arouse envy and lugalbanda agreed as the bird disappeared into the sapphire heavens back to its nest

his brothers were amazed to see him and they welcomed him and could not understand how he had been resurrected but lugalbanda explained that he had been favored by the gods and that they had restored him to health and there was warm rejoicing and the drinking of beer and wine before the army once again set forth across the dusty pink plain and marched until they found themselves within a league of the city of aratta

before they had realized it the army had found itself trapped between the cliffs of a pink granite canyon and soon the sky was darkened with swarms of arrows that flew at them and spears and javelins that fell upon them in a constant rain that went on for month after month until finally enmerkar announced that someone would have to go back to the city to confer with inanna and ask her why she had abandoned them but no one volunteered for this task except lugalbanda at whom his brothers looked askance but his father enmerkar agreed to allow him to go and lugalbanda said that he would go on the condition that he go by himself and take with him only his weapons and his father gave him his blessings

lugalbanda sped back across the hills pink canyons rusty plains and copper ravines and he arrived at the city of uruk that very night and immediately made his way through its crowded streets to the eanna temple complex where the huge columns of inanna’s temple were and he went past the bald and naked priests who were bringing in her offerings and demanded that he be allowed to see her immediately and the priests let him past and he went in to find inanna at rest upon her couch with her lion beside her and she was surprised to see him wondering at his lone return and he gave to her his father’s message that enmerkar though he had built up the city on her behalf was now at the mercy of aratta and was under siege and would perish unless inanna did something to help them

the black-haired goddess grew pensive for a moment and then she stood and told lugalbanda that there were two things his father must do on her behalf in order for him to win the war against aratta: there was a lone tamarisk tree along the riverbank that enmerkar must cut down and then turn the wood into a special bucket for her and then there was a certain type of rare fish a gishsesh fish that he must find in the river catch prepare it and serve it and then he would receive the powers from her to defeat aratta and aratta would be at his yoke

lugalbanda sped back over the desert and through the uplands to deliver inanna’s message to his father who was delighted to hear it

aratta was soon reticulated with lines of capture and its riches poured into the coffers of uruk

lugalbanda would become the next king after the death of his father and he would marry the cow goddess lady ninsun and together they would raise a child they called gilgamesh

 

LUGALBANDA

 

the army of enmerkar on its way to aratta:

a horizon splayed with sticks of bronze spears heavy chariots copper helmets human swarm of living flies ravaging the planar surface of the flat carnelian desert

coffee brown fog of dust sand debris unleashed from a cleft in the earth that stains the lapis blue sky to erase the sun a dim copper disk wan and pale in the vanilla air eyes ripped out of their sockets teeth made into mortars and pestles grinding sand a dustrain that draws the onagers pulling the carts to a dead stop

a sickness ravaged lugalbanda the eighth son of enmerkar and he plunged to the sand a mud effigy as his seven brothers surrounded him raised him up and carried him upon their shoulders a pale christ walking mourners in a death dirge to the mouth of a nearby cave an ancient paleolithic mausoleum for the gods uttu ninhursag and inanna would not heed them and he was laid out flat on his back gone wasted and wrack with fever and ruinous dread of the demon that the sandstorm had blown inside of him some wayward creature with blue splayed batwings thin spindly legs and a ruinous gibbering toothless mouth that had blown into him and now had him turned upside down

a bird’s nest of provisions they made him dates figs dried meat cheese palm baskets of eggs in oil chunks of animal fat loaves of bread with date syrup ingots of butter leather skins of water jugs of dark beer and white beer and red wine incense oil aromatic oil

and they carefully placed his bronze axe by his head and tied his iron dagger imported from the mountains to his chest while sweat leaked from him in profuse oily patches that mixed with the dust from the storm to create a mud man who lay dying in the dark recesses of the cave

if the sun god restored him he would arise from the cave an archaic lazarus but if it took him to irkalla his body would remain stiffened and petrified for them to retrieve for proper burial on the way back from aratta and with that mournful discussion the brothers filed forth from the cave and emerged back out into the calcium colored daylight beyond the cavern entrance to continue their journey to aratta

two and a half days in the wasted darkness and he lay begging for the sun god to drive the demon out of him but he could only lie helpless a broken rag doll and wonder whether the darkness would claim him and he would sink into it and feel himself dropping down into irkalla losing his body and becoming a shade with feathers and the thought drove terror into him and he begged the sun god to restore him to health

on that night the star of inanna gleamed directly through the mouth of the cave a burning vanilla stone and he prayed to the mistress of harlots to rescue him prayed to her to restore him to health and the light of the mistress of the great above washed quietly over him and the soft luminescence suffused the cavern with a dull gentle glow of warmth from her light

later the same night the moon boat of nanna-sin floated into view over the black sea and washed an effulgence into the cave that was mother of pearl and he prayed to the god to heal him restore him to his energies so that he could go find his brothers and fight with them at the battle of aratta

when after three days the sun god uttu rose out of a crack in the earth and washed the cave clean with his gold lemon yellow turquoise light lugalbanda awoke and felt that the demon had been driven forth from him for his fever was gone and he had an appetite and was able to eat some of the provisions left behind for him by his brothers

on that day lugalbanda rose from his cave and set forth a lone stick figure like an elongated shadow of a man striding forth out upon the flat desert a shadow in search of its body

he wandered the rusty hills until the trees erupted out of the dirt all around him and rocks thrust their way up and formed skeletons of earth and he began running a shadow no longer the shadow had found its maker and attached itself to the pale wan wasted body that the gods had regenerated and he could feel it growing now becoming larger and fuller as he ran that day until the sun gave way at the edge of the earth and splintered into pieces and he found himself in a copse of trees in a forest clearing and checked the leather satchel his brothers had given him and inside of it he found two flint stones that he rubbed together  to make a fire and smiled to see the flames light the leaves and kindling that he had prepared and the glowing coals luminesced in the night like some strange jellyfish lighting up the clearing and he rolled some dough upon a flat stone and cooked himself some bread and ate it with date syrup and slept in the all consuming darkness where the fiery amber stars walked over the lid of the sky while he slept

in the morning he spotted a lone black bull snuffling its way through the woods and he set a trap for it then stripped a branch from a juniper tree that was curled up like an old man and he tied the snorting bull to the tree and later in the day he caught two wasted leprous goats that could barely walk and tied them both to trees and that night he slept again beneath the burning stars of anu and zangara the god of dreams came to him surfacing with a kind of spongy liquidity out of the dream fabric and bade him sacrifice the animals at dawn and feed them to the gods and when he awoke the sky was still charcoal and he grabbed his iron dagger and he went over to the bull and stabbed it repeatedly over and over again until it collapsed in a muddled bloody heap as though it had been deflated and then he cut the heads off the goats and carefully poured their blood into a hole he had dug into the earth and as the sky swelled to a bloated purple color he waited for the gods to come for their feast and soon they came and fed greedily upon his offerings as though they had never eaten such fine food before

but the portal through which they had entered into this world was left open behind them and black gibbering creatures with fangs and claws came through behind them some of them had serpents for arms and some had arms and legs that were like sticks ending in sharp snapping mouths with ragged teeth and some were red with yellow eyes like coals that glowed in the dark and some wriggled as they moved through the air and others sailed on spiny wings and had no faces and these creatures began to split apart mitotically reproducing themselves as clones that spread through the air and lugalbanda stood looking up in the twilight from the forest floor mouth open in amazement at such horrors and the gods enki enlil ninursaga inanna and ninurta went to war against them sending blazing currents of blue white light that neutralized them and caused them to freeze up and disintegrate into a black sooty ash that stained the air and soon they were all gone and the portal was closed and the gods were gone too and lugalbanda lay upon the forest floor and fell asleep exhausted

in the morning when he awoke he didn’t know where he was he had somehow during the battle above him the previous night lost all sense of direction but when he crested a nearby hill he could see the swale of brownish yellow landscape that swept out beyond him in all directions and in the far distance there was an enormous hill with a tree upon it larger than he had ever before seen in his life and as he approached the tree he could see that it was something so ancient massive and gnarled that it had been left over from a previous age and he realized then that it must be the tree of the famed anzu bird which as the dawn splashed its red streaks upon the lavender sky he could see the enormous bird spread its wings wings that had claws and he could see as it raised its triangular beak that it had razored teeth like some incredibly huge archaeopteryx and he watched and waited for it to leave soaring into the heavens a huge black thing that soon disappeared over the edge of the earth

lugalbanda made his way to the tree and he climbed it all the way to the nest at the top that was woven of juniper and boxwood and inside the nest was a single young hatchling and lugalbanda reached into his satchel and set out some sweetmeats for the creature and dough laced with honey and sprinkled it with cedar scent and rouged its eyes with kohl and then when he was certain that the young bird had been taken care of he descended the prehistoric tree and hid behind a limestone rock to await the return of its mother

when the creature returned it was carrying a buffalo in its talons and when it cried out to its youngling in the nest there was no response and it dropped the buffalo and hastened to the nest to find out why there had been no greeting to its mother and it found that its hatchling had been cared for and provided with food and was well looked after and the anzu bird looked up and lugalbanda could hear it speak and it said that whoever was responsible for caring for its young should show himself forth and he would be rewarded by the anzu bird and given the name he who is made great by anzu

lugalbanda stepped forth from behind his rock a tiny figure dwarfed by a prehistoric tree and a monstrous bird and admitted that he had been the one responsible for caring for the bird and that he was willing to allow the anzu bird to determine his fate but when the bird offered him strength and weapons lugalbanda turned these things down and instead asked only for the power to run faster than anyone on earth without ever tiring and so the bird granted his wish bestowed upon him this power and they set forth lugalbanda speeding over the hill while the anzu bird flew above and spied out the troops of his father’s army while lugalbanda could see the dust they raised upon the horizon and he thanked the bird but the bird advised him to tell no one of his special powers lest he arouse envy and lugalbanda agreed as the bird disappeared into the sapphire heavens back to its nest

his brothers were amazed to see him and they welcomed him and could not understand how he had been resurrected but lugalbanda explained that he had been favored by the gods and that they had restored him to health and there was warm rejoicing and the drinking of beer and wine before the army once again set forth across the dusty pink plain and marched until they found themselves within a league of the city of aratta

before they had realized it the army had found itself trapped between the cliffs of a pink granite canyon and soon the sky was darkened with swarms of arrows that flew at them and spears and javelins that fell upon them in a constant rain that went on for month after month until finally enmerkar announced that someone would have to go back to the city to confer with inanna and ask her why she had abandoned them but no one volunteered for this task except lugalbanda at whom his brothers looked askance but his father enmerkar agreed to allow him to go and lugalbanda said that he would go on the condition that he go by himself and take with him only his weapons and his father gave him his blessings

lugalbanda sped back across the hills pink canyons rusty plains and copper ravines and he arrived at the city of uruk that very night and immediately made his way through its crowded streets to the eanna temple complex where the huge columns of inanna’s temple were and he went past the bald and naked priests who were bringing in her offerings and demanded that he be allowed to see her immediately and the priests let him past and he went in to find inanna at rest upon her couch with her lion beside her and she was surprised to see him wondering at his lone return and he gave to her his father’s message that enmerkar though he had built up the city on her behalf was now at the mercy of aratta and was under siege and would perish unless inanna did something to help them

the black-haired goddess grew pensive for a moment and then she stood and told lugalbanda that there were two things his father must do on her behalf in order for him to win the war against aratta: there was a lone tamarisk tree along the riverbank that enmerkar must cut down and then turn the wood into a special bucket for her and then there was a certain type of rare fish a gishsesh fish that he must find in the river catch prepare it and serve it and then he would receive the powers from her to defeat aratta and aratta would be at his yoke

lugalbanda sped back over the desert and through the uplands to deliver inanna’s message to his father who was delighted to hear it

aratta was soon reticulated with lines of capture and its riches poured into the coffers of uruk

lugalbanda would become the next king after the death of his father and he would marry the cow goddess lady ninsun and together they would raise a child they called gilgamesh

 

LUGALBANDA

 

the army of enmerkar on its way to aratta:

a horizon splayed with sticks of bronze spears heavy chariots copper helmets human swarm of living flies ravaging the planar surface of the flat carnelian desert

coffee brown fog of dust sand debris unleashed from a cleft in the earth that stains the lapis blue sky to erase the sun a dim copper disk wan and pale in the vanilla air eyes ripped out of their sockets teeth made into mortars and pestles grinding sand a dustrain that draws the onagers pulling the carts to a dead stop

a sickness ravaged lugalbanda the eighth son of enmerkar and he plunged to the sand a mud effigy as his seven brothers surrounded him raised him up and carried him upon their shoulders a pale christ walking mourners in a death dirge to the mouth of a nearby cave an ancient paleolithic mausoleum for the gods uttu ninhursag and inanna would not heed them and he was laid out flat on his back gone wasted and wrack with fever and ruinous dread of the demon that the sandstorm had blown inside of him some wayward creature with blue splayed batwings thin spindly legs and a ruinous gibbering toothless mouth that had blown into him and now had him turned upside down

a bird’s nest of provisions they made him dates figs dried meat cheese palm baskets of eggs in oil chunks of animal fat loaves of bread with date syrup ingots of butter leather skins of water jugs of dark beer and white beer and red wine incense oil aromatic oil

and they carefully placed his bronze axe by his head and tied his iron dagger imported from the mountains to his chest while sweat leaked from him in profuse oily patches that mixed with the dust from the storm to create a mud man who lay dying in the dark recesses of the cave

if the sun god restored him he would arise from the cave an archaic lazarus but if it took him to irkalla his body would remain stiffened and petrified for them to retrieve for proper burial on the way back from aratta and with that mournful discussion the brothers filed forth from the cave and emerged back out into the calcium colored daylight beyond the cavern entrance to continue their journey to aratta

two and a half days in the wasted darkness and he lay begging for the sun god to drive the demon out of him but he could only lie helpless a broken rag doll and wonder whether the darkness would claim him and he would sink into it and feel himself dropping down into irkalla losing his body and becoming a shade with feathers and the thought drove terror into him and he begged the sun god to restore him to health

on that night the star of inanna gleamed directly through the mouth of the cave a burning vanilla stone and he prayed to the mistress of harlots to rescue him prayed to her to restore him to health and the light of the mistress of the great above washed quietly over him and the soft luminescence suffused the cavern with a dull gentle glow of warmth from her light

later the same night the moon boat of nanna-sin floated into view over the black sea and washed an effulgence into the cave that was mother of pearl and he prayed to the god to heal him restore him to his energies so that he could go find his brothers and fight with them at the battle of aratta

when after three days the sun god uttu rose out of a crack in the earth and washed the cave clean with his gold lemon yellow turquoise light lugalbanda awoke and felt that the demon had been driven forth from him for his fever was gone and he had an appetite and was able to eat some of the provisions left behind for him by his brothers

on that day lugalbanda rose from his cave and set forth a lone stick figure like an elongated shadow of a man striding forth out upon the flat desert a shadow in search of its body

he wandered the rusty hills until the trees erupted out of the dirt all around him and rocks thrust their way up and formed skeletons of earth and he began running a shadow no longer the shadow had found its maker and attached itself to the pale wan wasted body that the gods had regenerated and he could feel it growing now becoming larger and fuller as he ran that day until the sun gave way at the edge of the earth and splintered into pieces and he found himself in a copse of trees in a forest clearing and checked the leather satchel his brothers had given him and inside of it he found two flint stones that he rubbed together  to make a fire and smiled to see the flames light the leaves and kindling that he had prepared and the glowing coals luminesced in the night like some strange jellyfish lighting up the clearing and he rolled some dough upon a flat stone and cooked himself some bread and ate it with date syrup and slept in the all consuming darkness where the fiery amber stars walked over the lid of the sky while he slept

in the morning he spotted a lone black bull snuffling its way through the woods and he set a trap for it then stripped a branch from a juniper tree that was curled up like an old man and he tied the snorting bull to the tree and later in the day he caught two wasted leprous goats that could barely walk and tied them both to trees and that night he slept again beneath the burning stars of anu and zangara the god of dreams came to him surfacing with a kind of spongy liquidity out of the dream fabric and bade him sacrifice the animals at dawn and feed them to the gods and when he awoke the sky was still charcoal and he grabbed his iron dagger and he went over to the bull and stabbed it repeatedly over and over again until it collapsed in a muddled bloody heap as though it had been deflated and then he cut the heads off the goats and carefully poured their blood into a hole he had dug into the earth and as the sky swelled to a bloated purple color he waited for the gods to come for their feast and soon they came and fed greedily upon his offerings as though they had never eaten such fine food before

but the portal through which they had entered into this world was left open behind them and black gibbering creatures with fangs and claws came through behind them some of them had serpents for arms and some had arms and legs that were like sticks ending in sharp snapping mouths with ragged teeth and some were red with yellow eyes like coals that glowed in the dark and some wriggled as they moved through the air and others sailed on spiny wings and had no faces and these creatures began to split apart mitotically reproducing themselves as clones that spread through the air and lugalbanda stood looking up in the twilight from the forest floor mouth open in amazement at such horrors and the gods enki enlil ninursaga inanna and ninurta went to war against them sending blazing currents of blue white light that neutralized them and caused them to freeze up and disintegrate into a black sooty ash that stained the air and soon they were all gone and the portal was closed and the gods were gone too and lugalbanda lay upon the forest floor and fell asleep exhausted

in the morning when he awoke he didn’t know where he was he had somehow during the battle above him the previous night lost all sense of direction but when he crested a nearby hill he could see the swale of brownish yellow landscape that swept out beyond him in all directions and in the far distance there was an enormous hill with a tree upon it larger than he had ever before seen in his life and as he approached the tree he could see that it was something so ancient massive and gnarled that it had been left over from a previous age and he realized then that it must be the tree of the famed anzu bird which as the dawn splashed its red streaks upon the lavender sky he could see the enormous bird spread its wings wings that had claws and he could see as it raised its triangular beak that it had razored teeth like some incredibly huge archaeopteryx and he watched and waited for it to leave soaring into the heavens a huge black thing that soon disappeared over the edge of the earth

lugalbanda made his way to the tree and he climbed it all the way to the nest at the top that was woven of juniper and boxwood and inside the nest was a single young hatchling and lugalbanda reached into his satchel and set out some sweetmeats for the creature and dough laced with honey and sprinkled it with cedar scent and rouged its eyes with kohl and then when he was certain that the young bird had been taken care of he descended the prehistoric tree and hid behind a limestone rock to await the return of its mother

when the creature returned it was carrying a buffalo in its talons and when it cried out to its youngling in the nest there was no response and it dropped the buffalo and hastened to the nest to find out why there had been no greeting to its mother and it found that its hatchling had been cared for and provided with food and was well looked after and the anzu bird looked up and lugalbanda could hear it speak and it said that whoever was responsible for caring for its young should show himself forth and he would be rewarded by the anzu bird and given the name he who is made great by anzu

lugalbanda stepped forth from behind his rock a tiny figure dwarfed by a prehistoric tree and a monstrous bird and admitted that he had been the one responsible for caring for the bird and that he was willing to allow the anzu bird to determine his fate but when the bird offered him strength and weapons lugalbanda turned these things down and instead asked only for the power to run faster than anyone on earth without ever tiring and so the bird granted his wish bestowed upon him this power and they set forth lugalbanda speeding over the hill while the anzu bird flew above and spied out the troops of his father’s army while lugalbanda could see the dust they raised upon the horizon and he thanked the bird but the bird advised him to tell no one of his special powers lest he arouse envy and lugalbanda agreed as the bird disappeared into the sapphire heavens back to its nest

his brothers were amazed to see him and they welcomed him and could not understand how he had been resurrected but lugalbanda explained that he had been favored by the gods and that they had restored him to health and there was warm rejoicing and the drinking of beer and wine before the army once again set forth across the dusty pink plain and marched until they found themselves within a league of the city of aratta

before they had realized it the army had found itself trapped between the cliffs of a pink granite canyon and soon the sky was darkened with swarms of arrows that flew at them and spears and javelins that fell upon them in a constant rain that went on for month after month until finally enmerkar announced that someone would have to go back to the city to confer with inanna and ask her why she had abandoned them but no one volunteered for this task except lugalbanda at whom his brothers looked askance but his father enmerkar agreed to allow him to go and lugalbanda said that he would go on the condition that he go by himself and take with him only his weapons and his father gave him his blessings

lugalbanda sped back across the hills pink canyons rusty plains and copper ravines and he arrived at the city of uruk that very night and immediately made his way through its crowded streets to the eanna temple complex where the huge columns of inanna’s temple were and he went past the bald and naked priests who were bringing in her offerings and demanded that he be allowed to see her immediately and the priests let him past and he went in to find inanna at rest upon her couch with her lion beside her and she was surprised to see him wondering at his lone return and he gave to her his father’s message that enmerkar though he had built up the city on her behalf was now at the mercy of aratta and was under siege and would perish unless inanna did something to help them

the black-haired goddess grew pensive for a moment and then she stood and told lugalbanda that there were two things his father must do on her behalf in order for him to win the war against aratta: there was a lone tamarisk tree along the riverbank that enmerkar must cut down and then turn the wood into a special bucket for her and then there was a certain type of rare fish a gishsesh fish that he must find in the river catch prepare it and serve it and then he would receive the powers from her to defeat aratta and aratta would be at his yoke

lugalbanda sped back over the desert and through the uplands to deliver inanna’s message to his father who was delighted to hear it

aratta was soon reticulated with lines of capture and its riches poured into the coffers of uruk

lugalbanda would become the next king after the death of his father and he would marry the cow goddess lady ninsun and together they would raise a child they called gilgamesh

 

 

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