Tablet IV

(Most of this tablet is mutilated and lost.)
After twenty intervals
They broke off a morsel
After thirty more
Rested for the night
Fifty were the intervals
Which they trod in a day
In three days, one month and fifteen days
Before Utu/Shamash the Sun they dug a well.
(The rest of the column is missing. After a missing portion of the next column, the text recommences.)
After twenty intervals
They broke off a morsel
After thirty more
Rested for the night
Fifty were the intervals
Which they trod in a day
In three days, one month and fifteen days
(Here then lines are missing)
Gilgamesh went up the mountain
Poured out the fine-meal and intoned
‘O Mountain, bring me a dream that is favourable.’
(The rest of the column is missing, as well as the following two columns in their entirety and the beginning of the fifty column. By the time the text resumes in the incomplete fifth column, Gilgamesh and Enkidu have arrived at the doorway or gate of the Cedar Forest. Enkidu is encouraging a hesitant and wavering Gilgamesh.)
‘Remember your words when in Uruk?
Come, rise, that you may slay him!
Are you not Gilgamesh, the progeny of Great Uruk?’
Gilgamesh heard these words from his mouth
And great became his confidence.
‘Quickly, step up to him, let him not go –
Not go down into the woods and vanish there,
Where he cloaks himself with seven cloaks (2)
One is on him now, six are still off…’
Like unto a lordly bull he rages and is full of…
He the Guardian of the Forest calls out….
Humbaba, like
(The rest of the column is missing, as is the beginning of the next. The text commences again as follows:)
Enkidu spoke to Gilgamesh,
Said to him:
‘Let us not go down into the heart of the forest!
‘… my friend, as weaklings….
….we have travelled, all of them….
….before us…..
My friend – canny in combat, you are skilled in battle;
Only touch my garment and you will not fear death.
… and remain with me….’
(Here one line is undeciphrable)
‘So that the limpness may leave your arm
That the weakness leave your hand…
Stay by me as my friend and let us go.
Together into the depths of the forest
Let not combat destroy your courage.
Forget death and do not…
A man determined to action but thoughtful…
He who leads the way preserves himself
And keeps his companion safe.
Though they may perish
Yet their name will endure.’
And so they both arrived at the green mountain.
They fell silent and stood quite still.


1. There is little doubt that the traversing of 50 intervals on each of these two days is meant to be significant. Speiser’s version is ’50 leagues’ and Heidel’s ‘fifty double-hours (See Tablet IX, note 13 for a further discussion of ‘double hours’.) Both these translations seem to be justifiable but each contradicts the other, since the first is an interval of space and the second an interval of time. The text also provides us with the information that in their 3 days’ travel Gilgamesh and Enkidu traversed the distance of one month and fifteen days, or three half-months, which is an interval of time measured in space – the distance of a month and a half’s time within three days’ time.
The fact that later, at the end of Tablet XI, we find identically worded descriptions of a journey of twice-fifty intervals made by Gilgamesh back to Uruk from an entirely different location than the Cedr Forest serves to prove the non-specific geographical intent of descriptions in the Epic of journeys, which in reality are meant to have rather a metaphysical significante and probably a cosmographical setting.
2. See Tablet V, note 7.

A verse version of the Epic of Gilgamesh by Robert Temple, Rider, an imprint of Random Century Group Ltda, 1991, London, Sydney, Auckland, Johannerburg. All rights reserved. Here included for help in research and studies purposes

Prologue | Tablet I | Tablet II | Tablet III | Tablet IV | Tablet V | Tablet VI | Tablet VII | Tablet VIII | Tablet IX | Tablet X | Tablet XI