The gods decree Enkidu must die. His funeral is
sombre and splendid. A magnificent statue is made to honour him.
Gilgamesh is crazy with grief. He leaves the
city of Uruk searching for his immortal ancestor, Utnaphistim.
He wants to find out from Utnapishtim how to live forever. He
fights with lions and wanders in the wild wearing lionskins.
The scorpion-people (girtablullu) allow
Gilgamesh to enter the path of total darkness taken by the sun
when it disappears. After twelve hours Gilgamesh comes out at
the edge of the world into a fantastic garden of the gods where
jewels grow on trees.
The inn-keeper goddess, Shidduri, sees him from
her house nearby. He looks so dreadful she runs up to her roof.
He tells her his story. She advises him to give up his quest for
immortality and live his life to the full. But Gilgamesh insists
he must find Utnapishtim. Shidduri directs him to his ancestor’s
boat-man, Urshanabi. He is in the forest by the sea-shore,
preparing to journey over the waters of death to faraway
Gilgamesh demands to be taken with Urshanbi. The
boatman agrees to take him so long as he makes 200 super-long
punting poles. They set forth and Gilgamesh uses the punting
poles to propel the boat over the waters of death without
getting his hands wet. He has to let the punting poles go one by
one. When they have all gone he makes a sail with a cloak.
Gilgamesh arrives on the faraway shore. Utnapishtim
welcomes him. ‘I cannot tell you how to live forever,’ he says. ‘But I
will tell you how I became immortal.’