What would you do if a hideous, powerful monster was coming to attack your neighborhood?
First, a motherly word of advice: Never fall asleep listening to the Epic of Gilgamesh. That’s what I did last night and woke up with a nightmare. What brought that on? Could it have been Humbaba?
Gligamesh, king of Uruk, was a real historical figure and his epic, a blend of history and fantasy, is the oldest written epic in the world, dating back to 4,000 years ago. Sure, the monsters and battles are fun, but you might find the human pathos quite up-to-date.
“Ahh, This audiobook reading is excellent,” I thought, as I pulled the covers up to my chin, only to wake hours later in a cold sweat with visions of Humbaba devastating my neighborhood. Who is Humbaba?
Gilgamesh spoke to Enkidu, said to him:
‘In the forest terrible Humbaba lives
Let us, you and I, slay him,
And banish all that is evil from the land!’
And Humbaba – his roaring is the Great Flood,
His mouth is fire,
His breath is death!
Why do you wish to do such a thing?
(No, not because Gilgamesh is a particularly noble king, but because he’s young and cocky and wants to make a name for himself. In fact, the Epic of Gilagamesh is the first written reference I can find to people griping about their leaders. They say that he takes their sons and beds their daughters and abuses his power in general.)
Yet he is king and should be
The people’s careful shepherd.
He is king and should be
Shepherd of the city.
Here is a thought experiment: What would you do if a hideous, powerful monster was coming to attack your neighborhood? In my nightmare, some ran away, some grabbed pointy kitchen utensils and I tried to form a coalition to outsmart Humababa. I figured the refugees were safe, the pointy-utensil-grabbers were dead and the best thing was to outsmart the huge, powerful, but let’s face it-stupid Humababa. The only thing I feared was Humbaba’s begging for mercy and offering friendship, which had also fooled Gilagamesh. Lucky for him, his friend Enkidu was less trusting and the blood and body parts started flying as they should in any epic worthy of the name.
That was the last scene I remembered before I fell asleep.
Never fall asleep listening to the Epic of Gilgamesh. 🙂