Study Guide

The Epic of Gilgamesh Chapter 4, Tablet 4

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Chapter 4, Tablet 4

  • Gilgamesh and Enkidu set out on their journey. Because of their superhuman prowess (or speed hack?) they cover in one day the same distance it would take ordinary humans a month and a half to walk.
  • Before they sleep that night, Gilgamesh climbs up a mountain and prays, asking for Shamash, the sun god, to send him a dream. Enkidu performs some more special rituals before Gilgamesh sleeps.
  • In the middle of the night, however, he wakes up from a terrible nightmare: he dreamed that a mountain fell on top of the two of them.
  • Enkidu tells him not to worry. The dream actually has a good meaning: the mountain represents Humbaba, and it means that they'll defeat the monster.
  • The next morning they set out again with their super speed.
  • That night, once again, Gilgamesh climbs a mountain and prays for a dream. Once again, Enkidu performs special rituals before his friend goes to sleep.
  • Guess what comes next?
  • Yep, Gilgamesh nods off, and then wakes up in the middle of the night, complaining of nightmares.
  • This time, Gilgamesh says he dreamed that he was fighting with a fearsome wild bull that split the ground with its breath. At the last minute, a mysterious figure saved him and gave him water to drink.
  • Once again, Enkidu puts a positive spin on his friend's dream. Enkidu says that the bull was Shamash, and was apparently a protector, not an enemy. He also says that the figure who gave Gilgamesh a drink was Lugalbanda—Gilgamesh's dead father—who is now his divine guardian.
  • Rinse, wash, and repeat: super speed, mountain climbing, dream, rituals, nightmare. This time, Gilgamesh says that he dreamed there was a terrible storm and earthquake; then everything was dark. At this point, a lightning bolt flashed and ignited a fire. Death rained down. (Doesn't sound good.) Then, the fire went out, and everything turned to ash. Pretty freaky stuff, huh?
  • The next section of the tablet is broken, so the story is missing. Based on what's come before, though, we can guess that Enkidu comes up with some interpretation that makes the dream good news, not bad. We don't know how to turn that last one around. Got any ideas?
  • And then this all happens again—but the tablet is badly damaged at this point, too. From the little bits that survive, however, it looks like Gilgamesh has another freaky nightmare. Just like all the other times so far, Enkidu interprets this freaky nightmare in a positive light, saying that it foretells their victory over Humbaba.
  • And then—yep.
  • It all happens again, only this time more of the tablet is missing. But we're going to go out on a limb and assume that it's more of the same: Gilgamesh has a horrible nightmare, and Enkidu interprets it as a positive omen.
  • Finally, Gilgamesh and Enkidu come to the edge of the Cedar Forest. Now, all of a sudden, Gilgamesh is overcome by fear. He starts crying, and calls out to the god Shamash for help.
  • Shamash tells the friends to stop dilly-dallying. Humbaba normally wears seven layers of armor, but right now he is only wearing one. It's time to strike!
  • Now it's Enkidu's turn to lose courage. Gilgamesh steps into the role of team captain, telling his friend that through teamwork everything is possible.
  • It works, and together they march into the Cedar Forest to do battle with the big boss, Humbaba.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...