Study Guide

The Epic of Gilgamesh Chapter 8, Tablet 8

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Chapter 8, Tablet 8

  • This tablet begins with Gilgamesh lamenting over the dead body of Enkidu. Gilgamesh lists off many, many different plants and animals, locations on earth, and people, and prays that they will all mourn for Enkidu.
  • Gilgamesh turns to the men of Uruk, and tells them about his grief. Then he turns back to Enkidu and speaks to the dead man directly.
  • Gilgamesh touches Enkidu's chest, but his heart is no longer beating. He covers his friend's body, and stands guard over it.
  • As a sign of mourning, Gilgamesh cuts his long hair and tears off his fancy clothes and jewelry.
  • The next day, Gilgamesh calls together the finest craftsmen of the land. He orders them to make a statue of Enkidu out of the most precious materials.
  • At this point the tablets are damaged, so there's a break in the text. We're guess it would have been a description of Enkidu's funeral. (Well—us and plenty of scholars with better guesstimates.)
  • When the story picks up again, Gilgamesh is talking to Enkidu. It's not clear if he's talking to the dead body, or is simply using his imagination, but, either way, he tells him about the statue he had made for him. (Clearly some time has passed.)
  • Another, larger section of the text is missing at this point.
  • When the story picks up again, Gilgamesh is making an offering to the god Shamash.
  • The rest of the tablet is missing. Because Tablet 9 begins with Gilgamesh wandering in the wilderness, it seems likely that the end of Tablet 8 (this one) described Gilgamesh setting off on his voyage.

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