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Epic of Gilgamesh: Enkidu fights with the lion (part of a cylinder seal )

Enkidu (also Eabani ; nickname Scion of Silence ) is a character from the Gilgamesh epic .

Narrative in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh

In the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh , Enkidu was the companion and loyal friend of Gilgamesh , who also called him “mule on the run”, “wild ass from the mountains” and “panther from the steppe”. The epithets refer to the birth and nature of the Enkidu, who was created in the quiet of the steppe by the mother goddess Aruru for the purpose of destroying or controlling Gilgamesh from clay. He was two-thirds human and one-third God. Enkidu embodies the prehistoric man or natural man, who is supposed to form a counterbalance to the cultivated and civilized Gilgamesh.

The naked, hairy and wild Enkidu lived first with the gazelles of the steppe, ate grass with them and drank with them from the watering place. He also protected her from the traps of the trapper , the primal hunter, and thus aroused his anger because he could not go about his work unhindered. He then complained to his father, who advised him to contact King Gilgamesh of Uruk. Gilgamesh, who had already learned of Enkidu through a dream, advised the trapper to bring the Hierodules Shamchat , whose power was equal to that of a man. Enkidu thus succumbed to the sensuality of the temple servant Shamchat sent by Gilgameš , reunited with her for seven days and nights and was thus "civilized" and alienated from nature. Shamchat breathed into him the spirit and insight through their sexual union and taught him the language of the people. But after this second - actual - birth of Enkidu ("Enkidu enters being like a god") the cattle fled from him. He couldn't keep up with the animals anymore. Shamchat then told him about Gilgamesh and his tyranny of the people so that Enkidu could compete with Gilgamesh and thereby the prayers of the inhabitants of Uruk would be heard and the people freed from Gilgamesh's tyranny.

The second panel tells of Enkidus becoming man, with the development and prehistory of mankind symbolized and traced in stages (from nomads to cattle herders / settling down), and his first encounter with Gilgamesh. Shamchat first led Enkidu to the shepherds' camp, which was on the border between steppe and civilization. There the shepherds taught Enkidu to drink beer and to eat bread like humans, which was previously unknown to Enkidu. After a barber cut Enkidu's hair and beard, oiled him and Shamchat put on a robe for the hitherto naked Enkidu, he became a real person. Thereupon Enkidu, the former protector of animals, becomes a shepherd who fends off and kills the lions and wolves and eats meat. As a result, he finally loses his fellowship with the animals.

Enkidu went to Uruk with Shamchat and became his companion and companion after a fight with Gilgamesh, which ended in a draw. Gilgamesh's mother Ninsunna adopted the motherless Enkidu, who also became Gilgamesh's brother. After shared adventures, Enkidu was finally sentenced to death by the gods as a punishment for his participation in the killing of the heavenly bull and tortured to death by a fortnightly illness. It becomes the clay again, from which it was made, thus it became dust again. Gilgamesh was so frightened and desperate by this event that from now on he wandered around in the wilderness and sought the secret of immortality.

Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld

In the Sumerian poetry Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld , Enkidu Gilgamesh tells of the torments of the underworld . In this story he was not regarded as a friend and comrade in arms of Gilgamesh, but as his slave and subordinate. After Gilgamesh lost his beloved Pukku and Mikku , indefinable toys that the goddess Inanna had made for him from the wood of the Huluppu tree , he asks Enkidu to bring them back from the underworld. He gives Enkidu precise instructions on how to behave there in order not to attract attention. He is supposed to behave the other way around than on earth, but Enkidu forgets all teachings and breaks all taboos. So he slowly becomes the spirit of the dead and a part of the underworld. Through a crack in the underworld, which Gilgamesh had Shamash open, the spirit of the dead of Enkidu appeared to him and told him of the torments and life in the underworld.


Web links

Commons : Enkidu  - collection of images, videos and audio files