Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Babylonia and is among the earliest known literary works. A series of Sumerian legends and poems about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh, thought to be a ruler of the 3rd millennium BC, were gathered into a longer Akkadian poem long afterward, with the most complete version extant today preserved on twelve clay tablets in the library collection of the 7th century BC Assyrian king Assurbanipal.
- Who is there, my friend, can climb to the sky?
Only the gods dwell forever in sunlight.
As for man, his days are numbered,
whatever he may do, it is but wind.
- Gilgamesh to Enkidu, Tablet III of the Old-Babylonian version
- Enkidu opened his mouth,
saying to Gilgamesh:
"where you've set your mind begin the journey,
let your heart have no fear, keep your eyes on me!"
- Tablet III of the Old-Babylonian version
- The life that you seek you never will find:
when the gods created mankind,
death they dispensed to mankind,
life they kept for themselves.
- Sippar tablet (Old Babylonian)
- The skies roared with thunder and the earth heaved,
Then came darkness and a stillness like death.
Lightening smashed the ground and fires blazed out;
Death flooded from the skies.
When the heat died and the fires went out,
The plains had turned to ash.
- A dream of Gilgamesh, Tablet 4
- O Mighty King, remember now that only gods stay in eternal watch.
Humans come then go, that is the way fate decreed on the Tablets of Destiny.
So someday you will depart, but till that distant day
Sing, and dance.
Eat your fill of warm cooked food and cool jugs of beer.
Cherish the children your love gave life.
Bathe away life's dirt in warm drawn waters.
Pass the time in joy with your chosen wife.
On the Tablets of Destiny it is decreed
For you to enjoy short pleasures for your short days.
- Siduri to Gilgamesh, Tablet 10
- The Epic of Gilgamesh at ancienttexts.org