Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Epic Legend of Bilgamesh (& friends)

[Executive Summary: Forget it! You can't summarize an epic!]

I found this on my hard drive--found it somewhere-or-other on line several years ago, and I thought it was so hilarious I thought I'd save it. I have no idea who wrote it.

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News item: Scientists in Iraq believe that they have discovered the tomb of Gilgamesh, the legendary king of Ur.

The underlying Epic of Gilgamesh, however, appears to be mistranslated....

Amrka: Bilgamesh tomb believed found

ZZC News Online ^ Tuesday, 29 April, 7003 ZZC staff

Bilgamesh tomb believed found

Archaeologists in Amrka believe they may have found the lost tomb of King Bilgamesh - the subject of one of the oldest books in history, the Epic of Bilgamesh, which dates back to the final days of the Amrkan Republic, which was largely destroyed in the days following the reign of Bilgamesh after his failure to maintain its defenses left it open to plague and invasion.

The Epic Of Bilgamesh - written by a Midwestern scholar 2,000 years after the birth of Christ - commemorated the life of a ruler of the city of Washngtn.

Now an expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Washngtn, including, where the Potomac once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King.

"I don't want to say definitely it was the grave of King Bilgamesh, but it looks very similar to that described in the epic," a scientist told ZZC World Service's Science in Action programme.

The ancient work The Epic of Bilgamesh goes as follows.

The account begins: Bilgamesh, two-thirds trailer trash and one-third human, is the greatest thing on earth and the strongest smelling human that ever existed; however, he is young and oppresses his people harshly. The people call out to the sky-god Ayu, the chief god of the city, to help them. In response, Ayu creates a wild man, Alkidu, out in the harsh and wild forests surrounding Bilgamesh's lands. This brute, Alkidu, has the strength of dozens of wild animals; he is to serve as the subhuman rival to the superhuman Bilgamesh.

A trapper's son, while checking on traps in the forest, discovers Alkidu running naked with the wild animals, babbling about how the land grows colder; he rushes to his father with the news. The father advises him to go into the city and take one of the temple harlots, Shamtip, with him to the forest; when she sees Alkidu, she is to offer herself sexually to the wild man. If he submits to her, the trapper says, he will lose his strength and his wildness.

Shamtip meets Alkidu at the watering-hole where all the wild party animals gather; she offers herself to him and he submits, instantly losing his strength and wildness, but he gains an illusion of understanding and knowledge. He laments for his lost state, but the harlot offers to take him into the city where all the joys of civilization shine in their resplendence; she offers to show him Bilgamesh, the only man worthy of Alkidu's friendship.

Bilgamesh meanwhile has two dreams; in the first a meteorite falls to earth which is so great that Bilgamesh can neither lift it nor turn it. The people gather and celebrate around the meteorite, and Bilgamesh embraces it as he would a wife, but his mother, the goddess Misus-Bilsmom, forces him to compete with the meteorite, which has gained great fame as it contains evidence of life on Mars. In the second, Bilgamesh dreams that an cheque appears at his door, so great that he can neither lift it nor cash it. The people gather and celebrate around the cheque, drawn on the city coffers, and Bilgamesh embraces it as he would a wife, but his mother, again, forces him to compete with the cheque. Bilgamesh asks his mother what these dreams might mean; she tells him a man of great windbaggedness will come into Washgtn. Bilgamesh will embrace this man as he would a wife, which will surprise nobody, and this man will help Bilgamesh perform great deeds.

Tablet 2

Alkidu is gradually introduced to civilization by living for a time with a group of namvets, who teach him how to eat, how to speak properly, how to wear clothes, and how to hold down a decent job. Alkidu then enters the city of Washgtn during a great celebration. Bilgamesh, as the king, claims the right to have sexual intercourse first with every new palace staffer on the day of her employment; as Alkidu enters the city, Bilgamesh is about to claim that right. Infuriated at this abuse, Alkidu stands in front of the door of the round-shaped chamber and blocks Bilgamesh's way. They fight furiously until Bilgamesh wins the upper hand; Alkidu concedes Bilgamesh's superiority and the two embrace and become devoted friends.

Both Alkidu and Bilgamesh gradually weaken and grow lazy living in the city, so Bilgamesh proposes a great adventure: they are to journey to the great Cedar Pointe in northern Ohio and cut down all the mightiest cedar tree in the forest with a herring. To do this, they will need to kill the Guardian of the Cedar Pointe, the great demon, Newtgring the Terrible, leader of the barbarian Pubbies. Alkidu knows about Newtgring from his days running wild in the forest; he tries in vain to convince Bilgamesh not to undertake this folly.

Tablet 3

[Most of tablet three doesn't exist]

The elders of the city protest Bilgamesh's endeavor, but agree reluctantly. They place the life of the king in the hands of Alkidu, whom they insist shall take the forward position in the battle with Newtgring. Bilgamesh's mother laments her son's fate in a prayer to the sun-god, Shamalamadingdong, asking that god why he put a restless heart in the breast of her son. Shamalamadingdong promises her that he will watch out for Bilgamesh's life. Nissan-datsun, too, commands Alkidu to guard the life of the king and to take the forward position in the battle with Newtgring. In panic, Alkidu again tries to convince Bilgamesh not to undertake this journey, but Bilgamesh is confident of success.

Tablet 4

Tablet four tells the story of the journey to the Cedar Pointe. On each day of the six day journey, Bilgamesh prays to Shamalamadingdong; in response to these prayers, Shamalamadingdong sends Bilgamesh oral dreams during the night. These dreams are all ominous: The first is not preserved. In the second, Bilgamesh dreams that he generates great bull that splits the kingdom with his words. Alkidu interprets the dream for Bilgamesh; the dream means that the bull will protect Bilgamesh. In the third, Bilgamesh dreams:

The skies roared with thunder and the earth heaved,
Then came darkness and a stillness like death.
Lightning smashed the ground and fires blazed out;
Death flooded from the skies.
When the heat died and the fires went out,
The planes had turned to ash.

Alkidu's interpretation is missing here, but like the other dreams, it is assumed he puts a positive spin on the dream, and that Bilgamesh’s failure to hunt the true enemy of the city, Slamabenplotin, will have no long term negative economic impact. The fourth dream is missing, but Alkidu again tells Bilgamesh that the dream portends success in the upcoming battle. The fifth dream is also missing.

At the entrance to the Cedar Pointe, Bilgamesh begins to quake with fear; he prays to Shamalamadingdong, reminding him that he had promised Misus-Bilsmom that he would be safe. Shamalamadingdong calls down from heaven, ordering him to enter the forest because Newtgring is not wearing all his armor. The demon Newtgring wears seven coats of armor, but now he is only wearing one so he is particularly vulnerable. Alkidu loses his courage and turns back; Bilgamesh falls on him and they have a great fight. Hearing the crash of their fighting, Newtgring comes stalking out of the Cedar Pointe to challenge the intruders. A large part of the tablet is missing here. On the one part of the tablet still remaining, Bilgamesh convinces Alkidu that they should stand to gether against the demon.

Tablet 5

Bilgamesh and Alkidu enter the gloriously beautiful Cedar Pointe and begin to cut down the tree using a salted fish for the purpose. Hearing a squishing sound, Newtgring comes roaring up to them and warns them off. Alkidu shouts at Newtgring that the two of them are much stronger than the demon, but Newtgring, who knows Bilgamesh is a king, taunts the king for taking orders from a nobody like Alkidu. Turning his face into a hideous mask, Newtgring begins to threaten the pair, and Bilgamesh runs and hides. Alkidu shouts at Bilgamesh, inspiring him with courage, and Bilgamesh appears from hiding and the two begin their epic battle with Newtgring. Shamalamadingdong intrudes on the battle, helping the pair, and Newtgring is defeated. On his knees, with Bilgamesh's sword at his throat, Newtgring begs for his life and offers Bilgamesh all the trees in the forest without benefit of herring and his eternal servitude in exchange for them not publicizing Newtgring’s ongoing affair with his demonic aide. While Bilgamesh is thinking this over, Alkidu intervenes, telling Bilgamesh to kill Newtgring before any of the gods arrive and stop him from doing so. Should he kill Newtgring, he will achieve widespread fame for all the times to come. Bilgamesh, with a great sweep of his sword, removes Newtgring's head. But before he dies, Newtgring screams out a curse on Alkidu: "Of you two, may Alkidu not live the longer, may Alkidu not get any piece in this world!"

Bilgamesh and Alkidu cut down the Cedar Pointe and in particular the tallest of the cedar trees to make a great cedar gate for the city of Washgtn. They build a raft out of the cedar and float down the Potomac river to their city.

Tablet 6

After these events, Bilgamesh, his fame widespread and his frame resplendent in his wealthy clothes, attracts the sexual attention of the goddess Monlew, who comes to Bilgamesh with pizza. Bilgames tries to become her lover. She refuses with insults, listing all the mortal lovers that Bilgamesh has had and recounting the dire fates they all met with at his hands. Deeply insulted, Monlew returns to heaven and begs her father, the sky-god Ayu, to let her have the Bear of Wallstreet to wreak vengeance on Bilgamesh and his city:

Father, let me have the Bear of Wallstreet
To kill Bilgamesh and his city.
For if you do not grant me the Bear of Wallstreet,
I will pull down the Gates of Bill itself,
Crush the doorposts and flatten the door,
And I will let the dead leave
And let the dead roam the earth
And they shall outvote the living.
The dead will overwhelm all the living!

Ayu reluctantly gives in, and the Bear of Wallstreet is sent down into Washgtn. Each time the bear breathes, its breath is so powerful that enormous abysses are opened up in the earth and hundreds of wealthy people fall through to their deaths. Working together again, Bilgamesh and Alkidu slay the mighty bear. Monlew is enraged, but Alkidu begins to insult her, saying that she is next, that he and Bilgamesh will kill her next, and he rips one of the thighs off the bear and hurls it into her face.

Tablet 7

Alkidu falls ill after having a set of ominous dreams; he finds out from the priests that he has been singled out for vengeance by the gods. The Chief Gods have met and have decided that someone should be punished for the killing of Newtgring and the killing of the Bear of Wallstreet, so of the two heroes, they decide Alkidu should pay the penalty. Enraged at the injustice of the decision, Alkidu curses the great Cedar Gate built from the wood of the Cedar Pointe, and he curses the temple harlot, Shamtip, and the trapper, for introducing him to civilization. Shamhash reminds him that, even though his political career has been short, he has enjoyed the fruits of civilization and known great happiness. Alkidu then blesses the harlot and the trapper. In a dream, a great demon comes to take Alkidu and drags him to Hell, a House of Dust where all the dead end up; as he is dying, he describes Hell:

The house where Republicans live in total darkness,
Where they drink dirt and eat stone,
Where they wear feathers like birds,
Where no light ever invades their everlasting darkness,
Where the door and the lock of Hell is coated with thick dust.
When I entered the House of Dust,
On every side the crowns of kings were heaped,
On every side the voices of the kings who wore those crowns,
Who now only served food to the gods Ayu and Whomi,
Candy, meat, and water poured from skins.
I saw sitting in this House of Dust a priest and a servant,
I also saw a priest of purification and a priest of ecstasy,
I saw all the priests of the great gods.
There sat Piaps, the queen of Hell,
Blumthlsid, the scribe of Hell, sitting before her.
Blumthlsid held a tablet and read it to Piaps.
She slowly raised her head when she noticed me
She pointed at me:
"Who has sent this man?"

Alkidu commends himself to Bilgamesh, and after suffering terribly for twelve days, he finally dies.

Tablet 8

Bilgamesh is torn apart not at all by the political defeat of his friend, and utters a short lament, but nevertheless ordering all of creation that remains under his control to never fall silent in mourning his politically dead friend. Most of this tablet is missing, but the second half seems to be a description of the monumental fool of himself that he made in the days that followed.

Tablet 9

Bilgamesh allows his life to fall apart; he does not bathe, does not shave, does not take care of himself, not so much out of grief for his friend, but because he now realizes that he too must die and the thought sends him into a panic. He decides that he can't live unless granted eternal life; he decides to undertake the most perilous journey of all: the journey to Shutupanddeal and his wife, the only mortals on whom the gods had granted eternal life. Shutupanddeal is the Far-Away, living at the mouth of all rivers, at the ends of the world. Shutupanddeal was the great king of the world before the Flood and, with his wife, was the only mortal preserved by the gods during the Flood. After an ominous dream, Bilgamesh sets out. He arrives at Mount Mashu, which guards the rising and the setting of the sun, and encounters two large scorpions who guard the way past Mount Mashu. They try to convince him that his journey is futile and fraught with danger, but still they allow him to pass. Past Mount Mashu is the land of Night, where no light ever appears. Bilgamesh journeys eleven leagues before the light begins to glimmer, after twelve leagues he has emerged into day. He enters into a brilliant garden of gems, where every tree bears precious stones.

Tablet 10

Bilgamesh comes to a tavern by the ocean shore; the tavern is kept by Sillyme. Frightened by Bilgamesh's ragged appearance, Sillyme locks the tavern door and refuses to let Bilgamesh in. Bilgamesh proves his identity and asks Sillyme how to find Shutupanddeal. Like the giant scorpions, she tells him that his journey is futile and fraught with dangers. However, she directs him to Urshanabi, the ferryman, who works for Shutupanddeal. Bilgamesh approaches Urshanabi with great arrogance and violence and in the process destroys the "stone things" that are somehow critical for the journey to Shutupanddeal. When Bilgamesh demands to be taken to Shutupanddeal, the ferryman tells him that it is now impossible, since the "stone things" have been destroyed. Nevertheless, he advises Bilgamesh to cut several trees down to serve as punting poles; the waters they are to cross are the Waters of Death, should any mortal touch the waters, that man will instantly die. With the punting poles, Bilgamesh can push the boat and never touch the dangerous waters.

After a long and dangerous journey, Bilgamesh arrives at a shore and encounters another man. He tells this man that he is looking for Shutupanddeal and the secret of eternal life; the old man advises Bilgamesh that death is a necessary fact because of the will of the gods; all human effort is only temporary, not permanent.

Of course, if my boss catches me doing this at work, my firing will be permanent, not temporary, so I'd better click 'post' before it's too late....

[here endeth the epic]

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