Envoys of Akka

1 Akka son of Enmebaragesi's traveled as an emissary with his envoy from Kish to the city of Uruk to visit Gilgamesh. There had been some tension between the two cities in the past and now Kish wanted to dominate Gilgamesh's city.

2 Gilgamesh presented the matter to the city elders in the hopes that so many wise people gathered together might find a solution to their difficulties. He hoped to convince them to go to war rather than to submit to the domination of Akka and the city of Kish.

3 "They will take all we have and make us draw water and maintain their irrigation canals." Gilgamesh portrayed the ultimate domination of the city by the forces of Kish. There would be no end to the toil that Kish would have them do. "We will lose everything that we have worked so hard to create and simply hand it to Akka. We should go to war instead."

4 "We would submit to the son of Enmebaragesi and draw water for the city of Kish rather than go to take up weapons against them. We would rather dig and maintain wells, and continue to be able to do so." The Elders were not moved by the speech. They had doubts as to weather they could defeat the army of Kish.

5 Gilgamesh, lord of the small city of Kullab within Uruk, was unable to convince the elders to go to war, so he simply ignored them. He placed his faith in the strength of Inanna the goddess of war whose temple Eanna was in Uruk.

6 Finding that he could not convince the elders to go to war he decided instead to put the matter before the soldiers of the city. He went before the young men of the city and gave the same speech.

7 "Akka, the son of Enmebaragesi, comes with an envoy from Kish to take everything that we have and force us to attend to their wells and irrigation canals. We would be forced to draw water for them endlessly." Gilgamesh portrayed for the young men of the city the endless toil that he had presented to the elders. "We should go to war instead."

8 "Serving Akka would be like holding a donkey by the hind quarters," replied the young men of Uruk. Holding a donkey by the hind quarters was a euphemism for an unpredictable fate. They did not know what sort of fate that they would be doomed to. "Who has endurance enough for the toils that he would put us through? We should go to war instead."

9 The people of Uruk agreed with Gilgamesh that their only course of action was to go to war. The thoughts of the people turned to the glory of their cities. Their confidence in their abilities was strong.

10 "Our city is the smithy of the gods. Inanna's temple Eanna descended from the heavens to us. We can clearly see the hands of the gods in the way that they have shaped our city. Our great walls are like the clouds above. You are the warrior king. You are the basher of heads. You are the beloved prince of An the god of heaven." With that speech the assembled people of Uruk had taken Gilgamesh as their king.

11 The soldiers of Kish heard that the powerful warrior Gilgamesh had decided to take up arms against them. There were numerous desertions from the rear ranks of Akka's army who were afraid to face Gilgamesh in battle.

12 Uruk's people knew that this would happen and had depended upon it when they made their decision. Gilgamesh's mood improved greatly when he heard the confidence that the people of Uruk had for him.

13 "Enkidu," Gilgamesh called to his servant, "have the carpenter take the axes and other weapons of war out of storage and place leather thongs upon them. When the weapons are ready I want you to take them up into battle." Gilgamesh hoped that terror of his powerful aura would be enough to muddle Akka's judgment and torment his actions.

14 Akka's troops arrived to lay siege to the city of Uruk by way of the irrigation canals. When ten days had gone by, the composure of the troops of the city began to falter. Gilgamesh, lord of Kullab, knew that he had to make a move.

15 "My warriors, you all seem distraught. I ask for one among you who is brave to come forward with the desire to go against Akka."

16 Lusag, armorer of Uruk, stepped forward. "My servant and champion Girish Hurdur will go against Akka. The lord of Kish will lose his sense, and his actions will be confused."

17 Girish Hurdur, whose name meant caterpillar, issued forth from the main gate immediately. He didn't even make it beyond the gate's main opening before he confronted the troops of Akka. He struggled against them, wailing away with his club.

18 Seeing his adversary he called something to Akka, but his words did not carry and Akka did not hear them. The din of battle had swallowed up his words.

19 Girish Hurdur was beaten throughly. In moments he was taken captive and brought before the son of Enmebaragesi. The lord of the Kish forces immediately began interrogating the prisoner.

20 The armorer Lusag showed himself on the top of the wall. He was indeed strong, but Akka did not know if this was Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh of Kullab had been his guest some time earlier before his coming to Uruk.

21 "Slave, is the man on the wall your lord?" Akka called down to his prisoner from his high vantage point atop the prow of his royal ship.

22 "No," responded Girish Hurdur easily, "He has the same dread brow, bison face, lapis lazuli blue beard, and skilled hand, but that is not my master. I can tell that it is not my master because if that were Gilgamesh your forces would be quickly crushed."

23 Lusag battled against the forces of Kish, but failed to throw them down into the dust. He therefore also failed to push his forces back into where Akka observed the battle from the prow of his ship in the canals of Uruk.

24 Gilgamesh himself then mounted the walls. His fearsome aura was too much for the citizens of Kullab. The forces of Uruk on the other hand took strength from Gilgamesh and fought all the harder from their places at the main gate. Enkidu then charged forth from the city's main gate with Gilgamesh leaning over the wall urging him and the forces of Uruk onwards.

25 "Slave," Akka asked of his prisoner once more, "Is that man your lord?"

26 "It is my lord."

27 Girish Hurdur could tell that it was his lord because he was tossing them off of the walls and into the dirt. He was able to rip apart the highlanders of Uruk. When he struck the forces of Uruk they did not get up again.

28 Gilgamesh surged outwards and pushed the forces of Uruk back to where Akka stood in the illusion of safety atop the prow of his ship. Gilgamesh was able to cleave through the prow of this great ship with his powerful Ax of the Road. Taking Akka captive, Gilgamesh did not slay the man as might be expected.

29 "Akka, were you once my leader and commander, my general and field marshal?" Gilgamesh asked reminding the lord of the Kish forces of a time now passed. "I was on the run like a bird, and you gave me grain and drink. You nursed me back to health and smuggled me when I was a fugitive. I welcome you as a guest in the city, while you stay you will be treated like its king."

30 "Uruk, the smithy of the gods, is yours Gilgamesh," Akka admitted to his captor, relinquishing kish's claim upon Uruk and acknowledging the power of the lord of Kullab. This city that was set up as heaven on earth by An himself is yours. All that I ask is that you treat me as I treated you."

31 "Beneath the sun god I repay the favor you once gave me." Gilgamesh freed Akka to go back to his city of Kish, invoking Utu the god of the sun and the law. He showed that he could be as good a host as he was a guest, and demonstrated his wisdom as a king.

Note: there is some uncertainty between the translations as to if Girish Hurdur is taken prisoner and beaten, or if this banter is from across the field of battle and Girish Hurdur is in fact doing the beating. I tend to think it might be the latter, but I have it written here as the former. Also note how Enkidu goes out of the walls, but Gilgamesh does the killing. I think this is an instance of one man acting as a vessel for another.