Run your fingers over the stones of this ancient cityThese temples of worship and places of businessAnd picture them falling into desolationJust drifting sand and standing walls and vacant buildingsYou can’t take it with you where you’re goingBut someone who comes here in five thousand yearsExploring might unearth a recordingThat tells the world your storySome confabulation of words stored in a subterraneanPurgatory could well emerge to tell thoseWho still dwell on earth that you were bornAnd that your works were worth reportingWell this is the first story; not the oldestTold by troubadours, but the oldest in written form‘Cause who can say whether troubadours don’t improveTheir sources, of course the origins of the story are oralBut it was preserved for thousands of yearsIn Akkadian verse tablets and Sumerian cuneiformPreserved like Cuban cigars in a humidorSo we can be sure that it’s true to its sourceNot a folk story transformed in ten thousand villagesBut a relic of the ancient world, preserved with diligenceThe oldest narrative that still existsThe epic of GilgameshWhen the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect bodyLike Arnie when his films were still impressiveLike Conan the Barbarian, physical brillianceLike sculpted steel as fleshThe gods endowed him with strength and courage and fineFeatures; in terms of appearance he was the first in lineBrad Pitt would have looked liked a turd beside himHe was one third mortal, and two thirds divineAnd as an aside, I guess the Sumerians when this poem was writtenWere not aware of chromosome divisionOr Mendellian genetics; no organismThat reproduces sexually is two-thirds of anythingMaybe they calculated paternity as a percentageOf the number of men that the mother had been with before she got pregnantWhich is the case with certain indigenous South American IndiansIncreasing the incentive for the men to collaborate on parental investmentBut when the gods are involved these calculations are irrelevantBecause they’re practically omnipotentAnd Gilgamesh was a mortal man with two-thirds god genesIn the Sumerian catalogue of kingsHe’s listed as the fifth ruler of Uruk after the flood cameAnd washed away all thingsSo our story begins with Gilgamesh in charge of the peaceAnd the people of Uruk, not pleasedAnd why were they less than pleased?Because Gilgamesh was an extreme sex fiendTo put it simply, he deflowered every virginAnd slept with the wife of every peasant and the daughterOf every nobleman whenever he felt the urge andFor the people of Uruk, this was a heavy burdenIn fact, the original version only saysThat the men found it a heavy burdenWhich begs the question: was the consent of these women earnedOr did he just take it?My inclination is to stay with the basicsNowhere is he referred to as Gilgamesh the rapistWhich means he had game and the men were jealous hatersBut don’t these questions always plague men of statusWas he Bill Clinton-esque or Tiger Woods with a waitress?Or was he Roman Polanski or Mike Tyson dangerous?I can’t possibly say from these ancient pagesBut I’d prefer to work with a sympathetic protagonistSo in my version, he gets the benefit of the doubtGilgamesh impressed the women with his physical prowessBut his sexual endowments were hateful to his peopleSo they huddled in their houses and prayed for reliefTo the gods, like “Please, make him an equal!”And the gods heard their pleas, and created EnkiduEnkidu was a wild manTarzan of the highlandsHis body was covered in hair in fine matsHe knew nothing of civilization and financeA feral child, he ran with the IbexAnd ate nothing but plants, plus he was massiveHe had this habit of releasing animals from trapsAnd snares whenever they got capturedAnd eventually one of the trappers ran back toThe city to ask Gilgamesh for some answersHe said: “There is this massive hairy manWho keeps smashing the traps we set in mountain pasturesHe’s either half-animal, or he’s an animal rights activistBut either way I’m at my wits’ end, any suggestions?And Gilgamesh said “Here’s what you doYou go to Ishtar’s temple and you get a prostitute”Now, Ishtar was the Goddess of love, and destruction tooAnd her priestesses offered free sex to the multitudeMaybe religion is something even Christopher HitchensCould’ve gotten into if that’s what it offered youSo Gilgamesh said, “Yeah, you get this temple hoThis child of pleasure, and you get her to go with youDown to the watering hole, and you get her to take off her clothesAnd this wild man, well, he won’t be wild no mo…”Whoah, forgive the ebonicInflections, but I just always wantedTo use the word “ho” in an epicAnyway, it happened exactly as Gilgamesh predictedEnkidu came down to the lake to take a drinkAnd he saw this beautiful, soft, naked beingThis succulent, supple lady, and sheEmbraced him and… shwing!For six days and seven nights they lay by the lakesideInsatiably shagging, and it was his first time!But after when he tried to go back to his animal friendsThey just looked at him and fledInnocence lostEnkidu’s intimate frolics with the temple harlotHad cost him his connection with nature – never againWould his animal friends accept him as one of themAnd from that day forward he was civilizedThe prostitute fed him bread and wineAnd said “Enkidu, you are wise, why sleep in the wildWhen there’s shelter nearby?” And she took his handAnd led him like a child to the shepherds’ tentAnd bade him step inside and she clothed and bathed himAnd he stayed with the shepherds for a stretch of timeAnd protected them from lionsEnkidu stayed with the shepherds for a while but soonWord arrived from the city that there was a weddingAnd Gilgamesh was claiming his birthrightThe privilege of “First Night”That is, the right to be the first to fertilizeThe bride on her wedding nightJust like the English did to the Scottish before 1305When William Wallace kicked their asses, which served them rightWell, the Sumerian groom was also quite perturbed byThis incursion into his personal lifeAnd when Enkidu heard about this, he turned whiteWith anger and traveled to Uruk, determined to fightThe bridal bed was made; a virgin lay within itA trembling, nervous babeAs Gilgamesh approached the house, determined to get laidBut Enkidu stepped in front of him and blocked his wayClash of the TitansTheir grasps were like vice grips as they grappled and tightenedTheir massive biceps, striving like angry bisonsEach man trying to gain the upper hand on his rivalIt was a wrestling match that cracked the keystonesIn the walls of Uruk and shook the zigguratsAnd the foundations of peoples’ homesBut in the end, Enkidu was thrownHe paid his respects to Gilgamesh for besting himAnd Gilgamesh was impressed that someone had even tested himBecause every man he’d ever met until then was estrogenAnd from then on he treated Enkidu like his next of kinNow, Gilgamesh was obsessed with legacy buildingHe wanted his name to be etched on bricksAnd listed where the names of famous men are writtenSo they embarked on a campaign of adventurismThey traveled to the Lebanese hillsTo the cedar forest where they cut down treesAnd defeated the “evil” demon guardianThe protector of those sweet resourcesEveryone tried to warn them off this questThey said: “Don’t go! The demon’s jaws are deathWhen he says humbaba, humbaba, hum-humbabaIt’s like he has napalm for breathBut no one could convince them to stopBecause Gilgamesh believed that he was on a mission from GodAnd when they reached the demon, his defenses were weakThey overpowered him easily and he fell to his kneesPleading like a refugee, like a fugitiveIn a spider hole, begging for his lifeBut they were icy cold, they executed himWith three precise blows and turn their eyes towards homeOther adventures awaited, Ishtar tried toSeduce Gilgamesh by offering herself to him nakedBut he rejected her and she flew into a jealous rageFull of indignation, determined to take veangenceShe released the Bull of Heaven, a personified droughtWhich they defeated with a sword strike, somehowBut Gilgamesh was really swelling with pride nowSo the gods said; “Time to take this guy down”They took the side route; they knew that Enkidu wasHis Achilles heel, because he was the key to hisFeelings, so the gods decreed that Enkidu wouldSoon cease to exist, and he fell into a deep sicknessAnd had a feverish dream vision of life after deathIn which he was a feathered wretch, sitting in pitchDarkness, staring ahead at an endless stretchOf time, and he cursed everyone he’d ever metSince he left the wilderness, the prostitute, the trapper,Everyone except for GilgameshWho stood by his side singing a death lamentUntil Enkidu’s final breath was spentFor the rest of this storyGilgamesh is an emotional wreck in a state of perpetual mourningOn a desperate quest to make his flesh immortalAnd it’s interesting, but it isn’t worth reportingIt’s fragmented and repetitive and it never really finishesAlthough it does contain a fascinating parallel with GenesisSuffice to say, immortality eluded himAnd he returned to Uruk in a state of disillusionmentAnd lived out his life just like the rest of us doBy having children and making civic improvementsSo he didn’t live forever, but he did leave descendentsWhich means his genes probably make up one tenth of one tenthOf one percent of one hundred thousand Middle Eastern residentsBut this form of immortality is just divisiveAnd he left us his story, the Epic of GilgameshWhich he chiseled into the walls of his city while building itAnd it tells us that this human obsession with living forever inThe face of certain death is something we’ve always wrestled withWhich tells us something about what it is to be humanIf immortality exists, then I guess you’re listening to it
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