9 Oct 2016

At ... provides some new perspectives on the Cedar Forest, abode of the monster Humbaba. It was a noisy jungle, it is alleged, and probably had nothing to do with the Cedar Forest of Lebanon (as visualised by scholars intent on seeing Gilgamesh as a human king rather than a mythological sky object). The fact that a king of third millennium BC Sumeria adopted the name of Gilgamesh is immaterial to the myth as the gods appear in many divine names adopted by kings and nobles. In fact, Gilgamesh and his wild man sidekick, Enkidu, have certain similarities with Biblical Jacob and Esau (the latter came forth ruddy and hairy etc). 

One of the comments at the end of the piece is worth taking note of - nonsense or intuitive (you take your pick). Ralph Ellis claims the story is not one of human kings as Gilgamesh with his ax and bow and the sword hanging from his belt represent the constellation of Orion - and his aim was to kill the Bull of Heaven (associated with the constellation of Taurus). One of his labours was to destroy the seven splendours of Humababa (the seven stars of the Pleiades that is also the neck of Taurus). The Great Forest, he adds, is a forest of stars (in the night sky). Each tree of the forest was a star - which is why even Humbaba and the Pleiades were part of the forest (as they too are composed of the stars). The forest of the heavens was also full of animals - embedded as bulls, sheep, scorpions, goats, fish, crabs, bears, and people - noting the bear of the north was the hippopotamus of others. He fails to mention the noise of the forest - what might that be (the crackle and pop of meteors perhaps, or the scream of bolides).