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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

IV. The Flood

By Accadian-Babylonian and Assyrian Literature

[The hero Gilgamesh (Izdubar), wandering in search of healing for his sickness, finds Hasisadra (Xisuthros), the Babylonian Noah, who tells him the story of the Flood.]

HASISADRA spake to him, to Gilgamesh:—

To thee I will reveal, Gilgamesh, the story of my deliverance,

And the oracle of the gods I will make known to thee.

The city Surippak, which, as thou knowest,

Lies on the Euphrates’ bank,

Already old was this city

When the gods that therein dwell

To send a flood their heart impelled them,

All the great gods: their father Anu,

Their counsellor the warlike Bel,

Adar their throne-bearer and the Prince Ennugi.

The lord of boundless wisdom,

Ea, sat with them in council.

Their resolve he announced and so he spake:—

O thou of Surippak, son of Ubaratutu,

Leave thy house and build a ship.

They will destroy the seed of life.

Do thou preserve in life, and hither bring the seed of life

Of every sort into the ship.

[Here follows a statement of the dimensions of the ship, but the numbers are lost.]

When this I heard to Ea my lord I spake:—

The building of the ship, O lord, which thou commandest

If I perform it, people and elders will mock me.

Ea opened his mouth and spake,

Spake to me, his servant:—

[The text is here mutilated: Hasisadra is ordered to threaten the mockers with Ea’s vengeance.]

Thou, however, shut not thy door till I shall send thee word.

Then pass through the door and bring

All grain and goods and wealth,

Family, servants and maids and all thy kin,

The cattle of the field, the beasts of the field.

Hasisadra opened his mouth, to Ea his lord he said:—

O my lord, a ship in this wise hath no one ever built …

[Hasisadra tells how he built the ship according to Ea’s directions.]

All that I had I brought together,

All of silver and all of gold,

And all of the seed of life into the ship I brought.

And my household, men and women,

The cattle of the field, the beasts of the field,

And all my kin I caused to enter.

Then when the sun the destined time brought on,

To me he said at even-fall:—

Destruction shall the heaven rain,

Enter the ship and close the door.

With sorrow on that day I saw the sun go down.

The day on which I was to enter the ship I was afraid,

Yet into the ship I went, behind me the door I closed.

Into the hands of the steersman I gave the ship with its cargo.

Then from the heaven’s horizon rose the dark cloud

Raman uttered his thunder,

Nabu and Sarru rushed on,

Over hill and dale strode the throne-bearers,

Adar sent ceaseless streams, floods the Anunnaki brought.

Their power shakes the earth.


Raman’s billows up to heaven mount,

All light to darkness is turned.


Brother looks not after brother, no man for another cares.

The gods in heaven are frightened, refuge they seek,

Upward they mount to the heaven of Anu.

Like a dog in his lair,

So cower the gods together at the bars of heaven.

Ishtar cries out in pain, loud cries the exalted goddess:—

All is turned to mire.

This evil to the gods I announced, to the gods foretold the evil.

This exterminating war foretold

Against my race of mankind.

Not for this bare I men that like the brood of the fishes

They should fill the sea.

Then wept the gods with her over the Anunnaki,

In lamentation sat the gods, their lips hard pressed together.

Six days and seven nights ruled wind and flood and storm.

But when the seventh day broke, subsided the storm, and the flood

Which raged like a mighty host, settled itself to quiet.

Down went the sea, ceased storm and flood.

Through the sea I rode lamenting.

The upper dwellings of men were ruined,

Corpses floated like trees.

A window I opened, on my face the daylight fell.

I shuddered and sat me down weeping,

Over my face flowed my tears.

I rode over regions of land, on a terrible sea.

Then rose one piece of land twelve measures high.

To the land Nizir the ship was steered,

The mountain Nizir held the ship fast, and let it no more go.


At the dawn of the seventh day

I took a dove and sent it forth.

Hither and thither flew the dove,

No resting-place it found, back to me it came.

A swallow I took and sent it forth,

No resting-place it found, and back to me it came.

A raven I took and sent it forth,

Forth flew the raven and saw that the water had fallen,

Carefully waded on but came not back.

All the animals then to the four winds I sent.

A sacrifice I offered,

An altar I built on the mountain-top,

By sevens I placed the vessels,

Under them spread sweet cane and cedar.

The gods inhaled the smoke, inhaled the sweet-smelling smoke,

Like flies the gods collected over the offering.

Thither then came Ishtar,

Lifted on high her bow, which Anu had made:—

These days I will not forget, will keep them in remembrance,

Them I will never forget.

Let the gods come to the altar,

But let not Bel to the altar come,

Because he heedlessly wrought, the flood he brought on,

To destruction my people gave over.

Thither came Bel and saw the ship,

Full of anger was he

Against the gods and the spirits of heaven:—

What soul has escaped!

In the destruction no man shall live.

Then Adar opened his mouth and spake,

Spake to the warlike Bel:—

Who but Ea knew it?

He knew and all he hath told.

Then Ea opened his mouth,

Spake to the warlike Bel:—

Thou art the valiant leader of the gods,

Why hast thou heedlessly wrought, and brought on the flood?

Let the sinner bear his sin, the wrongdoer his wrong;

Yield to our request, that he be not wholly destroyed.

Instead of sending a flood, send lions that men be reduced;

Instead of sending a flood, send hyenas that men be reduced;

Instead of sending a flood, send flames to waste the land;

Instead of sending a flood, send pestilence that men be reduced.

The counsel of the great gods to him I did not impart;

A dream to Hasisadra I sent, and the will of the gods he learned.

Then came right reason to Bel,

Into the ship he entered,

Took my hand and lifted me up,

Raised my wife and laid her hand in mine,

To us he turned, between us he stepped,

His blessing he gave.

Human Hasisadra has been,

But he and his wife united

Now to the gods shall be raised,

And Hasisadra shall dwell far off at the mouth of the streams.

Then they took me and placed me

Far off at the mouth of the streams.