The latest version of the epic, the Standard Babylonian 12-tablet version (mid-first millennium B.C.E.), simply added a tablet to the 11-tablet version. This tablet prepares Gilgamesh for his death and journey to the underworld, where he will pass judgment over the dead. The epic is thus given a more religious tone; it suggests that the meaning of life lies not so much in earthly pleasures or kingship as in becoming divine. The following passage, in which the high god Enlil addresses Gilgamesh, is from an early Sumerian tale:

O Bilgames [Gilgamesh], I made your destiny a

destiny of kingship, but I did not make it [a destiny]

of eternal life.

For mankind, whatever life it has, be not sick at heart,

be not in despair, be not heart-stricken!

The bane of mankind is thus come, I have told you,

what (was fixed) when your navel-cord was cut is thus come,

I have told you.

The darkest day of mortal man has caught up with you,

the solitary place of mortal man has caught up with you,

the flood-wave that cannot be breasted has caught up with


the battle that cannot be fled has caught up with you,

the combat that cannot be matched has caught up with you,

the fight that shows no pity has caught up with you …

Go ahead, when the great Anunna gods sit down to the

funerary banquet …

[to] the place where your father is, and your grandfathers,

your mother, your sisters, your siblings,

your precious friend, your little brother,

your friend Enkidu, the young man your [companion!]

(There) in the Great City, dwell governors and kings …

Be not in despair, be not heart-stricken,

for now [you will number] among the Anunna gods,

[you will be accounted] one of the lesser gods,

[you will act as governor of the Netherworld,]

[you will pass judgement, you will render verdicts,]

[what you say] will be as weighty [as the word of

Ningishzida and Dumuzi.]

(from “The Great Wild Bull Is Lying Down”)