The seers on silver couches round the throne;
The hangings of the carved lintel thrown
Aside; the heralds cried: “The Sar! The Sar!
The council opens our King Izdubar!”
The Sar walked o’er the velvets to his throne
Of gold inlaid with gems. A vassal prone
Before the Sar now placed the stool of gold,
Arranged his royal robes with glittering fold
Of laces, fringes rich inwove with pearls,
Embroidered with quaint figures, curious twirls.
Behind the throne a prince of royal blood
Arrayed in courtly splendor, waiting stood,
And gently waved a jewelled fan aloft
Above the Sar’s tiara; carpets soft
From Accad’s looms the varied tilings bright,
In tasteful order, part conceal from sight.
The glittering pillars stand with gold o’erlaid
In rows throughout the room to the arcade,
Within the entrance from a columned hall.
The ivory-graven panels on the wall
On every side are set in solid gold.
The canopy chased golden pillars hold
Above the throne, and emeralds and gems
Flash from the counsellor’s rich diadems.
In silence all await the monarch’s sign:
“This council hath been called, the hour is thine
To counsel with thy King upon a plan
Of conquest of our foes, who ride this plain,
Unchecked around; these Suti should be driven
From Sumir’s plain. Have ye our wrongs forgiven?
Khumbaba hath enjoyed great Accad’s spoils
Too long; with him we end these long turmoils.
What sayest thou, Heabani?–all my seers?
Hath Accad not her chariots and spears?”
Then one among the wisest seers arose
“To save our precious tune which hourly flows,
He should our seer, Rab-sak-i first invite
To lay his plans before the Sar, and light
May break across our vision. I confess
Great obstacles I see, but acquiesce
In any plan you deem may bring success.
The gods, I feel our cause will gladly bless.”
Another spoke, and all agree at last
To hear the seer whose wisdom all surpassed.
Heabani modestly arose and said,
And gracefully to all inclined his head:
“O Sar! thy seer will gladly counsel give
To thee, and all our seers; my thanks receive
For thy great confidence in my poor skill
To crush our foes who every country fill.
I with the Sar agree that we should strike
A blow against the rival king, who like
Our Sar, is a great giant king, and lives
Within a mountain castle, whence he grieves
All nations by his tyranny, and reigns
With haughty power from Kharsak to these plains.
I’ll lead the way, my Sar, to his wild home;
‘Tis twenty “kas-pu” hence, if you will come.
A wall surrounds his castle in a wood,
With brazen gates strong fastened. I have stood
Beneath the lofty pines which dwindle these
To shrubs that grow in parks as ornate trees.
The mighty walls will reach six “gars” in height,
And two in breadth, like Nipur’s to the sight.
And when you go, take with you many mules;
With men to bring the spoils, and needed tools
To break the gates, his castle overthrow:
To lose no time, to-morrow we should go.
To Erech, pines and cedars we can bring
With all the wealth of Elam’s giant king,
And Erech fill with glorious parks and halls,
Remove these “man-u-bani,” ruined walls.
Take to your hearts, ye seers, poor Erech’s wrongs!
Her fall, the bards of Elam sing in songs.
I love dear Erech, may her towers shine!”
He seized his harp, thus sung the seer divine:
“O Erech! thy bright plains I love;
Although from thee thy seer did rove,
My heart remained with thee!
The foe destroyed thy beauteous towers,
Sa-mu forgot to rain her showers,
And could I happy be?
Mine eyes beheld thy fallen gates,
Thy blood warm flowing in thy streets,
My heart was broken then.
I raised mine eyes and saw thy Sar
In glory on his steed of war,
And joy returned again!
I saw the foe in wild dismay
Before him flee that glorious day.
With joy I heard the cry
Of victory resound afar,
Saw Elam crushed ‘neath Accad’s car:
I shouted, Victory!
Away! till birds of prey shall rend
His flesh and haughty Elam bend
Before our mighty Sar!
Beneath his forest of pine-trees
The battle-cry then loudly raise,
We follow Izdubar!
And may the birds of prey surround
Khumbaba stretched upon the ground,
Destroy his body there!
And Izdubar alone be king,
And all his people joyful sing,
With glory crown him here!
All hail! All hail! our giant King,
The “amaranti” for him bring,
To crown him, crown him here,
As King of Accad and Sutu,
And all the land of Subar-tu!
So sayeth Hea’s seer!”
The counsellors and chieftains wildly cry
Around the throne, “All hail “izzu sar-ri”
Of Su-bar-tu!” and shouting leave the halls
To summon Accad’s soldiers from the walls
To hear the war proclaimed against their foes,
And Accad’s war-cry from them loud arose.
King Izdubar Heabani warmly prest
Within his arms upon his throbbing breast,
And said, “Let us to the war temple go,
That all the gods their favor may bestow.”
The seer replied, “Tis well! then let us wend
Our way, and at the altar we will bend,–
To Ishtar’s temple, where our goddess queen
Doth reign, seek her propitious favor, then
In Samas’ holy temple pray for aid
To crush our foe;–with glory on each blade,
Our hands will carry victory in war.”
The chiefs, without the temple, join their Sar.
[Footnote 1: “Rab-sak-i,” chief of the high ones, chief of the seers and counsellors; prime minister.]—[Footnote 2: “Twenty kaspu,” 140 miles; each kaspu was seven miles, or two hours’ journey.]—[Footnote 3: “Six gars,” 120 feet; each gar was a twenty-foot measure. Khumbaba’s walls were thus 120 feet high and forty feet thick–much like the walls of Babylon.]—[Footnote 4: “Nipur” was one of the cities of Izdubar’s kingdom, from whence he came to the rescue of Erech.]—[Footnote 5: “Man-u-ban-i,” a tree or shrub of unpleasant odor mentioned by Heabani. See Sayce’s revised edition Smith’s “Chald. Acc. of Genesis,” p. 254. The fragment translated by Mr. Sayce should be placed in another position in the epic.]—[Footnote 6: “Amaranti,” amaranth. “Immortal amaranth.”–“Par. Lost.”]
SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.