The Epic of Gilgamesh


how does ishtar react to Gilgameshs rejection?

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Ishtar is furious. She goes to her father, Anu, and mother, Antum, and demands that they let her use the Bull of Heaven to punish Gilgamesh. Her father refuses, stating that what Gilgamesh said was true. Ishtar is only further enraged. She threatens to free the dead from the underworld so they can feast on the living. Anu warns her that the bull will also bring a famine. Ishtar assures him that she has made provisions for the people and the flocks of Uruk, and he gives in.

Ishtar unleashes the Bull of Heaven. The city of Uruk trembles as, bellowing and snorting, it comes down from the sky. A crack opens up in the earth, and one hundred men fall into it and die. Again the bull bellows and again the ground cracks open. One hundred more men are swallowed up. The third time this happens, Enkidu attacks the bull. The bull slobbers all over him and whips him with its tail, coated in excrement. Enkidu grabs it by its horns and wrestles with it. He calls out to Gilgamesh, who joins him, and they fight the bull together. At last, Enkidu seizes its filthy tail and holds the monster still so that Gilgamesh can thrust his sword between its shoulders and kill it. The heroes then cut out its heart and offer it as a sacrifice to Shamash the sun god.

Ishtar appears on the walls of the city and curses the two friends. Enkidu picks up one of the bull’s bloody haunches and hurls it at her. He threatens that if she were closer, he would do the same to her. While Ishtar and her followers, the temple prostitutes, mourn the bull, Gilgamesh gathers his craftsmen and shows them how beautifully the gods had made the creature, how thickly its horns were coated with lapis lazuli. Gilgamesh removes the horns and fills them with oil, which he offers in sacrifice to his father, Lugulbanda. Then he hangs them on the wall of his palace as a trophy.