Part 5 of the Gilgamesh epic—Gilgamesh journeys alone


Gilgamesh journeys alone to find the immortal Utnapishtim. He wants Utnapishtim to tell him how to live forever. He sees lions. He fights lions. He kills lions. He wears lion-skins. He comes to the Mashu Mountains guarded by scorpion people. They let him enter the night-time path of the sun. He runs all through the night in total darkness. As dawn breaks he finds himself on the far side of the world, in a garden where jewels grow on trees. He meets the wise tavern-keeper Siduri. She tells Gilgamesh he can’t live forever.

‘Enjoy your life!’ she says.

‘No!’ says Gilgamesh. ‘I must find Utnapishtim!’

Gilgamesh finds Utnapishtim’s boat-man, Urshanabi. He makes 300 poles and uses them to propel the boat across the Sea of Death. One by one he drops the poles into the sea. When all the poles are gone he stretches out his arms to make a lion-skin sail.


View storytelling performances which tell how Gilgamesh:

journeys alone to find Utnapishtim (in Arabic)

meets Siduri (in English)

meets Siduri (in Arabic)

makes a lion-skin sail

View a reading of Part 5—Gilgamesh journeys alone, from the book which was a project learning resource (20m 36s).