Dead Names, Dead Dog: The Head of Huwawa, Part .5

When last we posted, our two heroes were standing on the brink of the cedar forest, preparing for the fight against Huwawa. Far from home, both heroes are now wondering whether this whole plan was so great. Just as one expresses doubts, however, the other one upbraids him and tells him to go forward.

Now that they’re at the woods, they come upon a great gate they must pass through to enter. Enkidu opens it and feels his power drain from him. Gilgamesh tells him to stop being a wimp, and they head down the path toward Huwawa. They are able to catch him off guard, before he has put on more than the first of the seven layers of glory with which he protects himself. After some of the dramatic pre-combat banter action that’s still a staple of action shows thousands of years later, the battle begins. There’s a gap in the tablets at this point, but it seems that Gilgamesh wins because Shamash the sun-god sends his winds to block the giant’s movement.

Yet, there is another version of the same story. In this one, Gilgamesh comes upon Huwawa after the giant has put on all seven layers of his glory. The hero doesn’t stand a chance. So, he does what any self-respecting champion would do in the same situation:

He tells Huwawa he’s come to marry off his sisters.

(One has to be a concubine, actually. Sumerian society wasn’t exactly progressive on the issue of women’s rights.)

The two of them sit down and talk. For each gift Gilgamesh provides his potential brother-in-law, Huwawa dispenses with one of his layers of glory. After seven gifts, Huwawa is bereft of all defenses. Gilgamesh sucker-punches him and takes him captive.

The different versions converge here, with a conversation between Huwawa, Gilgamesh, and Enkidu. Huwawa appeals to Gilgamesh for mercy. He had a rough childhood, living in the mountains without parents to raise him. Enkidu tells Gilgamesh to stop being a milksop and kill him already. Besides, the gods will find out about this shortly, and might try to stop this. Huwawa curses Enkidu because of his bloodlust. Gilgamesh cuts the conversation short by beheading the giant, after which he and Enkidu build a raft of cedar and float back to the city.

In one version, Gilgamesh actually goes to the temple of Enlil to present Huwawa’s head. It doesn’t really make much sense, as Gilgamesh knows that Huwawa was working for Enlil. Enlil upbraids the god-king for his lack of hospitality toward one who deserved it, afterward distributing Huwawa’s auras of power amongst various natural phenomena.

The myths present a quite different version of the monster’s appearance in the Necronomicon. Whereas “Simon” presents him as a hideous demon, his nature in myth is as a fierce, but not entirely unsympathetic, character doing the will of the gods. Whereas “Simon” has his chief attribute a breath like the plague, his chief attribute in the myths is his possession of seven layers of glory. Likewise, his designation as the “Lord of the Future” and description of his face being like entrails from the Necronomicon is nowhere reflected in the Epic.

Next, we’ll discuss “Simon’s” other claims about Huwawa.

Published in: on September 17, 2006 at 2:03 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. however, Huwawa masks show it covered with twisting lines like entrails, which may have something to do with Mercury. see, for instance, http://www.piney.com/GilgaHuw.html

  2. Don’t worry. That’s Part 3.

  3. […] Have you ever restarted an old project, only to find that you left it at a place like this? […]

  4. […] me feel right at home, as the first exhibit was the carved head of a Mesopotamian demon (possibly Huwawa, but it was hard to tell).   There were a couple of other exhibits on magic, mostly dealing with […]

  5. […] about Huwawa, or Humwawa, or Humbaba in the Necronomicon? Just to be different, we have Part 0, Part .5, Part 1, Part 2, and Part […]

  6. […] about Huwawa, or Humwawa, or Humbaba in the Necronomicon? Just to be different, we have Part 0, Part .5, Part 1, Part 2, and Part […]

  7. […] about Huwawa, or Humwawa, or Humbaba in the Necronomicon? Just to be different, we have Part 0, Part .5, Part 1, Part 2, and Part […]


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