I made your destiny a destiny of kingship, but I did not make it a destiny of eternal life

The Sumerian Death of Bilgames (Gilgamesh), as Bilgames on his deathbed learns his fate in a god-sent dream (Andrew George’s Penguin edition, pg 200-201).  Bilgames’ end is of course highly privileged but the overall feel of the Netherworld here is more cheerful than in Enkidu’s from the later standard Babylonian Gilgamesh – though much (to most) of that cheer can be undercut by the earlier question and answer session on the fates of various types of people:

[Great Mountain Enlil, the father of the gods,]
[conversed in the dream with the lord Bilgames:]
[‘O Bilgames, 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 you,]
[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!]
[But do not go down to the Great City with heart knotted (in anger) ,]
[let it be undone before Utu,]
[let it be unravelled like palm-fibre and peeled like an onion!]
Go ahead, [when the great] Anunna [gods sit down] to the funerary banquet,
to the place where the en-priests lie, where the [lagar-priests lie,]
to where the lumak-priests and nindingir-priestesses lie,
to where the nindingir-priestesses lie, where the ‘true one’ lies,
to where the guda-priests lie, where the linen-clad priests lie,
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,
there chiefs of armies [lie,]
[there captains of troops lie.]
[When in the Great City Aralli a man … ,]
[the man …… will not … ]
[From the sister’s house the sister will come to you,]
[from the sibling’s] house [the sibling will come to you,]
your own [will come to you, your precious one will come to you,]
the elders of your city will come to you!
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 the 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.’
Then the young [lord,] the lord Bilgames,
arose, it had been a [dream,] he shuddered, [it had been a deep
[He rubbed] his eyes with his hands, there was desolate [silence.]

Where soil is their sustenance and clay their food

From Tablet VII of Gilgamesh in the Andrew George translation.  Enkidu has learned of his coming death and recounts his dream vision of the underworld awaiting him.  The text unfortunately breaks off in the middle of the scene but we still get what must be literature’s first version of the Danse Macabre motif.

[As for Enkidu], his mind was troubled,
he lay on his own and [began to ponder.]
What was on his mind he told to his friend:
‘My friend, in the course of the night I had such a dream!

‘The heavens thundered, the earth gave echo,
and there was I, standing between them.
A man there was, grim his expression,
just like a Thunderbird his features were frightening.
‘His hands were a lion’s paws, his claws an eagle’s talons,
he seized me by the hair, he overpowered me.
I struck him, but back he sprang like a skipping rope,
he struck me, and like a raft capsized me.
‘Underfoot [he] crushed me, like a mighty wild bull,
[drenching] my body with poisonous slaver.
“Save me, my friend! …… ”
You were afraid of him, but you ….. .

‘[He struck me and] turned me into a dove.
‘[He bound] my arms like the wings of a bird,
to lead me captive to the house of darkness, seat of Irkalla:
to the house which none who enters ever leaves,
on the path that allows no journey back,
‘to the house whose residents are deprived of light,
where soil is their sustenance and clay their food,
where they are clad like birds in coats of feathers,
and see no light, but dwell in darkness.
‘On door [and bolt the dust lay thick,]
on the House [of Dust was poured a deathly quiet.]
In the House of Dust that I entered,
‘I looked around me, saw the “crowns” in a throng,
there were the crowned [heads] who’d ruled the land since days
of yore,
who’d served the roast [at the] tables of Anu and Enlil,
who’d proffered baked bread, and poured them cool water from
‘In the House of Dust that I entered,
there were the en-priests and lagar-priests,
there were lustration-priests and lumahhu-priests,
there were the great gods’ gudapsu-priests,
‘there was Etana, there was Shakkan,
[there was] the queen of the Netherworld, the goddess
Before her sat [Belet]-~eri, the scribe of the Netherworld,
holding [ a tablet], reading aloud in her presence.
‘[She raised] her head and she saw me:
“[Who was] it fetched this man here?
[Who was it] brought here [this fellow?]” ,