The Route to Civilization: How the Wiles of a Woman and Beer Tamed the Wild Man

For Valentine’s  Day we offer you the story of  Enkidu, from the Epic of Gilgamesh, a poem from ancient Mesopotamia that may be the earliest surviving great work of literature. It is the story of a wild man raised by animals. He hung out with the animals, eating and drinking with them, even protecting them from hunters. The leader of the people, Gilgamesh, convinces a woman, Shamhat, to get Enkidu to change his ways and join civilization [warning: this story is not G-rated]:

Shamhat loosened her undergarments,

opened her legs and he took in her attractions.

Spread open her garments, and he lay upon her.

She did for him, the primitive man, as women do.

His love-making he lavished upon her.

For six days and seven nights Enkidu was aroused and poured himself into Shamhat.

When he was sated with her charms,

The harlot spoke to him, to Enkidu,

“You have become wise Enkidu, you have become like a god.

Why should you roam open country with wild beasts?”

Enkidu knew nothing of eating bread,

of drinking beer.

had never learned.

The harlot spoke to Enkidu,

“Eat the food, Enkidu, The symbol of life.

Drink the beer, destiny of the land.”

Enkidu ate the bread until he had had enough.

He drank the beer,

Relaxed, felt joyful. His heart rejoiced, his face beamed,

And became like any man,

Put on clothes.

Fought with lions.

He beat off wolves,

Enkidu was their guard,

A man wake.

Love and beer, the destiny of humankind.

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