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Utu, shepherd of the land, father of the black-headed, when you go to sleep, the people go to sleep with you; youth Utu, when you rise, the people rise with you. ~ Lugalbanda
The king lay down not to sleep, he lay down to dream.

Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave is a Sumerian mythological account. It is one of the four known stories that belong to the same cycle describing conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug (Uruk), and an unnamed king of Aratta. The story is also referred to as Lugalbanda in the Wilderness or Lugalbanda I and followed by the story known as Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird, together forming the two parts of one story. The stories, from the composer’s point of view, take place in the distant past. The accounts are believed to be composed during the Ur III Period (21st century BCE), although almost all extant copies come from Isin-Larsa period (20th-18th centuries BCE). Tablets containing these stories were found in various locations of southern Iraq, primarily in the city of Nippur, and were part of the curriculum of Sumerian scribal schools during the Old Babylonian period (20th-17th centuries BCE).


  • Enmerkar son of Utu prepared an expedition against Aratta, the mountain of the holy divine powers. He was going to set off to destroy the rebel land; the lord began a mobilization of his city. The herald made the horn signal sound in all the lands. Now levied Unug took the field with the wise king, indeed levied Kulaba followed Enmerkar. Unug's levy was a flood, Kulaba's levy was a clouded sky. As they covered the ground like heavy fog, the dense dust whirled up by them reached up to heaven. As if to rooks on the best seed, rising up, he called to the people. Each one gave his fellow the sign.
  • Utu, I greet you! Let me be ill no longer! Hero, Ningal's son, I greet you! Let me be ill no longer! Utu, you have let me come up into the mountains in the company of my brothers. In the mountain cave, the most dreadful spot on earth, let me be ill no longer! Here where there is no mother, there is no father, there is no acquaintance, no one whom I value, my mother is not here to say "Alas, my child!" My brother is not here to say "Alas, my brother!" … Don't make me flow away like water in a violent death! Don't make me eat saltpetre as if it were barley! Don't make me fall like a throw-stick somewhere in the desert unknown to me! Afflicted with a name which excites my brothers' scorn, let me be ill no longer! Afflicted with the derision of my comrades, let me be ill no longer! Let me not come to an end in the mountains like a weakling!
  • King whom one cannot reach in the distant sky! Suen whom one cannot reach in the distant sky! King who loves justice, who hates evil! Suen who loves justice, who hates evil! Justice brings joy justly to your heart.
  • The king lay down not to sleep, he lay down to dream.
  • To the liar it talks in lies, to the truthful it speaks truth. It can make one man happy, it can make another man sing, but it is the closed tablet-basket of the gods. It is the beautiful bedchamber of Ninlil, it is the counsellor of Inana. The multiplier of mankind, the voice of one not alive.
    • About dreaming.

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