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Enkidu Wine?

April 2, 2009

Apparently there is a Sonoma Winery named Enkidu Wine. This is of course confusing, since Enkidu is humanized not through wine but through beer (and sex, of course). The winery’s rational for not being a micro-brewery is unfortunately skewed.

Enkidu was told by the sacred slave: “Eat bread, oh, Enkidu! It is the fountain of life; drink the wine, it is the custom of the land.” Then Enkidu ate the bread till he was full, drank the wine, seven goblets…”

The translation “wine” is incorrect here; the lines (OB Pen II [CBS7771] col iii 96-101) read as follows:

a-ku-ul ak-lam den-ki-du10 sí-ma-at ba-la-ṭim
KAŠ (šikaram) ši-ti ši-im-ti ma-ti
i-ku-ul ak-lam den-ki-du10 a-di ši-bé-e-šu
KAŠ (šikaram) iš-ti-a-am 7 as-sà-am-mi-im

“Eat the bread, Enkidu, the thing proper to life;
Drink the beer, the custom of the land.”
Enkidu ate the bread until he was full;
He drank the beer, seven jugs!

I haven’t tried the Enkidu Wine yet. I would be more partial to the Shamhat than the Humbaba. Let’s hope that bad translation makes good wine!

  1. April 4, 2009 1:22 am

    Jim, Have you heard of Siduri Wines?

    • April 4, 2009 8:09 am

      Siduri Wine is another good example. Tzvi had a bottle on the shelf in the lab, no?

  2. Erik permalink
    April 4, 2009 8:06 pm

    i like that the humbaba is at least a woody wine.

    • Erik permalink
      April 4, 2009 8:08 pm

      on second considerings… a curiosity. They were still primarily making bread-beers at the time, yes? a better reason for the two to be mentioned in tandem, or am I just making things up?

      • April 5, 2009 8:21 am

        What? And pizza and beer don’t go together? 😉

        Duane Smith posted a nice little piece on the translation issue over at his blog. It might help clarify the issue.

    • May 20, 2011 6:00 pm

      I feel so much happier now I underatnsd all this. Thanks!

  3. April 21, 2009 12:56 am

    Jim: You’re making an assumption that I have named my winery and wines based on “Enkidu being humanized through wine.” Although I don’t agree with you on you absolute interpretation of text – some say wine, some say beer, I actually enjoy both very much – the actual reason for taking the name of Enkidu is for his character and for the overall great appreciation of the epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu was heat and passion, he was of the forest and protector of animals. When identifying with a character, or anything else for that matter, when taking a name to represent your livelihood, I feel it is essential that what you choose resonates and is reflective of who we are and the work in which we engage. Although Enkidu and Gilgamesh are guilty of a heap of arrogance later in the story, it is the heat and passion that we look to in producing our wines.

    With respect,
    Phil – Winemaker/Owner

    BTW – The Humbaba rocks!

    • April 21, 2009 9:03 am


      Glad you stopped by! Duane Smith has nice piece on why the word is beer not wine (linked to above). Now that I think of it, I believe there was even a micro brew called Enkidu Brew at some point. Regardless, I think neither Gilgamesh nor Enkidu would pass up wine if offered.

      I wasn’t assuming that your winery was named for Enkidu’s humanization through alcohol (and sex, of course). That’s just what the story portrays. Alcohol production and sacred prostitution (however defined) are two the hallmarks of society as portrayed by the text. In the story of Bilgames and Huwawa (from the Sumerian tales of Gilgamesh) we also see that shoes and bread are among those amenities seen as indicative of urban civilization.

      Personally, I find myself more and more championing Humbaba when reading the text with students. He amounts to a kick-ass Lorax and comes to a sad end that he doesn’t deserve.

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