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I tried to check the meaning of thou and thee and all I could find is:

thou = he/she in the past

thee = they in the past

But that doesn't make any sense to me.

This is the context:

After Anu had created the heaven,
And the heaven had created the earth,
And the earth had created the rivers,
And the rivers had created the canals,
And the canals had created the morass,
And the morass had created the worm,
The worm went before Shamash, weeping,
His tears flowing before Ea:
‘What wilt thou give me for my food,
What wilt thou give me for my drink?’
‘I will give thee the dried fig
And the apricot.’
‘What are these to me? The dried fig
And the apricot!
Lift me up, and among the teeth
And the gums let me dwell! . .
Because thou hast said this, O worm,
May Ea smite thee with the might of
His hand!

What do these thous and thees mean?

I also read that Shamash is the god in an ancient civilization, so what does it mean when it states: The worm went before Shamash? How could the worm go before this god? Or does it have a hidden meaning?

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the grammar and vocabulary of a very old "translation" of the "poetic" Epic of Gilgamesh, obviously produced at least before 1834, and not relevant to the needs of people learning normal, current English. – FumbleFingers Aug 27 '14 at 21:20
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    @FumbleFingers Not quite so old as that. Your link is a review of a translation by R.C. Thompson published in 1904; and in fact, OP's version appears to be slightly retouched from of a translation by Alexander Heidel, p.72, 1952. – StoneyB Aug 28 '14 at 1:29
  • @FumbleFingers And now I look closely, part of the retouch is a replacement of went with came ... but I'm pretty sure of Heidel as the source: it's the only translation I've found which employs 'morass'. I think this is a sloppy transcription on some 3rd- or 4th-party website. – StoneyB Aug 28 '14 at 1:36
  • @StoneyB: oic. Well, it wouldn't really make any difference if it was written yesterday. It's English, Jim, but not as we know it. – FumbleFingers Aug 28 '14 at 12:52
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I have no idea where you got this notion that thou/thy/thine/thee have anything to do with the third person singular pronounts, but it is quite wrong.

Thou (subjective), thy/thine (possessive), and thee (objective) are the forms taken by the now-obsolete second-person-singular pronoun. Between about 1500 and 1700 this was replaced by the pronoun you (which was originally the objective form of the second-person-plural pronoun ye); during that period it came to act primarily (but inconsistently) as a familiar or affectionate form, contrasting with you as the formal or respectful form.

Today it survives only in religious or historic contexts, or as here to translate corresponding forms from other languages.

As for The worm went before Shamash, you will have to consult the notes in your source, or other scholarly works dealing with the language and literature of the Ancient Near East; keep in mind that this is a translation from a dead language (and a dead culture) which is only imperfectly known today, so this cannot be adddressed on ELL. A translation I consulted renders that line “The worm came weeping before Shamash”—before, that is, in the sense of into the presence of. The worm appears to be either a personification of the entity causing toothache, or the entity itself.

  • Perhaps "went" was meant to be wept – Jim Aug 28 '14 at 1:03
  • @Jim Could be; but my guess is that whatever morpheme appears in the original acts as both come and go. – StoneyB Aug 28 '14 at 1:11
  • Actually I just read the thing instead of commenting blindly and went before Shamash, weeping makes perfect sense and, I think comes off nearly identical to "came weeping before Shamash" but the former seems more consistent with the style of language in KJB. – Jim Aug 28 '14 at 1:14
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    @Jim Well, it's 'went' that seems to have confused OP, leading them to think that 'went before' indicates some sort of precedence. – StoneyB Aug 28 '14 at 1:36
  • Oh, ha ha, didn't even think of that interpretation. – Jim Aug 28 '14 at 2:08

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