Following Enkidu's tragic death, Gilgamesh is inspired to discover the secret of everlasting life and is determined to speak with Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim was granted immortality by the gods after he built the famous arc to survive the great flood. On Gilgamesh's journey to find Utnapishtim, he must first cross the treacherous mountains of Mashu, which guard the rising and setting sun. The mountains of Mashu are described as massive twin peaks, rising into the sky and reaching down into the underworld. The Scorpion Men stand guard outside the gates of the sun god, Shamash, at the mountains of Mashu.
The Scorpion Men are described as terrifying beings whose glance is death. Initially, Gilgamesh is afraid of the Scorpion Men, but he manages to compose himself before addressing them. The Scorpion Men are significantly impressed by Gilgamesh's courage and ask if he is a god. They are also inspired by Gilgamesh's determination and composure.
Once they discover that Gilgamesh is two-thirds god and one-third man, they listen as Gilgamesh explains the nature of his journey. Gilgamesh informs the Scorpion Men that he is searching for Utnapishtim in hopes of attaining immortality and avoiding the same fate as Enkidu. The Scorpion Men respond by warning Gilgamesh of the dangers of the mountain that lie ahead and mention that no mortal has ever traveled through the mountain. However, the Scorpion Men respect and admire Gilgamesh's courage and proceed to open the mountain gates for the hero to continue his journey.