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The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Myth Revisited PDF, ePub eBook A brilliant and compelling work of art -- this book offers: -- Saul Tchernichovsky's classic Hebrew translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh -- The Epic of Gilgamesh in English verse, by Danny P. Jackson -- Brilliant, full-color illustrations by Zeev Raban, with commentary -- The Epic of Gilgamesh As A Journey of Psychological Development by David S. Kahn -- Gilgamesh, An Apprecia A brilliant and compelling work of art -- this book offers: -- Saul Tchernichovsky's classic Hebrew translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh -- The Epic of Gilgamesh in English verse, by Danny P. Jackson -- Brilliant, full-color illustrations by Zeev Raban, with commentary -- The Epic of Gilgamesh As A Journey of Psychological Development by David S. Kahn -- Gilgamesh, An Appreciation by James G. Keenan

30 review for The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Myth Revisited

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Shutur eli sharri = The Epic of Gilgamesh, Anonymous The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia that is often regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about Bilgamesh (Sumerian for "Gilgamesh"), king of Uruk, dating from the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC). These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic. The first surviving version of this combined epic, kn Shutur eli sharri = The Epic of Gilgamesh, Anonymous The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia that is often regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about Bilgamesh (Sumerian for "Gilgamesh"), king of Uruk, dating from the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC). These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic. The first surviving version of this combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian" version, dates to the 18th century BC and is titled after its incipit, Shūtur eli sharrī ("Surpassing All Other Kings"). Only a few tablets of it have survived. The later "standard" version dates from the 13th to the 10th centuries BC and bears the incipit Sha naqba īmuru ("He who Saw the Deep", in modern terms: "He who Sees the Unknown"). Approximately two thirds of this longer, twelve-tablet version have been recovered. Some of the best copies were discovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. The first half of the story discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop Gilgamesh from oppressing the people of Uruk. After Enkidu becomes civilized through sexual initiation with a harlot, he travels to Uruk, where he challenges Gilgamesh to a test of strength. Gilgamesh wins and the two become friends. Together, they make a six-day journey to the legendary Cedar Forest, where they plan to slay the Guardian, Humbaba the Terrible, and cut down the sacred Cedar. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death. In the second half of the epic, distress about Enkidu's death causes Gilgamesh to undertake a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life. He eventually learns that "Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands". However, because of his great building projects, his account of Siduri's advice, and what the immortal man Utnapishtim told him about the Great Flood, Gilgamesh's fame survived his death. His story has been translated into many languages, and in recent years has featured in works of popular fiction. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در روزهای ماه جولای سال 2004 و دوباره در نوامبر سال 2005 میلادی و در ماه آگوست سال 2006 میلادی عنوان: گیلگمش؛ نویسنده: ناشناس؛ برگردان: احمد شاملو؛ تهران، نگاه، 1379؛ در 240 ص؛ شابک: 9643510182؛ موضوع: اساطیر آشوری و بابلی - سده 21 پیش از میلاد گیلگمش، پادشاهی خودکامه و پهلوان بود. او نیمه‌ آسمانی (دوسوم وجودش ایزدی و یک‌ سومش انسانی) بود. حماسه ی «گیلگمش»، با بیان کارها و پیروزی‌های قهرمان، آغاز می‌شود، به گونه‌ ای که او را مردی بزرگ در پهنه ی دانش و خرد، معرفی می‌کند. او می‌تواند توفان را پیش‌ بینی کند. مرگ دوست صمیمی‌ اش «اِنکیدو»، او را بسیار پریشان میکند، برای همین «گیلگمش»، پای در سفری طولانی، برای جستجوی جاودانگی می‌گذارد، سپس خسته و درمانده به خانه بازمی‌گردد؛ و شرح رنج‌هایی را که کشیده بر گِل‌ نوشته‌ ای ثبت می‌کند. حماسه «گیلگمش» در ایران نیز شهرت دارد. نخستین ترجمه فارسی گیلگمش، توسط دکتر «منشی‌زاده» در سال 1333 هجری خورشیدی انجام شد، و پس از آن نیز ترجمه‌ های دیگری منتشر شدند. ا. شربیانی نقل از ویکیپدیا: حماسه «گیلگمش» در دوازده لوح ذکر می‌شود که حوادث این دوازده لوح، تیتر وار چنین هستند: 1 - «گیلگمش»، آن که از هر سختی شادتر می‌شود... آفرینش «انکیدو»، و رفتن وی به «اوروک»، شهری که حصار دارد. 2 - باز یافتن «انکیدو» «گیلگمش» را، و رای زدن ایشان از برای جنگیدن با «خومبه به، همان هومبا با»، نگهبان جنگل سدر خدایان. 3 - ترک گفتن «انکیدو» شهر را و بازگشت وی، نخستین رؤیای «انکیدو». 4 - برانگیختن «شمش» خدای سوزان آفتاب، «گیلگمش» را به جنگ با «هومبا با» و کشتن ایشان دروازه‌بان «هومبا با» را. 5 - رسیدن ایشان به جنگل‌های سدر مقدس. نخستین رویای گیلگمش. دومین رویای گیلگمش. جنگ با «خومبه به» و کشتن وی، بازگشتن به «اوروک». 6 - گفت و گوی «گیلگمش» با «ایشتر» الهه عشق و برشمردن زشتکاری‌های او. جنگ «گیلگمش» و «انکیدو» با «نر گاو آسمان» و کشتن آن و جشن و شادی برپا کردن. 7 - دومین رویای «انکیدو». بیماری «انکیدو». 8 - مرگ «انکیدو» و زاری «گیلگامش». شتاب کردن «گیلگمش» به جانب دشت و گفت و گو با نخجیرباز. 9 - سومین رویای «گیلگمش ». رو در راه نهادن «گیلگامش» در جستجوی راز حیات جاویدان، و رسیدن وی به دروازهء ظلمات، گفت و گو با دروازه بانان و به راه افتادن در دره‌های تاریکی، راه نمودن «شمش» خدای آفتاب «گیلگمش» را به جانب «سی دوری سابی تو» فرزانه کوهساران نگهبان درخت زندگی رسیدن گیلگمش به باغ خدایان. 10 - گفت و گوی «گیلگمش» و «سی دوری سابی تو»؛و راهنمایی «سی دوری سابی تو»، خاتونی فرزانه، «گیلگمش» را به جانب زورق «اوتنپیشتیم». دیدار گیلگمش و «اورشه نبی» کشتیبان؛ به کشتی نشستن و گذشتن از آب‌های مرگ، دیدار «گیلگمش» و ئوت نه پیش تیم دور، «گیلگمش» را؛ و شکست «گیلگمش». آگاهی دادن «اوتنپیشتیم دور»، گیلگمش را ار راز گیاه اعجازآمیز دریا. به دست آوردن «گیلگمش» گیاه اعجازآمیز را و خوردن مار، گیاه را و بازگشت «گیلگمش» به شهر «اوروک». 11 - عزیمت «گیلگمش» به جهان زیرین خاک، و گفت و گوی او با سایه ی «انکیدو». 12 - پایان کار گیلگمش. پایان نقل از ویکیپدیا

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    “I will reveal to you a mystery, I will tell you a secret of the gods.” There is something very humbling about reading stories written more than 4,000 years ago. One of the most fascinating things about The Epic of Gilgamesh is how you can easily see the influence it has had on Homer and Judeo-Christian-Islamic mythology. And I get chills just thinking about how this narrative reaches across the millennia and takes us inside the minds of people who lived so long ago. This is one of those cases “I will reveal to you a mystery, I will tell you a secret of the gods.” There is something very humbling about reading stories written more than 4,000 years ago. One of the most fascinating things about The Epic of Gilgamesh is how you can easily see the influence it has had on Homer and Judeo-Christian-Islamic mythology. And I get chills just thinking about how this narrative reaches across the millennia and takes us inside the minds of people who lived so long ago. This is one of those cases where I really wish I could read and understand the original text. The translation is a little wooden, and the rather dramatic series of events reads almost like a textbook. I should point out that, though a little dry, it's not difficult to read at all - at least not in the English translation that I read - and can be read in a single sitting if you have a couple of hours to spare. My favourite part is, not surprisingly, the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I definitely find myself leaning towards agreeing with the homoerotic interpretations of their relationship, and they almost certainly served as an inspiration for pairings such as Achilles and Patroclus, and Jonathan and David. Whether they were lovers or not - and no one really knows how the Ancient Sumerians would have felt about a gay couple - the intensity of Gilgamesh's love for Enkidu, whom he loves "as a woman", is the driving force of the epic. This love leads him on a long and strange journey in the hope that he can find a way to defy death. An intriguing tale. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, Anonymous, N.K. Sandars (Translator) The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for 'Gilgamesh'), king of Uruk. These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic. The first surviving version of this combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian" version, dates to the 18th century BC and is titled after its incipit, Shūtur eli sharrī ("Surpassing All Other Kings"). Only a few tablets of it have s The Epic of Gilgamesh, Anonymous, N.K. Sandars (Translator) The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for 'Gilgamesh'), king of Uruk. These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic. The first surviving version of this combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian" version, dates to the 18th century BC and is titled after its incipit, Shūtur eli sharrī ("Surpassing All Other Kings"). Only a few tablets of it have survived. The later "Standard" version dates from the 13th to the 10th centuries BC and bears the incipit Sha naqba īmuru ("He who Saw the Deep", in modern terms: "He who Sees the Unknown"). Approximately two thirds of this longer, twelve-tablet version have been recovered. Some of the best copies were discovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. نخستین خوانش این نسخه با متن انگلیسی: اول آگوست سال 2006 میلادی گیلگمش، پادشاهی خودکامه و پهلوان و «زمینی آسمانی» بود. دوسوم وجودش را ایزدی، و یک‌سومش را انسانی بنوشته اند. حماسه ی «گیلگمش»، با بیان کارها و پیروزی‌های قهرمان، آغاز می‌شود، به گونه‌ ای که او را مردی بزرگ، در پهنه ی دانش و خرد، معرفی می‌کند. او می‌تواند توفان را پیش‌ بینی کند. مرگ دوست صمیمی‌ اش «اِنکیدو»، ایشان را بسیار پریشان کرده، برای همین «گیلگمش»، پای در سفری طولانی، برای جستجوی جاودانگی می‌گذارد، سپس خسته و درمانده، به خانه بازمی‌گردد، و شرح رنج‌هایی را که کشیده، بر گِل‌ نوشته‌ ای ثبت می‌کند. حماسه ی «گیلگمش» در ایران نیز شهرت دارد. نخستین ترجمه ی فارسی آن، توسط دکتر «منشی‌زاده» در سال 1333 هجری خورشیدی انجام شد، و پس از آن نیز ترجمه‌ های دیگری منتشر شد. حماسه ی «گیلگمش» در دوازده لوح است. عنوان رخدادهای این دوازده لوح، تیتروار چنین هستند: 1 - «گیلگمش»، آنکه از هر سختی شادتر می‌شود... آفرینش «انکیدو»، و رفتن وی به «اوروک»، شهری که حصار دارد. 2 - باز یافتن «انکیدو»، «گیلگمش» را، و رای زدن ایشان از برای جنگیدن با «خومبه به، همان هومبا با»، نگهبان جنگل سدر خدایان. 3 - ترک گفتن «انکیدو» شهر را، و بازگشت وی، نخستین رؤیای «انکیدو». 4 - برانگیختن «شِمِش» خدای سوزان آفتاب، «گیلگمش» را، به جنگ با «هومبا با»، و کشتن ایشان دروازه‌ بان «هومبا با» را. 5 - رسیدن ایشان به جنگل‌های سدر مقدس. نخستین رویای گیلگمش. دومین رویای گیلگمش. جنگ با «خومبه به» و کشتن وی، بازگشتن به اوروک. 6 - گفتگوی «گیلگمش» با «ایشتر»، الهه ی عشق، و برشمردن زشتکاری‌های او. جنگ «گیلگمش» و «انکیدو»، با «نر گاو آسمان» و کشتن آن، و جشن و شادی برپا کردن. 7 - دومین رویای «انکیدو». بیماری «انکیدو». 8 - مرگ «انکیدو» و زاری «گیلگامش». شتاب کردن «گیلگمش» به جانب دشت، و گفتگو با نخجیرباز. 9 - سومین رویای «گیلگمش ». رو در راه نهادن «گیلگامش»، در جستجوی راز حیات جاویدان، و رسیدن وی به دروازه ی ظلمات، گفتگو با دروازه بانان، و به راه افتادن در دره‌ های تاریکی، راه نمودن «شِمِش» خدای آفتاب گیلگمش را به جانب «سی دوری سابی تو»، فرزانه ی کوهساران، نگهبان درخت زندگی، رسیدن گیلگمش به باغ خدایان. 10 - گفتگوی «گیلگمش»، و «سی دوری سابی تو»؛ و راهنمایی «سی دوری سابی تو»، خاتونی فرزانه، «گیلگمش» را، به جانب زورق «اوتنپیشتیم». دیدار گیلگمش و «اورشه نبی» کشتیبان؛ به کشتی نشستن، و گذشتن از آب‌های مرگ، دیدار «گیلگمش» و ئوت نه پیش تیم دور، «گیلگمش» را؛ و شکست «گیلگمش». آگاهی دادن «اوتنپیشتیم دور»، گیلگمش را، ار راز گیاه اعجازآمیز دریا. به دست آوردن «گیلگمش»، گیاه اعجازآمیز را، و خوردن مار گیاه را، و بازگشت «گیلگمش»، به شهر «اوروک». 11 - عزیمت «گیلگمش» به جهان زیرین خاک، و گفتگوی او با سایه ی «انکیدو». 12 - پایان کار گیلگمش.؛ ا. شربیانی

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Ebaid

    "لأنه ليس من قدر الإنسان أن يحيا إلى الأبد ولكن لإنجازاته أن تخلد اسمه للأجيال اللاحقة" "As for human beings, their days are numbered, and only their achievements that could establish their name to the latter generations." The oldest discovered "truly literature" epic ever in history, the immortal outstanding Odyssey of Iraq. Gilgamesh, the two-thirds god, symbol of Sumerian myth. Origin of all stories and tales, which the old ancient civilizations quoted Source of myths and superstition You woul "لأنه ليس من قدر الإنسان أن يحيا إلى الأبد ولكن لإنجازاته أن تخلد اسمه للأجيال اللاحقة" "As for human beings, their days are numbered, and only their achievements that could establish their name to the latter generations." The oldest discovered "truly literature" epic ever in history, the immortal outstanding Odyssey of Iraq. Gilgamesh, the two-thirds god, symbol of Sumerian myth. Origin of all stories and tales, which the old ancient civilizations quoted Source of myths and superstition You would be surprised by knowing the ancient assets of present, that the men just do developing rather than innovate from nothing Unmatchable effort from the archaeologist "Taha Baker" to reintroduce the Arabic edition, furthermore the high-quality translation, he made great analysis and imagination to the missed parts of the mud tablets, and wrote margins to match the bible phrases to the one in THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH. Penguin edition was twice long as the Arabic one, because it offered several texts of Babylonian and Sumerian tablets. so don't worry about any skip in the Arabic translation. I think the following paintings are able to seduce you to read the EPIC أقدم ملحمة أدبية "حقيقية" مكتشفة في التاريخ، "أوديسة" العراق الخالدة. "جلجامش" ثلثي الإله، رمز الأسطورة السومرية، أصل كل القصص والحكايات، ارتوت جميع الحضارات القديمة منها، منبع كل الأساطير والخرافات. لسوف يدهشك معرفة الأصول القديمة للحاضر، فالبشر فقط يطورون ولا يخترعون من العدم.. ومجهود عظيم من العالم "طه باقر" في الكتاب. طه باقر قدم ترجمة عظيمة وتخيلات للنصوص الناقصة من القصة، وهوامش عن الأجزاء التي اقتبستها التوراة منها. دي صور للملحمة كفيلة بإنها تغري أي حد بقراءتها: أول 8 لوحات بريشة الفنان العراقي رعد فليح The first eight paintings by the Iraqi "Raad Felih" 1- "GILGAMESH meets SIDURI the god of beer and wine." 2- "GILGAMESH catches the horns of the holy bull." 3- "The monsters treated ENKIDU as a traitor after a prostitute seduces him." 4- "GILGAMESH and ENKIDU verse HUMBABA, the guardian of the Cedar Forest." 5- "GILGAMESH and ENKIDU on their own journey." 6- "ENKIDU after cutting the head of Holy bull sent by Ishtar's dad." 7- " "GILGAMESH crosses the death sea, to reach the flood hero UTNAPISHTIM. 8- "GILGAMESH sends a prostitute to seduce ENKIDU " ودي صور تانية لازم ولا بد تشوفها: Another must seen paintings "Discovering of two statuses to men with a body of winged Bull - اكتشاف تمثالين على جسد ثور مجنح" "Comparing to lion body, this is how big is GILGAMESH - حجم جلجامش مقارنة بحجم أسد كبير" "GILGAMESH with a whip - جلجامش وكرباج" "GILGAMESH and his friend ENKIDU - جلجامش وصديقه إنكيدو" "GILGAMESH sorrow after ENKIDU's death - حزن جلجامش بعد موت إنكيدو" "GILGAMESH after a serpent robbed the eternity fruit - جلجامش بعد أن سلبته الحية ثمرة الخلود" **** A short video about story line of the EPIC ودا فيديو مترجم عربي يوضح ملخص القصة -فيه شوية اختلافات عن نسخه طه باقر-: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKhDp... **** A song about the EPIC by KAZIM EL-SAHER, soon. أغنية لكاظم الساهر بنفس الاسم بردوا.... قريباً **** The EPIC as a carol in Arabic. should push you into the mood ودي القصة مغناة على موسيقى وصوت جهوري ذو نغمة مميزة هيدخلك في المود The EPIC as a carol - ملحمة جلجامش مغناة

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”The one who saw the abyss I will make the land know; Of him who knew all, let me tell the whole story ...in the same way... Is there a king like him anywhere? Who like Gilgamesh can boast, ‘I am the king!’ From the day of his birth Gilgamesh was called by name.” An exorcist priest named Sin-Leqi-Unninni is famous for being the scribe who recorded the best preserved version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. He lived in Mesopotamia between 1300-11oo BC. His name translates roughly as The Moon God is One Who A ”The one who saw the abyss I will make the land know; Of him who knew all, let me tell the whole story ...in the same way... Is there a king like him anywhere? Who like Gilgamesh can boast, ‘I am the king!’ From the day of his birth Gilgamesh was called by name.” An exorcist priest named Sin-Leqi-Unninni is famous for being the scribe who recorded the best preserved version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. He lived in Mesopotamia between 1300-11oo BC. His name translates roughly as The Moon God is One Who Accepts my Prayers. The poem is thought to have existed as much as a 1000 years before Sin-Leqi-Unninni transcribed this version, which would make this story over 4000 years old. It is remarkable that we have these clay tablets at all. We have pieces of the story in other forms, and any translator who takes on the task of looking with fresh eyes at these cuneiform shapes relies heavily on the other scattered pieces to fill in the gaps of the missing sections of clay or the parts that have been rubbed into obscurity. Here is an example of what is readable out of the severely damaged tablet V column VI: ”... ...road… ...a second time… ...threw down… ...Enkidu They cut off the head of Humbaba.” It makes me think of when I was a kid watching a show, and the TV signal would start going on the fritz. The picture would start flipping and turning to static (probably a passing low flying UFO). I would be banging on the set (because that always helps) and frantically wiggling the ears until the rabbit is squawking. I’d get pieces of sound with distorted dialogue. Finally, the signal would be reacquired just in time for me to hear, “That was amazing, Magnum.” Fortunately, John Gardner and John Maier were able to resurrect the missing pieces from other sources, and they share that with us so we can see what we probably missed. It would have been wonderful to read how Sin-Leqi-Unninni would have interpreted that particular dynamic scene of Gilgamesh and Enkidu subduing Humbaba. One can only hope that more Gilgamesh pieces are still out there to be discovered and maybe, even possibly, another copy of this particular translation. When I think of Gilgamesh, I also think of Beowulf. Both are epic, larger than life heroes whom I frequently, in my youth, mixed up. It wasn’t until I was at college, taking literature courses, that I managed to pry the two apart into two separate beings. Gilgamesh VS Beowulf Who would win? Well, Gilgamesh is two thirds celestial being and only one third human. When Enkidu is created as a counter balance to him by the Gods, it really isn’t a contest. Despite Enkidu being a powerful and great warrior, he is no match for Gilgamesh, so I’d have to say my head proclaims Gilgamesh would win against Beowulf, but my heart is always going to be with Beowulf. Enkidu is raised by wolves, well basically the whole wildlife kingdom, and when it is time for him to give Gilgamesh his comeuppance, they decide the best way to bring Enkidu into the arms of civilization is to tempt him with the charms of a woman. Here he is, courtesan; get ready to embrace him. Open your legs, show him your beauty. Do not hold back, take his wind away. Seeing you, he will come near. Strip off your clothes so he can mount you. Make him know, this-man-as-he-was, what a woman is. His beasts who grew up in his wilderness will turn from him. He will press his body over your wildness.” And man, did it ever work. It is like mainlining the poor bastard with some pure China White. He is hooked. ”Six days and seven nights Enkidu attacked, fucked the priestess.” Though this might resemble a honeymoon, never leave the hotel type situation, I doubt it was quite the same. Enkido and Gilgamesh, after their property destroying epic battle, became best friends. Inseparable until death parts them. They kill the Bull of Heaven after the beast is sent for by the scorned goddess Ishtar. You see, Gilgamesh turns her down. ”Which of your lovers have you loved forever? Which of your little shepherds has continued to please you? Come, let me name your lovers for you,” which is actually very astute of Gilgamesh, who is really better known as a love them and leave them type. There is, in fact, a lot of grumbling about his Middle Ages type insistence that he has firsties with any new bride in the kingdom. I guess the rat bastard aristocracy of the Medieval period had read a copy of Gilgamesh, or maybe we can assume that men with absolute power have always been the same. Enkidu and Gilgamesh There must be a price paid for killing the Bull of Heaven, and the Gods are not going to strike down their golden boy, Gilgamesh, so that leaves his best friend, Enkido, to be the fall guy. When you are on an away mission with Gilgamesh, you always wear the red shirt. The grief that Gilgamesh feels is actually poignant. ”Six days and seven nights I wept over him. until a worm fell out of his nose. Then I was afraid.” I really think that maybe Gilgamesh hopes the gods will take pity on him and listen to his lamentations and restore life to Enkidu, but my rule has always been, when a worm falls out of a loved one’s nose, it is time to bury him or run like hell because Uncle Ted has just joined the Walking Dead. Gilgamesh travels to the underworld looking for his friend. I love this line: ”His face was like that of one who travels a long road.” I can see his mental and physical pain etched into the lines of his face. There is a long digression in the story while Sin-Leqi-Unninni relates THE FLOOD story, starring Utnapishtim as Noah. The rest of the starring characters, that would be us sinners, are drowned. We are merely bobbing nuisances in the water, as a backdrop to Utnapishtim’s celebratory high 5s with the giraffes, gorillas, and gazelles. Though nonsensical for Sin-Leqi-Unninni to shove Gilgamesh off center stage, it is actually very interesting to read. ”When he orders bread at night, he (Shamash) will rain down wheat, enter the boat and close the gate.” My family raises a lot of wheat, so the whole image of raining down wheat to feed Utnapishtim and his family is something I have never heard of in connection with the Noah version, but I really like the visual of wheat cascading from heaven to fill up the deck of the boat. On his journey, Gilgamesh finds a weed that will restore his vigor and youthfulness. He wants to take it back to Uruk and share it with others. I’m already thinking to myself, gobble it down man, save some for others, but gobble yours now. Well, then a snake shows up, and … This is a blast to read. The notes that Gardner and Maier provide are invaluable to help me better understand the story, so don’t just read Gilgamesh, allow yourself to be immersed in the whole experience. I would read the text from the tablet and then read the notes to find some, not so subtle, changes occurring to my own interpretation of the meaning. Use these experts to heighten not only your knowledge but also your overall enjoyment of reading one of the oldest known stories in existence. John Gardner I keep pondering the unexpected death of John Gardner in 1982. He died in a tragic motorcycle accident at the tender age of 49, before this book was published. I couldn’t help thinking of him because the notes are infused with his charismatic personality and his boyish enthusiasm. He had been drinking but was below the legal limit at the time. John Maier feels that he was overworked from too many projects and too little sleep. I first encountered Gardner when I read his wonderful, slender volume Grendel (1971), which I really need to reread so I can write a review for it. I didn’t know that he was already dead at the time that I read Grendel, but when I did find it out later, I felt that temporary displacement of learning bad news as if it had just happened. RIP John Gardner. May you be able to complete your tasks in the next life. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    5.0 stars. I thought this story was AMAZING. However, before I go any further I do want to point out that this review is solely for the version I read which was “Gilgamesh: A New English Version” by Stephen Mitchell. I say this because for a story written over 4000 years ago (approximately 2100 BC) about a King who lived over 4700 years ago (approximately 2750 BC) and was written in cuneiform in an extinct language (Akkadian), I imagine that the particular translation one reads may have a profou 5.0 stars. I thought this story was AMAZING. However, before I go any further I do want to point out that this review is solely for the version I read which was “Gilgamesh: A New English Version” by Stephen Mitchell. I say this because for a story written over 4000 years ago (approximately 2100 BC) about a King who lived over 4700 years ago (approximately 2750 BC) and was written in cuneiform in an extinct language (Akkadian), I imagine that the particular translation one reads may have a profound impact on the reading experience. I also note that the version I read has been criticized by others for being too subjective an interpretation. I will probably read an alternative translation at some point to compare the two but for now all I can say is that I LOVED STEPHEN MITCHELL’S VERSION. In addition to having the complete text of the epic poem, Mitchell includes about 75 pages worth on analysis and insight into the story that I thought enhanced the reading experience for me. Rather then go into the details of the story which are adequately explained in the book description and are fairly well known, I will just give some thoughts about my impression of the story. This is an epic heroic story in the ancient sense of the word. Gilgamesh is a hero like the Greek gods, not necessarily “good” but rather smarter, stronger and more powerful than all those around him. Later when he meets his friend/brother Enkidu, the two embark on the first quest adventure ever written and their travels make for a wonderful story. While reading this, I kept finding myself thinking that I can’t believe this was written over 4000 years ago and is still so incredibly entertaining. I was also amazed that this story (again written over 4000 years ago) includes an almost verbatim version of the “Great Flood” story from the Old Testament down to the smallest details. There is a similar allusion to the loss of innocence through the machinations of an evil serpent that bear a striking example to the “Fall of Adam and Eve.” I thought this was fascinating on many levels. Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, this story is about the journey of knowledge and self-discovery and about learning that the home you may have once run away from in order to look for greener pastures can turn out to be a pretty special place after all. From that perspective alone, this is a beautifully written and powerful story and one that I would strongly recommend. One final note: I listened to the audio version narrated by George Guidall who did an absolutely superb job and added to my enjoyment of the narrative. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    He Who Saw The Deep: A Hymn to Survival The Gilgamesh epic is one of the great masterpieces of world literature. One of the early translations so inspired the poet Rainer Maria Rilke in 1916 that he became almost intoxicated with pleasure and wonder, and repeated the story to all he met. 'Gilgamesh,' he declared, 'is stupendous!' For him the epic was first and foremost 'das Epos der Todesfurcht', the epic about the fear of death. This universal theme does indeed tie together the various strands He Who Saw The Deep: A Hymn to Survival The Gilgamesh epic is one of the great masterpieces of world literature. One of the early translations so inspired the poet Rainer Maria Rilke in 1916 that he became almost intoxicated with pleasure and wonder, and repeated the story to all he met. 'Gilgamesh,' he declared, 'is stupendous!' For him the epic was first and foremost 'das Epos der Todesfurcht', the epic about the fear of death. This universal theme does indeed tie together the various strands of the epic poem - it tells of one man's heroic struggle against death, for eternal life - first through immortal renown through glorious deeds, then for eternal life itself. It then goes on to describe of his despair when confronted with the inevitable failure, and of his eventual realization that the only immortality he may expect is the enduring name afforded by leaving behind some lasting achievement. The epic is also a work from which one is expected to learn from: the poet enjoins us in the prologue, to read about 'the travails of Gilgamesh, all that he went through!' The lesson is that maturity is gained as much through failure as success. Life, of necessity, is hard, but one is the wiser for it. Thus, it is also a story of one man's 'path to wisdom', of how he is formed by his successes and failures. It also deals with profound debates on the proper duties of kingship, what a good king should do and should not do - in the end, Uta-napishti’s lesson to Gilgamesh is of the duties of kings and discourses on the inevitability of death and the fleeting nature of life. The wisdom he received at the ends of the earth from the survivor of the Deluge, Uta-napishti, enabled Gilgamesh to restore civilization to its earlier splendor. The quest has taught Gilgamesh how to build his city back to its antediluvian glory. The Flood: A Hymn to Survival Through Uta-napishti’, the epic also artfully weaves into Gilgamesh's own story the traditional tale of the Deluge, the great flood that permeates most ancient myths. Here, Gilgamesh brings home an important meaning of the ever-present flood myth. It allows us to see that the conquering of death is impossible but that preserving of life (and culture and civilization - ancient myths like to personify entire civilizations in its heroes) is the most important challenge. And it is achievable. Gilgamesh has always been thought of as a life-affirming epic that asks us to live life and abandon the quest for avoiding death. But look once again at the advice of the flood-surviver, Uta-napishti: ‘O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu, demolish the house, and build a boat! Abandon wealth, and seek survival!  Spurn property, save life! Take on board the boat all living things' seed!’ *** ‘No one at all sees Death, no one at all sees the face [of Death,] no one at all [hears] the voice of Death, Death so savage, who hacks men down.’ *** 'Ever do we build our households, ever do we make our nests, ever do brothers divide their inheritance, ever do feuds arise in the land.' *** 'Ever the river has risen and brought us the flood, the mayfly floating on the water. On the face of the sun its countenance gazes, then all of a sudden nothing is there!’ Gilgamesh does not ask human kind to avoid the fruitless quest. It was in fact his quest for the unreachable that allowed Gilgamesh to find his way, to find himself and to restore life/civilization. The quest is as unavoidable as Enkidu’s death that prompted it. As long as Enkidus die, Gilgameshs will try to soar beyond human capacity. This is the cause for great hope. Gilgamesh celebrates an hopeful view that even mighty floods and decay cannot completely wipe out human civilization. It comes mighty close and it takes a wise king like Gilgamesh, but it is possible to overcome, to prevail. That is the hope that Gilgamesh holds out to us. ****** Post Script: A Damaged Masterpiece This edition is probably the most comprehensive and scholarly version of the epic yet published. It is not dumbed down for the general audience and is not easy reading. The translator has opted for the integrity of the text over the ease of the reader. The text presented in this translation is fragmentary at best and could be frustrating for the reader. It takes patience and imagination from the reader to work through passages such as this (…. indicate missing text) : In spite of all the difficulties, it is worth persevering. For this translation is definitely more rewarding than the 'freer' translations such as Stephen Mitchell’s. However, a cautionary note for the reader (from the translator): While there is a temptation for a modern editor to ignore the gaps, to gloss them over or to join up disconnected fragments of text, I believe that no adult reader is well served by such a procedure. The gaps are themselves important in number and size, for they remind us how much is still to be learned of the text. They prevent us from assuming that we have Gilgamesh entire. Whatever we say about the epic is provisional, for new discoveries of text may change our interpretation of whole passages. Nevertheless, the epic we have now is considerably fuller than that which fired the imagination of Rilke. Approach what lies ahead not as you might the poems of Homer but as a book part-eaten by termites or a scroll half-consumed by fire. Accept it for what it is, a damaged masterpiece.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Gilgamesh: A New English Version, Stephen Mitchell Gilgamesh: A New English Version is a book about Gilgamesh by Stephen Mitchell. It was published in New York by The Free Press in 2004, ISBN 978-0-7432-6164-7. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for 'Gilgamesh'), king of Uruk. These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic. The first surviving version of this combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian" v Gilgamesh: A New English Version, Stephen Mitchell Gilgamesh: A New English Version is a book about Gilgamesh by Stephen Mitchell. It was published in New York by The Free Press in 2004, ISBN 978-0-7432-6164-7. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for 'Gilgamesh'), king of Uruk. These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic. The first surviving version of this combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian" version, dates to the 18th century BC and is titled after its incipit, Shūtur eli sharrī ("Surpassing All Other Kings"). Only a few tablets of it have survived. The later "Standard" version dates from the 13th to the 10th centuries BC and bears the incipit Sha naqba īmuru ("He who Saw the Deep", in modern terms: "He who Sees the Unknown"). Approximately two thirds of this longer, twelve-tablet version have been recovered. Some of the best copies were discovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه جولای 2004 میلادی؛ ماه نوامبر 2005 میلادی و ماه آگوست سال 2006 میلادی گیلگمش، پادشاهی خودکامه و پهلوان و نیمه‌ آسمانی (دوسوم وجودش ایزدی، و یک‌سومش انسانی) بود. حماسه ی «گیلگمش»، با بیان کارها و پیروزی‌های قهرمان، آغاز می‌شود، به گونه‌ ای که او را مردی بزرگ، در پهنه ی دانش و خرد، معرفی می‌کند. او می‌تواند توفان را پیش‌ بینی کند. مرگ دوست صمیمی‌ خویش «اِنکیدو»، او را بسیار پریشان کرده، برای همین «گیلگمش»، پای در سفری ذور و دراز، برای جستجوی جاودانگی می‌گذارد، سپس خسته و درمانده، به خانه بازمی‌گردد، و شرح رنج‌هایی را که کشیده، بر لوح های گل‌ نوشته‌، ثبت می‌کند. حماسه ی «گیلگمش»، در ایران نیز شهرت دارد. نخستین ترجمه ی فارسی آن، توسط دکتر «منشی‌ زاده»، در سال 1333 هجری خورشیدی، انجام شد، و پس از آن نیز ترجمه‌ های دیگری منتشر شد. حماسه ی «گیلگمش» در دوازده لوح است. عنوان رخدادهای این دوازده لوح، تیتروار چنین هستند: 1 - «گیلگمش»، آنکه از هر سختی شادتر می‌شود... آفرینش «انکیدو»، و رفتن وی به «اوروک»، شهری که حصار دارد. 2 - باز یافتن «انکیدو»، «گیلگمش» را، و رای زدن ایشان از برای جنگیدن با «خومبه به، همان هومبا با»، نگهبان جنگل سدر خدایان. 3 - ترک گفتن «انکیدو» شهر را، و بازگشت وی، نخستین رؤیای «انکیدو». 4 - برانگیختن «شِمِش» خدای سوزان آفتاب، «گیلگمش» را، به جنگ با «هومبا با»، و کشتن ایشان دروازه‌ بان «هومبا با» را. 5 - رسیدن ایشان به جنگل‌های سدر مقدس. نخستین رویای گیلگمش. دومین رویای گیلگمش. جنگ با «خومبه به» و کشتن وی، بازگشتن به اوروک. 6 - گفتگوی «گیلگمش» با «ایشتر»، الهه ی عشق، و برشمردن زشتکاری‌های او. جنگ «گیلگمش» و «انکیدو»، با «نر گاو آسمان» و کشتن آن، و جشن و شادی برپا کردن. 7 - دومین رویای «انکیدو». بیماری «انکیدو». 8 - مرگ «انکیدو» و زاری «گیلگامش». شتاب کردن «گیلگمش» به جانب دشت، و گفتگو با نخجیرباز. 9 - سومین رویای «گیلگمش ». رو در راه نهادن «گیلگامش»، در جستجوی راز حیات جاویدان، و رسیدن وی به دروازه ی ظلمات، گفتگو با دروازه بانان، و به راه افتادن در دره‌ های تاریکی، راه نمودن «شِمِش» خدای آفتاب گیلگمش را به جانب «سی دوری سابی تو»، فرزانه ی کوهساران، نگهبان درخت زندگی، رسیدن گیلگمش به باغ خدایان. 10 - گفتگوی «گیلگمش»، و «سی دوری سابی تو»؛ و راهنمایی «سی دوری سابی تو»، خاتونی فرزانه، «گیلگمش» را، به جانب زورق «اوتنپیشتیم». دیدار گیلگمش و «اورشه نبی» کشتیبان؛ به کشتی نشستن، و گذشتن از آب‌های مرگ، دیدار «گیلگمش» و ئوت نه پیش تیم دور، «گیلگمش» را؛ و شکست «گیلگمش». آگاهی دادن «اوتنپیشتیم دور»، گیلگمش را، ار راز گیاه اعجازآمیز دریا. به دست آوردن «گیلگمش»، گیاه اعجازآمیز را، و خوردن مار گیاه را، و بازگشت «گیلگمش»، به شهر «اوروک». 11 - عزیمت «گیلگمش» به جهان زیرین خاک، و گفتگوی او با سایه ی «انکیدو». 12 - پایان کار گیلگمش. ا. شربیانی

  9. 5 out of 5

    Adina

    I thought it would be a good idea to brush on my (non-existent) knowledge of epics. I cannot rate the Epic of Gilgamesh because I only listened to it as it was among the first piece of literature known to man and I was curios. Plus it was short. I am reading the Literature Book, an excellent history of the art of the written word and this was the first entry. The first category is called heroes and legends and covers titles from 3000 BCE to 1300 CE. I am planning to read some of the books mentio I thought it would be a good idea to brush on my (non-existent) knowledge of epics. I cannot rate the Epic of Gilgamesh because I only listened to it as it was among the first piece of literature known to man and I was curios. Plus it was short. I am reading the Literature Book, an excellent history of the art of the written word and this was the first entry. The first category is called heroes and legends and covers titles from 3000 BCE to 1300 CE. I am planning to read some of the books mentioned there while I go through that tome so I will be mentioning TLB quite often in the following period. Ok, back to the Epic of Gilgamesh. It was written on tablets in ancient Sumer, at around 2100 BCE and discovered in 1853. The fragments tell the story of King Gilgamesh of Uruk, an oppressive ruler of how he changes to a hero after he is taught a lesson by the gods. It is probably the first bildungsroman in history. I cannot say I enjoyed listening to this Epic but I am glad I did. Since I am so confounded I decided not to give any rating. My Epic adventure continues with The Iliad, which is definitely not short as this one, so it will probably takes some time. Wish me luck that I will enjoy the process.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    I've now read this dingdang poem at least four times. Though I read it in both high school and my sophomore year of college, the textbook versions I was dealing with must have been pretty darn tamed down, as I do not recall any overt references to sexual organs or Prima Nocta. Yeah, I definitely don't recall any sexysexy lines like "Open the hymen, perform the marriage act!" Maybe I was just phoning in the whole learning thing back then, or maybe the years since I stepped away from academia have I've now read this dingdang poem at least four times. Though I read it in both high school and my sophomore year of college, the textbook versions I was dealing with must have been pretty darn tamed down, as I do not recall any overt references to sexual organs or Prima Nocta. Yeah, I definitely don't recall any sexysexy lines like "Open the hymen, perform the marriage act!" Maybe I was just phoning in the whole learning thing back then, or maybe the years since I stepped away from academia have actually made me a better reader. Truthfully, though, in my recently solidified but long considered plan to attend graduate school has made the wash that was a lot of my last couple of years of college into quite an obstacle. Seriously, it's pretty amazing what a couple of bouts of "I'm not leaving this bed" level depression can do to a previously solid GPA. So I have dipped my little toe into the local community college waters in order to readjust to book learnin' and maybe show grad school committees that I actually can do well in school when my head's on straight. One of the courses I chose to enroll in is a 1000-level mythology course. Please keep in mind that it is a 1000-level mythology course. As one does in a 1000-level mythology course, I not only read the assigned prose version of Gilgamesh in the textbook, but also the scattered mess that is the translated tablets as contained in this Penguin Edition. Being a repenting academic sinner returning to the college fold, I may be leaning toward overzealousness just a whee bit — the other day, I actually caught myself wondering, even almost sorta fretting, about how I could manage to read both The Morte and all four volumes of The Once and Future King in time for the Arthurian Legends section of the course, a subject over which the entire assigned textbook reading is abooooouuuuut forty pages long. Anyway, I read the two versions of this guy, and I'm glad I did, as placing them side-by-side has definitely been...interesting. The first thing I noticed was how much it's downplayed in cozy textbook versions that Gilgamesh, in his rowdy, youthful, being-up-to-no-good phase, made a sport of raping women. Ha ha ha, taking women's virginities against their will in front of their husbands on their wedding nights, what a rascal! I swear that, aside from that one thing, he's a totally solid guy! The best! So, yeah, Gilgamesh, a.k.a. Rapeymess, gets his own bestie John the Savage — a guy named Enkidu who Gilgamesh respects since he not only almost kicks Gilgamesh's ass, but he murdered a fuckin' lion, y'all!, which we all know is a testament to manhood which holds up to this very day — to teach him humility and nurture his better side and flush his roofies down the toilet and maybe have sex with him a lot. Of course, in the prose version, Gilgamesh is really just painted as an asshole turned hero, and the friendship conveyed as completely platonic. Slight changes. Ever so slight changes. Another difference I noticed is that in the textbook version(s), when Ishtar makes a move on Gilgamesh, he brings up that she's basically a praying mantis who bites the heads off her lovers, sort of like the ancient goddess version of Fester's wife in Addams Family Values. In the tablets, however, it reads more like "naaaahh...you're a whore. I don't like whores." (Totally solid guy! The best!) There are many more such discrepancies, but it would be tedious to go through and list them all, or provide some snoozy summary of events. That would require a grade. Instead, I'll just point out that, between this and the Enuma Elish, I kinda can't wait to watch people maybe freak out about the fact that much of the Old Testament was essentially plagiarized from much older texts, which one assumes would nullify its authority as an "historical record," maybe causing some sort of Christian existential crisis, a crisis which will maybe be fascinating to witness in the online class format, meaning in frantic textspeak. (Oh, if you were wondering if kids these days say things like "lol" and "omg" in strictly graded forum posts, the answer is a vehement, flabbergasted yes, almost all of them. College is totally wasted on the young.) Anyway, this should be fun.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This epic mythological tale was a surprisingly fun read overall and a powerful portrait of the power of male friendship and grief at its loss. Written about 1,700BC, it stars a king of the ancient Mesopotamian king of Uruk living around 2,700BC who is arrogant and unjust to his people. For example, every new bride is his for the bedding before the bridegroom has his joy. The people pray to the gods for relief from his tyranny, and in answer a temple prostitute is sent into the wilds to bring bac This epic mythological tale was a surprisingly fun read overall and a powerful portrait of the power of male friendship and grief at its loss. Written about 1,700BC, it stars a king of the ancient Mesopotamian king of Uruk living around 2,700BC who is arrogant and unjust to his people. For example, every new bride is his for the bedding before the bridegroom has his joy. The people pray to the gods for relief from his tyranny, and in answer a temple prostitute is sent into the wilds to bring back a soulmate for Gilgamesh. The wild man, Enkidu, has been living in innocence among the animals and knows nothing of civilization. The priestess makes love to him for days on end and by such means is he seduced to her quest. After a period of competitive interactions, including wrestling matches, the king and tamed monster become bosom buddies and probably lovers. The goddess Ishtar takes a fancy to Enkidu, who rejects her advances and promises of heavenly rewards, backed up by the king heaping many insults on her head. In revenge, she gets the top gods to lend her the ferocious Bull of Heaven Peace to kill the king and his buddy. A comic scene of their quick disposal of the beast ensues. Peace and justice begins to bloom in the kingdom. But Gilgamesh just has to express of superman role by finding a monster to slay. He persuades Enkidu to join him on a mission to kill the giant Humbaba, who has long been tasked by a god to guard a sacred cedar forest. Enkidu advises the king against such a foolish challenge, both from its danger and affront to the god. But his loyalty and love of the king leads him to buck but up his friend’s courage and turn the battle into success at the point of disaster. This seals Enkidu’s doom. When sickness and death is brought down on him, Gilgamesh’s grief seems to hold no bounds, much in the vein of Achilles written 1,000 years later: Then he veiled Enkidu’s face like a bride’s. Like an eagle Gilgamensh circled around him, he paced in front of him, back and forth, like a lioness whose cubs are trapped in a pit, he tore out clumps of his hair, tore off his magnificent robes as though they were cursed. In his despair, Gilgamesh is tormented by intimations of his own mortality. He is driven to leave his kingdom on a long, perilous quest to find the one man the gods have blessed with immortality, Utnapishtim, and learn his secret for gaining that status. All he gets for his efforts is platitudes, a diversionary tale of Noah’s Ark (cribbed much later as a lesson for the Torah), and a special healing plant, which the king loses by neglect to a snake on the way back home. At the end, his arrival at the beautifully walled city of Uruk is described identical to the beginning verses of the epic. This version of the tale was composed by Mitchell as a synthesis of prior translations and with invented insertions for all the missing sections lost among the collection of clay tablets inscribed with Sumerian cuneiform as discovered at the late date of 1853 in a dig at Ninevah. Half of the volume is a delightful commentary on the details of the epic and interpretations about their meanings and significance. Quite the eye-opener for me, having always presumed ancient tales to comprise very simplistic analogies about human nature and the conflicts between good and evil. A nice complement to similar conclusions reached from recent reads of the Iliad and Odyssey.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Here's the first book in the world, written around let’s say 2000 BC in Uruk, which is now Iraq, so when I set out to read all of the books in order a while back this was the first one I read. So it's nice that it's very good. It’s about this king, Gilgamesh, who’s a dick. He’s a terrible king, a total tyrant. His best buddy Enkidu, on the other hand, is your archetypical noble savage guy, an innocent wild man. Enkidu gets civilized via the traditional method of having a sex priestess fuck him fo Here's the first book in the world, written around let’s say 2000 BC in Uruk, which is now Iraq, so when I set out to read all of the books in order a while back this was the first one I read. So it's nice that it's very good. It’s about this king, Gilgamesh, who’s a dick. He’s a terrible king, a total tyrant. His best buddy Enkidu, on the other hand, is your archetypical noble savage guy, an innocent wild man. Enkidu gets civilized via the traditional method of having a sex priestess fuck him for a week straight, which totally works. And then they have adventures! There are lots of things in Gilgamesh that will pop up in books later. There are a lot of weird echoes of it in the Bible. The flood myth is here, as it is in most cultures, and actually kindof a better version than the Bible’s. There’s a journey to the underworld, which will show up again in Homer and in Dante. There’s a monster to fight, and - as in Beowulf - there’s some ambiguity about how monstrous Humbaba is. He’s just trying to do his thing, but Gilgamesh and Enkidu have to go hunt him down because they’re such badasses. This arrogance will have terrible consequences for them. The influence on later literature isn't direct: we lost this poem for most of history. It was only found again in the late 1800s. So it's influence by way of echoes, if anything, although the Biblical references are hard to deny. There's an additional tablet XII, probably added later, that makes explicit the gay subtext running through the poem. Here's the translation from Stephen Mitchell:“[My friend, the] penis that you touched so your heart rejoiced, grubs devour [(it) … like an] old garment. [My friend, the crotch that you] touched so your heart rejoiced, it is filled with dust [like a crack in the ground.]” This, yes, amounts to history's first slashfic, but you're likely to think the poem is gay enough without it; Gilgamesh and Enkidu are constantly kissing and holding hands. More on that here. Gilgamesh is more complicated than I expected it to be. It’s dark, haunting, unsettling. The poet Rilke called it “The epic of the fear of death.” The ending is not happy. It’s weird and it’s pretty wonderful. It’s not terribly long, so it's not a huge commitment. I like Stephen Mitchell’s version.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    BkC2) THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH: Not sorry I read it, but what a slog. The Book Report: Evil King Gilgamesh is hatefully cruel to the citizens of Uruk, his kingdom. The gods, hearing the cries of his oppressed people, send Gilgamesh a companion, Enkidu. (Yes, that's right, a man.) Gilgamesh falls so in love with Enkidu, and has such big fun playing around and exploring the world and generally raising hell with Enkidu that his people are left alone to get on with...whatever it was that they weren't al BkC2) THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH: Not sorry I read it, but what a slog. The Book Report: Evil King Gilgamesh is hatefully cruel to the citizens of Uruk, his kingdom. The gods, hearing the cries of his oppressed people, send Gilgamesh a companion, Enkidu. (Yes, that's right, a man.) Gilgamesh falls so in love with Enkidu, and has such big fun playing around and exploring the world and generally raising hell with Enkidu that his people are left alone to get on with...whatever it was that they weren't allowed to do before. And there was much rejoicing *yay* No one is allowed to be too happy for too long. Gilgamesh learns this when he royally screws up by refusing to screw goddess Ishtar because he's busy having fun with Enkidu. It is **NEVER** a good idea to turn down nookie from a goddess. She gets her knickers in a twist and decides that, if he's gonna be *that* way about it, he's not gonna have his boy-toy either! THEN the boys do the colossally stupid thing of stealing Ishtar's bull, and it's lights out for Enkidu. Gilgamesh's grief, to his peoples' relief, sends him on a quest for immortality. Which, frankly, makes not one whit of sense. Grief, in my extensive experience, makes one want oblivion, not eternity. Well, whatever, not me writin' the story, so off goes Gilgamesh to have more adventures. My Review: A whole bunch of the Old Testament is lifted from this book. Amazingly whole and entire, too. Methuselah, Noah...all here first. It's a slog to read, like the Bible, but it's fascinating if kept to smaller doses. I had no faith for it to rock, but it might rock a religious person's sacred book fantasy pretty hard. Highly instructive is the treatment of a strong love between men as perfectly boringly ordinary. No sexual component is implied in their relationship, but go find me a more loving relationship in sacred literature. Their closeness was so complete that it threatened the gods. But, crucially, it was the *CLOSENESS* that threatened the gods, not any inherent evil. The men loved each other so completely that there was no room for gods, which pisses gods off somethin' fierce. Food for thought, homophobes who think Leviticus is right on *this* count.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I think I read this in class once, I don't remember it at all though. I wrote something stupid in the margin though that if I saw in someone else's book I'd think they were a moron, so I guess this proves I'm a moron, or was, or something. This version is a prose version, something I think is silly, I mean I've made fun of people (behind their backs) who buy the prose version of Homer instead of a verse version, so now I'm going to snicker behind my own back. Except I didn't buy this, or I did, I think I read this in class once, I don't remember it at all though. I wrote something stupid in the margin though that if I saw in someone else's book I'd think they were a moron, so I guess this proves I'm a moron, or was, or something. This version is a prose version, something I think is silly, I mean I've made fun of people (behind their backs) who buy the prose version of Homer instead of a verse version, so now I'm going to snicker behind my own back. Except I didn't buy this, or I did, but it's the version that comes in the Norton Anthology of Literature, volume 1. Why would they put this version in? I don't know. Anyway, I guess I'm supposed to rate this higher than three stars, since it's really old and it's about an adventure. Since the story is about five thousand years old and it's the earliest known piece of Western Literature I should give it five stars, I mean, do you think whoever wrote this ever thought they would be given the same rating for their timeless piece of work as a Daredevil graphic novel by someone a few thousand years in the future? Anyway, this story is about a King who is sort of a dick, and everyone is afraid of him. Then a Goddess teaches this guy who has lived the woods his whole life, and who thinks he's really tough to go mess with the King. The King and the tough hippie fight, and then they stop fighting and become best friends. Bored they decide to go kill this other guy who lives in the woods, he's a tough guy too, but he really likes the woods, and feels pain when trees are cut down and then gets really angry. So the King and his friend trounce off to find the keeper of the woods and kill him. On the way they walk up mountains, hold hands and then sleep together, I'm warning anyone reading this, it's easy to read some man on man action going on in the background. Then they find the woods guy, they fight, the woods guy puts up a good fight, then begs for his life, and this mighty King thinks about sparring it but then makes his friend kill him. Next, a bit in the future, the friend dies. The King gets really sad and because he's a self-centered dick he decides the best way to mourn his friend is to have ever lasting life (what?). He goes out to find it, throws a temper tantrum and destroys a poor guys boat, but he gets remorseful when he finds out it's the only boat that can get him to the land where eternal life is handed out, so he helps rig up away for the boat to take him where he needs to go. So the King gets where he's going, and the guy who has eternal life says you can't have it, but I'll tell you a story. Mr. Live Forever tells the story of the Great Flood, and the King surprisingly doesn't get angry and break something. At the end out it, probably out of fear that the King will go ballistic at some point, tells the King he can live forever if he can stay awake for a week. The King tries but ends up sleeping a week instead. When he wakes up Mr. Live Forevers wife tells him to go home and breed with his wife (i.e., get over your boyfriend and get to work humping the lil' misses). And the King does, but not before finding out about a magical flower that will turn anyone young again. The King finds the magical flower, but a snake steals it from him. The King is sad again because he won't live forever, but then he goes home and he writes about himself, the Epic of the kind of dickish King who wanted to live forever but didn't.

  15. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Why is it that I should feel a pit in my stomach when I think of the Library of Alexandria wreathed in fire? Cotton's Library, too, when we nearly lost Beowulf and The Pearl. Who knows what we did lose? A copy of an unknown work of Archimedes was found to have been scraped clean, cut in half, and made into a Bible. To think: a unique book of knowledge--one that outlined Calculus 1800 years before its time--was turned into a copy of the most common book in the world. As a young man, Tolkien once g Why is it that I should feel a pit in my stomach when I think of the Library of Alexandria wreathed in fire? Cotton's Library, too, when we nearly lost Beowulf and The Pearl. Who knows what we did lose? A copy of an unknown work of Archimedes was found to have been scraped clean, cut in half, and made into a Bible. To think: a unique book of knowledge--one that outlined Calculus 1800 years before its time--was turned into a copy of the most common book in the world. As a young man, Tolkien once gave a speech equating the linguistic shift brought on by the Normans as a sort of genocide, overlaying original languages with endless permutations of Rome. It is remarkable that, between accidents and purposeful destruction, some of our remote history has survived intact. Tolkien's own fictional Middle Earth is better documented than the entirety of the Dark Ages. Gilgamesh escaped total annihilation, though certainly did not survive unscathed. Buried beneath the desert sands for three thousand years, it was finally unearthed, opening a new world to us, a new history, a deeper root of literary tradition. The peculiarities of the writing and the culture are remarkable and enlightening. Far more remarkable are the similarities. The work is comprehensible, the character motivations sympathetic, and the philosophical explorations recognizable. If all the sciences are philosophy, all bent on exploring a vision of our world, then Gilgamesh is valuable to us because of the fundamental human similarities it depicts. However, we cannot say how much is fundamental similarity and how much is the influence of Gilgamesh on later works. It is either an influence on early stories of The Bible, or both books share a common ancestor. It may also have been an influence on the Greek epic tradition. There are many works and historical figures that are mentioned or referenced by other texts, but which no longer exist for us. To have one transformed suddenly from rumor to legendary tale is rare to say the least. To think that now, in the land of Uruk--once a garden, now a desert--American combat boots pound the sand, American bombs level ancient temples, and American soldiers fill sandbags with ceramic fragments. We do not need Gilgamesh to show us how little things change with mankind. We can see for ourselves that ignorance, war, and profit still can take precedence over history, humanity, and culture. As in his mortal fury Gilgamesh smashes the unknown stone things, we must seek to snatch up the unknown before the sword takes it. We cannot save what is already gone, but at least we can treasure what we find. I had the pleasure of reading N.K. Sandars' translation (the Penguin edition), which is actually his reworking (for the non-academic) of of several direct translations. Her introduction is informative, though as usual, I thirsted for more footnotes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yigal Zur

    the epic of humanity looking for immortality. who is not part of this journey. Gilgamesh is one of us in all. great epic. i read it again and again

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

    Admittedly I found George Smith's story more interesting than the book itself (fuck the British Museum, really) but hey I'm always here for anything that proves the Bible's travesty, so. (yes, I'm writing this ridiculous 3-lines 'review' before diving into my course material otherwise I would most likely babble literary 'truths' and that's not what my GR account is about isn't it)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lᴀʏᴀ Rᴀɴɪ #BookDiet2019

    Are you mongrels ready to talk about Gilgamesh? Okay, let's talk about the king of heroes then! Embarrassingly enough, I myself only discovered Gilgamesh last year when I was teaching World History to a few of my students, and one of the lessons was about ancient civilizations. For a story that is considered to be a very old one--if not one of the oldest ever recorded in human history-- The Epic of Gilgamesh sure retained a rather comfortable status of obscurity, mostly because we're more incli Are you mongrels ready to talk about Gilgamesh? Okay, let's talk about the king of heroes then! Embarrassingly enough, I myself only discovered Gilgamesh last year when I was teaching World History to a few of my students, and one of the lessons was about ancient civilizations. For a story that is considered to be a very old one--if not one of the oldest ever recorded in human history-- The Epic of Gilgamesh sure retained a rather comfortable status of obscurity, mostly because we're more inclined to talk about the Egyptians, and the Romans and Greeks, mythology-wise. We know about Hercules, the gods and goddesses of Olympus, and Cleopatra, and cursed pharaohs and haunting mummies because they are basic Hollywood fodder--but we have yet to have anyone adapt the story of Gilgamesh on screen. And IT'S A COSMICALLY UNFAIR INJUSTICE. The closest thing we get in the meantime is a re-imagined version of him in the Japanese light novel and anime Fate/Zero where I absolutely fucking devoured him; excusing the fact that his appearance is racially inaccurate but hot damn, the golden-haired and ivory-skinned magnificence that is F/Z's Gilgamesh is to die for! He indisputably brought sexy back, okay? It's this version of the epic hero that has gotten me so intrigued, and so I decided to read the actual canon itself--by not reading it because I have other books scheduled. That's what audiobooks are for, yo! With only four tracks, each running thirty-four minutes or so, my experiences for The Epic of Gilgamesh is nothing short of magical and hilarious! I know what you're thinking: "Oh, a classic, that's great! But it's translated from an ancient language so the prose has to be dry and droll and I don't have time to read about it because I have my Fifty Shades and my other raunchy romance novels. Who wants to read about some dead king from Mesopotamia anyway?" And you know what, you're right except for the parts about the prose being dry, and that you read Fifty Shades because if you are then yeah, you're wrong in the head. I will say though that hearing someone else read me this epic is so much more satisfying. So why should you read/listen to The Epic of Gilgamesh? Here's why: [1] It's an adventure tale about two guys going on a journey and exercising feats of strength that would rival gods. They also have awesome chemistry. A selling point I liked is that this epic is sort of a coming-of-age story too (although Gilgamesh is probably in his mid-twenties to early thirties, I think) but considering his arrogance and grand sense of entitlement, Gilgamesh acts like some teenage boy at times, and there is a lot of room for emotional maturity and development which does happen by the nearing end of this epic, so that's nice. [2] The depiction of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, his loyal companion, is arguably the first recorded 'bromance' in human history! Ungirdle your loins, ladies, if you're into that sort of stuff like I am. Homoerotic subtext is to be had (sometimes even hilariously at that), but I'm also okay with the simple 'guy love' aspect shared by these two because it's truly through Enkidu that Gilgamesh learned humility, heroic sacrifice, and the value of friendship. [3] Gilgamesh's personal growth and eventual acceptance of his mortality are the central themes of this enthralling epic. No one has grown as much as Gilgamesh has after a few instances of rude awakening and losses along the way. He is a mighty, arrogant king who has finally learned how to be a good shepherd to his flock/subjects in his kingdom Uruk, as well as appreciate the simple pleasures in life. He basically coveted immortality but achieved it by letting such false ambitions go because in return, he does become immortalized through this epic. It was only recently when the epic's tablets were finalized for what is widely known as its canon. You see, there have been so many translations, considering there are a handful versions of the tablets where this story was taken from. The audiobook recording I listened to has four tracks and they're easy enough to digest. The narrator sounded like a grandfather sitting by your bedside and telling you stories, and he has a firmness to his voice and diction that would keep you interested. I particularly enjoyed some offhand and colorful descriptions about the most banal things present in the narrative, and would jeer and make varied noises of approval and disgust; sometimes I'd even downright start talking over the narration when something catches my ear. So it was pretty much an interactive experience for me. Here is a succinct summary of each track: * TRACK ONE: The Bold and the Beautiful Gilgamesh is a sexy, strong and confident king of the pristine and majestic city of Uruk. He's also two-thirds divine and one-third mortal. His mother is a goddess named Ninsun (whom he is in pretty close commune with for the first part of the tale), and his father is a priest-king with magical abilities named Lugalbanda. Fiercely loved by his people and very much favored by other Sumerian gods, Gilgamesh is basically hot shit and comes from the most privileged background you can imagine. The problem with Gilgi is that he knows he's hot shit and he's not afraid to reap the benefits of that. The story opens with pretty much how Jane Austen opens Emma --by describing the seemingly flawless qualities of the main character whom we all suppose to root for and sort of despise along the way as well. After listing down Gilgi's positive qualities, the story then continues with the bitching and moaning of his subjects in Uruk, citing that a king should be a shepherd who guides his flock but Gilgi has been slacking off. Not only is he not doing his job --he's also being a terrible douchebag. He's the Barney Stinson of the ancient world He essentially beats the crap out of any man who is capable of fighting him just to prove he's a badass; and then sleeps with every woman he can get his hands on. No nobleman's wife or peasant's daughter is safe. My personal favorite pastime of his is when he devirginizes brides on their honeymoon before their husbands even get a chance to lay with them. No one can say 'HELL NO' to Gilgamesh because's he's a sexy demigod king who takes and takes and takes. But the people of Uruk decided that they have had it, and complained to the gods, "Yo, you made the damn fool, now go create his equal!" And his equal was no other than a creature made of clay and he was named Enkidu. There was only one problem with his creation--he's a mindless beast who hangs around jungle animals because he believed he is one of them. To solve this problem, someone sent a harlot named Shamat who apparently can turn any beast into a man by educating him in her "womanly arts"...if you know what I mean. Oh, you don't, actually, because Enkidu's education supposedly (and without exaggeration, if the text is to be believed) lasted for an ENTIRE WEEK. Even I did not see that coming. I love the passages where Shamat was instructed to fully immerse him in her womanly arts so he will forget his affinity with the jungle animals and recognize that he is a man who is bestowed with sexy times. Shamat the harlot was very caring too, and helped Enkidu internalize his consciousness as a human being. This fully registers when he catches wind about a proud king in Uruk who is very powerful and unbeatable. Enkidu was understandably curious and intrigued to know more about this king, and Shamat encouraged him to confront said dude since Enkidu expressed that he wanted to meet Gilgamesh because he wants to fight him--but, more than anything, he was also seeking a friend. And as kismet would have it, Enkidu meets Gilgamesh; Gilgamesh who was just about to enter a hut to sexy-times a virgin bride. Enkidu literally puts a foot between Gilgi and the hut he is about to enter and the deity-king was not pleased to be interrupted. Enkidu who is shacking up with a harlot (hey, it's monogamous!) and has a job as a night watchman back in the farm, obviously disapproves of how Gilgi sluts it up with other men's wives. So a fight ensued where they beat each other to a pulp. And then they kissed and became BFFs. This was a momentous meeting, according to Mommy Ninsun and she is happy to adopt Enkidu as her son. To further bro-it up with Enkidu, Gilgamesh suggests that they go the Cedar Forest to defeat and kill Humbaba, a monstrous demigod. The elders and his advisors were not happy and a collective face-palm ensued when Gilgi was undeterred and even asked for Mommy Ninsun's blessing for the journey. She gave it, and tasked Enkidu to protect her darling child at all times. The sun-god Shamash accompanies them too as some deus-ex-machina insurance or something. And the bromance commences! * TRACK TWO: The Young and the Restless The travel buddies spend most of their time hiking the woods and sleeping. Gilgamesh received a total of five ominous dreams which provided symbolic imagery that hint to the deadliness of Humbaba. He was legitimately scared for the first time in his life but Enkidu was chill and dismisses the dreams. He reassures his friend that if there is terror in his heart, he should get rid of it. Self-doubt will defeat him and backing out from a fight will not give him peace. So Gilgi pushes on and confronts said Humbaba who is borne of the mountain and never had parents to raise him. The gist that I got from their trash talk is basically Humbaba stressing that being a strong force of nature is all that he is and that Gilgamesh has other things going for him so he should just leave Humbaba alone. For a while Gilgamesh looked like he was going to cave but right before that, Humbaba was insulting Enkidu and claimed he will disembowel Gilgi and feed him to the birds if they don't go away. It angered Enkidu who always had this streak of self-righteousness to him, and demanded that Gilgi should kill the bastard. Gilgi obliged right after their other companion Shamash captured Humbaba so he won't escape. So they killed him, chopped down some big tree and fashioned it into a raft, and then the BFFs started to ride through the Euphrates river to get home, taking Humbaba's decapitated head with them. Some time during the journey, Gilgamesh was cleaning himself in the river and because he is sex on a stick now naked and wet, the goddess of desire Ishtar took notice of him and offered him grand things including herself if he accepts her proposal to be her new husband. Flattered as he may be, Gilgi spurned her advances anyway and listed the reasons why he ain't tapping that fine ass (and I assume to the sound of Enkidu beat-boxing because, maaaan, he really let her down hard). He not only went into detail about her past lovers who all met cruel fates by her hand, he also began to describe who she is as a goddess, woman and lover with this passage: I have a feeling that mommy dearest Ninsun had warned Gilgamesh in advance not to fall for Ishtar, and she probably explained to him exactly why, hence his recital of all those on-point soul-crushing truth nuggets about said goddess of desire. In the audiobook I listened to, I preferred the translation, "You are the sandal that trips the wearer". I can't help but giggle at such a light-hearted insult. Gilgamesh's point is simply that she is too proud and vengeful to warrant his affection and loyalty, and he's got better options waiting for him (hell, he can have a pick of the virgins in his kingdom) and that also includes bromancing it up with Enkidu which he would rather do anyway. In case his blatant repugnance of her wasn't clear enough, this happens: right after getting rejected, Ishtar beseeches the help of her father Anu to send Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, to avenge her. She blackmailed daddy by claiming she will cause the zombie apocalypse if he doesn't comply to her wishes (apparently she has a power to raise the undead or some shit). Anu gave in to his bratty princess of a daughter and so the Bull followed Gilgamesh and Enkidu back to Uruk where it caused a widespread devastation. To save the city before it falls into ruins, the BFFs dispose Gulganna using guy love and team work, and offer the bull's heart to Shamash, probably to show him that the duo didn't need his divine assistance to kill the damn thing. Ishtar cries like a little bitch and--to silence her--GILGAMESH THROWS ONE OF THE LEGS OF THE BULL AT HER FACE! And he does it with this killer line: "That is the closest thing you will get to me touching you!" That's right--with a bull's leg to the face!! [READ THE REST OF THE SUMMARIES HERE] * I'm not going to spoil how The Epic of Gilgamesh ends and will instead leave you with this cliffhanger, urging you to pick up a copy of this when you do find the time. My final thoughts about this story are simply this: It's a truly stirring and transcendent piece of literature. It is definitely the very first story in human history that spawned all other stories since which concern man's existential crisis about life and death, and his search for eternal life because of his fear of irrelevance and endings. It's also a tale about the value of friendship, the struggles and victories of individualism, the repercussions of hubris, and the acceptance that nothing is ever permanent. Like most misguidedly confident heroes, Gilgamesh started out vain, conceited and privileged in this story that he thought he is the center of the universe. Upon meeting his equal, he learned to share and grow alongside this companion, (view spoiler)[and when said companion dies, his demise made Gilgamesh more self-aware of his brevity as a half-mortal being (hide spoiler)] . Like any flawed creature, he tried to escape the inevitable, refused to listen to his elders, insisted on getting his way, and stopped learning and changing for the better. Eventually, he does come to terms that everything ends...but not everything is forgotten. The fact that you are reading this review of mine after I listened to an audiobook about this story which has been translated across generations is proof that immortality can be achieved through writing and history. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a testament to how stories of universal truth never fade in memory. This story is more than three thousand years old! It is worth picking up not just for posterity but because it's a real gem and I promise you won't regret it. There are tropes, archetypes and themes here that are still being spread in the landscape of our dynamic pop culture and collective consciousness as the human race. I will leave you with this quote that succinctly summarizes this epic: “Gilgamesh was called a god and a man; Enkidu was an animal and a man. This is the story of their becoming human together.” RECOMMENDED: 9/10 DO READ MY REVIEWS AT

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    If you want the most interesting and the most banal analysis of anything simultaneously, reduce it to the sum of its fragments shored up against the one and only death. It is intriguing for its conscripting of any factoid into a series of Socrates soundings ("Why did they buy the house?" "They didn't want to die." "Why did they cross the border?" "They didn't want to die." "Why did they not resist being raped?" "They didn't want to die.") and monotonous to the point of pointlessness for the exac If you want the most interesting and the most banal analysis of anything simultaneously, reduce it to the sum of its fragments shored up against the one and only death. It is intriguing for its conscripting of any factoid into a series of Socrates soundings ("Why did they buy the house?" "They didn't want to die." "Why did they cross the border?" "They didn't want to die." "Why did they not resist being raped?" "They didn't want to die.") and monotonous to the point of pointlessness for the exact same reason. To prevent such a dead end, focus on the coding rather than the asking, for the differences themselves lie entirely in the how: how has this social order shaped the fight against death? How has this branch of socioeconomic potential framed the fight against death? How has the death of God transformed the fight against death? More than four thousand years have passed since stone tablets encompassed the god-strewn and flood-laden world of Gilgamesh, but we as a species have not, as public sanction, changed the why of our reaction against death. Only the how. I read the age-old texts I do because I find them to be of immense comfort. Here, I can see the finale of the TV series Hannibal, the course of my favorite technopost-apocalyptica of the Husserl/Derrida/Berkeley/Lacan and then some show I am currently rewatching, much of what the news is composed of and everything that funds the sciences and the genocides. True, the factors have burgeoned and sprawled and syndicated themselves in every direction since this poetry epic was transcribed by myriad civilizations of millenia past, but the flood is there. The underworld is there. Heaven is there in all its monstrous inhumanity, and the gods fuck up just like we are able to today. I would fall back on different bastions of thought processes if confronted with the death of my most heart tendered friend, would exchange immortality for atheism and justice for ethics, but for all the prowess of contemporary technology, it has yet to find the cure for grief. The how of this text is not how it was able to survive, but that it was allowed to. Before mourning the Library of Alexandria, think on the oral histories and artistic monuments that have been sacked entire on at least four different continents. Think on the binding of the definition of "creation" into the straitjacket of inked paper and carved alphabet, the modern choosing the past in accordance to this latest trend. Think on how this text was not discovered, not recovered, but looted, a story the introduction with its "hostile Arabs performing a war-dance on the ruins of the camp" of those poor but intrepid US thieves gleefully attests to. Translated ancient texts do not spring out of thin air; nor does their composition, their interpretation, their holistic entity, especially when you are dealing with stone tablets from at least three different civilizations that may indeed have been created by official scribes, but are also equally likely to have been the effort of copying schoolchildren. I can cross reference themes between Gilgamesh and last weeks TV episode all the live long day, but a four thousand year old story never survives on the basis of its own merits. Fear of death's a great ubiquity, but how is this death conceptualized? How is it contrasted against life, if indeed it is contrasted at all? Why, exactly, is there reason to fear. Even the gods were terrified at the flood, they fled to the highest heaven, the firmament of Anu; they crouched against the walls, cowing like curs. P.S. No, I didn't read a verse translation. I'll get to one eventually. Yes, I'm including this in my Summer of Women count, cause we have no fucking clue. When we do, I'll get back to you on that.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Netta

    I strongly believe that The Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as every other thing which dates back to before Christ, should be read (and enjoyed!) within the context. Treating these surviving tablets with pieces of Gilgamesh’s story as a story of a human being living in times of gods and powerful inexplicable force ruling over tiny people, makes said story a wonderful work of literature instead of a mess you cannot relate to. In fact, The Epic of Gilgamesh is surprisingly relatable. In a nutshell, thi I strongly believe that The Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as every other thing which dates back to before Christ, should be read (and enjoyed!) within the context. Treating these surviving tablets with pieces of Gilgamesh’s story as a story of a human being living in times of gods and powerful inexplicable force ruling over tiny people, makes said story a wonderful work of literature instead of a mess you cannot relate to. In fact, The Epic of Gilgamesh is surprisingly relatable. In a nutshell, this is a story of a person (who also happens to be a nuisance king of Uruk) facing the common problems we still face and struggle with, such as loss, feebleness, fear of death. Imagine someone living in Mesopotamia dealing with it! It is fascinating to me how deeply human (and modern) Gilgamesh’s struggle is. He hardly relies on gods, and yet he believes in prophetic dreams; he’s greedy for glory and immortality as a remedy for death in the world where afterlife doesn’t seem to be a pleasant continuation of life but rather an endless roaming in the land of shadows. An epic poem is a tricky thing – it may be an out-of-comfort-zone read or a what-a-crap read. Or, which I hope would be your case if you ever fancy reading The Epic of Gilgamesh, it may be an exercise in reading the ancient culture between the lines.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zazo

    “I will set up my name in the place where the names of famous men are written, and where no man’s name is written yet I will raise a monument to the gods.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Sumerian poem first discovered in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) on December 3, 1872. It is among the earliest known works of literature. This is how the tablet containing a part of the poem looks like: One thing that struck me, as pointed out also by some literary scholars, is the fact that in this epic poem, there is also a Noah-like great flood and other Biblical stories that exist here about 1,500 years before the book of Genesis was written. I mean, were there The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Sumerian poem first discovered in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) on December 3, 1872. It is among the earliest known works of literature. This is how the tablet containing a part of the poem looks like: One thing that struck me, as pointed out also by some literary scholars, is the fact that in this epic poem, there is also a Noah-like great flood and other Biblical stories that exist here about 1,500 years before the book of Genesis was written. I mean, were there two great floods? Or the bible writers copied the one that happened during the time of Gilgamesh (mid of 3rd millennium B.C.)? Gilgamesh was said to be the fifth king of Uruk that was the biblical Erech in southern Babylonia (central-southern Mesopotamia, now Iraq). It was the seat of an important dynasty of kings following the flood. His mother was said to be the goddess Ninsun, wife of a god named Lugalbanda, who however was not his father. His real father was according to the king list, a high priest of Kullab from whom he derived his mortality. That is why in the story, Gilgamesh is 2/3 God and 1/3 man (not sure about how that come up with that fractions). Then Gilgamesh is pitted against the wild man (half-animal, half-man) Enkidu, who is outraged at the selfish and sexual excesses of Gilgamesh. They meet and fight for so long that they call a draw, becoming friends. On an adventure stealing cedar wood from a forest, the two meet the demon Humbaba, whom they kill. The goddess of sex, Ishtar (aha, this is the title of the 1987 movie starring Warren Beatty that is said to be the worst movie ever), is overcome with corporeal desire for Gilgamesh who rejects her. So, the gods decide that Enkidu must die (not sure why). Terrified by his own death, Gilgamesh seeks out Utanapishtim who was granted immortality by the gods after surviving the flood. Gilgamesh found the plant that will give him immortality but a serpent steals the plant from him. The epic poem is boring to read. Fragmented narration (might be because probably not all tablets have been found yet) and some of the lines do not make any sense to me (lost in translation, probably?). However, it is full of emotion especially how much Gilgamesh loved Enkidu, his former enemy (homosexuality, perhaps?) However, literary scholars say that "it reminds us of many stories of the Bible and episodes in Homer that are part of our cultural consciousness: of the universality of the friendship theme and of the experience of heartbreak over loss, of Achilles's Iliad, or even the depth of Lear's grief at his daughter Cordelia's death." I said literary scholars, because I have not read those books yet and my knowledge of those works is as dim as the moon- and starless evening sky. So, even if I got extremely bored, I am giving the benefit of the doubt to those literary scholars. Those two words: literary and scholars look awesome to me so I am giving this book two stars which according to Goodreads means it's okay. In other words, I neither like nor hate this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    'O Utu, let me speak a word to you, give ear to what I say! Let me tell you something, may you give thought to it! In my city a man dies, and the heart is stricken, a man perishes, and the heart feels pain. I raised my head on the rampart, my gaze fell on a corpse drifting down the river, afloat on the water: I too shall become like that, just so shall I be! "No man can stretch to the sky, no matter how tall, no man can compass a mountain, no matter how broad!" Since no man can escape life's end, I will en 'O Utu, let me speak a word to you, give ear to what I say! Let me tell you something, may you give thought to it! In my city a man dies, and the heart is stricken, a man perishes, and the heart feels pain. I raised my head on the rampart, my gaze fell on a corpse drifting down the river, afloat on the water: I too shall become like that, just so shall I be! "No man can stretch to the sky, no matter how tall, no man can compass a mountain, no matter how broad!" Since no man can escape life's end, I will enter the mountain and set up my name. Where names are set up, I will set up my name, where names are not yet set up, I will set up gods' names.' Excerpt of one of the five Sumerian poems that inspired the story that we now know as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's most ancient great work of literature, compiled by Sîn-lēqi-unninni at some point between 1300 and 1000 BCE. Tyrants, explicit sexual content, friendship/bromance, fight scenes, gods, the fear of death and moments of involuntary irony that made my day. From 2100 BCE to your house full of screens and talking refrigerators. Jan 13, 18 Review to come? * Later on my blog.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Known as perhaps the oldest surviving piece of literature, it's nothing short of amazing that we're reading this some 3,000-4,000 years later. A bulk of it was translated from stone tablets made in the mid 600s BCE that were discovered in the middle of the 19th century. How many stories do you get to read that were written in cuneiform?!! It took me two days just to get through this one tablet: (Bonus points to you if you can tell whether that's Sumerian or Akkadian cuneiform.) You think history d Known as perhaps the oldest surviving piece of literature, it's nothing short of amazing that we're reading this some 3,000-4,000 years later. A bulk of it was translated from stone tablets made in the mid 600s BCE that were discovered in the middle of the 19th century. How many stories do you get to read that were written in cuneiform?!! It took me two days just to get through this one tablet: (Bonus points to you if you can tell whether that's Sumerian or Akkadian cuneiform.) You think history doesn't repeat itself? Among many achievements, Gilgamesh was renowned for the walls he built. Here we are a few millennia later spending half our time tearing down walls and the other half arguing over the building of new ones. And while no male seems able to tame the wild Enkidu, all it takes is some harlot who has no social/institutional power, but all the male-crushing "womanly arts" she needs to tame the King of Uruk's new best friend. All joking aside, it ends up being a fascinating story about friendship, loss, and coming to grips with mortality no matter how many walls you build or obstacles/challengers you fell. One marvels at how many stories might exist if not for the deluge (part of the book tells a flood narrative very similar to the biblical account of Noah). Maybe every few thousand years, the gods (or the planet itself) decide to hit the reset button and flush the whole system... From now on, I'll be throwing myself full tilt into every battle screaming "remember Lugulbanda!" "He who leaves the fight unfinished is not at peace." ------------------------------------------------- WORDS I LEARNED WHILE READING THIS BOOK Enuma Elish | disjecta membra | tocsin | ferrule P.S.--This version had a wonderful introduction, as well as a very handy glossary of names.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered to be one of the oldest written great works of literature- and possibly the oldest written work of literature (which is certainly an impressive title). For that fact alone, it's surely worth reading. A story four thousand years old. A lot changes in four thousands years. While I was reading it, I kept asking myself how many cultural references I was missing. What do we truly know about the times of Gilgamesh? It is certainly beyond fascinating to see its refle The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered to be one of the oldest written great works of literature- and possibly the oldest written work of literature (which is certainly an impressive title). For that fact alone, it's surely worth reading. A story four thousand years old. A lot changes in four thousands years. While I was reading it, I kept asking myself how many cultural references I was missing. What do we truly know about the times of Gilgamesh? It is certainly beyond fascinating to see its reflection in ancient Greek & Hebrew myth (cultures we know a bit more about and can feel closer to) but how much can we possibly know about the ancient Sumerian culture? Can we really understood what drove its poets? Gilgamesh is counted among the classics. Is it possible that its glory rests not so much on its literary merit as on the fact that it has survived so long? Perhaps this too depends on the taste of the reader. Perhaps it is like every work of literature, a secret we must decipher on its own. This epic is precious in the sense that it tells us about times long one but that is not its only strong point. The Epic of Gilgamesh is (at least in my view) a touching story about a man's search for immortality. I can't say that the story as such is extremely exciting throughout, but it is still a good story. The philosophical and even theological questions it asks are still very valid. “Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to? You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping." Gilgamesh is advised to forget the search for immortality and enjoy his life for every human life is short. What personally interest me is why Gilgamesh searches for the immortality in the first place. Isn't it a very human thing to do? To think about the future? To search for immortality? Isn't it what separates a man from an animal? The fact that Gilgamesh feels such sadness for the death of his friend makes me feel emphatic for him. I don't think he is simply afraid of his own death. I think he is afraid of losing the ones he loves. He is certainly capable of love. Every good epic needs such a hero. I think there is some definite character development we can witness. Even if the ending of the epic might seem depressive, I think there is something honest about it. What is more honest than a man's search for answers? Initial description of Gilgamesh is quite powerful. Typical of epic heroes, he is described as utterly perfect and half god at that. I think this might be the reason why his eventual troubles have a tragic quality. If one born of Uruk can suffer as much, what can mere mortals hope for? ...Supreme over other kings, lordly in appearance, he is the hero, born of Uruk, the goring wild bull. He walks out in front, the leader, and walks at the rear, trusted by his companions. Mighty net, protector of his people, raging flood-wave who destroys even walls of stone! Offspring of Lugalbanda, Gilgamesh is strong to perfection, son of the august cow, Rimat-Ninsun;... Gilgamesh is awesome to perfection. It was he who opened the mountain passes, who dug wells on the flank of the mountain. It was he who crossed the ocean, the vast seas, to the rising sun, who explored the world regions, seeking life. It was he who reached by his own sheer strength Utanapishtim, the Faraway, who restored the sanctuaries (or: cities) that the Flood had destroyed! ... for teeming mankind. Who can compare with him in kingliness? Who can say like Gilgamesh: "I am King!"? Whose name, from the day of his birth, was called "Gilgamesh"? Two-thirds of him is god, one-third of him is human. The Great Goddess designed the model for his body, she prepared his form ... ... beautiful, handsomest of men, ... perfect One of the interesting and often mentioned things about the epic of Gilgamesh is that it retells myths from the Bible and the Greek mythology. Reading these myths was very interesting, as it gives us another view on the old Bible tale of Noah and the great flood. “I was its king once, a long time ago, when the great gods decided to send the Flood. Five gods decided, and they took an oath to keep the plan secret: Anu their father, the counselor Enlil, Ninurta the gods’ chamberlain, and Ennugi the sheriff. Ea also, the cleverest of the gods, had taken the oath, but I heard him whisper the secret to the reed fence around my house. ‘Reed fence, reed fence, listen to my words. King of Shuruppak, quickly, quickly tear down your house and build a great ship, leave your possessions, save your life. The ship must be square, so that its length equals its width. Build a roof over it, just as the Great Deep is covered by the earth. Then gather and take aboard the ship examples of every living creature.” This epic can be divided into two parts. The first part tells of Gilgamesh friendship with wild man Enkidu (and their adventures) and the other of Gilgamesh search for immortality, motivated partly by his sadness in losing a friend. The gods in Gilgamesh world are a cruel sort, and a man (even if he is half-god like Gilgamesh) must feel terribly isolated and frustrated at the inability to control his destiny. So, it is not really that different from modern times. Our modern gods just have different names like Money, Fame and so on, but they are equally cruel and willful. I guess that some things do never change. The Epic of Gilgamesh didn't moved me in the way Homer's epic poems have, but it did move me. Moreover, it was nice to see and compare the similarities between the two. It is always good to learn about the sources. This is not an easy book to grade (perhaps I should opt not to grade it at all). I must admit that the the epic of Gilgamesh as a work of literature felt both distant (because of time and cultural difference) and close (because of its eternal theme) to me. It might be a bit hard to read a literature work so removed in time and place, but it is true that literature is in many ways timeless. All in all, I can say that I quite liked this one and not only for its historical and cultural significance.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    Oral tradition is often characterised by repetition, using rhythm, cyclic forms, repeated phrases or figures, returning symbolic props etc. The Epic has elements of all of these strategies, and while it's a bit dull on the page, it's easy to imagine it being spectacularly performed (though of course, it may not have been performed at all). In any case, it's full of intriguing motifs, some mysterious, others deliciously familiar...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ilyas Bakla

    I don't usually like epic tales. But this book has changed my mind about epic tales. Simply brilliant!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather Purri

    This is the first story ever written down and it contains virtually all of the archetypes that we associate with a hero's journey. These are the themes that I took away from the epic. (Spoilers ahead.) - Responsibilities vs. Adventure Inanna/Ishtar/Astarte (Aphrodite/Venus to the Greeks & Romans) is a goddess of love, war, witchcraft, and the moon. Her brother is Shamash/Utu, a god of truth, justice, law, and the sun. Inanna's first and primary husband is Dumuzi/Tammuz (Adonis to the Greeks &a This is the first story ever written down and it contains virtually all of the archetypes that we associate with a hero's journey. These are the themes that I took away from the epic. (Spoilers ahead.) - Responsibilities vs. Adventure Inanna/Ishtar/Astarte (Aphrodite/Venus to the Greeks & Romans) is a goddess of love, war, witchcraft, and the moon. Her brother is Shamash/Utu, a god of truth, justice, law, and the sun. Inanna's first and primary husband is Dumuzi/Tammuz (Adonis to the Greeks & Romans), a god of love, agriculture, animal husbandry, and shepherds. Dumuzi is Gilgamesh's brother. Their mother is Ninsun/Sirtur, a goddess of motherhood, lactation, cowherds, and shepherds. Gilgamesh is a demigod who is barely human. He's pretty much just human enough to be incarated in a human body on the earthly plane. Gilgamesh impudently doesn't propitiate Inanna, which proves disastrous for his quest. (Compare this to Aeneas in the Aeneid, who propitiates Juno/Hera who has been trying to derail his quest. The propitiation and respect for Juno is crucial to his success.) He does pay his respects to Ninsun and Shamash, who assist and council him despite being disapproving of his decisions. Inanna is depicted unflatteringly in this epic because Gilgamesh has a biased opinion of her. Inanna proposes marriage to Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is insulted and insults her in return. He's deeply bitter that she sent his brother, Dumuzi, to the Underworld. What he leaves out is that Inanna felt bad about sending Dumuzi to the Underworld, and retrieved him. There is a version of the story where maybe Dumuzi deserved it a little, maybe not. In it, Inanna died and, instead of lamenting, Dumuzi cheered himself up (or tried to) by watching women dance. Offended, Inanna sends him to the Underworld to take her place and to let him suffer for a little while, then feels bad and retrieves him. Gilgamesh is also avoiding his own wife. As king and queen, they're favored vessels through which the gods work. Their sacred union, that of a love/fertility god (like Dumuzi) and a love/fertility goddess (like Inanna), brings fertility to the city's people, flora, and fauna. This causes the land to be lush and prosperous. Gilgamesh is abandoning this and his mundane kingly duties (ex. overseeing construction projects) to go swashbuckling instead. - Nature vs. Civilization Enkidu is an avatar of Ninurta, a god of war, hunting, and healing, except Enkidu has little memory of this. Enkidu represents the wilderness. Gilgamesh represents civilization. I see the gods in the story as a bridge between nature and society. Dumuzi, who is at the forefront of Gilgamesh's mind, in a very literal sense (he literally makes plants grow) represents the middle ground between the wilderness and civilization. He represents the development of agriculture and animal husbandry that came after humans dwelled in the wilderness in harmony with nature, but before they started building cities and separating themselves from nature. In the epic, nature represents innocence and knowledge of nature, but lack of knowledge of many other things. Civilization represents knowledge of things other than nature, and provides some creature comforts, but it also has laziness and burdens that come with comfort and knowledge. The epic says, “In the city, man dies oppressed at heart.” That is, city living causes longing for nature, adventure, and freedom. Through working with the gods, the humans can obtain the wisdom of both nature and civilization. - Oneness with the Universe Like Greek and Roman mythology, Fate in Mesopotamian mythology is clearly not set in stone and is a constantly changing thing, due partly to intervention from gods, but mostly from the choices that humans make in their own lives. (Death, however, is unavoidable.) Gilgamesh proves the gods’ assumptions wrong many times. However, there’s a lot of arrogant hubris behind his choices, which bring about some unfortunate consequences that he could've avoided. His main problem is that he's serving himself, instead of others. He's part of his city and part of the cosmos; not an isolated individual. Once Gilgamesh understands the role of death in the cosmos, and how his life is but one of many, he finds deeper, more meaningful fulfillment in serving his people, his wife, and the gods.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zeenat Mahal

    Mitchell's translation is in the simplest language and form possible. The story is unremarkable to a modern reader because it's the tale of a hero. However, what I found intriguing was how Enkidu and Gilgamesh are revealed to be opposites. Enkidu is after all created to bring balance. Though Mitchell has not remarked upon it, every action/choice/trial Enkidu goes through is echoed by Gilgamesh. With every repetition of this pattern, Enkidu becomes more like Gilgamesh and he like Enkidu. The hubr Mitchell's translation is in the simplest language and form possible. The story is unremarkable to a modern reader because it's the tale of a hero. However, what I found intriguing was how Enkidu and Gilgamesh are revealed to be opposites. Enkidu is after all created to bring balance. Though Mitchell has not remarked upon it, every action/choice/trial Enkidu goes through is echoed by Gilgamesh. With every repetition of this pattern, Enkidu becomes more like Gilgamesh and he like Enkidu. The hubris, arrogance, wanton cruelty is all absorbed by Enkidu and then he is killed. Gilgamesh then departs on his spiritual journey, taking him back to the beginning of Enkidu's practical journey- Gilgamesh goes forth with matted hair and a lionskin on his body. There is nothing godlike about him any more. His sleeps, he weeps, he fears and he seeks something more than what he knows. In order for Gilgamesh to reach this stage of seeking, Enkidu had to be born and he had to die. The journey of Gilgamesh takes him to more Threshold Guardians. He killed one--Humbaba-- in his hubris and threatens two more before he meets the final Guardian and to him he says 'I had thought of fighting you'. He was warned several times but he ignored it. Wisdom was given to him and he ignored it. Finally the gift of eternal youth is given and he takes it happily. But something has changed. He doesn't use it. On his way home he loses it. He laments it's loss, but it is not the loss of the gift but the fact that he has suffered so much and returns empty handed to his city. Then with a flourish Gilgamesh and we the readers both see what the poet wants Gilgamesh to see. The poem ends with the return of the king to his city and words of passionate praise for the city he had left behind. Is the journey futile? Mitchell seems to think so, saying in his introduction that the knowledge is the futility of the journey. I think the knowledge for the reader is that the wisdom Gilgamesh ignored finally catches up with him and he realised what was important. The journey had to be taken to renew Gilgamesh for a new era. Gilgamesh the king, rather than the trampling bull shown in the start of the poem.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    The epic of Gilgamesh deserves a place right alongside The Iliad, Odyssey, Beowulf, and other ancient epics. Gilgamesh predates all of the others, in fact, and yet this translation makes it eminently readable. It is a story with historical, mythological, psychological, and poetic resonance. It is a story of heroism, friendship, arrogance, passion, and despair. Mitchell is up front that this is a "version" rather than translation. Some readers have complained that he invents rather too freely, bu The epic of Gilgamesh deserves a place right alongside The Iliad, Odyssey, Beowulf, and other ancient epics. Gilgamesh predates all of the others, in fact, and yet this translation makes it eminently readable. It is a story with historical, mythological, psychological, and poetic resonance. It is a story of heroism, friendship, arrogance, passion, and despair. Mitchell is up front that this is a "version" rather than translation. Some readers have complained that he invents rather too freely, but Mitchell himself states in his notes that his goal was not to create a direct translation, but rather to adapt the existing fragments of the epic into a poetic English version. Perhaps if I go on to study the text in greater depth, I will look for other, more faithful translations, but Mitchell makes this epic approachable and beautiful. And his explanatory essay at the end is crucial reading. In fact, after reading it, I went back and reread the poem to better appreciate it. I read this as an audiobook, but I would love to own a hard copy as well, simply to have such a splendid addition to my shelf.

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