The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Prose Rendition Based Upon the Original Akkadian, Babylonian, Hittite and Sumerian Tablets
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The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Prose Rendition Based Upon the Original Akkadian, Babylonian, Hittite and Sumerian Tablets

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  41,726 ratings  ·  1,614 reviews
New prose rendition, annotated and updated. Based upon ancient tablets, faithful to their text and mystery, but now more accessible to students and new readers.
Paperback, 105 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Writers Club Press (first published -1500)
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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...more
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...more
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 o...more
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,...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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...more
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...
Alex
The story of Gilgamesh is the Hero's Journey for all time. It is haunting in its sheer age — a ghostly voice speaking to us from Iraq, five thousand years ago. Yet it remains startlingly relevant to 21st century Americans, as its hero struggles to find a first-world sense of purpose. King Gilgamesh wants for nothing, and then loses the only person he ever loved. He covets eternity. He accomplishes the greatest things a human can... and then what?

Gilgamesh hits bottom and begins to rise from his...more
Evan
"The common man, the noble man,
Once they have reached the end of life,
Are all gathered in as one..."
--
"Immortal under the Sun are the gods alone,
As for mortals their days must end -
What they achieve is but the wind!"
--
"I must face battle strange to me,
Travel a road unknown to me."
--
"He who leads the way preserves himself
And keeps his companion safe."
--
"Fixing his gaze on me, he led me to the House of Darkness
There where Irkalla lives, He, the God of the Dead.
No one who enters that house comes fo...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 25, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Classics)
Shelves: 501, classics
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:
description

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 t...more
Antonomasia
The Epic pulses with primitive rhythm and the mesmeric quality of repeating structures constructed under the oral tradition. Some lines of this translation feel as if they could be chanted and accompanied by drums.

It was scary, as well as fascinating: here is a voice from a time when life everywhere was harsher, when values were different - 1500-2000 years before Buddha or Jesus - and so many things we know wouldn't exist for millennia hence. We are very very far from home. At the same time the...more
Andrew
Gilgamesh, one of the oldest things in writing, is certainly a wonderful read for those who relish things old, such as myself. I'm lately attempting to give myself a belated sort of Classical education, and though Gilgamesh isn't exactly part of the Classical tradition, figuring it to be the oldest thing from the Ancient Near East/Mediterranean, I thought I'd give it a try. I was slightly disappointed though. The story itself is fine, with a great deal of resonant power--something the translator...more
Christopher
What can I do to win eternal life? Wherever I go - even here - I am drawn back to death.

I always thought Gilgamesh was the monster that was slain in his eponymous epic poem; likewise, Beowulf. Both protagonists have monsterish, evil-ish sounding names. So what I expected to discover in Gilgamesh was an action-packed hero story akin to Beowulf, but I was pleasantly surprised to find much more depth here. This epic poem is a treatise on suffering, friendship, mortality, loss, and redemption. And r...more
James
Sometimes I feel very naïve about life: I see all the people heading to work each day, buying their coffee, shuffling across the street, or just staring into the ether while marching onward—I see the genuinely earnest looks that carry people forward and wonder how they do it, how they keep going when there’s so much uncertainty, so many problems and so little time to reflect and come to grips with existence. It’s no wonder that the majority of people believe in an afterlife. It simply fills out...more
Philip
Billed as being among the earliest known works of literary writing by the more and more reliable wikipedia. (I really wish wiki would have said oldest but you can't have it all.) Gilgamesh chronicles the life of the King of the Great Walled Uruk and a few of his adventures in his quest for immortality.

He makes some friends, slays some monsters, angers some gods and meets the man who survived the flood that ended all life on earth by building an ark and taking along a bunch of animals... Consequ...more
Jacob Bentley
Fantastic. The economy of the storytelling is incredible--for such a short poem, you'll find everything here; if you're patient enough to look, I should add.
Lina AL Ojaili
تركز على معضلة الإنسان الأزلية الخلود
Naftoli
This book, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is a short epic that I have always wanted to read but only now pulled from the bookshelf. I was happiy surprised. I was expecting something along the lines of Beowulf - which I like but find thematically simplistic. Despite the brevity of Gilgamesh, it is, to my mind, much more complex. I found the similarities to the Biblical narrative to be intriguing and was seduced by the gods and goddesses whose names are but cousin to the Hebrew words for nature objects. F...more
Henry Martin
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a brief, albeit quite profound work of literature. In the interest of reading a translation as close to the original text as possible, I selected an edition translated by Maureen Gallery Kovacs, published by Stanford University Press in 1989. I'm aware of other translations available on the market, some more 'readable' than others, nevertheless, some of them were altered significantly to either sound more poetic or to fill in the lines missing from the original text.

Tha...more
Arvin
من این کتاب رو با ترجمه داود منشی زاده شنیدم و ترجمه ی خوبی بود به نظرم -
دوست داشتم ترجمه شاملو رو بخونم ولی .

حماسه یا اپیک ِ گیل گمش به نظر میاد برای چندین هزار سال قبل باشه که نزدیک 2400 سال قبل روی 12 لوح مکتوب شده - هر لوح شامل 300 ستون به شعره انگار و لقب کهنترین حماسه بشری رو به گیل گمش دادن .
ه
حماسه رو بدویترین نوع ادبیات میدونن و معمولن چنتا مشخصه داره از جمله : پهلوانی - ارتباط با خدایان - قدرت مافوق انسانی شخصیت اصلی - مرگ اندیشی - پیش گویی آینده - گذر شخصیت اصلی از غول مرحله ی آخر !:...more
Peycho Kanev
The world's first truly great work of literature. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written 3,700 years ago on clay tablets and I read it today on my Kindle. Oh, Humanity!
Theophilus (Theo)
I loved it. I have never been a big poetry reader, but this ancient free-verse epic was fantastic. Before Conan, Ulysses, Tarzan, or other superhumans, there was Gilgamesh. Clay tablets containing pages of this story date back to about 1700 B.C. Gilgamesh, the mighty king of Uruk is "two-thirds divine and one-third human". He has everytihng a king could want, a well-protected beautiful city, women, and wealth, but lacks one thing he really craves, a brother with whom to share adventures. One of...more
Peycho Kanev
The Epic of Gilgamesh is, perhaps, the oldest written story on Earth. It comes to us from Ancient Sumeria, and was originally written on 12 clay tablets in cunieform script. It is about the adventures of the historical King of Uruk (somewhere between 2750 and 2500 BCE).
Stories do not need to inform us of anything. They do inform us of things. From The Epic of Gilgamesh, we know something of the people who lived in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the second and third millenniu...more
James Carmichael
Amazing.

Rilke says it's the "epic of the fear of death", and that's what it feels like, but in an ultimately warm and human way (I thought!). All the characters feel human in much the way that modern fantasy or fairy-tales can give us very "human" characters by taking little bits of ourselves and amplifying them into fantastical creatures so that those traits are celebrated or explored.

It is very engaging, very easy to read in this translation, and its theme is accessible, evolving, and emotiona...more
Padma
A brilliantly clear and readable translation of this Babylonian epic. I had intended to read it aloud to my 13-year-old daughter (we still read together as a bonding thing), but reading ahead I realized that the erotic passages (with the Ishtar-temple priestess, Shamhat and later with Ishtar herself) were just a bit too awkward from father to daughter. What's striking, though, even about this, is that those passages are so matter-of-fact that desire is seen for what it really is, something that...more
Hans
A thought that came to mind while reading this was the idea of how cultures can develop simply as an antithesis to other cultures. Knowing the historical rivalry between Assyrio-Babylonian and Israelite cultures you can see how the two influenced the values and ideas of the other. This makes this book especially relevant since Judeo-christian ideas permeate through out our civilizations today.

Gilgamesh is a hero-epic of a culture that predates the writing of the Bible. What caught my eye was how...more
Ahmad
گیلگمش، پادشاهی خودکامه و پهلوان بود. او نیمه‌آسمانی و دوسوم وجودش ایزدی و یک‌سومش انسانی. حماسه «گیلگمش»، با بیان کارها و پیروزی‌های قهرمان، آغاز می‌شود، به گونه‌ای که او را مردی بزرگ در پهنه دانش و خرد، معرفی می‌کند. او می‌تواند توفان را پیش‌بینی کند. مرگ دوست صمیمی‌اش «اِنکیدو» او 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 گل‌نوشته‌ای ثبت می‌کند. حماسه «گیلگمش» در ایران نیز شه...more
Stacie
Dec 03, 2010 Stacie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacie by: Alex
Shelves: i-own
I want to first thank Alex for telling me to read verse and not prose. I started reading them side by side, and quickly decided that the prose version was not for me. It really did lose its lyricism and beauty - I thought a lot of the story was missing. But, this is not a review of the prose version, but of the verse.

I thought it was lyrical and beautiful. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting in reading this, and I am glad because I felt completly open to whatever happened on the page and...more
Chantelle
I learned that it's not an appropriate book to read with sixth grade students.

I, however, enjoyed it.
Zelda
It seems a bit presumptuous to leave a criticism of an ancient text taken from fragments of clay tablets spanning a thousand or so years and transliterated from a couple of extinct languages we don't really know we know. So, I'm not going to. If you're interested in the history of Western literature or just this epic then this translation seems like a good one. I had to read the introduction three times with prolific notations just to grasp his point but that could be (read: is definitely) a fai...more
Laura
I prefer this edition because the translator, N. K. Sandars, has filled in the story substantially — to see how substantially, read the Kovacs edition. Normally translators with a flair for invention drive me mad, but in this case the original text (twelve stone tablets) is so fragmented, literally, that it’s nice having someone else fill in the blanks.

The epic concerns the journey to maturity of our hero Gilgamesh, one-third human and two-thirds divine, who became the fifth king of Uruk (ancie...more
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“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. As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man.” 26 likes
“Strange things have been spoken, why does your heart speak strangely? The dream was marvellous but the terror was great; we must treasure the dream whatever the terror.” 12 likes
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