Russell's Reviews > The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous
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's review
Oct 16, 2007

really liked it
Read in August, 2006

There is something about this epic, a tale so old that we don't have the full thing, and that is just an echo of even older stories, but still it draws interest and readers every generation.

Written on clay tablets, the earliest evidence of the epic indicates it was composed by Sin-liqe-unninni sometime between 1300 BC and 1000 BC.

Sin-liqe-unninni is also well known for inventing the tongue twister.

That last sentence was a lie. The next isn't.

Gilgamesh may have been a real king sometime around 2500 B.C. He had a number of stories floating around about him until Sin-liqe-unninni gathered them into one big story.

The story is interesting enough, the action is pretty good for being sans special effects and explosions (see the tongue? its firmly planted in my cheek), the players are more archetypal than I was expecting and there are interesting themes that resound throughout the ages, such as the story of the Great Flood maps closely with the story of Noah's Ark. Major ideas that have always interested humanity crop up, like honor, friendship, duty to country, and immortality.

What interested me, too, was the story behind the story, as it were. We only have fragments of the story, scattered across tablets found in different cities. The edition I read the translator had culled what he could from a number of different sources and tried to synthesize them in whole. The book had notes on what parts were missing and what came from where. Fascinating. It all flowed pretty well, and he pointed out sections that only recently came to light.

What I also found interesting is how little humanity has changed. What drove us thousands of years ago at the dawn of history still drives us today.

If you want to see the roots of story telling, start here.

More information here Wikipeida: Epic of Gilgamesh
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