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The Epic of Gilgamesh

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  91,215 ratings  ·  5,042 reviews
Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as much as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the world’s oldest epic, predating Homer by many centuries. The story tells of Gilgamesh’s adventures with the wild man Enkidu, and of his arduous journey to the ends of the earth in quest of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. Alongside ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published May 4th 2006 by Penguin Books Limited (first published -1800)
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Zoe's Human The story was originally told orally, and repetition was extremely common in the ancient oral story tradition. According to what I've read, the origin…moreThe story was originally told orally, and repetition was extremely common in the ancient oral story tradition. According to what I've read, the original version is even more repetitive. Literary styles change a lot over 4000 years.(less)
Mikhail Tillman An epic hero is different than our modern conception of heroism. An epic hero need not be concerned with saving people or bettering the world, they ne…moreAn epic hero is different than our modern conception of heroism. An epic hero need not be concerned with saving people or bettering the world, they need only to accomplish great things outside the realm of possibility for the average person. In that sense of the word, the ancient sense, he was the quintessential hero.(less)

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Emily May
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, classics, poetry
“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 case
Ahmad Sharabiani
Gilgamesh: A New English Version, Anonymous, 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 Ba
Ahmad Sharabiani
Shūtur eli sharrī = 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
Ahmad  Ebaid
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
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.”

 photo Gilgamesh_zpsk70l5ptp.jpg

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 Wh
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 strand
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
Richard Derus
**2021 UPDATE This text's antiquity prevents me from saying anything critical about the writing, except as regards the translation of same and how it reads. The Norton Critical Edition I reviewed below wasn't, erm, easy on the eyes shall we say. This Contra Mundum translation is HUGELY superior and vastly more fun to read.

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, hearin
Chaplain Walle
Dec 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest known writing in Old English.
This is masterfully written and a joy to read. I recommend it to all.
Jonathan O'Neill
3 ⭐

’The Epic of Gilgamesh’ OR ’A Mesopotamian Bromance’ is an incomplete and fragmentary tale of a King’s tyranny, an unrivalled friendship, the wrath of the Gods and one man’s search for immortality. It is at times hilarious in its absurdity and unexpectedly cavalier in its retelling of events. With elements of the story dating back as far as 2000 BC, I am awed by its historical significance but a lack of any real profundity and heavy verbatim repetition made this a middle-of-the-road experienc
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
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 ...more
J.G. Keely
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic, fantasy, reviewed
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
Mar 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is an old story
But one that can still be told
About a man who loved
And lost a friend to death
And learned he lacked the power
To bring him back to life.
It is the story of Gilgamesh
And his friend Enkidu.
Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the world’s oldest work of literature, dating back at least to 2,000 B.C. It is the story of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, who becomes best friends with Enkidu. They travel to the Cedar Forest and kill a monster named Humbaba, and soon thereaft
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Carl Audric Guia
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great adventure! Fun to read, especially knowing this is perhaps the oldest written literature. The latter parts had Biblical parallels, and other familiar myths are to be found. It's nice to think that a majority of mythology may be after all inspired by this book (I'm not sure tho, and am in no place to comment.) Considering this is one of the first books in history, the Epic of Gilgamesh is surprisingly good. ...more
Elsa Rajan Pradhananga
It was heart-warming to hold a paperback version of an epic that was inscribed on clay slabs over 4000 years ago. But mid way through the book, I thought Gilgamesh had all the essential elements of a contemporary novel – special status of the lead characters, adventure, a partner in crime, sex, violence, lengthy imagery of landscapes, fight offs…

(view spoiler)
Yigal Zur
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
This review is of the translation by Stephen Mitchell.

Imagine, if you will, that the original Treasure Island could only be read by a handful of select scholars who had dedicated years to studying it; the Muppet Treasure Island was slightly more accessible, but still esoteric. Then someone came along and re-wrote the original story, basing it off people's interpretations of the Muppet version. How far removed from the original would that final story be, do you think?

Anyway, let's talk about Step
This review is of the translation by John Maier.
From the day of his birth Gilgamesh was called by name.
This translation, the edition I used when I was first studying the Epic (my copy has so many notes and highlights scribbled in it that it's nigh-unreadable at this point), is the best translation of the Epic by a long shot. It preserves the columnal structure of the original tablets, and after each column is included a section of commentary discussing the context and missing pieces, comment
Here is the oldest story of humanity! Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk. He is also oppressive, brutal and selfish—his epic filled with quests, challenges and battles. But, in search of immortality to be legal of the gods, he will eventually learn wisdom. A fascinating text, which we would benefit from studying to understand the origins of our civilization; when reading it, we realize in particular that the holy books of monotheisms are only repeats of myths that already existed in Mesopotamia mille ...more
L.S. Popovich
An excellent and indispensable piece of literature. Entertaining and elegant. Re-readable but also unforgettable. The first hero + anti-hero. Primordial but universal. The first friendship depicted in literature. The first anything depicted in literature. Makes me wonder what the author would be capable of composing had they lived in an advanced society, with access to precedent works. How are myths created, dramatized, preserved, and translated? The supplementary material enlightens us on the c ...more
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 ...more
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I've loved Stephen Mitchell's take on the classics since I first read his translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry, and most recently with his update of Homer's Iliad. The strength of Mitchell is that he approaches the text as a poet FIRST and a translator second (and sometimes actually skips the translator role completely). The closest I've come to this in other translators is the husband and wife team of Richard Pevear (poet) and Larissa Volokhonsky (translator) and their amazing translation ...more
What became of my [friend was too much to bear,]
so on a far road I [wander the wild;]
[what became of my friend Enkidu was too much to bear, ]
so on a far path [I wander the wild.]

'How can I keep [silent? How can I stay quiet?]
My friend, whom I loved, has [turned to clay,]
[my friend Enkidu, whom I loved, has turned to clay.]
Shall I not be like him, and also lie [down,]
[never to rise again, through all eternity?]'
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)
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 inc ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Classics)
Shelves: classics, 501
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 ther
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
On its own this is a fascinating epic (apart from that repetitive as hell bit about interpreting every sodding night's dreams), with the tale exploring mortality, nature versus civilisation and why you should not piss off the Gods, but here is how you should correctly use Gilgamesh:
-Step 1: Buy the book and read it.
-Step 2: Keep it within easy reach while at home, or in your carrying bag of choice when going out.
-Step 3: Wait for someone to say: 'That's the problem nowadays, nothing's original a
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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.” 113 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.” 57 likes
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