The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh
translated by Andrew George

Description (from back cover copy):

Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as far as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, predates 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.

First Sentence:

He who saw the Deep, the country’s foundation,
[who knew the proper ways,] was wise in all matters!

It’s been a rough weekend chez Tangled Skein, but I’m determined to get a blog entry up today.

This is one of those books I’ve heard referenced many, many times, but I’m pretty sure was not part of the Comparative Literature course I took in college. I think Ancient Near East was on a different syllabus.

For a first reading, I wouldn’t recommend this particular edition. While some translations blend the multiple extant versions of the text into a single work, this approach is more academic. Various iterations – “Standard Version of the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic”, “Sumerian Poems of Gilgamesh”, “Fragments of Old Versions of the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic”, and “Miscellaneous Babylonian Fragments” – are presented as separate chapters. Specific markers denote when text is restored from multiple sources, as well as indicating text missing from the available tablets entirely. A lengthy introduction explains all of this, and sets the poem in context for the modern reader.

This format provides an excellent study of what is available, what is missing, and how the text may have changed over time. For a reader completely new to the epic, it is a lot of detail to take in while simultaneously just trying to follow the plot.

Source: Purchased from Amazon

Challenges: Classics Club and 2023 TBR Pile