Monday, January 12, 2009

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Anonymous

I'd heard of the Epic of Gilgamesh over and over again from history classes, to the use of it to confirm events in the Bible, but had never bothered to read it before. Perhaps it is the word "Epic" in the title that had conjured up mental images of a giant tome written in verse that deep down I knew I would never comprehend. Then suddenly one day I decided that I needed to at least OWN a copy, even if I never managed to read it. When I opened up my amazon box, imagine my surprise when I pulled out a thin little book of only 128 pages. The introduction is well worth the read, and actually makes up the majority of the book. For people like myself who had no prior knowledge of what the Epic of Gilgamesh really was, this intro is invaluable. It gives not only the history of the tablets, but also goes into the meaning of the tale, and tons of historical information that really added to my enjoyment of the story. The actual Epic goes from page 61-119 and is very interesting to those who have read other mythologies. The characters are very human though I won't say that in today's frame of mind that they are entirely likeable. The story follows King Gilgamesh who is 1/3 human and 2/3 god though the discovery of his brother, their quest to fight Humbaba, their battle with the Bull of the Heavens, and Gilgamesh's search for immortality. To be honest, I wouldn't say that this is a "must read" but it is certainly a very interesting read, simple to follow (at least in this translation) and a real eye opener to the beliefs and customs of the time. I highly recommend this version to those that are reading it outside of a classroom or discussion setting, because the intro was a lifesaver with the background and historical context that it gave. The version I read was the Penguin Classics translated by N. K. Sandar

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