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The Epic of Gilgamesh Paperback – Aug 1 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (Aug. 1 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804717117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804717113
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #507,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback
The EPIC of GILGAMESH
Translation by Maureen Gallery Kovacs
I first learned about The Epic of Gilgamesh in my 9th Grade Ancient History class. At the time, I was intrigued by the reported similarities between Utanapishtim and Noah. I finally decided to give it a read. On the surface, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a simple myth which exhibits similarities to other classic myths and stories. However, despite the many missing lines and lost passages, the story retains a power and universiality which speaks to us even today.
Gilgamesh is a god-like king, but he oppresses his people. To bring him into line, a rival is created in the woods -- a natural man named Enkidu whose path takes him to the city of Uruk to confront the tyrant. Instead of conflict, a friendship blooms between the two men. They adventure together, but anger the gods, who take their revenge on Enkidu. Gilgamesh is left alive and alone to face his own mortality. His fear and grief lead him across the world to seek the only man who has ever been granted immortality, Utanapishtim, survivor of the Great Flood.
Kovacs has done a good job with her translation, which is accessable even though it is fragmentary. One has to be prepared to work with this poem, because so much has been lost since it was written down in 800 BC. But if you are willing to put some effort into reading the (or one of the) oldest surviving work(s) of literature, it is well worth your time.
I recommend this work.
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Format: Paperback
Gilgamesh is a Babylonian king, two-thirds god and one-third man. He is tyrannical and conceited. Enkidu is a hairy creature, half man and half animal, who lives in the steppe. Enkidu opens a trap set by a hunter, who reports this illicit activity to Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh sends a prostitute to put Enkidu to shame in front of the animals. The prostitute brings Enkidu to the city and "humanizes" him. Enkidu and Gilgamesh meet, fight, stalemate, and then befriend each other, "seeing each other in their eyes". Gilgamesh persuades Enkidu to travel with him and fight to the evil monster Humbaba in the tall cedar forest. They go, and Gilgamesh kills Humbaba, but Enkidu is wounded. A maddened goddess Ishtar sends a bull to kill Gilgamesh because he refused her proposal, and Enkidu saves Gilgamesh from the animal.
Enkidu's condition worsens. He prophesies that Gilgamesh's life and world is changed forever, and dies. Gilgamesh mourns and travels to seek Utnapishtim, the survivor of the universal flood, in the hopes that he will be able to bring Enkidu back to life. Gilgamesh is able to get past the Scorpion people at the gate of Mashu, he treads the dark Road of the Sun, and enters a valley. He lives for a while with a barmaid named Siduri on the coast, and she tries to persuade him to stay. He leaves her, however, and in a rage destroys the stone images that might have led him across the sea to Utnapishtim. Ultimately Urshanabi the boatman permits him to cross. Gilgamesh finds Utnapishtim and they become friends. Utnapishtim does not like immortality, and tells Gilgamesh about the flood. He later becomes annoyed at Gilgamesh's insistence on finding immortality for Enkidu, and sends him back without his friend.
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Format: Paperback
There are many characteristics that define epic heroes. They are portrayed as larger than life characters who undergo many perils and temptations. The hero many have godlike features, however, he may also suffer a deep wound. Although epic stories are now very old, and their heroes gone, the virtuous attitudes of the hero teach us very important virtues in life.
One important moral value that one learns from this epic is the impact of suffering a deep lost. Gilgamesh suffered from the terrible death of his best friend Enkidu. After killing the bull of heaven, sent down by the goddess of love, Ishtar, the gods decided that Enkidu should be chosen to die because he wasn't two-third god and one third man like Gilgamesh. In the aftermath of Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh deeply suffered from his lack of presence. It has occured to many of us to lose a very special and dear person to us. To endure life without the presence of that special person is hard, sometime almost impossible to bare. Thus, Gilgamesh who refused to live this sadness undertakes a long journey, commonly referred to as a quest, in search of eternal life in order to revive his greatest pal. Unfortunately, he fails his quest. Conclusively, we learn from this part that it is very tough to lose a person who means so much to us. Especially when we know that we will never see them again.
The search for eternal life teaches a very meaningful message. In order to revive his dead friend, Gilgamesh was strongly determined to face the dangers and perils on his journey in order to find the source of eternal life. Despite his strenght of mind, Gilgamesh fails his search. By this failure, we come to know that eternal life is out of man's reach as long as he lives on earth.
One learns multiple lessons from the story of The Gilgamesh.
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Format: Paperback
Whatever else this may be it is not boring. Unfortunately, there are holes in the text that one could throw a truck through. Also the mixing of the Babylonian and Sumer texts etc. seem to do it no good. Hopefully, further research will fill in the holes in editions which are closer to the original. Great story that provides insight into a people from whom we are greatly removed.
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