Most helpful positive review
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How could it be rated less than 5 stars?
on October 17, 2002
This is a 5,000 year old poem, the first traces of which were discovered in 1839 by a young Englishman, Austen Layard, who was
intent upon working in Ceylon but on the way there he and a friend stopped at Nineveh, on the Tigris River, and began an excavation hoping to find inscriptions. They
found a library of clay tablets! What was to have been a few days excavation became
years. He subsequently brought back to London thousands of clay tablets with their wedge shaped cuneiforms, which were eventually
deciphered, including part of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
New finds in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by others, and their laborious interpretation followed. One of the results was this ancient epic poem, which contains,
among other things, one of the earliest tales of a great deluge and flood which is eerily similar to the flood described in the Hebrew Bible. The perpetrators of the flood,
though, were not the solitary God of the Hebrews, but one of the multiple Gods worshipped in those days, Enlil, god of earth, wind and air, and counselor to the other
Gods, of which there were a multitude.
Gilgamesh was the king of Uruk, a great city in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq.) Although blessed with remarkable beauty ("a perfect body") and great strength, he was
but two-thirds god and one third mortal--which does present some serious questions! The poem was his epic, and there was indeed an historical figure of the same
This is an interesting artifact for its insight into human history, if nothing else. This particular translation is more bland in the explicit ... references, etc., than others,
but it faithfully retains the story.
A valuable piece of literature.