The Epic of Gilgamesh PDF – Poem

The Epic of Gilgamesh (/ˈɡɪlɡəmɛʃ/) is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia that is often regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about Bilgamesh (Sumerian for “Gilgamesh”), king of Uruk, dating from the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC).

These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic in Akkadian. 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 incipitShūtur eli sharrī (“Surpassing All Other Kings”). Only a few tablets of it have survived.

The later “standard” version compiled by Sîn-lēqi-unninni dates from the 13th to the 10th centuries BC and bears the incipit Sha naqba īmuru (“He who Saw the Abyss”, in modern terms: “He who Sees the Unknown”). Approximately two thirds of this longer, twelve-tablet version have been recovered. Some of the best copies were discovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.

Source: Wikipedia

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 its themes of family, friendship and the duties of kings, the Epic of Gilgamesh is, above all, about mankind’s eternal struggle with the fear of death.

The Babylonian version has been known for over a century, but linguists are still deciphering new fragments in Akkadian and Sumerian. Andrew George’s gripping translation brilliantly combines these into a fluent narrative and will long rank as the definitive English Gilgamesh

Review

“It’s among the oldest surviving works of Western civilization, from before literature was literature. It’s my go-to whenever loss and life have tumbled me (often). Amazingly, and perhaps depressingly (When will they ever learn?), Gilgamesh tackles all the issues we are dealing with today: a bad leader and how he becomes an enlightened one (here’s hoping), environmental degradation, class and race — i.e. who gets to be called human — lust and love; loss and death. The language is haunting, incantatory, at the border of song and silence.”
—Julia Alvarez

“Andrew George has skillfully bridged the chasm between a scholarly re-edition and a popular work”
London Review of Books

“Humankind’s first literary achievement…Gilgamesh should compel us as the well-spring of which we are inheritors…Andrew George provides an excellent critical and historical introduction.”
—Paul Binding, Independent on Sunday

“This volume will endure as one of the milestones markers…[George] expertly and easily conducts his readers on a delightful and moving epic journey.”
—Samuel A. Meier, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Andrew George is Professor of Babylonian at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies) in London. His research has taken him many times to Iraq to visit Babylon and other ancient sites, and to museums in Baghdad, Europe and North America to read the original clay tablets on which the scribes of ancient Iraq wrote.

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