One thought on “Gilgamesh”

  1. 5.0 stars. I thought this story was AMAZING. However, before I go any further I do want to point out that this review is solely for the version I read which was “Gilgamesh: A New English Version” by Stephen Mitchell. I say this because for a story written over 4000 years ago (approximately 2100 BC) about a King who lived over 4700 years ago (approximately 2750 BC) and was written in cuneiform in an extinct language (Akkadian), I imagine that the particular translation one reads may have a pr [...]

  2. Here's the first book in the world, written around let’s say 2000 BC in Uruk, which is now Iraq, so when I set out to read all of the books in order a while back this was the first one I read. So it's nice that it's very good.It’s about this king, Gilgamesh, who’s a dick. He’s a terrible king, a total tyrant. His best buddy Enkidu, on the other hand, is your archetypical noble savage guy, an innocent wild man. Enkidu gets civilized via the traditional method of having a sex priestess fuc [...]

  3. Are you mongrels ready to talk about Gilgamesh? Okay, let's talk about the king of heroes then! Embarrassingly enough, I myself only discovered Gilgamesh last year when I was teaching World History to a few of my students, and one of the lessons was about ancient civilizations. For a story that is considered to be a very old one--if not one of the oldest ever recorded in human history--The Epic of Gilgamesh sure retained a rather comfortable status of obscurity, mostly because we're more incline [...]

  4. Mitchell's translation is in the simplest language and form possible. The story is unremarkable to a modern reader because it's the tale of a hero. However, what I found intriguing was how Enkidu and Gilgamesh are revealed to be opposites. Enkidu is after all created to bring balance. Though Mitchell has not remarked upon it, every action/choice/trial Enkidu goes through is echoed by Gilgamesh. With every repetition of this pattern, Enkidu becomes more like Gilgamesh and he like Enkidu. The hubr [...]

  5. The epic of Gilgamesh deserves a place right alongside The Iliad, Odyssey, Beowulf, and other ancient epics. Gilgamesh predates all of the others, in fact, and yet this translation makes it eminently readable. It is a story with historical, mythological, psychological, and poetic resonance. It is a story of heroism, friendship, arrogance, passion, and despair. Mitchell is up front that this is a "version" rather than translation. Some readers have complained that he invents rather too freely, bu [...]

  6. I don't believe it is prudent to rate something like this with stars. I believe the appropriate response to such a privilege is to drop what you're doing and listen in wonder as you're connected to a people virtually unknowable

  7. Second Read: My sister and nieces got me the print version of this book, and since I'm between other reads at the moment, I thought it would be a good time to reread the poem. [Coincidentally, they also got me Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf a week after I had picked up Stephen Mitchell's new translation of that poem. It will be interesting to compare the two when I get around to reading them.]I have an ugly secret to divulge - with few exceptions I have not read in their entirety the fou [...]

  8. The story of Gilgamesh is the Hero's Journey for all time. It is haunting in its sheer age — a ghostly voice speaking to us from Iraq, five thousand years ago. Yet it remains startlingly relevant to 21st century Americans, as its hero struggles to find a first-world sense of purpose. King Gilgamesh wants for nothing, and then loses the only person he ever loved. He covets eternity. He accomplishes the greatest things a human can and then what?Gilgamesh hits bottom and begins to rise from his o [...]

  9. Gilgamesh, one of the oldest things in writing, is certainly a wonderful read for those who relish things old, such as myself. I'm lately attempting to give myself a belated sort of Classical education, and though Gilgamesh isn't exactly part of the Classical tradition, figuring it to be the oldest thing from the Ancient Near East/Mediterranean, I thought I'd give it a try. I was slightly disappointed though. The story itself is fine, with a great deal of resonant power--something the translator [...]

  10. I've loved Stephen Mitchell's take on the classics since I first read his translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry, and most recently with his update of Homer's Iliad. The strength of Mitchell is that he approaches the text as a poet FIRST and a translator second (and sometimes actually skips the translator role completely). The closest I've come to this in other translators is the husband and wife team of Richard Pevear (poet) and Larissa Volokhonsky (translator) and their amazing translation [...]

  11. Billed as being among the earliest known works of literary writing by the more and more reliable . (I really wish wiki would have said oldest but you can't have it all.) Gilgamesh chronicles the life of the King of the Great Walled Uruk and a few of his adventures in his quest for immortality. He makes some friends, slays some monsters, angers some gods and meets the man who survived the flood that ended all life on earth by building an ark and taking along a bunch of animals Consequently, when [...]

  12. There's something absolutely magical about reading a story which is roughly 4000 years old. The concept that ancient Akkadians and Babylonians once sat huddled for comfort against the mysterious terrors of the night while poets and performers recited this same tale that I have just read makes my mind reel. To have such a connection of story over millennia gives me a far greater sense of the connectedness of humanity and history than anything else.On top of that, it's an excellent story. Sex, rom [...]

  13. Fantastic. The economy of the storytelling is incredible--for such a short poem, you'll find everything here; if you're patient enough to look, I should add.

  14. A thought that came to mind while reading this was the idea of how cultures can develop simply as an antithesis to other cultures. Knowing the historical rivalry between Assyrio-Babylonian and Israelite cultures you can see how the two influenced the values and ideas of the other. This makes this book especially relevant since Judeo-christian ideas permeate through out our civilizations today.Gilgamesh is a hero-epic of a culture that predates the writing of the Bible. What caught my eye was how [...]

  15. This is not a translation but an adaptation of other English translations filtered through Stephen Mitchell's meager talent. It is not taken directly from the Akkadian and thus is like a copy of a copy, and a bad one at that. He's also mashed together multiple versions from different times and places.The Gilgamesh tablets can't really be translated literally into a readable modern vernacular, which leaves more than the usual amount of power in the hands of the translator. Stephen Mitchell is not [...]

  16. The story of the great warrior king from Uruk has been retold countless times by the Mesopotamian people that inhabited the region and is well known by those modern folks who are pretty well read.Uruk was a city-state in Sumeria that was ruled by Gilgamesh, who is said to be 2/3 divine and 1/3 human. His father, a human king, was Lugalband and his mother was Ninhursa. Ninhursa was a goddess. Now Uruk is a lesson in contradiction because on the one hand the king is a physically abusive tyrant and [...]

  17. گیلگمش، پادشاهی خودکامه و پهلوان بود. او نیمه‌آسمانی و دوسوم وجودش ایزدی و یک‌سومش انسانی. حماسه «گیلگمش»، با بیان کارها و پیروزی‌های قهرمان، آغاز می‌شود، به گونه‌ای که او را مردی بزرگ در پهنه دانش و خرد، معرفی می‌کند. او می‌تواند توفان را پیش‌بینی کند. مرگ دوست صمیمی‌اش [...]

  18. I loved it. I have never been a big poetry reader, but this ancient free-verse epic was fantastic. Before Conan, Ulysses, Tarzan, or other superhumans, there was Gilgamesh. Clay tablets containing pages of this story date back to about 1700 B.C. Gilgamesh, the mighty king of Uruk is "two-thirds divine and one-third human". He has everytihng a king could want, a well-protected beautiful city, women, and wealth, but lacks one thing he really craves, a brother with whom to share adventures. One of [...]

  19. Amazing.Rilke says it's the "epic of the fear of death", and that's what it feels like, but in an ultimately warm and human way (I thought!). All the characters feel human in much the way that modern fantasy or fairy-tales can give us very "human" characters by taking little bits of ourselves and amplifying them into fantastical creatures so that those traits are celebrated or explored.It is very engaging, very easy to read in this translation, and its theme is accessible, evolving, and emotiona [...]

  20. A brilliantly clear and readable translation of this Babylonian epic. I had intended to read it aloud to my 13-year-old daughter (we still read together as a bonding thing), but reading ahead I realized that the erotic passages (with the Ishtar-temple priestess, Shamhat and later with Ishtar herself) were just a bit too awkward from father to daughter. What's striking, though, even about this, is that those passages are so matter-of-fact that desire is seen for what it really is, something that [...]

  21. I want to first thank Alex for telling me to read verse and not prose. I started reading them side by side, and quickly decided that the prose version was not for me. It really did lose its lyricism and beauty - I thought a lot of the story was missing. But, this is not a review of the prose version, but of the verse.I thought it was lyrical and beautiful. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting in reading this, and I am glad because I felt completly open to whatever happened on the page and [...]

  22. This was my first time reading Gilgamesh, and I feel like this was a good version to start with. The language is modern and straightforward, the story flows well, and the translator provides a very thorough (80 pages in my version) walkthrough of the whole story. In addition to explaining some things that need historic context and taking guesses about Gilgamesh's mental state, he also provides comparisons to other epics like Beowulf or David's story in the Bible. As with the Bible, it feels like [...]

  23. Almost 4800 years after his reign in the city of Uruk, Gilgamesh is still remembered not only in his native land but now around the world even though his native language is long forgotten. In Stephen Mitchell’s English verse translation of Gilgamesh, the story of the demigod’s calming friendship with Enkidu and his quest to avoid his mortality.The tale of Gilgamesh is not just about the king of Uruk, it is the tale of Enkidu and his civilizing by Shamhat, the friendship between Enkidu and Gi [...]

  24. Y'know, I thought he was supposed to do the proto-Orphic thing and rescue Enkidu from the underworld, but he (in this version at least) never really goes into the Land of the Dead, only into the Tunnel of the Sun. I really enjoyed the poetic repetition, and Mitchell does a good job of making this hole-some tale seem whole, even if I think he takes a bit too much license with the source but at least he has endnotes and makes no pretension to being a professional translator who reads Sumerian.

  25. It’s pretty ridiculous attempting to rate a book that is actually older than The Bible by a system of stars, one to five! The poetic text in English by Stephen Mitchell is far easier to regard objectively and review. For my money he has done an excellent job of bringing together literal translations of the surviving fragments of Sumerian,Babylonian and Akkadian texts and working them into an agreeable epic poem by adopting a certain amount of artifice, which he freely admits to in his introduc [...]

  26. This book is the story of insights gained by King Gilgamesh through lessons learned from two quest journeys and the death of his friend. Wisdom gained from his experiences metamorphoses him from an arrogant and self-promoting tyrant into a humble and charitable king.Reading this book is a glimpse further back into the history of recorded human thought than any other book in existence. This book has the distinction of being a thousand years older than the Iliad or the Hebrew Pentateuch. Its hero [...]

  27. Wow, I am completely shocked by how much I absolutely loved this. What an amazing story. So great. And uplifting. And just great. Apparently most of the other translations on the market are really kind of academic in nature; Mitchell, who is not in any way a scholar of ancient Akkadian, compiled this version by studying all the other translations and doing a lot of research into the word choices and finally just making poetic decisions that seemed to fit the tone of the original epic. And it wor [...]

  28. Now is the review of Gilgamesh,On the great site ,telling the story of a mighty kingand of his fear of death. The mighty king Gilgameshrules over great-walled Uruk,but acts like a dick to his subjects,oppressing men and raping women. The gods create the wild man Enkidu,A man of equal strength and size,But rather than becoming enemies, He forms a bromance with mighty king Gilgamesh. So our two heroic dudebrosVoyage to kill the monster Humbaba,Although it's not clear whether Humbaba is a monster,o [...]

  29. "Gilgamesh" is an important piece of literature because it dates back to close to 2000 BC and lets us look at the myths and legends of a culture that is both at the start of Western Civilization and is also so different than ours and from much of our reading requirements in school (speaking for myself). It tells the story of a great king, Gilgamesh, his becoming friends with Enkidu (almost his equal in strength), his quest to defeat the guardian of the forest, his quest for immortal life, and hi [...]

  30. Some claim Mitchell's adaptation takes too many liberties, but most (if not all) of the changes do justice to the text. The academic translations of the epic are commendable, but they can be difficult to read. Mitchell's is an approachable version of an ancient tale, pieced together from fragmentary sources and intepreted in such a way that you can read and enjoy it.It is a remarkable story that provides a glimpse into the history of human civilization, and an examination of some of humanity's o [...]

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