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"The Babylonian Gilgamesh epic is the oldest long poem in the world, with a history going back four thousand years. It tells the fascinating and moving story of Gilgamesh's heroic deeds and lonely quest for immortality. This book collects for the first time all the known sources in the original cuneiform, including many fragments never published before. The author's personal study of every available fragment has produced a definitive edition and translation, complete with comprehensive introductory chapters that place the poem and its hero in context."--Publisher's description.
Cuneiform records made some three thousand years ago are the basis for this essay on the ideas of death and the afterlife and the story of the flood which were current among the ancient peoples of the Tigro-Euphrates Valley. With the same careful scholarship shown in his previous volume, The Babylonian Genesis, Heidel interprets the famous Gilgamesh Epic and other related Babylonian and Assyrian documents. He compares them with corresponding portions of the Old Testament in order to determine the inherent historical relationship of Hebrew and Mesopotamian ideas.
Special Features- Aims to show how The Gilgamesh Epic developed from its earliest to its latest form- Systematic, step-by-step tracking of the stylistic, thematic, structural, and theological changes in The Gilgamesh Epic- Relation of changes to factors (geographical, political, religious, literary) that may have prompted them- Attempts to identify the sources (biographical, historical, literary, folkloric) of the epic's themes, and to suggest what may have been intended by use of these themes- Extensive bibliography- Indices
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest written chronicle in the world, composed two to three thousand years before Christ. It tells events in the life of a king in an ancient Sumerian city of Mesopotamia.In the tradition of the Greek Iliad or the medieval Beowulf, the heroic central figure is admired for his prowess and power; he is a warrior, whose greatest adventures are here recounted, sometimes fantastic and ultimately magical, as he ventures beyond the bounds of the world. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an artifact of the first civilization, that which is the father and mother of our own civilization. It is like the great-great-great-grandparent whose name you do not know but without whom you would not exist. There are many matters that are not believable to us—monsters, deities, and places that we do not think exist, nor ever existed. Yet we can perceive in Gilgamesh a person like ourselves. This is the story of a man, not a god. We understand him, even if we do not understand or believe all that he does. Gilgamesh is the first literature of mankind to express the human condition.
This epic poem is the oldest known to exist in history, predating Homer's Iliad by about 1500 years. Gilgamesh, the hero, discovers he has godly blood, so sets out on a journey to the land of the gods in an attempt to gain entry. It is of ancient Sumerian origin, from the land called Mesopotamia. It is an important work for those studying ancient literature, history and mythology. This Babylonian version is one of the oldest known, if not the oldest. Later renditions are more common and seem to embellish the story, so this work is important for serious researchers. From the standpoint of literature alone, it is also an interesting tale that is enjoyable to read.
Since the discovery over one hundred years ago of a body of Mesopotamian poetry preserved on clay tablets, what has come to be known as the Epic of Gilgamesh has been considered a masterpiece of ancient literature. It recounts the deeds of a hero-king of ancient Mesopotamia, following him through adventures and encounters with men and gods alike. Yet the central concerns of the Epic lie deeper than the lively and exotic story line: they revolve around a man’s eternal struggle with the limitations of human nature, and encompass the basic human feelings of lonliness, friendship, love, loss, revenge, and the fear of oblivion of death. These themes are developed in a distinctly Mesopotamian idiom, to be sure, but with a sensitivity and intensity that touch the modern reader across the chasm of three thousand years. This translation presents the Epic to the general reader in a clear narrative.
Based on contrasting characterization and narrative logic between the central Huwawa episode and the remaining material for the earliest Akkadian Gilgamesh, this book challenges the accepted notion that the famous epic was composed without recourse to a previous Akkadian narrative.