The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh


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Translated with an Introduction by Andrew George.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140449198
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/15/2003
Edition description: REV
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 35,589
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Andrew George is Professor of Babylonian in the Department of Languages and Culture of Near and Middle East at University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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

“Appealingly presented and very readably still comes as an exhilarating surprise to find the actions and emotions of the Sumerian superhero coming to us with absolute immediacy over 30-odd centuries.

“Andrew George has formed an English text from the best of the tablets, differentiating his complex sources but allowing the general reader a clear run at one of the first enduring stories ever told.”
—Peter Stothard, The Times

“An exemplary combination of scholarship and lucidity...very impressive...invaluable as a convenient guide to all the different strands which came together to produce the work we now call Gilgamesh.”
—Alan Wall, Literary Review

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The Epic of Gilgamesh 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don¿t listen to these other reviews posted here. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a classic of mythology and literature and one of the best and most meaningful tales ever told. It is also one of the key foundations for western culture, civilization and religion. I read it while I was a teenager and fell in love with it. I can understand, however, why the some of the other reviewers may have been confused. This particular edition is intended for scholars and researchers NOT laypeople just looking for a good read. It contains the original translated text with all the gaps and bumps and has not been smoothed out for easy reading. Penguin Books however does carry a ¿normal¿ edition of this story and I suggest that those not seeking a degree in mythology or religion pick up that one instead. Again this is a GREAT story, a true classic that has stood the test of time.
mschmidt62 More than 1 year ago
Please note: if you click on the nook-book "Buy Now" button on the page for the 2003 Andrew George translation, you will be charged $9.99 and be sent a copy of the 1959 Sandars translation. If you want the Andrew George translation, I think you need to buy the paper version.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This epic manages to keep interest, especially because of its short length and quick pace. The hero is shown as more of a desperate man searching to be a god than it does a godly man in his quest for glory.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The earliest quest for immortality. This epic from the Assyro-Babylonian culture (parts of which were probably written as early as 3000 B.C.) contains perhaps the earliest known example of man's quest for immortality. According to Samuel Kramer, the prologue has the oldest known reference to Lilith, who is an important female demon in Jewish legend. Apparently, a historical Gilgamesh actually existed and ruled Uruk in Mesopotamia in the first half of the third millennium B. C. (probably in the first dynasty of Uruk). In the epic, the god Anu attempts to curb the harsh rule of Gilgamesh by the creation of a strong and wild man (many scholars regard this character as a symbol of primitive man). After a fight between the two, they become friends and have a number of adventures. In one tale, Gilgamesh is wooed by a goddess. But she is rejected by Gilgamesh and the bull sent by her father to destroy him is killed (some regard this story as a nature myth in which Gilgamesh represents the solar god of the spring season and the goddess is the goddess of love and fertility). Later in the epic Gilgamesh's friend is stricken with disease and dies. Gilgamesh is devastated and wishes to avoid a similar fate. He goes in search of eternal youth and immortality (perhaps the earliest example of such a quest in literature). After more adventures, which includes him learning the Babylonian story of the great flood, he finds the answer to his quest; but, it is quickly lost. Even though this is probably the earliest epic, it has considerable allegorical significance. It is perhaps the earliest known description of man¿s quest for the meaning of life and the struggle to avoid death. What is learned is that death is inevitable and man should enjoy the life he has.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Epic of Gilgamesh isn't as incredible as it is often told to be. Though it is important to note that it is the first novel of this time period, the purpose is more religious than entertainment as novels usually are. This epic shows how the people of this time period viewed the world and told of some of the basic beliefs of their religion. The author makes a strong attempt in conveying this purpose but it seems to lack a deeper meaning. To understand the purpose, the reader requires a large amount of background knowledge of Mesopotamian culture and the overall region. The novel mentions major Mesopotamian cities and locations that, without knowing, make the novel more difficult to understand. The author fails to effectively prove their point and explain Mesopotamian culture.
Malarchy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest recorded stories, arising out of the ancient civilization of Sumeria. The Penguin Epics version is a narrative translation of the original tablets and is a reproduction of a 1972 version by NK Sanders. The Epic is a must-read for those who have an interest in the ancient though it is perhaps more satisfying to have read it than it is during the reading. It is fascinating to pick out elements that feature in later works elsewhere in the world not least the description of the great flood that features in the Old Testament of the Bible. What the Epic of Gilgamesh is not is a gripping tale or insightful moral fable.Gilgamesh himself is a great king who is so powerful he can test the gods. Gilgamesh dominates his society to such an extent that he claims first right to every new bride in his city. Partly as punishment, the gods create a rival from the wilds to challenge him. The rival, Enkidu, is designed to be as strong as Gilgamesh but Gilgamesh defeats him. Reading the tale as it unfolds with a modern eye would identify two main themes - the intense bond between two powerful men and the futility of the eternal search to conquery mortality. The former of these two themes may or may not have been intended by the original crafters of the legend but there is no doubt that Gilgamesh's love for Enkidu is a powerful motivation for his later actions. Gilgamesh is not a round or deep character and he displays few graduations of action but his love for Enkidu and his own fear of death are his most notable features.As with many ancient epics, it is between the lines where most fascination lies. The allusions to events and legends that stretch back thousands of years is what excites about the Epic of Gilgamesh. The references to older narratives that would have been familiar to listeners at the time but now are harder to understand are tantalising glimpses into a world order long gone. The tale of the flood which is an historical event that also features in the Old Testament is a powerful reminder that these stories are rarely just the imaginings of talented bards but are often the closest to a record of the times they and their predecessors knew.However, it must be said that the Epic of Gilgamesh is not much of a story. Apparently the versions with greater depth of explanation of character and place as side notes by modern authors are more interesting but the core narrative as described in the Penguin Epics version is not particularly interesting. Gilgamesh engages in a couple of adventures, mostly with his sidekick Enkidu, and defeats legendary opponents mostly through sheer strength. The role of women in Sumerian society is fascinating, the insight into what comprised a hero in those times, and the tales that are alluded to are nice snippets of history but the Epic of Gilgamesh should not be mistaken for a magnificent tale.
Zommbie1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the story. I liked what it had to say about the human condition. I would like to in the future read another translation to see what is different. I liked that the language was accessible, I felt like I could fly through it.However, I am not sure about this translation. Since I have not read The Epic of Gilgamesh before I have no idea if this is how the translations are often done but I found the fact that the volume contained the translations of several tablets annoying. I just wanted to read the story. I didn¿t really care to compare the Yale tablet with the Pennsylvania tablet. I did appreciate that in the first part they told you when they, due to missing parts switched tablets but I didn¿t really need the tablet translations again in the following parts. What I also didn¿t like was the fact that at the start of each tablet they told you what happened. The language in the translations was so accessible that I had no problems following it. I didn¿t need the short synopsis at the start of each tablet. It really just ruined the story for me. I feel that this edition is paradoxically an edition for high school students to lazy to read the whole thing and an edition for the scholar who wants an introduction to the different tablets. Personally, as someone who just wanted to read the story, I was not well served by this edition. So in conclusion: good story, bad book.
06nwingert on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Every religion in the world has a great flood and human redemption narrative, but The Epic of Gilgamesh beat them all. In in attempt to be as philosophical as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the tale of Gilgamesh, a human attempting to become immortal. When the gods send a great flood, Gilgamesh is saved, and during the flood, Gilgamesh has an enlightened moment.
Bidwell-Glaze on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First, my copy of the Epic of Gilgamesh is from 1964, almost 50 years out of date. A lot of research, translation, and study has happened since that time. The first 60 pages are a fascinating introduction, which has inspired me to put a more recent copy of the book on my wish-list. Half of the book is Introduction, glossary, and sources. The other half is a prose translation of the poetic epic which is the Gilgamesh Cycle of poems. This is compiled from different, but related sources, especially the Library of Assurbanipal in Nineveh (the Assyrian capital in Sumeria (Iraq)), the library at Boghazköy (the Hittite capital (Turkey)), and the Semitic Megiddo texts among others.The story is fascinating and a I got a lot more out of the story than I did when I last read it. The Gods of these people seem to be very whimsical and taken to being insulted. The people seem more like what we live with now. They fear death, for good reason, as their afterlife is very harsh, no matter how a person lived their lives. Gilgamesh's best friend is with him through several adventures, but midway through the epic, he dies, telling Gilgamesh what to expect.¿...I stood alone before an awful being; his face was sombre like the black bird of the storm. He fell upon me with the talons of an eagle and he held me fast, pinioned with his claw, till I smothered; then he transformed me so that my arms became wings covered with feathers. He turned his stare towards me, and he led me away to the palace of Irkalla, the Queen of darkness, to the house from which none who enters ever returns, down the road from which there is no coming back. There is the house whose people sit in darkness; dust is their food and clay their meat. They are clothed like birds with wings for covering, they see no light, they sit in darkness. I entered the house of dust and I saw the kings of the earth, their crowns put away for ever; rulers and princes, all those who once wore kingly crowns and ruled th earth in the days of old. They who had stood in the place of gods like Anu and Enlil, stood now like servants to fetch baked meats in the house of dust ...¿Then Gilgamesh goes seeking a way around going there (dying). Fascinating. The story of the Flood, made much of in the Introduction, is part of that seeking. The final result is 'Live well, you are going to die.' The trip is worth the ending.
beelzebubba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you can read it in just a few hours, does it qualify as epic? If the introduction is longer than the actual text, is it still epic? With regards to The Epic of Gilgamesh, yes it is. Size doesn't matter here. One of the oldest stories extant concerns Gilgamesh, king of Uruk. His people finally get tired of him bedding all the young women and beating the crap out of all the men (apparently he was a cross between the Incredible Hulk and Bill Clinton). They beseech the gods to come up with a companion who can equal him in strength, so they can have a bit of a break. Enter Enkidu, and a beautiful friendship is born. They have a blast beating the hell out of each other, and have some great adventures. I think something else was going on too, since it kept mentioning Gilgamesh loving him like a woman. Not that there's anything wrong with that.But what really impressed me about him was that even though he was the biggest, baddest mo-fo on the planet, that didn't preclude him from realizing, ¿hey, I'm not going to be here forever. One of these days, I'm gonna die. That scares me.¿ That brought him down to earth, and made him someone I could relate to. And for me, that's what really made it epic.
hannahj26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though this is not as sophisticated as many other books out there the historical value is huge. Older than the bible it tells the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Many can find parallels with the Old Testament and other religious works, such as the great flood. A short book and definitely worth reading, I beleive it's only totals at about 60 pages.
endersreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This makes for a quick and illuminating read. Gilgamesh (the city boy and King of Uruk)and Enkidu (the child of the wilderness who becomes domesticated by the introduction of the Harlot who is most likely a Priestess of the Temple of Ishtar) kill the Guardian of the Cedar Forest, Humbaba, kill the Heavenly Bull (most certainly marking the end of the age of Taurus), and become legendary in turn. Enkidu dies leaving Gilgamesh to ponder over his own mortality. This is where it gets interesting. In the last tablet, tablet 11, we are witness to Utanapishtim's story of the Flood and we hear of the Anunnaki, which those of you who have delved into the world of Zacharia Sitchin will recognize. There are many Sumerian Gods that you will learn about in these texts. Their incompleteness is a bit annoying, but today we have a much more completed version than in the past. Indeed Gilgamesh, even in the ancient world, was a widely recieved work. Perhaps soon we will have a completed text.
Stbalbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a review of The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Epics) published 2006, a prose translation by N.K. Sandars, first published in Penguin's 1960 edition, re-printed here under the "Penguin Epics" series, without the book-length editors introduction and notes. Just the meat, no potatoes or desert. It took me about 2 hours to read as an average reader, was clear and easy to understand. The book is physically tiny, 4x8 inches and a quarter-inch thick, it would disappear on a book shelf.I purchased this at the same time as The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh, however I wished I had waited, as 'Buried Book' has a good overview of more recent translations available. However I am not disappointed as Sandar's translation is good and easy and understandable - it may not be scholarly level, but perfectly acceptable for most readers who just want to read the epic and enjoy it in prose format.
Tahlil77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Epic Of Gilgamesh - this is the second time I've read this, but since the first time was 12 years ago as a doe-eyed freshman in college, it was like a new read. The Penguin Classics version by N.K. Sanders comes with a map of ancient Mesopotamia and begins with a history of the epic and various background info such as: discovery of the Sumerian tablets, literary background, principle gods, survival and diction of the epic (among many others). The story itself is compiled from Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, Hittite, Assyrian and Babylonian tablets to fill in the holes from all of the definciences of each others versions. A good, quick and informative read...and much better the second time around when reading for pleasure with the mind of a grown man.
wenestvedt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pre-Greek legends from the civilization that carved those wonderful winged lions with bearded men's heads in the British Museum. Also, the source material for Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash."
herschelian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This cycle of poems, which pre-date Homer by over a thousand years, came to light in the middle of the c19th when clay tablets impressed with cuneiform were excavated from Nineveh in Mesapotamia. This English edition has a scholarly but very readable introduction by N.K.Saunders. The introduction is essential to getting the most from reading the epic. It is a lively story that the 'poet' tells, and the legend of the Flood which is included in it made me think about how the Old Testament has been interpreted by various religions. Even now, more than five thousand years after this was written, man is still seeking immortality just as Gilgamesh did.
slaveofOne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good translation. Included is an essay which helps flesh out the history behind the Epic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This read like a college thesis paper...several hundred footnotes, vauge language references, very little actual text. My advice if you read this...skip over all the footnotes and discussion guides at the back...they are nonsense!!!
johnnyA411 More than 1 year ago
This is a very good translation of a great piece of mythology. I'm always amazed how most religious people are unwilling to acknowledge the obvious precursor this story is to the Bible's great flood story. Clearly this book/story was being read/told in the times leading up to the writing of the Bible. It only makes sense they'd co-opt the story and make it their own, that's how all good myths evolve. Beyond that, if you want to avoid all that controversy, this is a great adventure/hero story which stands alone regardless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
               The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem, which correlates with the life of Mesopotamian society, is an excellent poem to read. I would definitely recommend this writing for AP World History students. Starting off with an elaborate introduction, the book sets the place's background information as well as historical events that are occurring. Furthermore, the prologue is a shortened summary of the whole epic, in general. The prologue helps a lot in deciphering the happenings in the long epic poem. Evermore, the poem itself is very interesting, in which it relates the story of Gilgamesh and his epiphany of immortality's reality.  All the chronological occurrences that happen all play a significant role in the meaning behind Gilgamesh's learned lesson. The lesson that he acknowledges is the truth that the closest concept to immortality is indeed the love and care of other people. Furthermore, without the characters, such as Enkidu and the Gods, the epic would not have been as successful. Throughout Gilgamesh's adventures, he learns how Enkidu, in the form of a companion, keeps him company and keeps him alive and jubilant. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh goes into deep mourning and sorrow prevails him. Also, the Gods, such as Shamash, aid Gilgamesh in his various adventures to show himself as supreme. Thus, the plot and the characters in the epic poem enable the audience to enjoy the writing.                 Additionally, the author's usage of the events and people's relationships accomplish a major goal: teaching Mesopotamian social behaviors. The Epic of Gilgamesh is written so that human beings can understand how Mesopotamian culture was like and how the people lived back then. This epic poem accomplishes that very well. For example, religious aspects were examined, since people prayed to the Gods for strength and for redemption from misery. Evermore, it can be seen that there were social classes in the Mesopotamian era. In that time period, women were not respected as much. Therefore, they were often bossed by men off all places. This can be seen from Gilgamesh's acts with newly-wed brides. Thus, knowledge of certain aspects of the Mesopotamian culture can be learned through this epic poem. This poem has been an opportunity for the knowledge of Mesopotamia to grow. It is quick read, so the reader does not meander off into other thoughts. Evermore, there is a lot of repetition, which allows for the major concepts to seep into one's brain. Likewise, the context is also easy to understand. There may be some confusing aspects of the poem, in which the reader does not know what is happening. Though, when one looks at the prologue, the scenes become more evident and self-explanatory. Conclusively, since the plot is interesting, more knowledge about Mesopotamia can be gained, and the poem is understandable, The Epic of Gilgamesh should be read by all people. 
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Not the Andrew George version (2003).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do not listen to the last review, this version is terrible!