Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


Gilgamesh was a king of Sumer. There are indications that he may have been a real person. His epic is preserved in a Babylonian version that is approximately (very approximately) 500 years younger than Sumerian texts like The Descent of Inanna.

They call it the first epic. I think it's the first novel.

It's a bildungsroman. Cocky young man has adventures, suffers loss, goes on an existential quest and comes to a muted, less exalted view of his place in the scheme of things. It's not unlike Great Expectations.

The most intriguing character is Enkidu- the wild man- first in a long, long line of noble savages and unspoiled innocents. He acts as Gilgamesh's conscience and side-kick.  Gilgamesh sees nothing wrong in exercising his "droit de seigneur" over the young brides of Uruk, but Enkidu's sense of natural justice is outraged.

I wasn't bored.

The text is missing huge chunks- where clay tablets have been broken and abraded- but there's enough of it (about 80% of the presumed whole) for the story to be clear. The good news is that new bits of it are continually turning up.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.