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The Epic of Gilgamesh is epic poetry from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much later. The most complete version existing today is preserved on twelve clay tablets from the library collection of 7th-century BCE Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. It was originally titled He who Saw the Deep (Sha naqba īmuru) or Surpassing All Other Kings (Shūtur eli sharrī).

The story revolves around a relationship between Gilgamesh (probably a real ruler in the late Early Dynastic II period ca. 27th century BCE)[1] and his close male companion, Enkidu. Enkidu is a wild man created by the gods as Gilgamesh's equal to distract him from oppressing the citizens of Uruk. Together they undertake dangerous quests that incur the displeasure of the gods. Firstly, they journey to the Cedar Mountain to defeat Humbaba, its monstrous guardian. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven that the goddess Ishtar has sent to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances.

The latter part of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh's distressed reaction to Enkidu's death, which takes the form of a quest for immortality. Gilgamesh attempts to learn the secret of eternal life by undertaking a long and perilous journey to meet the immortal flood hero, Utnapishtim. Ultimately the poignant words addressed to Gilgamesh in the midst of his quest foreshadow the end result: "The life that you are seeking you will never find. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping." Gilgamesh, however, was celebrated by posterity for his building achievements, and for bringing back long-lost cultic knowledge to Uruk as a result of his meeting with Utnapishtim. The story is widely read in translation, and the protagonist, Gilgamesh, has become an icon of popular culture.


Many original and distinct sources exist over a 2,000-year timeframe, but only the oldest and those from a late period have yielded significant enough finds to enable a coherent intro-translation. Therefore, the old Sumerian poems, and a later Akkadian version, which is now referred to as the standard edition, are the most frequently referenced. The standard edition is the basis of modern translations, and the old version only supplements the standard version when the lacunae — or gaps in the cuneiform tablet — are great.

Note that although revised versions based on newly discovered information have been published, the epic is not complete.[2]

The earliest Sumerian poems are now considered to be distinct stories rather than constituting a single epic (Dalley 1989: 45). They date from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 BCE) (Dalley 1989: 41-42). The earliest Akkadian versions are dated to the early second millennium (Dalley 1989: 45), most likely in the eighteenth or seventeenth century BCE, when one or more authors used existing literary material to form the epic of Gilgamesh.[3] The "standard" Akkadian version, consisting of 12 tablets, was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni sometime between 1300 and 1000BCE and was found in the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh.

The Epic of Gilgamesh was discovered by Hormuzd Rassam in 1853 and is widely known today. The first modern translation of the epic was published in the early 1870s by George Smith.[4] More recent translations into English include one undertaken with the assistance of the American novelist John Gardner, and John Maier, published in 1984. In 2001, Benjamin Foster produced a reading in the Norton Critical Edition Series that fills in many of the blanks of the standard edition with previous material.

The most definitive [5] translation is contained in a two-volume critical work by Andrew R. George. This represents the fullest treatment of the standard edition material. George discusses at length the archaeological state of the material, provides a tablet-by-tablet exegesis, and furnishes a dual language side-by-side translation. This translation was also published in a general reader edition under the Penguin Classics imprint in 2000. In 2004, Stephen Mitchell released a controversial edition, which is his interpretation of previous scholarly translations into what he calls "a new English version", published by FreePress, a division of Simon and Schuster. The first direct Arabic translation from the original tablets was in the 1960s by the Iraqi archeologist Taha Baqir.

The discovery of artifacts (ca. 2600 BCE) associated with Emmebaragesi of Kish, who is mentioned in the legends as the father of one of Gilgamesh's adversaries, has lent credibility to the historical existence of Gilgamesh (Dalley 1989: 40-41).[6] s

Versions of the epic

Standard Akkadian version

The standard version was discovered by Austen Henry Layard in the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh in 1849. It was written in standard Babylonian, a dialect of Akkadian that was only used for literary purposes. This version was compiled by Sin-liqe-unninni sometime between 1300 and 1000 BCE out of older legends.

The standard version and earlier old Babylonian version are differentiated based on the opening words, or incipit. The older version begins with the words "Surpassing all other kings", while the standard version's incipit is "He who saw the deep" (ša nagbu amāru). The Akkadian word nagbu, "deep", is probably to be interpreted here as referring to "unknown mysteries". However, Andrew George believes that it refers to the specific knowledge that Gilgamesh brought back from his meeting with Uta-Napishti (Utnapishtim): he gains knowledge of the realm of Ea, whose cosmic realm is seen as the fountain of wisdom (George 1999: L [pg. 50 of the introduction]). In general, interpreters feel that Gilgamesh was given knowledge of how to worship the gods, of why death was ordained for human beings, of what makes a good king, and of the true nature of how to live a good life. Utnapishtim, the hero of the Flood myth, tells his story to Gilgamesh, which is related to the Babylonian Epic of Atrahasis.

The 12th tablet is appended to the epic representing a sequel to the original 11, and was most probably added at a later date. This tablet has commonly been omitted until recent years. It has the startling narrative inconsistency of introducing Enkidu alive, and bears seemingly little relation to the well-crafted and finished 11-tablet epic; indeed, the epic is framed around a ring structure in which the beginning lines of the epic are quoted at the end of the 11th tablet to give it at the same time circularity and finality. Tablet 12 is actually a near copy of an earlier Sumerian tale, a prequel, in which Gilgamesh sends Enkidu to retrieve some objects of his from the Underworld, but Enkidu dies and returns in the form of a spirit to relate the nature of the Underworld to Gilgamesh — an event which seems to many superfluous given Enkidu's dream of the underworld in Tablet VII.[7]

Content of the standard version tablets

Tablet one

The story starts with the introduction of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk. Gilgamesh, two-thirds god and one-third man, oppresses the city's citizens who cry out to the gods for help. For the young women of Uruk this oppression takes the form of a droit de seigneur — or "lord's right" — to newly married brides on their wedding night. For the young men it is conjectured that Gilgamesh exhausted them through games, tests of strength, or perhaps forced labour on building projects. The gods respond to the citizens' plea for intervention by creating an equal to Gilgamesh who will distract him from these objectionable activities. They create a primitive man, Enkidu, who is covered in hair and lives in the wild with the animals. He is spotted by a trapper, as he has been uprooting traps and thus ruining the trapper's livelihood. The trapper tells Gilgamesh of the man and seduces Enkidu with a skilled harlot. His seduction by Shamhat, a temple prostitute, is the first step in his civilization, and she proposes to take him back to Uruk after making love. Gilgamesh, meanwhile, has been having dreams that relate to the imminent arrival of a new companion.

Tablet two

Shamhat brings Enkidu to the shepherds' camp where he is introduced to a human diet and becomes the camp's night watchman. Learning from a passing stranger about Gilgamesh's treatment of new brides, Enkidu is incensed and travels to Uruk to intervene at a wedding. When Gilgamesh attempts to visit the wedding chamber, Enkidu blocks his way and they fight. After a fierce battle, Enkidu acknowledges Gilgamesh's superior strength and they become friends. Gilgamesh proposes that they journey together to the Cedar Forest to slay the monstrous demi-god Humbaba, in order to gain fame and renown. Despite warnings from both Enkidu and the council of elders, Gilgamesh will not be deterred.

Tablet three

The elders give Gilgamesh advice for his journey. Gilgamesh visits his mother, the goddess Ninsun, who seeks the support and protection of the sun-god Shamash for the two adventurers. Ninsun adopts Enkidu as her son, Gilgamesh leaves instructions for governing Uruk in his absence, and they embark on their quest.

Tablet four

Gilgamesh and Enkidu journey to the Cedar Forest. Every few days they make camp on a hill or mountain to perform a dream ritual. Gilgamesh has five terrifying dreams that involve falling mountains, thunderstorms, wild bulls, and a thunderbird that breathes fire. Despite similarities between the dream figures and earlier descriptions of Humbaba, Enkidu interprets all of the dreams as good omens, denying that any of the frightening images represent the forest guardian. As they approach the cedar mountain, they hear Humbaba bellowing and have to encourage each other not to be afraid.

Tablet five

The heroes enter the cedar forest and their fears return. Humbaba, the ogre-guardian of the Cedar Forest, insults and threatens them. He accuses Enkidu of betrayal, then vows to disembowel Gilgamesh and feed his flesh to the birds. Gilgamesh is afraid, but with some encouraging words from Enkidu the battle commences. The mountains quake with the tumult and the sky turns black. The god Shamash sends his 13 winds to bind Humbaba and he is captured. The monster pleads for his life, and Gilgamesh pities him. Enkidu, however, is enraged and asks Gilgamesh to kill the beast. Humbaba curses them both and Gilgamesh dispatches him with a blow to the neck. The two heroes cut down many cedars, including a gigantic tree that Enkidu plans to fashion into a door for the temple of Enlil. They build a raft and return home along the Euphrates with the giant tree and the head of Humbaba.

Tablet six

Gilgamesh rejects the advances of the goddess Ishtar because of her mistreatment of previous lovers like Tammuz. Ishtar asks her father Anu to send Gugalanna the "Bull of Heaven" to avenge her. When Anu rejects her complaints, Ishtar threatens to raise the dead who will "outnumber the living" and "devour them". Anu becomes frightened and gives in. The bull of heaven (apparently the constellation Taurus) is led to Uruk by Ishtar, and causes widespread devastation. It dries up the reed beds and marshes, then dramatically lowers the level of the Euphrates river. It opens up huge pits in the ground that swallow 300 men. Enkidu and Gilgamesh attack and slay the beast without any divine assistance and offer up its heart to Shamash. When Ishtar cries out in agony, Enkidu hurls one of the bull's hindquarters at her. The city of Uruk celebrates, but Enkidu has an ominous dream.

Tablet seven

In Enkidu's dream, the gods decide that one of the heroes must die for slaying the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba. Despite the protestations of Shamash, Enkidu is marked for death. Enkidu considers the great door he fashioned for Enlil's temple, and curses it. He also curses Shamhat and the trapper for removing him from the wild. Then Shamash speaks from heaven, reminding Enkidu of how Shamhat fed and clothed him, and introduced him to Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh will bestow great honors upon him at his funeral, and will later wander the wild consumed with grief. Enkidu regrets his curses and blesses Shamhat, temporarily calmed. In a second dream, however, he sees himself being taken captive to the Netherworld by a terrifying Angel of Death. The underworld is a "house of dust" and darkness whose inhabitants eat clay and are clothed in bird feathers, supervised by terrifying beings. For twelve days, Enkidu's condition worsens. Finally, after a last lament that he could not meet a heroic death in battle, he dies.

Tablet eight

Gilgamesh delivers a long lamentation for Enkidu, in which he calls upon forests, mountains, fields, rivers, wild animals, and all of Uruk to mourn for his friend. Recalling their adventures together, Gilgamesh tears at his hair and clothes in grief. He commissions a funerary statue and provides valuable grave gifts from his treasury to ensure a favourable reception for Enkidu in the realm of the dead. A great banquet is held where the treasures are ceremonially offered to the gods of the Netherworld. There is a possible reference to the damming of a river before the text breaks off, which might suggest a riverbed burial as in the corresponding Sumerian poem, The Death of Gilgamesh.

Tablet nine

Tablet nine opens with Gilgamesh grieving for Enkidu and roaming the wild clothed in animal skins. Fearful of his own death, his object is to find the legendary Utnapishtim ("the Faraway"), and learn the secret of eternal life. Among the few survivors of the Great Flood, Utnapishtim and his wife are the only humans to have been granted immortality by the gods. Early in his travels, Gilgamesh crosses a mountain pass at night and encounters a pride of lions. He prays for protection to the moon god Sin before sleeping. Then, waking from an encouraging dream, he slays the lions and takes their skins for clothing. Eventually, after a long and perilous journey, Gilgamesh comes to the twin peaks of Mt Mashu at the ends of the earth. The entrance, which no man has ever crossed, is guarded by two terrible scorpion-men. After questioning him and recognising his semi-divine nature, they allow Gilgamesh to pass and travel through the mountains along the Road of the Sun. He follows it for twelve "double hours" in complete darkness. Managing to complete the trip before the sun catches up to him, Gilgamesh arrives in a garden paradise full of jewel-laden trees.

Tablet ten

Gilgamesh meets the alewife Siduri, who first believes Gilgamesh is a murderer from his dishevelled appearance, and tells her the purpose of his journey. Siduri attempts to dissuade him from his quest but sends him to Urshanabi, the ferryman, to help him cross the sea to Utnapishtim. Urshanabi is in the company of stone-giants. Gilgamesh considers them hostile and kills them. When he tells Urshanabi his story and asks for help, he is told that he just killed the only creatures able to cross the Waters of Death. The Waters of Death, analogous to the River Styx of Greek mythology, are deadly to the touch, so Urshanabi asks him to cut 300 trees and fashion them into punting poles. Finally, they reach the island of Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim sees that there is someone else in the boat and asks Gilgamesh who he is. Gilgamesh tells him his story and asks for help, but Utnapishtim reprimands him because fighting the common fate of humans is futile and diminishes life's joys.

Tablet eleven

The earliest Sumerian Gilgamesh stories date from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (2100 BC-2000 BCE).[4] The earliest Akkadian versions are dated to ca. 2000-1500 BCE.[5] The five extant Sumerian Gilgamesh stories do not include a separate account of his journey to Utnapishtim (Ziusudra in Sumerian), but they do refer to it. In a list of Gilgamesh's accomplishments, found in the story of his death, we read of his journey to meet Ziusudra and the cultic knowledge that he brought back to the people of Uruk. There is also a short description of the flood in the same context, as the gods debate whether to grant Gilgamesh eternal life like they did for Ziusudra. The "standard" Akkadian version, of course, included a complete flood story and was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni sometime between 1300 BCE and 1000 BCE.[6] This longer flood story is, itself, based on the one contained in the Epic of Atrahasis (circa 1800 BCE). (see Gilgamesh flood myth for references).

Gilgamesh argues that Utnapishtim is not different from him and asks him his story, and why he has a different fate. Utnapishtim tells him about the great flood. His story is a summary of the story of Atrahasis but skips the previous plagues sent by the gods. He reluctantly offers Gilgamesh a chance for immortality, but questions why the gods would give the same honor as himself, the flood hero, to Gilgamesh and challenges Gilgamesh to stay awake for six days and seven nights first. However, just when Utnapishtim finishes his words Gilgamesh falls asleep. Utnapishtim ridicules the sleeping Gilgamesh in the presence of his wife and tells her to bake a loaf of bread for every day he is asleep so that Gilgamesh cannot deny his failure. When Gilgamesh, after seven days, discovers his failure, Utnapishtim reprimands him and sends him back to Uruk with Urshanabi.

The moment that they leave, Utnapishtim's wife asks her husband to have mercy on Gilgamesh for his long journey. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of a boxthorn-like plant at the very bottom of the ocean that will make him young again. Gilgamesh obtains the plant by binding stones to his feet so he can walk the bottom of the sea. He does not trust the plant and plans to test it on an old man's back when he returns to Uruk. Unfortunately he places the plant on the shore of a lake while he bathes, and it is stolen by a serpent. Gilgamesh weeps at the futility of his efforts, having now lost all chance of immortality. He then returns to Uruk, where the sight of its massive walls prompts him to praise this enduring work to Urshanabi.

Tablet twelve

This tablet is to a large extent an Akkadian translation of an earlier Sumerian poem, Gilgamesh and the Netherworld (also known as "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld" and variants), although it has been suggested that it is based on an unknown version of that story.[8] The contents of this last tablet are inconsistent with previous ones: Enkidu is still alive, despite having been killed off earlier in the epic. Because of this, its lack of integration with the other tablets, and the fact that it is almost a copy of an earlier version, it has been referred to as an 'inorganic appendage' to the epic.[9] Alternatively, it has been suggested that "its purpose, though crudely handled, is to explain to Gil-gamesh (and the reader) the various fates of the dead in the Afterlife" as "an awkward attempt to bring closure",[10] a connection between the Gilgamesh in the epic and the Gilgamesh as King of the Netherworld in Mesopotamian religion,[11] or even "a dramatic capstone whereby the twelve-tablet epic ends on one and the same theme, that of "seeing" (= understanding, discovery, etc.), with which it began."[12]

Gilgamesh complains to Enkidu that various objects he possessed (the tablet is unclear exactly what — different translations include a drum and a ball) fell into the underworld. Enkidu offers to bring them back. Delighted, Gilgamesh tells Enkidu what he must and must not do in the underworld in order to come back. Enkidu does everything he was told not to do. The underworld keeps him. Gilgamesh prays to the gods to give him his friend back. Enlil and Suen do not bother to reply but Ea and Shamash decide to help. Shamash cracks a hole in the earth and Enkidu's ghost jumps out of it. The tablet ends with Gilgamesh questioning Enkidu about what he has seen in the underworld.

Old-Babylonian versions

All tablets except for the second and third are from different origins than the above, so this summary is made up out of different versions.

  1. Tablet missing
  2. Gilgamesh tells his mother Ninsun about two dreams he had. His mother explains that they mean that a new companion will soon arrive at Uruk. In the meanwhile Enkidu and the harlot (here called Shamkatum) are making love. She civilizes him in company of the shepherds by offering him bread and beer. Enkidu helps the shepherds by guarding the sheep. They travel to Uruk where Gilgamesh and Enkidu finally meet. Enkidu and Gilgamesh battle but Gilgamesh breaks off the fight. Enkidu praises Gilgamesh as a special person.
  3. The tablet is broken here but it seems that Gilgamesh has offered the plan to go the Pine Forest to cut trees and kill Humbaba (known here as Huwawa). Enkidu protests, he knows Humwawa and is aware of his power. Gilgamesh talks Enkidu into it with some words of encouragement but Enkidu remains reluctant. They start preparation and call for the elders. The elders also protest but after Gilgamesh talks to them they wish him good luck.
  4. 1(?) tablet missing
  5. Fragments from two different versions/tablets tell how Enkidu encourages Gilgamesh to slay Humwawa. Notable here is mention of Huwawa's "seven auras" that are not referred to in the standard version. When Gilgamesh slays Huwawa they cut part of the forest. Enkidu cuts a door of wood for Enlil and lets it float down the Euphrates.
  6. Tablets missing
  7. Gilgamesh argues with Shamash the futility of his quest. The tablet is damaged. We then find Gilgamesh talking with Siduri about his quest and his journey to meet Ut-Napishtim (here called Uta-na’ishtim). Siduri also questions his goals. Gilgamesh smashes the stone creatures and talks to the ferryman Urshanabi (here called Sur-sunabu). After a short discussion Sur-sunabu asks Gilgamesh to cut 300 oars so that they may cross the waters of death without the crew of stone creatures. The rest of the tablet is damaged.
  8. Tablet(s)

The Sumerian poems

There are five extant Gilgamesh poems in Sumerian. These probably circulated independently, rather than in the form of a unified epic. Note that the names of some of the main characters in these poems differ slightly from later Akkadian names, and that there are some significant differences in the underlying stories (e.g. in Sumerian Enkidu is simply Gilgamesh's servant) :

  1. Bilgamesh and Huwawa (version A translation, version B translation) (Corresponds to the Cedar Forest episode (tablets 3-5) in the Akkadian version.)
  2. Bilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven (translation) (Corresponds to the Bull of Heaven episode (tablet 6) in the Akkadian version. The Bull's voracious appetite causes drought and hardship in the land.)
  3. Bilgamesh and Aga (translation) (Gilgamesh vs. Aga of Kish, no corresponding episode in the epic, but the themes of whether to show mercy to captives, and cautious counsel from the city elders reoccur in the standard version of the Humbaba story).
  4. Bilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld (translation) (Corresponds to tablet 12 in the Akkadian version.)
  5. The Death of Bilgamesh (translation) (This is the story of Gilgamesh's, rather than Enkidu's death).

Relationship to the Bible

Various themes, plot elements, and characters in the Epic of Gilgamesh can also be found in the Hebrew Bible in the stories of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the story of Noah and the Flood.

Parallels to the Eden Narrative

The Eden narrative in Genesis 2-3 and the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu have some similarities to one another:

The Serpent

Both narratives have a snake that is associated with a plant holding the key to a kind of immortality.[13] In the Epic of Gilgamesh, a snake steals a magical plant that can restore youthful vigor. In the Eden narrative, a snake convinces Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Contradicting the divine warning, the serpent tells her that she will not die but will become like a god (Genesis 3:4-5). The end result, however, is the same. The snake's involvement leads to a loss of immortality as Adam and Eve are cut off from the tree of life.

Loss of Innocence

In the beginning both Enkidu and the Edenic couple are in harmony with nature. They live naked among the trees and wildlife and have a naive innocence. However, that innocence is lost once they each participate in an act that puts them out of harmony with nature.[14] Once Enkidu has sex with Shamhat, the animals no longer respond to him as they did before. Shamhat proclaims that Enkidu has become "wise" and "like a god". She fashions clothing for him and introduces him to a human diet. In the final stage of his civilization, Enkidu journeys to the great city of Uruk where new pleasures and experiences await. Similarly, once Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they fall out sync with nature. In contrast to the story of Enkidu, however, the Genesis tale presents this transition in a negative way. Rather than leaving the wild to become human and join civilized society, the couple from Eden experience tragic loss. The serpent's promise of wisdom and godlike status is misleading. Adam and Eve cloth themselves out of shame. The new food they eat is forbidden, resulting in divine punishment, and the new realm they enter is one of hardship and toil.

Parallels to Noah and the Flood

The eleventh tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh contains the Gilgamesh flood myth and has a number of parallels to the story of Noah and the Great Flood in Genesis 6-9. According to Alan Millard, "No Babylonian text provides so close a parallel to Genesis as does the flood story of Gilgamesh XI".[15] Michael Coogan mentions the following:

  • Both stories have divine anger
  • The heroes are warned by a god that a great Flood is going to happen
  • The hero is given specific instructions on how the god wants him to build the boat
  • The hero takes both his family and animals on the boat with him
  • The hero releases three birds to find out if the Flood is beginning to subside
  • When the Flood begins to subside, the boats are sitting on top of a mountain[16]

Citing the similarities between the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Bible's Flood story, some scholars have argued that the Epic of Gilgamesh is proof that the stories found in the Hebrew Bible are true because the Babylonians must have copied the Hebrew Bible's account of the Flood story.[17] However, as Michael Coogan points out, "theoretically the Babylonians could have known of Genesis, [but] other versions of the tale were written many centuries before biblical Israel existed."[18] Most scholars, consequently, accept the priority of the Mesopotamian flood story. Andrew R. George, known for his translations of the epic, notes that "...the Flood episode in Gen. 6-8 matches the older Babylonian myth so well in plot, and particularly, in details, few doubt that Noah's story is descended from a Mesopotamian account".[19] What is particularly noticeable, according to another scholar, is the way the Genesis flood story follows the Gilgamesh flood tale "point by point and in the same order", even when the logic of the story permits other alternatives.[20]

Other parallels

Matthias Henze suggests that the story of Nebuchadnezzar's madness in the Biblical Book of Daniel draws on the epic of Gilgamesh. He argues that the author of Daniel uses elements from the description of primitive, uncivilized Enkidu to paint a sarcastic and mocking portrait of the king of Babylon.[21]

A number of scholars also propose influence on the Book of Ecclesiastes.[22] The speech of Sidhuri in an old Babylonian version of the epic is so similar to Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 that direct literary influence is hard to deny. A similar case involves a saying about the strength of a triple stranded rope, apparently unique to Gilgamesh and Ecclesiastes (4:12).

Influence on later literature

According to the Greek scholar Ioannis Kakridis, there are a large number of parallel verses as well as themes or episodes which indicate a substantial influence of the Epic of Gilgamesh on the Odyssey, the Greek epic poem ascribed to Homer.[23]

The Alexander the Great myth in Islamic and Syrian cultures is also considered to be influenced by the Gilgamesh story.[24][25] Alexander wanders through a region of darkness and terror in search of the water of life. He faces strange encounters, reaches the water but, like Gilgamesh, fails to become immortal. He also comes to the spot at which the sun rises from the Earth.

See also


  1. Gilgamesh (translated from the Sin-Leq-Unninnt version) by John Gardner and John Maier w/ assistance from Robert Henshaw ISBN 0-394-74089-0(pbk) p.4
  2. George, Andrew R., trans. & edit. "The Epic of Gilgamesh", Penguin Books, 1999, ISBN 978-0-14--44919-8
  3. T.C. Mitchell. The Bible in the British Museum, The British Museum Press, 1988, p.70.
  4. Smith, George (3 December 1872). "The Chaldean Account of the Deluge". 
  5. A book review by the Cambridge scholar, Eleanor Robson, claims that George's is the most significant critical work on Gilgamesh in the last seventy years. See:
  6. Dalley, Stephanie, Myths from Mesopotamia, Oxford University Press, 1989
  7. MythHome: Gilgamesh the 12th Tablet
  8. Dalley, Stephanie (1998). Myths from Mesopotamia: creation, the flood, Gilgamesh, and others. Oxford University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0192835895. 
  9. Maier, John R. (1997). Gligamesh: A reader. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. p. 136. ISBN 978-0865163393. 
  10. Patton, Laurie L.; Wendy Doniger (1996). Myth and Method. University of Virginia Press. p. 306. ISBN 978-0813916576. 
  11. Kovacs, Maureen (1989). The Epic of Gilgamesh. University of Stanford Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0804717113. 
  12. A. Drafkorn Kilmer (1982). G. van Driel et al. ed. Zikir Šumim: Assyriological Studies Presented to F.R. Kraus on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. p. 131. ISBN 9062581269. 
  13. Coogan, M. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context. (Oxford University Press: Oxford 2009), p. 37.
  14. Coogan, M. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context. (Oxford University Press: Oxford 2009), p. 37.
  15. Millard A.R. "A new Babylonian 'Genesis' story," Tyndale Bulletin, 18 (1967) p. 13
  16. Coogan, M. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context. (Oxford University Press: Oxford 2009), p. 56-57.
  17. Coogan, M. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context. (Oxford University Press: Oxford 2009), p. 55.
  18. Coogan, M. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context. (Oxford University Press: Oxford 2009), p. 55.
  19. George, Andrew R. The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic..., Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 70.
  20. Rendsburg, Gary. "The Biblical flood story in the light of the Gilgamesh flood account," in Gilgamesh and the world of Assyria, eds Azize, J & Weeks, N. Peters, 2007, p. 117
  21. The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar..., Leiden, Brill, 1999
  22. See, for example, Van Der Torn, Karel, "Did Ecclesiastes copy Gilgamesh?", BR, 16/1 (Feb 2000), pp. 22ff
  23. Ioannis Kakridis: "Eisagogi eis to Omiriko Zitima" (Introduction to the Homeric Question) In: Omiros: Odysseia. Edited with translation and comments by Zisimos Sideris, Daidalos Press, I. Zacharopoulos Athens.
  24. Jastrow M.The religion of Babylonia and Assyria.GIN & COMPANY. Boston 1898
  25. Sattari J. Astudy on the epic of Gilgamesh and the legend of Alexander. Markaz Publications 2001 (In Persian)



  • Dalley, Stephanie, trans. (1991). Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192817892. 
  • George, Andrew R., trans. & edit. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts. England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198149220. 
  • George, Andrew R., trans. & edit. (1999, reprinted with corrections 2003). The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044919-1. 
  • Foster, Benjamin R., trans. & edit. (2001). The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-97516-9. 
  • Kovacs, Maureen Gallery, transl. with intro. (1985,1989). The Epic of Gilgamesh. Stanford University Press: Stanford, California. ISBN 0-8047-1711-7.  Glossary, Appendices, Appendix (Chapter XII=Tablet XII). A line-by-line translation (Chapters I-XI).
  • Jackson, Danny (1997). The Epic of Gilgamesh. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. ISBN 0-86516-352-9. 
  • Mason, Herbert (2003). Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative. Boston: Mariner Books. ISBN 978-0618275649.  First published in 1970 by Houghton Mifflin; Mentor Books paperback published 1972.
  • Mitchell, Stephen (2004). Gilgamesh: A New English Version. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-6164-X. 
  • Sandars, N. K. (2006). The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Epics). ISBN 0141026286 — re-print of the Penguin Classic translation (in prose) by N. K. Sandars 1960 (ISBN 014044100X) without the introduction.
  • Parpola, Simo, with Mikko Luuko, and Kalle Fabritius (1997). The Standard Babylonian, Epic of Gilgamesh. The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project. ISBN 951-45-7760-4 (Volume 1) in the original Akkadian cuneiform and transliteration; commentary and glossary are in English. 
  • Ferry, David (1993). Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374523835. 


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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Epic of Gilgamesh. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.