Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, and his companion Enkidu are the greatest of the heroes to have survived from the ancient literature of Babylon, immortalized in this epic poem that dates back to the third millennium B.C. Together they journey to the Cedar Forest, slay the monster Humbaba and defeat the Bull of Heaven. When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh's grief and fear of death are such that they lead him to undertake a quest for eternal life. A timeless tale of morality, tragedy and pure adventure, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a landmark literary exploration of man's search for immortality.
Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as far as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the world's oldest epic, predating Homer by many centuries. The story tells of Gilgamesh's adventures with the wild man Enkidu, and of his arduous journey to the ends of the earth in quest of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. In addition to its themes of family, friendship and the duties of kings, The Epic of Gilgamesh is, above all, about mankind's eternal struggle with the fear of death.
The Babylonian version has been known for over a century, but linguists are still deciphering new fragments in Akkadian and Sumerian. Andrew George's gripping translation brilliantly combines these into a fluent narrative and will long rank as the definitive English Gilgamesh.
Click here to read a Penguin Classics Newsletter review of George's translation by New York University's Eugene Ostaschevsky:
"George gives us the text in its most up-to-date form but without cosmetics: letting lacunae remain lacunae; italicizing his guesses; presenting the Standard Version, the Old Babylonian and the Sumerian redactions separately. His readers encounter the story as a process, as stages in a millennium-long oral and written tradition."