Epic of Gilgamesh

epic poem from Mesopotamia, is amongst the earliest surviving works of literature

The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia. It is one of the earliest works of literary fiction known.

The Deluge tablet of the Gilgamesh in Akkadian

The most complete version that exists today was preserved on twelve clay tablets in the library collection of the 7th century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. A series of Sumerian legends and poems about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh were probably gathered into a longer Akkadian poem some time before the 7th century BC.

The essential story is about the relationship between Gilgamesh, a king who has become distracted and disheartened by his rule, and a friend, Enkidu, who is half-wild and who undertakes dangerous quests with Gilgamesh. Much of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh's thoughts of loss following Enkidu's death. It is often credited as being one of the first literary works with emphasis on immortality.

The epic is widely read in translation, and the hero, Gilgamesh, has become an icon of popular culture.



Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, an ancient city of Sumer. His supposed historical reign is believed to lie within the period 2700 to 2500 BC, 200–400 years before the earliest known written stories. His father was the third king, Lugalbanda.

The Epic of Gilgamesh was about him.




  • George, Andrew R. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts. England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814922-0.
  • George, Andrew R (1999). The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044919-1.
  • Foster, Benjamin R (2001). The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-97516-9.
  • Kovacs, Maureen Gallery (1985). 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 (1970). Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative. Boston: Mariner Books. ISBN 978-0-618-27564-9.
  • 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 0-14-102628-6 - re-print of the Penguin Classic translation (in prose) by N. K. Sandars 1960 (ISBN 0-14-044100-X) without the introduction.
  • Parpola, Simo; Mikko Luuko; 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.
  • Damrosch, David (2007) The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh. Henry Holt and Co, ISBN 0-8050-8029-5
  • Jacobsen, Thorkild (1976) The Treasures of Darkness, A History of Mesopotamian Religion, New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-01844-4
  • West, Martin (1997) The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth, New York: Clarendon Press, ISBN 0-19-815042-3

Other websites