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The Epic Of Gilgamesh as Translated by Andrew George - Essay Example

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It was the very first surviving work of fiction and may very well be humankind’s first as well. The narrative is estimated to date back from the beginnings of civilization in Mesopotamia…
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The Epic Of Gilgamesh as Translated by Andrew George
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Download file to see previous pages ace in the world’s literature, wrote Nancy Sandars (1972), not only because it precedes the Homeric epic by at least one and a half thousand years, but also because of the quality and character of the story that they tell - a mixture of pure adventure, of morality, and of tragedy. (p. 7) According to Kenneth Rexroth (1986), the Epic of Gilgamesh is a highly developed fictional narrative, stressing that:
It is not a myth. Even to call it an epic requires a stretching of the definition. It is more like a novel of modern, individualistic hero than it is like Homer’s Iliad. It is spiritual adventure, a story of self-realization, the discovery of meaning of the personality, of a type that would never change down the four-thousand-year-long history of human imagination… It is modern because it is like a dream of a modern man. (1)
This paper will examine this highly significant work and determine how it reflects the society in which it was created and in how it reveals the economic, political, cultural, religious and social structures that defined the Mesopotamian society.
There are several variations to the Epic of Gilgamesh particularly in the literature of the Hittite, Hurrian, Canaanite, Sumerian and Assyrian. One could even find a hint of Gilgamesh’s repute in the Islamic Koran. The most complete chronicle of the epic was found in Assurbanipal’s library, formed just before the destruction of Nineveh in the seventh century B.C.
The story is divided into several chapters or episodes: a meeting of friends, then the forest journey, the flouting of a fickle goddess, the death of Enkidu and the quest for an ancient wisdom and immortality. These episodes demonstrate a single theme that reflects the permeation of pessimism in the Mesopotamian thought, which, according to Sandars, lay partly in the precariousness of life in the city-states. (p. 22) The city-states which are dependent on the vagaries of flood and drought as well as turbulent neighbors; then on ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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