An Annotated Prose RenditionBased upon the OriginalSumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian,and Hittite TabletsWith Supplementary SumerianTexts and Selected Sumerian Proverbs***You may purchase a copy from Amazon.comHere!***Educators interested in the complete annotated manuscript may request one from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction to the Text21/07/2011 Duration: 19min
A brief introduction to the Epic: its origin and significance to our lives.***Image is of the famed eleventh tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which the tale of the Flood is related. Now housed in the British Museum, it was found in the pillaged remains of the royal library of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal (reigned 669-631 BC) in his palace at Nineveh.
Prologue21/07/2011 Duration: 06min
Preamble to the adventures, introducing Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and alluding to the goddess Ishtar whose presence is preeminent among all divinity in this tale, and in whose temple are kept the tablets which are to be read to tell this tale.***Image is an Akkadian representation of Gilgamesh in his prime. Music excerpt is “Ur” from the album The Forest by David Byrne
Adventure of Enkidu21/07/2011 Duration: 22min
The Adventure of Enkidu continues tablet I of the Epic and finishes on tablet II. It is supplemented by Bablyonian material where the Akkadian text is damaged. Gilgamesh is a young king of Uruk, arrogant, and overbearing. He so abuses his authority by the mistreatment of his people, even his own warriors and peers, even taking their brides in sexual intercourse, that he is feared and despised, even while admired. The people pray for a champion to deliver them, another strong man who can best him. The creator Aruru places Enkidu (the "wild man") on earth for this purpose. He is eventually tamed and comes to Uruk to challenge Gilgamesh. This is the tale of that encounter.***The image is an Akkadian frieze representing Enkidu drinking at a waterhole in the wilderness like a beast.Music excerpt is “Ur” from the album The Forest by David Byrne
Adventure of Forests of Cedar (Part 1)21/07/2011 Duration: 19min
The text of this episode is much damaged in both the Akkadian and the Babylonian series; rather than indicating the frequent gaps and ambiguities, the text is reconstructed from the best sources, including the more ancient Sumerian. Much is conjectural, and is given some poetic license. The Sumerian, rather than the Akkadian, contains more details, and so the temper of the story reflects its more “archaic” tone.***Image is a classic Sumerian representation of Gilgamesh wrestling a lion to his death. Music excerpt is “Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis” from the album, Vaughan Williams: Symphonic Works
Adventure of Forests of Cedar (Part 2)21/07/2011 Duration: 31min
The conclusion of the adventure, the confron-tation with Humbaba.***The image is a Sumerianclay model of the face of Humbaba, said to be the image of coiled intestines. Music excerpt is “Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis” from the album, Vaughan Williams: Symphonic Works
Adventure of the Halub Tree21/07/2011 Duration: 17min
This is the heavily damaged twelfth tablet in the Gilgamesh Epic found in the royal library of Ninevah. It’s content is disconcerting to scholars as the final chapter to the Epic, because so ranked it would seemingly resurrect Enkidu from the dead for a gratuitous and incoherent conclusion; an end to the Epic with Tablet 11, where Gilgamesh returns to Uruk after his wanderings, seems much more fitting and so nicely closes with an epilogic passage that poetically parallels the prologue in Tablet 1. But this adventure is a traditional Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh and was appended by the Ninevah compiler for some importance, perhaps as further elucidation of the central theme of death, or rather, the meaning of life in the midst of death. I find its color and its archaic lore mysterious and so include it where other renditions omit it. I have rendered it perhaps more poetically and liberally than my other renditions here, so as to evoke its strangeness. We should remember that in traditional oral story telling,
Adventure of Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird21/07/2011 Duration: 38min
Lugalbanda, the ostensible father of Gilgamesh, whose statue stood in his bedroom, which he reverentially anointed with butter, and to which he addressed his private thoughts, appeared in important Sumerian legends that told how he had become King of Uruk and other exploits. These are tales in one sense historical, as he is named in the ancient Sumerian List of Kings. On the other hand, magical portions of narrative and the setting of them should make him a figure of myth, of primordial time, of time even at the creation of the world. Lugalbanda is said to have lived and reigned for 1200 years, and so defies mere mortal aspect.***Music excerpt is “Tamarack Pines” by George Winston from his album, Forest.
5,000 Year Old Proverbs21/07/2011 Duration: 18min
This is my favorite Sumerian artifact.A so-called “devotional statue,” it dates to 2600 B.C., representing what scholars believe is a married couple. This statue was found buried beneath the floor of a shrine at Nippur in Iraq and measures at little more than 4 inches high. The couple originally had feet, and the figures have eyes made of shell and lapis lazuli set in bitumen, a natural cement-like substance.***Music excerpt is the song “Glad” by David Byrne from his album, Grown Backwards.
Adventure of the Bull of Heaven (Part 1)21/07/2011 Duration: 32min
The image is the “Queen of the Night,” a relief of Old Babylonian Empire (1800-1750 BC); it is now housed in the British Museum.This large plaque is made of baked straw-tempered clay, modeled in high relief. The figure of the curvaceous naked woman was originally painted red. She wears the horned headdress characteristic of a Mesopotamian deity and holds a rod and ring of justice, symbols of her divinity. Her long multicolored wings hang downwards, indicating that she is a goddess of the Underworld. Her legs end in the talons of a bird of prey, similar to those of the two owls that flank her. The background was originally painted black, suggesting that she was associated with the night. She stands on the backs of two lions, and a scale pattern indicates mountains.The figure could be an aspect of the goddess Ishtar, Mesopotamian goddess of sexual love and war, or Ishtar's sister and rival, the goddess Ereshkigal who ruled over the Underworld, or the demoness Lilitu, known in the Bible as Lilith. The plaque pro
Adventure of the Bull of Heaven (Part 2)21/07/2011 Duration: 15min
A modern clay impression of a Neo-Assyrian cylinder seal, circa 7th century BCE. One of only five with this motif that have survived. Height: 3.9 cm. Diameter: 1.6 cm. Enkidu, on the left, wears a short kilt decorated with rosettes, hair and beard in curls, an axe in one hand, holding the tail of the Bull of Heaven in the other. The winged human-headed bull crouches down on its foreleg, in front Gilgamesh, wearing long fringed robe with rosettes, a double horned headdress, long curled hair and beard, holding one of the bull's horns while plunging his sword into its neck.The cylinder is in the Schøyen Collection of London and Oslo. The Schøyen Collection was started around 1920 by Engineer M.O. Schøyen (1896-1962), father of Martin Schøyen, who collected some 1000 volumes of early and later editions of Norwegian and international literature, history, travel, science, as well as antiquities.***Music excerpt is Vocalise, Op. 34/14 by Rachmaninov from the album The Swan (Le Cygne) Han-Na Chang (Cello) &
The Wanderings of Gilgamesh (Part 1)21/07/2011 Duration: 27min
The last three tablets-----number nine, ten and eleven----from the Royal Library of Nineveh comprise the conclusion of the Epic, beginning with the wanderings of Gilgamesh, his passage through the mountain Mashu, through which the sun passes making day and night. He arrives at last to the sea on the edge of the world where he meets Siduri, the Alewife, who keeps a tavern for travelers, and she directs him to the boatman who must take him to Ut-napishtim, the one man who not yet died.***The image, a clay impression from an ancient Sumerian cylinder, is of sun god Shamash,bestriding the cleft of the mountain Mashu, featuredbetween the twin pillars which hold up the sky. ***Music excerpt is “Kish” from the album The Forest by David Byrne
The Wanderings of Gilgamesh (Part 2)21/07/2011 Duration: 24min
In this conclusion of the Epic Gilgamesh has wandered from his home, his wife, his children, his people, has given up his kingdom and power, all that was a comfort and a pleasure, all that meant life to him, because of the death of his brother Enkidu. More than his loss, his inconsolable grief for that lose, it was the realization of his own death that distressed him. He seeks escape. He knows the legend of Ut-napishtim, whose name literally means, “he who lives long.” He seeks him out at the end of the world, through the sacred (and forbidden) passage of the sun, the god who has been his special savior, as the Epic has told us. From Ut-napishtim he hopes to find answers or perhaps the way to avoid dying, just as he had. In the conclusion you are about to hear, he will be told the story of how Ut-napishtim came to his state of undying. He is segregated from man, so he tells, because this generation of men to which Gilgamesh belongs is a new incarnation; he is the sole survivor of an ancient race whom the
Meaning of the Text21/07/2011 Duration: 12min
Summing up the meaning; reconsidering the traditional interpretation.