The book: The Epic of Gilgamesh, by N. K. Sandars (editor)
The edition: Italian translation by Alessandro Passi of Sandars’ 1972 edition, as published by Adelphi (1986), 165 pages, with introduction, list of names and analisys of sources by N.K. Sandars
The story: Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, is the son of a goddess and of a mortal father. He is the strongest of mortals, but still he must eventually die, and he is unable to accept this fate. The gods give him a friend, Enkidu, who is the only one who can stand up to his strength, and together the two embark on several adventures, either for the good of the country or simply for glory and to look for immortality.
My experience with the book & my thoughts: I read this one because I was curious, I had heard about the epic now and again, but didn’t know what it was about. Problem is, we know too little about what it was about. The editor of this edition did a good job of finding a balance between the erudite editions and the oral text behind them, but still, I found it hard to get at: because the original culture is almost lost to us, so are most of the references. (Sandars did say so in the introduction, so I expected it, but still.) (The thing that struck me as most uncomprehensible is all the going up the mountain, and down the mountain, and up again. As in, it takes them 3 days to go up the mountain, then Gilgamesh has a dream and says to his friend “Let’s go down the mountain to talk about it”, and the following night Enkidu has a dream and Gilgamesh says again “let’s go down the mountain to talk about it”… What???)
Links to better understand this book:
- a presentation of the epic and its plot
- the original epic, translated in English, tablet by tablet, on Academy for Ancient Texts
Counts as: Back to the Classics – country I won’t visit during my lifetime; personal reading goal.