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Gilgamesh among UsModern Encounters with the Ancient Epic$
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Theodore Ziolkowski

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450358

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450358.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Gilgamesh among Us
Author(s):

Theodore Ziolkowski

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801450358.003.0001

This introductory chapter briefly details the rise of Gilgamesh, a hero of a Mesopotamian epic from the third millennium bce, as a twenty-first-century cultural icon. It then traces the evolution, loss, and rediscovery of the Gilgamesh material, from the earliest Sumerian poems through the Old Babylonian version down to the Akkadian “Standard Form” and beyond to later copies. The last known cuneiform copies were made around 130 bce, and it was never translated into such dominant Western languages as Greek and Latin. The great epic was totally forgotten for over two thousand years until the cuneiform tablets were rediscovered in 1872 in the British Museum's collection of Mesopotamian artifacts. The remainder of the chapter discusses early translations of the Gilgamesh material.

Keywords:   Epic of Gilgamesh, epic poem, epic poetry, cultural icon, cuneiform tablets

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