The Epic of Gilgamesh, Norton Critical Edition

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  • CarolKKennedyPHD

    Andy did a great job leading our discussion. I look forward to discussing "Portrait of the Artist..." I never read Gilgamesh before and really enjoyed examining it and hearing everyone's interpretation. I wish we had discussed the role of women more in detail

    1 · July 18

  • Bill W.

    If you think about “civilization," the word “civil” jumps out. Civility has so many twists and turns in it, but primary is the recognition of the dignity of each person, and that it is (possibly) a “civic” responsibility that each of us has: to think about another person - with all the appropriate humility that goes into that - as someone trying to find his/her way through the thicket of experience with no guide book. This is where generosity of spirit, and great care, enter, and inform our actions.

    July 15

    • Riley

      Nice poem!

      I liked the part about the recognition of dignity. What you brought to my memory was being astounded again by the learned tolerance of all of the very diverse people on the NY subway.

      I remember a time not so very long ago when the NY subway was not a very tolerant place. So I thank whatever forces made the "civil" jump out, as you say it, from "civilization"­ as it was then here in NY, not so very long ago.

      July 17

  • Riley

    I have been haunted by several questions that grew out of what Leslie, Eve, and Janet, and many others said. 1) Was there an ancient time in which our ancestors lived together in peace? 2) What would it mean for people to become "whole again"? 3) . . . I enjoyed reviewing the anthropological data that gives many different and contradictory answers, and each contradiction as an answer suggested something like a six-season serial at least as interesting as Lost.

    1 · July 15

  • Bill W.

    Thanks, Andy....Thoughtful (as in "full of thought") discussion, with research that brought so many of us into the conversation. You helped create a fine evening!

    1 · July 12

  • Kathleen

    Andy did a superb job in leading the discussion. His questions and analysis of the epic added to my appreciation of this ancient literary work.

    1 · July 10

    • Riley

      Yes! Thank you, Andy!

      July 12

  • Larry S.


    1 · July 11

  • Riley

    The most recent tablets of Epic of Gilgamesh were found in the king's abandoned library in the ruins of Nineveh in 1853.


    The ruins of Nineveh are just across the Tigris river from Mosul where the future Caliph of [ISIS], al-Baghdadi(?), appeared last [Sabbath] wearing a [Rolex watch] and [...].

    Or something like that. Some of the video clips are scratchy and torn and unauthenticated.

    July 8

    • Riley

      How could the above "translation" of the sources be "improved?"

      July 8

  • Riley

    G. as Bildungsroman (novel of formation/education/culture):

    I suspect Gilgamesh is about the human self-perceived history of civilization-- namely one fall from grace after the other, since long-ago-- falls from grace that result, according to the Epic of Gilgamesh, because individuals have removed one after the other the protectors that nature and the gods have put in place. As a simple example: the full progressions of falls from grace manifest in what Enkidu does and what happens to him when he falls from grace.

    For starters, the "perfect state of grace" is manifested by the lives of the chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest living relatives, living all along that other river, the Congo-- in a "perfect state of grace"-- a perfect state of grace as long as today's descendants of those humans alive in the Gilgamesh-recital time of 1700 BC do not remove the protectors of the habitat all along the Congo that nature and the gods have put in place.

    Would Gilgamesh and Enkidu dare?

    1 · July 4

  • Bill W.

    As far as I know - the “novel of education” is a broad term for the main character’s growth, maturation. And why is there only one loving m-f relationship? I guess it was the times, Riley, and the purpose of the story - an instructional tale of power and the misuse of power, arrogance and its taming, the blending of a force of nature with earthly rule, etc. The more I think about this story, the more I like it. Glad to have your feedback, so keep it comin’!!

    1 · July 3

  • Bill W.

    Gilgamesh sets up the prototype, but it’s a journey to more self-knowledge that we can extrapolate from the efforts of this god-man. The book’s importance for me is to treat it as the first bildungsroman (the “novel of education”). G. becomes more human, more real as the story goes on; and the “first man”, Enkidu, emerges out of the darkness and into “the light” - but there are times when I would give anything to feel as home in Nature as he did, prior to his sexual awakening, and alienation....

    1 · July 1

    • Riley

      Thanks for giving me the technical words to refine my question.

      I had thought that Goethe's Wilhelm Meister Bildungsroman approach was to use homosexual flings as "innoculations"­ to bring the young man to understand women; did I miss something in Goethe's Wilhelm Meister? So if Gilgamesh is a Bildungsroman, why is mother love the only "loving male/female relationship in the Gilgamesh Epic"? (I quote from the top middle of page 210 in our Norton Edition of The Epic of Gilgamesh.)

      July 3

  • Riley

    I see that Gilgamesh was the original of all of the guy flicks: Seven Samurai, Genesis, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, . . . . Given Gilgamesh, the first next original story was Thelma and Louise, followed by Frozen and How to train your dragon 2. Why didn't we select To the Lighthouse?

    July 1

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