Gilgamesh is the great epic of ancient Mesopotamia, one of the oldest works in Western literature, contemporary with the oldest parts of the Bible. It is the story of a legendary king who achieves heroic victories with the help of the wild man Enkidu; but when his friend dies, Gilgamesh goes in search of the way to escape death, a secret he can learn only from the one man who survived the Great Flood. Long counted among the worlds great poems, the Gilgamesh epic in the original Babylonian was found on broken tablets, inscribed in ancient cuneiform script.
Previously, line-by-line literal translations have necessarily been somewhat discontinuous, while freer versions have departed widely from the original. Now, for the first time, David Ferry in his new version makes Gilgamesh available in the kind of energetic and readable rendering that Robert Fitzgerald and Richmond Lattimore have provided for readers in their translations of Homer and Virgil. Ferrys poetry combines faithful attention to the literal meanings of the original with a sense for the poetic qualities that make Gilgamesh not only an important document of ancient Mesopotamia but also a profoundly moving story of the love between companions, and the terrible inevitability of death.
This edition also includes Ferrys version of the related Babylonian poem Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World, as well as an introduction by William L. Moran, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus, at Harvard University.