A poem for the ages, freshly and accessibly translated by an international rising star, bringing together scholarly precision and poetic grace
Gilgamesh is a Babylonian epic from three thousand years ago, which tells of King Gilgamesh’s deep love for the wild man Enkidu and his pursuit of immortality when Enkidu dies. It is a story about love between men, loss and grief, the confrontation with death, the destruction of nature, insomnia and restlessness, finding peace in one’s community, the voice of women, the folly of gods, heroes, and monsters—and more. Millennia after its composition, Gilgamesh continues to speak to us in myriad ways.
Translating directly from the Akkadian, Sophus Helle offers a literary translation that reproduces the original epic’s poetic effects, including its succinct clarity and enchanting cadence. An introduction and five accompanying essays unpack the history and main themes of the epic, guiding readers to a deeper appreciation of this ancient masterpiece.