The Epic of Gilgamesh Additional Characters


(Epics for Students)

Gilgamesh's "second self and faithful companion. Arruru fashions Enkidu out of clay in the image of Anu. Enkidu is a "wild," primitive, or...

(The entire section is 260 words.)


(Epics for Students)

The protagonist or main character of the Epic of Gilgamesh. An historical figure who ruled Uruk around 2700 B.C., Gilgamesh is the child of...

(The entire section is 612 words.)


(Epics for Students)

Favored by the god Ea, Utnapishtim is warned of Enlil's plan to destroy humanity through a flood. Utnapishtim, at Ea's command, builds a huge...

(The entire section is 252 words.)

Other Characters

(Epics for Students)

The storm god, who endows Gilgamesh with courage at his birth.

Wife of Anu, the sky god or...

(The entire section is 1538 words.)

Character Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Damrosch, David. The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh. New York: H. Holt, 2007. An absorbing rendition of the origination and later discovery of the epic.

Gardner, John, and John Maier, trans. Gilgamesh. New York: Vintage Books, 1985. Each column of the actual tablets is translated, then supplemented by numerous parallel texts. An appendix analyzes the tablets in more detail, demonstrating the extreme difficulty of establishing any single version of Gilgamesh.

Heidel, Alexander. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. 2d ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963. The first, and still the clearest, study of the close links between Sumerian and Hebrew tales of natural heroism and supernatural disaster. The parallels will be striking to the reader.

Kovacs, Maureen G., trans. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1989. This translation attempts to serve as a readable text for the student reader, including substantial notes on parallel and supplementary texts. Although Kovacs manages to create a continuous story, she achieves neither the readability of Sandars’ translation, nor the precision of Gardner and Maier’s work.

Sandars, N. K., trans. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1960. This is the standard text version of the epic, rendered as a continuous, compelling story. Although its exact readings have been superseded in many cases by discoveries made during recent decades, it remains the best attempt at recapturing the original audience’s experience of the epic.

Tigay, Jeffrey H. The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. Tigay demonstrates that numerous differences among the various redactions of the Gilgamesh saga resulted in significantly different versions of the story. Translations that combine passages from separate versions in order to achieve a more readable story therefore distort the saga.