4 May 2010

Hestia and Gilgamesh

I woke up from a dream a few months ago, with the word 'Gilgamesh' ringing in my ears. I knew it was a poem, but I'd never read it.

A couple of weeks ago I was in my local library (look, I always have a LOT of fines to pay) and there was a copy of Gilgamesh, translated and interpreted by Stephen Mitchell.  I had to borrow it, didn't I?

It's not an easy read, so I ploughed a lonely furrow through this ancient poem right to the bitter end, but I was rewarded by this:

'Humans are born, they live, then they die, this is the order that the gods have decreed. But until the end comes, enjoy your life, spend it in happiness, not despair.

'Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, bathe and anoint yourself, wear bright clothes that are sparkling clean, let music and dancing fill your house, love the child that holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.

'That is the best way for man to live.'
                                                                                           - Shiduri to Gilgamesh, Book X


  1. Ali - Great post! I remember reading this eons ago!


  2. I read Gilgamesh in college, but I don't remember this part -perhaps it didn't make an impression on my overstuffed brain. (Being a literature major, I was always reading several Great Works simultaneously. Gilgamesh coincided with Great Expectations and The Once and Future King. Weirdest dreams, ever.)

    I love this quote, and it's now on my wall at my home office. Thanks, Ali!


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