Archive for the ‘4. Gilgamesh’ Category

Gilgamesh is Done

December 31, 2017 Leave a comment

RT thought he might never get to this moment, but at last he can say: Gilgamesh is done. All the 11 tablets and the envoi—all 3,900 lines—are complete, though some polishing remains. RT has begun assembling a master electronic file.

It is an amazing moment. When he wrote out the first stanza in October 2000, that’s right, more than 17 years ago, our author had no idea what he was getting into, or how much of himself he would invest in the enterprise. But then, Gilgamesh is one of the great portraits of the human condition—of our struggle, in the midst of a vast and inscrutable universe, for beauty and meaning. As the Ferryman tells Gilgamesh near the end of the epic:

Urshanabi addressed the king’s bitter remorse:

“Do not despair! For wisdom, the lion’s roar,

your heart’s divided genius, you have toiled.

The mouth of death is shut; it speaks no stay,

but out of the Deep Waters you bring your name,

a sign and wonder to all flesh bound by time.”


Much remains to be done, of course: start looking for the book on Lulu and Amazon in the summer, and RT is planning a 100-copy private printing, when he finds the money.

In the meantime, RT’s life has grown yet more complicated, but more of that in the next post. And if the author has one regret, it is that his mother is not here to share in the achievement with him. But then, there must be a reason…and certainly this is the happiest news for RT at year’s end.

Happy New Year!


Photo: Stela of UrNammu. WikiCmns, Public Domain. 


Tablet 11 & Other News

March 29, 2017 2 comments


The fast and furious transformation that has overtaken RT since his mother’s death continues apace. He will start by mentioning that he has recently bought his first smartphone. That’s right, he just dictated, not typed, the previous sentence. And it was a lot easier than typing the current one.

On top of that, RT has recently moved, though not terribly far afield. His new digs are far larger and more comfortable than the old and not terribly more expensive. He has also been luxuriating in his new computer chair, which leads him to his next topic.

Tablet 11 of Gilgamesh is done. Yes, you heard that right: the tablet that RT started work on in October 2000 is finished, right down to the very last frisson of its apocalyptic vision. Chew them beans.

By way of celebrating  (insofar as one can celebrate the Flood), RT offers below a snippet of the great  catastrophe that inaugurated (at least in part) Western religious experience.


iii. Warning

“Of gods most shrewd, Enki, Lord of Waters,

Schemed to save a man.  He spoke to me:

‘Reed hut, reed hut, wall, wall! Hear your father:

man of Shurrupak, son of renowned strength—  

abandon your house, renounce your wealth.

The life of all human flesh is forfeit!’

“Urgent, he whispered news and secret guidance:

‘Build the boat a cube: a mile each side. 

Roof her straight and strong like heaven’s house.’

Appalled, I understood and pledged my part.

And still I recognized a flaw in the plan:

‘What will I tell my neighbors and the people?’

“‘With these words you will quiet their speculation:

“Enlil of thunderbolts has condemned my life:

I escape into the waters, enjoying the deep,

Enki my compassionate father’s kindness.’ 

Say also: ‘To you Enlil sends true wealth,

a day of bright blessings and rich feasting.

“‘The morning showers down angel’s bread;

the dusk bestows a rain of shining wheat.’

The god left me then, unseen as he had come.

I paused, reflected, planning this thing—

seven days was all I had to save our kind,

seven days to rescue our mortal wisdom.”

iv. Ship


“When dawn, when Utu climbs above the earth,

the skilled craftsmen assembled at my gate:

The carpenter carrying his hatchet and chisel, 

the shaper of reeds with his flattening stone,

the ingenious shipwright wielding his axe.

The children carried pitch; the women cooked.


“The boat’s design was unfamiliar, elaborate;

the hull was immense, enclosing a perfect cube.

I built the vast decks, seven in number, 

six to store the seed of all the world’s life.

Partitions, exactly nine, each a shelter,

each to hold a different kind of beast.

“In five days I finished, pitched and plugged the boat.

 I provisioned the ship with gear of every kind—

punting poles beyond count, ropes and blocks, 

pots and jars—endless quantities—of pitch,

and food for all—oil fresh-pressed and fine,

every kind of forage and meal for the beasts.

“Sunset of the last day saw the boat complete. 

To launch her needed straining, stretching strength; 

in dark she floated. I set a table for our men:

ale, oil, wine flowed as if at New Year’s.

After plate I brought on board beast and plant,

also my family and treasure we might require.”


Copyright 2017, Eric Quinn

Image: Protective Geni, WikiCmns, Public Domain.

Gilgamesh–the Prologue on YouTube

January 1, 2016 Leave a comment



2015 was full of distractions and challenges for RT, which has kept him from opining in these pages for some time. Major life changes confront him, but this is how things happen. At heart, though, he remains a writer and feels the call of his several projects, not least of which is The Rag Tree. His mother’s memoir, A Daughter’s Song and Dance, is finished, but RT can only say that its publication is as imminent as anything else in his life right now.

The memoir is not the only project that RT has completed but been unable to share with the public. At the end of 2014, he finished a video that features an audio file of him reading his prologue to Gilgamesh, accompanied by various illustrations from the internet. He uploaded the video onto YouTube, hoping to attract more attention to his translation. Then things got complicated.

Things are now somewhat less complicated, and RT is posting a link to the video below. Eventually, he would like to put all of the translation up on YouTube. In the meantime, he hopes that the current offering will propitiate the god of complications and entertain his readers.

Happy New Year, and here’s to a wonderful 2016!   RT



Image: Grabado de Nimrod. WikiCmns. Public Domain.


Gilgamesh, Tablet 5: Decisions, Decisions

October 30, 2014 3 comments

File:Cedrus libani "Cedar of Lebanon" (Pinaceae) (tree).JPG


Here’s a puzzle for RT: which of the following versions of a stanza from tablet 5 of Gilgamesh is the one he should use? Each was composed using a different metrical scheme. Decisions, decisions…

version 1:

Enkidu recovered his voice, challenged the ghoul:

“How could you dirty his pure and immortal name,

utter such blasphemy, make such a threat?

I owe you nothing! You would have devoured me,

savored my liver and heart, licked my skull.

But Enlil intervened, restrained your greed.”


version 2:

Enkidu recovered his voice:

“How could you soil his name,” he said,

“show such reckless irreverence?

You would have devoured me,

dined on my liver and heart,

but Enlil muzzled your gaping maw.”


version 3:

Enkidu recovered his voice, spoke:

“How could you insult such a pure name?

I owe you nothing—nothing! Your cannibal rage

would have torn me limb from limb,

devoured my liver and heart, licked my skull,

but Enlil leashed your appetite.”


copyright © 2014, The Rag Tree.

PhotoCedrus libani var. libani, Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Author: Magnus Manske. WikiCmns.CC Attribution ShareAlike 3.0.


Status Report: Gilgamesh Sighting on K2 ?!?

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment


Could Gilgamesh (or at least Enkidu) have something to do with the Abominable Snowman? Well, probably not, though the idea will doubtless exercise RT’s roving writing at some level.

And roving it has been! Van Gogh, a fine collection of personal essays, and a book on the 2008 disaster on K2 have all come across RT’s already sagging lap-desk.

On a more serious note, RT has begun work on tablet 6. Nothing is quite what it looks like with a Gilgamesh tablet. Tab 6 is the most complete tablet (except 11) in the original materials, and RT breezed through it the first time around. RT is satisfied with much of what emerged as a gift back then, but he is also aware that the most difficult part of the epic is its continuo, all the stuff that makes the story coherent as a whole–transitions, themes, meters, and what not. So it with a wary (but not weary) eye that he proceeds. All roads (however unlikely) lead to tablet 6…   RT

Photo: K2 East Face, 1909. Author: Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi, WikiCmns; Public Domain.


Gilgamesh, the opening of tablet 5

June 14, 2013 1 comment

File:Green mountains.JPG

RT has been laboring on tablet 5 of Gilgamesh and thinks the opening holds together pretty well at this point. Here is the text–enjoy!!  RT


They rose at dawn and climbed the Cedar Mountain,

throne of god and goddess, emblem of their might.

Crossing the long saddle, they reached the glacier,

jumped up the icefall, leaped over each crevasse.

The companions skirted the mountain’s south face,

came to a deep cleft in the ridge running east.


Looking down from their vantage, they cried out:

a forest sprawled across the mountain’s knees.

This mantle was flecked with gleaming waterfalls,

and a river hemmed the slope with silver thread.

They breathed the fragrance of cedar on the wind.

Their prize at last! The heroes saluted the gods.


The sun passed behind a raft of dark cloud;

a bitter wind reminded them of their pledge.

They picked their way down the rough slope,

strewn with boulders, came to the Forest River.

The venturers offered icy libations to the gods,

washed their feet, forded the vigorous waters.


On the far bank, they entered a crowded border:

rhododendron leaf over carpets of sphagnum moss

and deep beds of bracken and horse-head fern.

They passed the first trees—dogwood and birch—

and the lush carpet of plants dwindled away.

They stopped, gaped at the vast cordon of trees.


Forest. A curtain of trees shimmered before them,

leaves and needles glittering, branches swaying

hypnotic in the lulling breeze-trunks like pillars,

like a screen—gnarled oak and fine-grained ironwood,

Persian yew and spruce—and cedar, its trunk muscled,

its limbs spread flat, skirts of needle and cone


layered upward, disappearing in the canopy’s riot.

The wind died down, and details emerged reluctantly—

branches covered with ivy, with thick arms of vines,

draped with dense beards of fire moss and lichen.

Orchid and bromeliad laced and flecked the leaves,

Birds darted in the air; insects droned and bumbled.

© copyright, 2013, Eric Quinn

Photo: Green Mountains (Boulder County, Colorado). User: Laurascudder. WikiCmns; CC 1.0 Generic.

The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Purpose in Life

May 20, 2013 2 comments


cowabunga! look at what RT has turned up on Gilgamesh….

(reposted from Amy’s Place)


(and if you’re interested in RT’s version of tablets 1-4, stop by lulu and order a copy)

The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Purpose in Life.


A certain lighthearted whimsy has overtaken RT since publishing the first four tablets of Gilgamesh this morning. In the spirit of the moment, he offers this drawing…


Drawing: Here Comes the Parade (1881); Ida Waugh; WikiCmns; Public Domain.


Wow!!! Gilgamesh Tablets 1-4 is Available on Lulu!!!

April 29, 2013 7 comments


RT is stunned: after a morning-long struggle with his files, he is pleased and proud to announce that his book, Gilgamesh: The Ancient Epic, tablets 1-4, is now available on You can reach the book order for on Lulu ( by typing in the book’s title or the author’s name, Eric Quinn.

This is the first fruits of more than 12 years of work…whoa!!!

I will only add that I’m very pleased by the book’s appearance, and especially its covers, which turned out better than I had hoped. Thanks, everyone, for being so encouraging during the process of finishing the volume!   Eric

Book Cover: copyright © 2013, Eric Quinn.


Gilgamesh Back Cover–Redux!

Gilgamesh-Back Cover

RT has figured out a way to get around the SVG file/Wordpress impasse: he scanned a printout of the cover into his computer. So now, with some pride and relief, he offers the finished back cover. Now onto the Lulu upload…


© copyright 2013, Eric Quinn