Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others by Stephanie Dalley (Translator)

An excellent collection of stories from ancient Mesopotamia. A little bit frustrating as one may find the stories difficult to read due to frequent gaps in the text that have resulted from damage to the original cuneiform clay tablets, but it is a small price to pay to ensure accuracy and authenticity in the translation of ancient texts over 4000 years old.

All the translations are based on the various Akkadian versions of the stories. Each story is preceded with an introduction and historical context followed by technical notes. A chart showing a timeline of the stories would have been helpful especially when making comparisons to other ancient stories from biblical, Greek, Middle Eastern, and Arabian traditions.

Here’s the hitlist!

Atrahasis – one of the Mesopotamian flood stories which is quite similat with Noah in Genesis and Utnapishtim in Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh – the hero of the Sumerian King Lists, in his story’s most complete form

The Old Babylonian version of Gilgamesh – This version contains bits of Enkidu’s introduction, Humbaba episode, as well as quite a bit surrounding Gilgamesh’s lament for the deceased Enkidu.

The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld – This brief seasonal dying and rising god/goddess story.

Nergal and Ereshkigal – The tale of Nergal’s visit to the Underworld.

Adapa – A brief story of the antediluvian king’s loss of immortality could draw some parallels with the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis.

Etana – the story of the king of kish who flew to heaven on the back of an eagle.

Anzu – The storm god Ninurta conquers the bird monster Anzu.

The Epic of Creation – Known elsewhere as Enuma Elish, this is the story of the chaos-water-mother goddess-cum-dragon Tiamat and her defeat at the hands of the storm god Marduk, who uses her body to create the universe, and his conquest to take charge of the pantheon.

Theogony of Dunnu – a brief cosmology that shows that antimosity between cattle herders and shepherds goes back further than the Western.

Erra and Ishum – Erra and Marduk argue, while Isshum calms things down.





One thought on “Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others by Stephanie Dalley (Translator)

  1. Thank you for the pictures, they are excellent. You might be interested in these comparisons between the Creation Myth of the Indo-Europeans (at and the Creation Myths of some other groups such as the Mesopotamians, and speakers of Semitic languages. The reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European Creation Myth is based linguistic methods, not merely comparative religion, but it seems to have relevance to the Creation Myths in some other sources, including versions in Phoenician and Hebrew.

    Although Semitic languages are outside my field of study, I look forward to reading these translations with care.


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