Review: Gilgamesh the Hero

Gilgamesh the Hero
Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of the greatest pagan stories, about what it means to be human.
Gilgamesh discovers Ecclesiastical wisdom:
1. Two are better than one, for if one falls, the other can help him up.
2. To enjoy life with its limitations is better than pursuing immortality.
3. You can leave your mark in life, but the future is up to others.

This rendition is a little mature for young readers at a couple spots. Going to save it for the next go-round of history with my 12-14 year olds, instead of springing it on my 8-10 year olds. It is quite intense and compelling. My favorite line: "What you ought to do is get married. Children. That's the shape of happiness. A little hand inside yours." Made me think of my youngest, still reaching his hand into mine in the grocery store earlier tonight.

Of course, there is pagan stuff to filter out. Multiple gods, creating man to serve them, instead of (Biblically) to image and rule for them. But there are some redemptive themes in there, too. Man IS to leave his mark in life - to take dominion of creation. And yet to know his limits as a creature, too.

The flood account is fascinating. Much like Noah, but with pagan distortions added in. Noah deceives his neighbors about what's coming. He is given immortality by the gods. One of them sneaks the message to the "Noah" so he can escape, instead of it being deliberate, Divine mercy.

The literary quality is quite good. One word sentences at some climaxes stand out. You can tell the author sought to imitate the original, though I know nothing about Sumerian.

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