Friday, April 10, 2015

G is For Gilgamesh

I know I've been hitting some of the old bits in this month's A to Z Challenge but I think it's important to have a good grounding.

The more you are a reader, gamers, consumer of media, are able to relate information back to its roots, the more you can know how things relate to each other, how they build on each other, and that Warhammer Fantasy was around long before World of Warcraft!

In this case, Gilgamesh doesn't seem to have the love that some other classics like Robin Hood, Kind Arthur, or even Beowulf have. This doesn't mean that there have not been popular adaptations or modern takes.

But that doesn't stop it from being important.

The writer and artist Jim Starlin, creator of Dreadstar and Breed, did Gilgamesh II, a series in the far future about a leader who was an outcast among his people and only found kinship with an alien. The depths that this Gilgamesh went to in order to raise his friend mirror some of the original tale.

Gilgamesh is a demigod. A ruler of an ancient land in Mesopotamia. His gods are ancient and include some like Tiamat. Again, a name that should be familiar to many who enjoy Dungeons and Dragons. Again, a reason to know some of the mythology and historical context that games are built on.

Gilgamesh also had a comrade, a prototype of the wildman, Enkidu. This 'eternal companion' was a loyal ally to Gilgamesh onto the point of his death.

This demigod finds himself fighting fantastic creatures, fighting against the gods themselves. In doing so, his comrade dies and so shaken is Gilgamesh by this, that the demigod seeks out immortality only to have that slip from his hands.

The tales of Gilgamesh are ancient, short, and can provide sound solid foundations to Mesopotamia deities like Ishtar, Shamash,  Enlil an others. There are enough myths and monsters that the old Necromancer Games (now Frog God) did a Mesopotamia book for the d20 system.

I generally recommend the Penguin version unless another version has popped out ahead of the pack. If anyone knows of a more trusted version, leave a comment.