Gilgamesh in popular culture

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The Epic of Gilgamesh has directly inspired many manifestations of literature, art, music, and popular culture, as identified by Theodore Ziolkowski in the book Gilgamesh Among Us: Modern Encounters With the Ancient Epic (2011).[1][2] It was only during and after the First World War that the first reliable translations of the epic appeared that reached a wide audience, and it was only after the Second World War that the epic of Gilgamesh began to make itself felt more broadly in a variety of genres.[2]


  • The City beyond the River (1947) by Hermann Kasack. The epic becomes a metaphor for post-war Germany.[2]
  • River without Shores (1949–50) by Hans Henny Jahnn. The middle section is an analogy to the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu.[2]
  • Charles Olson wrote about the epic in his essay "The Gate and the Center" and in such poems as "La Chute" and "Bigmans" (1950s and 60s).[2]
  • Gregory Corso, poems (1950s).[2]
  • The Time Masters (1953/1971) and Time Bomb by Wilson Tucker. The protagonist, Gilbert Nash, has a mysterious past.
  • Gilgamesh: Romanzo (1959) by Gian Franco Gianfilippi. The first in a wave of historical novels based on the epic. A wave including works in Italian (Paola Capriola), English (Robert Silverberg, Stephan Grundy), German (Harold Braem, Thomas Mielke), French (Jacques Cassabois), and Spanish (José Ortega).[2]
  • Gilgamesch (1966) by Guido Bachmann. An early classic of a genre Germans called "queer literature", it would inspire other works that examined the homosexual relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Other works include: Denmark (Henrik Bjelke), Germany (Thomas Mielke, Christian Kracht), France (Jacques Cassabois), and England (Edwin Morgan).[2]
  • In The Great American Novel (1973), a novel by author Philip Roth, the Gilgamesh myth is reworked into the tale of a fictional baseball player, Gil Gamesh, whose immortal aspirations are achieved by disappearing after his final game.
  • In Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Gilgamesh is used to set the early timeline of events.
  • Ölümsüzlük Ardında Gılgamış (Gilgamesh in Search of Immortality) (1981), a poetry book by Turkish poet Melih Cevdet Anday.
  • Gilgamesh the King (1984) and To the Land of the Living (1986) by Robert Silverberg. Silverberg also contributed works of short fiction concerning Gilgamesh to the Heroes in Hell shared world series of Bangsian fantasy.
  • Contact (1985) by Carl Sagan. Chapter 22 is titled "Gilgamesh". It describes the efforts made by Hadden in his pursuit of immortality.
  • In the Skin of a Lion (1987) by Michael Ondaatje. The title is a quote from Gilgamesh.
  • Timewyrm: Genesys (1991), by John Peel, is the first of the New Doctor Who Adventures published by Virgin. The book describes the Doctor meeting Gilgamesh, and relates the epic of Gilgamesh as a Doctor Who story.
  • "Gilgamesh and the Homeboys" (1991), by Harry Turtledove, a time-displaced Gilgamesh meets Los Angeles street gangs. This short story was published in an obscure magazine and has never been reprinted as of 2018.
  • How Like a God (1997) by Brenda Clough is based on the epic.
  • In The Eternal Footman (1999) by James K. Morrow, a traveling troupe enacts a play based on the Gilgamesh canon.
  • Gilgamesh (1999), historical fiction by Stephan Grundy which retells the legend.
  • ghIlghameS (2000), a translation into the Klingon language. ISBN 1-58715-338-6
  • In Jane Lindskold's Athanor novels (1998–9), Gilgamesh and Enkidu are immortals who inspire legends under other names, including King Arthur and Sir Bedivere, respectively.
  • 1001 Nights of Bacchus (2000), a graphic novel by Eddie Campbell, features a six-page collage story in which Gilgamesh is a Scottish-accented soccer hooligan near-incomprehensibly recounting the entire epic. The story also appeared, in color, on the back covers of issues 22–26 of Campbell's Bacchus magazine.
  • Gilgamesh (2001) by Joan London, a postfiguration in which the epic becomes the structural key for a world torn by politics and betrayal (modern Armenia).[2]
  • 1979 (2001) by Christian Kracht, in which the epic provides the pattern for the homoerotic theme set against the background of the Iranian Revolution.[2]
  • Fate/stay night (2004), a Japanese visual novel written by Kinoko Nasu and developed by Type-Moon.
  • Fate/Zero (2006), a Light Novel authored by Gen Urobuchi, illustrated by Takashi Takeuchi and written in collaboration with Type-Moon, features Gilgamesh as one of the summoned servants.
  • Bartimaeus (book series), the titular character was a servant to Gilgamesh and aided him in building the walls of Uruk, a feat originally attributed to Gilgamesh alone.
  • Like Mayflies in a Stream (2009) by Shauna S. Roberts (ISBN 978-0982514009) is a novelization of the first half of the epic from the viewpoint of Shamhat, who tamed Enkidu.
  • The Sorceress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (2009), a novel in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott (Irish author) (ISBN 978-0-385-73529-2). Gilgamesh the King is described as a homeless man, immortal, and extraordinarily forgetful. He helps the twins, Sophie and Josh, to learn the magic of Water.
  • "Long Time" by Rick Norwood, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2011, a retelling of the Gilgamesh legend by a cynical immortal soldier serving in Gilgamesh's army.
  • Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion 2011. The Epic of Gilgamesh is mentioned as "one of the earliest known works of literature. Humanity's debut novel, you could say. Love, sex, blood and tears. A journey to find eternal life. To escape death."
  • Fate/strange fake (2015), a Light Novel written by Ryōgo Narita, illustrated by Morii Shizuki, a spin-off of both Fate/stay Night and Fate/Zero that originated as an April fool's joke in 2008 as Fate/states night.
  • Fearless Inanna, by Jonathan Schork (2015), is loosely structured after the original Epic in twelve "books" and borrows translated passages in chapter 10.[3] The Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, by Simo Parpola (Eisenbrauns, 1997), is listed in the bibliography.[4]
  • The Usurper King (2017) by Zeb Haradon, in which Jim Galesh (Gilgamesh) and Nick (Enkidu) assassinate president elect Ted Bundy (Humbaba), follows the structure of and contains multiple references to the epic. ISBN 978-1973389385[5]
  • Thick as Thieves (2017) by Megan Whalen Turner features a main character from a fictionalized version of the Persian empire who, throughout the course of the novel, recites from an ancient poem loosely based on the Epic of Gilgamesh. The two characters in the novel come to represent the main characters of the epic, known as Immakuk and Ennikar (Gilgamesh and Enkidu).

Classical music[edit]

Pop music[edit]


  • 1989 Turn left at Gilgamesh, a play by New York playwright Rory Winston.
  • 2007 (September/October). Gilgamesh in Uruk: GI in Iraq, adapted by Blake Bowden. Directed by Regina Pugh, with original music composed by Grammy-nominee, Steve Goers, and original puppetry by Aretta Baumgartner. Produced by The Performance Gallery in Cincinnati, OH.
  • 2007 (July). Chronicles – the custom of lamenting, based on the adaptation and completed Polish translation of Gilgamesh by Robert Stiller. Directed by Grzegorz Brai with original music based on Albanian and Greek polyphonic laments. Produced by Song of the Goat Theatre in Poland.
  • 2007 (April). Gilgamesh, adapted by Yusef Komunyakaa and Chad Gracia. Original music composed and performed by Billy Atwell. This project was a part of the New York Institute for the Humanities "War Music Festival." Produced by the Classical Theatre of Harlem.
  • 2007 (March/April). Gilgamesh, adapted by Stephen Sachs. Directed by Sachs and Jessica Kubzansky. Produced by The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena, CA.
  • 2017 (October). Gilgamesh, adapted by Piers Beckley. Directed by Ray Shell. Produced by White Bear Theatre in Kennington, London.



  • Gilgamesh is referenced in both the prologue and epilogue of the 1964 episode of The Outer Limits, "Demon With a Glass Hand".[6]
  • "Darmok", episode #5.2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is a self-referential adaptation of Gilgamesh in a science fiction setting. Jean-Luc Picard references the epic directly as he attempts to communicate with a member of an alien species whose language consists entirely of allegory which references mythological and historical people and events from his culture.
  • Gilgamesh anime, directed by Masahiko Murata.
  • The Epic is seen in The Secret Saturdays, though with some alterations. Instead of telling the story of Gilgamesh's quest for immortality, it depicts his battle against an ancient Sumerian cryptid known as Kur.
  • Gilgamesh is one of the Servants in the Holy Grail War of the Fate/Zero, Fate/stay night and the Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works anime, in all three of which, he serves as the final antagonist who has an obsession with Saber, and wants to destroy the world using the Holy Grail to rule over those who survive the cataclysm.
  • Gilgamesh is comically referenced in Futurama season 7 episode 18 titled "The Inhuman Torch".
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, reference is made to Project Gilgamesh, from which the character Bane is born. (Season 3, Episode 1)
  • Gilgamesh is referenced during a street play based on his story, in the Indian television series Bharat Ek Khoj episode 2, based on Indus Valley Civilization.
  • The Smiths must rescue Steve after he is kidnapped and taken to the North Pole. There, Santa Claus is using children to mine for precious stones from the Epic of Gilgamesh that he needs to perform an ancient ritual. American Dad (season 14, episode 7)
  • In The Tower of Druaga anime, the king of Babylim and the first person to climb the tower was named Gilgamesh.


  • Gilgamesh II, a satirical graphic novel by Jim Starlin in which an infant (the last of his doomed race) is rocketed to Earth Superman-fashion, but whose life follows the trajectory of the Gilgamesh legends. ASIN B00071S7T8
  • In the final issue of Mage II: The Hero Defined (1999), Matt Wagner uses the Epic of Gilgamesh as a parallel to the life of Kevin Matchstick, who was previously compared to King Arthur.
  • The Argentine comic book Gilgamesh the immortal turns Gilgamesh into an immortal whose life spans across all human history and a post-apocalyptic future
  • In Marvel Comics Gilgamesh is one of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings that live on Titan and have been mistaken for Gods over the millennia. Gilgamesh has performed many heroic feats, and has been mistaken for other heroes, such as Hercules. He is known as the Forgotten One after Zuras, the Leader of the Eternals, caused everybody on Earth to forget about him.
  • The webcomic Abominable Charles Cristopher by Karl Kerschl features Gilgamesh as an adventurous king, who is initially trying to slay the unwitting protagonist when he approaches Gilgamesh's kingdom. Later their relationship evolves.[7]
  • The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, issue 32.5 (Feb 2012), retells part of the Epic in a way that fits the series' examination of story-telling in human history.
  • Archer and Armstrong #0, written by Fred Van Lente and published by Valiant Comics features a retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh from the point of view of one of the principal characters of the series, the immortal Aram Anni-Padda.[8]

Video games[edit]

Children's literature[edit]


  1. ^ Theodore Ziolkowski. Gilgamesh Among Us: Modern Encounters With the Ancient Epic, Cornell Univ Pr (December 8, 2011). ISBN 978-0-8014-5035-8
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Theodore Ziolkowski (Nov 1, 2011). "Gilgamesh: An Epic Obsession", Berfrois.
  3. ^ schork, jonathan (April 2015). Fearless Inanna. St.Petersburg, FL: sms2. pp. 159–160. ISBN 9781508774396.
  4. ^ schork, jonathan (April 2015). Fearless Inanna. St.Petersburg, FL: sms2. p. 239. ISBN 9781508774396.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Weil, Ellen and Wolfe Gary K., Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever, Ohio State University Press, 2002 ISBN 9780814208922
  7. ^ Gilgamesh at his castle in Abominable Charles Cristopher.
  8. ^ Archer and Armstrong #0 interview