Press Release

Gilgamesh — from Babylonia to the Big Screen

(ARA) — You may vaguely remember the plot of the Gilgamesh epic from your high school or college studies. Now, a soon-to-be-released major motion picture based on the story will bring the tale of the original superhero to the big screen.

At first glance, Gilgamesh may seem to be an unlikely choice for a Hollywood picture, but the story has all the elements of a great movie: universal themes, interesting characters and high adventure," says Dr. Lou Bolchazy, classics professor and president of Bolchazy Carducci, a publisher of classic texts and related books. The epic was the first of its kind to employ a literary form that deals with universal themes such as mortality, friendship, sorrow, nature versus civilization, and hubris, which are found throughout the history of literature.

The epic poem is named for its hero, a tyrannical Babylonian king. Written more than 4,000 years ago, Gilgamesh includes many parallels to Biblical stories. It chronicles the adventures of the imperious Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. When Enkidu suddenly sickens and dies, Gilgamesh becomes obsessed by a fear of death.

He travels in search of a plant said to give eternal life and finds it, only to have it stolen by a serpent. The hero then decides he will heed the advice from Siduri, a wise barmaid, to abandon his quest for immortality and enjoy the temporal pleasures allotted to mortals.

Thru thousands of years, Gilgamesh has endured as the oldest and most revolutionary work of literature known to mankind. This first-ever epic follows the warrior-king from his divine rise to power to his victories and struggles with the Gods; risking life and love on his tumultuous quest to find the answers to happiness and immortality," in the words of Stonelock Pictures, the studio producing the movie.

Gilgamesh is the first of its kind in many respects, Bolchazy points out. "Not only is it the first account of a superhero, but it pre-dates the Bible by about 2,000 years with its mention of a great flood to rid earth of humankind, and it prefigures Homer's Odysseus as the first man considering the pros and cons of immortality," he explains. Gilgamesh is also the first account of the themes found in the Adam and Eve story, the serpent responsible for the loss of immortality, and a paradise regained, pre-dating the Christian concept of heaven.

While seeing Gilgamesh come to life on the big screen will be exciting, Bolchazy notes that the epic poem should also be savored in its original, written form. For those who want to revisit this classic, he recommends "The Epic of Gilgamesh," translated in a verse rendition by poet Danny P. Jackson (the Great Books Foundation will be using this Bolchazy-Carducci edition in its adult series). "The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic" by Jeffery H. Tigay, which traces the development of the composition of the epic over nearly two millennia and through the several languages in which it has been transmitted, is a good background text. "Gilgamesh: A Reader," edited by John Maier, provides a bibliography with over 1,500 publications and 25 interpretive essays on the epic that stands at the dawn of literature which provide insights for those studying it.

For more background on the Gilgamesh epic, visit; you can find more information on the upcoming movie version at To order one of the Gilgamesh books mentioned here, visit

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EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information, contact Marie Bolchazy at (847)526-4344.