Myths from Mesopotamia Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others (Oxford World’s Classics): 9780199538362: Dalley, Stephanie: Books

(60 customer reviews)


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Additional information

Publisher ‏ : ‎

Oxford University Press; Revised ed. edition (February 15, 2009)

Language ‏ : ‎


Paperback ‏ : ‎

368 pages

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎


ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎


Reading age ‏ : ‎

13 years and up

Item Weight ‏ : ‎

9.5 ounces

Dimensions ‏ : ‎

7.7 x 0.9 x 5 inches

Best Sellers Rank:

#1,599 in Classic Literature & Fiction

Customer Reviews:



  1. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    A great reference source.

    There is evidence of older civilizations than the Sumerian but we are given a more complete picture of life as it was then, thanks these records and one who has been able to translate them..

    One person found this helpful

  2. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Myths from Mesopotamia

    A must for anyone interested in Biblical origins, and the general mythological climate of the Ancient Near East. Nicely laid out, artistic look and feel, so one see’s the poetic nature of the myths. Excellent resource.

    19 people found this helpful

  3. 1.0 out of 5 stars

    kindle version is missing more than half the pages.

    terrible scan. I needed this for school, but i cannot use it as half of the book is missing.

    One person found this helpful

  4. 2.0 out of 5 stars

    Not helpful in comprehending the narrative

    Unfortunately, I did not find this version helpful in comprehending the epic of Gilgamesh. The notes are not properly placed, and they are not helpful informing who, for instance, are all the names and the divinities mentioned. I had to read it while finding out more information on wikipedia. Based on the epic of Gilgamesh, I would not recommend this edition.

    5 people found this helpful

  5. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    All the more important Mesopotamian mythos

    As an enthusiast of Mesopotamian mythos, this book has a great translation from the source cuneiform tablets

    One person found this helpful

  6. 2.0 out of 5 stars

    Not what I was expecting

    Not what I was expecting.Before you buy this book you should know that it is a direct translation of tablets which are missing large portions of sentences. I expected a comprehensive retelling without these gaps but that was not made clear to me before hand. Very disappointing.

    2 people found this helpful

  7. 1.0 out of 5 stars

    Scan to Kindle Fail

    Two deal-breakers:1) The scan of the book skips pages, e.g., you cannot read pages 5-7, they are missing.2) The pagination is three sheets per Kindle page making the pages you Do see extremely small.I returned the digital copy and will buy a paper one.

    2 people found this helpful

  8. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Worth it.

    Was in fairly good shape with no writing or highlighting and only gentle outer wear. Was not disappointed at all.

  9. 3.0 out of 5 stars


    It got to me on time before my first exam but not with enough time to study but it was in amazing condition.Didn’t need the book for more than a week but I got my use out of it.

  10. 3.0 out of 5 stars

    Good translation, shoddy print job.

    The writing is good and the notes are extremely thorough, justified, and well-articulated. My main complaint would be the quality of the printing. The copy of the book I received had one or two typos and there were multiple instances in which a corner of text at the bottom of the page was not printed. For such a mistake to be repeated is unacceptable; some words are only partially printed or not at all, which is going to reflect poorly on the overall quality of the product, even if–no, ESPECIALLY if the author’s original writing was flawless (which it almost is). I don’t know how common this problem is; it could just be a freak accident that happened to the copy I received. But if this printing error does happen a lot, it could be a potential deal-breaker for a customer strongly concerned with getting a complete text. If not for this problem, I would give this purchase a full five stars. I can’t read ancient Sumerian to check the translation, but the author seems to have done as good a job as can be done. If I could criticize anything else, it might be the author’s word choice in certain instances (e.g., she uses “Utnapishtim the far-distant” instead of calling him “Utnapishtim the far-away,” which sounds less awkward while conveying essentially the same meaning), but going back to the “I can’t speak Sumerian” thing, I’m gonna defer to her judgment.

    9 people found this helpful

  11. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    nice collection of mythology

    For a course on Mesopotamian Religion I read most of the myths in this book. Each myth has a short introduction and frequent interesting and helpful footnotes. Although I am not an expert in this area, I thought the translations were easy to read. I also appreciated the way the stories were laid out. I also appreciated a glossary of god names, places, and key terms at the back and referred to it frequently. The myths included in the book cover many of the most essential myths of that era.As an aside, I would not attempt to read these myths without the guidance of a class and teacher. They frequently take study and rereading many times to get the story. They’re between 3000 and 4000 years old and really need some solid background information in order to fully understand them, as well. Also, keep in mind that many of these stories were meant to be chanted or otherwise performed at public functions, so that simple reading them on the page probably doesn’t do them full justice.Good luck!!

    49 people found this helpful

  12. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Glad to have added it to my other translations.

    I have most of the texts in this volume in other volumes, but Dalley’s notes provide much updated information that my other volumes lack. Dalley’s notes also provide context for the ongoing conversations surrounding the translations of these works. I’m far from an expert and I don’t plan to be one, but the notes offer a nice glimpse behind the curtain.The glossary is also as useful as it is extensive (very).

    6 people found this helpful

  13. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Great Collection Of Early Mesopotamian Literature

    This is an excellent collection of several ancient Mesopotamian mythical stories. The original sources used for these translations were all written in Akkadian (which includes Semitic Babylonian and Assyrian dialects). Included in this collection are “Atrahasis”, “The Epic of Gilgamesh” (standard and Old Babylonian versions), “The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld”, “Nergal and Ereshkigal” (standard and Amarna versions), “Adapa”, “Etana”, “Anzu” (standard and Old Babylonian versions), “The Epic of Creation”, “Theogony of Dunnu”, and “Erra and Ishum”.This large collection of stories, along with the well written introductions and notes provided, enables the reader to put these epic stories into context, and recognize the parallels within the different stories. I prefer this book to those that concentrate only on the Gilgamesh epic.

    12 people found this helpful

  14. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    An Educated Read

    This book is almost an encyclopedia of different translations of the same or correlated but fragmentary tablet texts. One has to marvel that the complete story was ever extracted. However, it is a good study in the difficult work of piecing together historical material to get the intended story. The story itself is corroborated from other sources and is part of the demythologized records of creation, the flood, and the activities of the main players most of whom were extraterrestrials of the Annunaki variety. It was a somewhat difficult task to wade through the book but on the whole was worth the effort.

    26 people found this helpful

  15. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Great book….

    Well, i’m not going to write much here. If you wish to read the epic of Gilgamesh and myths from Mesopotamia, you can’t go wrong with this book. Easy reading and quite to the point in most points.My frustration is the number of missing fragments. BUT THEN AGAIN, this is not the book/author’s fault. The parts just aren’t available. It can be very frustrating if you are a curious reading such as my self.!All in all… Great book.

    9 people found this helpful

  16. 3.0 out of 5 stars

    Doesn’t cover Sumeria

    It’s not bad for what it is but beware it doesn’t really cover the Sumerian era(this is more Babylon) so its basically a mish mash of middle and late stuff. But not bad if you just want Gilgamesh.

    One person found this helpful

  17. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    All the myths from Sumer and Babylon

    This is a fascinating look at all of the myths from Sumer and Babylon that have been found and translated. If you are curious about ancient myths this is a great book. The stories are easily read and understood and each has an introduction explaining when and where it was found. Here you’ll find Gilgemesh, Marduk, Atrahasis, and Utnapishtim, among others. At the back of the book is a complete glossary of all the gods and heroes of Mesopotamia. I highly recommend this book.

    17 people found this helpful

  18. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Excellent information! It’s not as dry as I thought …

    Excellent information! It’s not as dry as I thought it would be and I really enjoyed it. Very well researched and thorough. I’d recommend this book to anyone that would like to read about Mesopotamian Myths and Legends, and it would be a great reference if your writing a paper, as sources are well documented.

  19. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Fantastic for learning Mesopotamia mythology

    I have truly enjoyed this book and I’m very happy to add this to my collection. If you’re interested in learning the mythology of the Babylonians this is perfect. The story of Adapa and the south wind and the Epic of Atrahasis with the flood Will catch your imagination. I did not want to put down this book. it is so intriguing to read the myths that have been lost to mankind for centuries and are now translated for us to read.

    3 people found this helpful

  20. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    this is an excellent resource.

    This book serves as an excellent resource for introducing yourself to ancient texts that may very well have influenced Biblical writers in their communication of their God-given inspirations. A must read for anyone who desiring a clearer understanding of Bible origins.

    One person found this helpful

  21. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Gilgamesh fans need this book

    I am not Mesopotamian scholar, but I really like this book. If you are a fan of Gilgamesh, I would say this is a must. It contains original translations of even scraps of Akkadian writings. I will be adding much more to my teaching of Gilgamesh now that I have read this book.

    6 people found this helpful

  22. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    A great amount of amazing writing from a long gone world

    I had lost my copy. This book is known to be. A great amount of amazing writing from a long gone world. We may read and understand the myths and stories but we need so much more to really understand. Not many books on this very amazing set of civilizations.

    2 people found this helpful

  23. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    This is good one volume compendium of Ancient Near Eastern myths

    This is good one volume compendium of Ancient Near Eastern myths, very good for a humanities class or an intro to literature relating to the old testament.

    2 people found this helpful

  24. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    A Must Have

    This book might not include everything, or be the newest and best, but if you are looking to purchase just one book on the Sumerians/Akkadians/Ancient Babylon, it has to be this one. All of the popular and must read classics are here and I think these are the kinds of things we should have read in grade school, instead of some of the other useless rubbish crammed down our throats!

    31 people found this helpful

  25. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    I don’t know what some of the other reviewers were …

    I don’t know what some of the other reviewers were talking about this was not too scholarly! I thought the stories we’re translated amazingly and very much captured my interest only wish there were more!

  26. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Tiamat, Enki, Marduk and Ea.

    I have been studying myths about ancient gods, what better to start, than the cradle of civilation and their belief system.

  27. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Bought for a College Class

    Even though I bought this for one of my courses, it was still a really great read. I love reading about ancient cultures and their myths. It is really interesting the theories they came up with to explain the world around them.

    One person found this helpful

  28. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    A distant echo of our true history ?

    MYTHS FROM MESOPOTAMIA : Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Edited and translated with an Introduction and Notes by STEPHANIE DALLEY. 337 pp. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, 1998 (1989). ISBN 0-19-283589-0 (pbk.)Today we have the movies. It seems perfectly natural to us that time, energy, skills, and enormous resources should be devoted to the manufacture of an endless flood of ‘stories,’ stories which bear little if any relation to reality, and most of which are mere entertainment and utterly without any sort of meaning or significance. Think, for example, 007 or Indiana Jones. Think rubbish.What we fail to realize is that ancient peoples would have viewed us and our art with absolute horror. Having far more limited resources than us, and being fundamentally much more serious and in closer contact with reality, an art such as ours that lacked significance would have immediately been seen as the degenerate thing it is. True art for the ancients, in other words, meant deep significance.Look now at the title of the present book. What effect does the use of the word “Myths” have on your thoughts before you even open the book? One of the senses of this word today is “lies” or “falsehoods.” The word is also commonly used of the stories that were told and cherished and handed down by ancient peoples. These were serious people, and their ‘stories’ held deep meaning and significance for them, though we no longer require our own to have much meaning.But the title of Dalley’s book flicks a switch in our mind and readies us for a bunch of mere stories, tales dreamed up out of thin air in idle moments. Personally, I remain unconvinced. I don’t think that the ancients were as ready to waste their time and resources on mere entertainment as we are. Neither do I think that their stories were pure products of imagination about an imagined class of beings that (since it’s safer) our scholars have agreed to call “gods.” I think these stories are distant echoes of actual historical events involving real persons, and so does scholar and linguist Zechariah Sitchin, whose books on Ancient Mesopotamia you ought to read as they will help rescue you from the paradigm paralysis of the Official World.The story of Ancient Mesopotamia, of its various peoples and languages, its amazing civilization, its fantastic cuneiform writing system, and of the exciting discovery of hundreds of thousands of baked clay tablets, in various states of preservation, and their patient decipherment by dedicated scholars over the last hundred years or so, is a fascinating story but far too complex to go into here. All I can do is refer you to my Listmania List, ‘Sumer for Beginners,’ for some suggested reading.Assyriologist Stephanie Dalley, who has taught Akkadian (the Semitic language of the conquerors of Sumer), is one such scholar, and although I’m not a specialist myself but merely an enthusiastic Sumerophile, I think she would agree that knowledge of Sumerian and Akkadian is still in a highly imperfect state, and that ‘definitions’ of words in these languages should not be seen as fixed and more or less final, as they are in languages such as Latin or Greek, but rather as currently fashionable educated guesses by specialists, guesses which may turn out to be wrong. Personally I doubt very much that her use, for example, of the word “gods,” accurately reflects what the ancients really meant. Once again, I think that we are dealing not with ‘myth’ but with history.Although Professor Dalley’s book was designed for the general reader, it’s quite a scholarly production nevertheless. After a brief Preface and Introduction, she gives us brisk, clear, vigorous and wonderfully readable translations of the following important texts : Atrahasis (the Flood Story); two versions of The Epic of Gilgamesh; The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld (The Journey of Ishtar to Africa ?); two versions of Nergal and Ereshkigal; Apapa; Etana; two versions of Anzu; The Epic of Creation; the Theogony (sic) of Dunnu; Era and Ishum.All of these texts have been provided with their own brief introductions, and all gaps and losses of text in the original tablets have been indicated in the translations. In addition, all texts have occasionally helpful endnotes which in most cases total a page or two, although Gilgamesh has over 10 pages.The book also includes a Chronological Chart (in a miniscule font); a Map of the Near East showing places named in the ‘myths’ (which would have been more useful if it hadn’t been so tiny); a page of line drawings illustrating ‘Mythical monsters (sic) referred to in the translations;’ a detailed 14-page Glossary; and a 6-page Selected Bibliography which should prove useful to polyglots who have access to an excellent university library collection of Ancient Near Eastern materials. The book is clearly and excellently printed on strong paper in a smallish but readable font, and bound in a glossy wrapper, but sadly has one of those detestable glued spines that crack on opening.Here is an example of Dalley’s vigorous style, chosen at random from Gilgamesh, with my obliques added to indicate line breaks:”He washed his filthy hair, he cleaned his gear, / Shook out his locks over his back, / Threw away his dirty clothes and put on fresh ones. / He clothed himself in robes and tied on a sash. / Gilgamesh put his crown on his head / And Ishtar the princess raised her eyes to the beauty of Gilgamesh. / ‘Come to me, Gilgamesh, and be my lover! / Bestow on me the gift of your fruit!” (Page 77).Within its limits, Dalley’s is an excellent scholarly compilation of her wonderfully readable and vigorous translations, and should be of real interest to anyone who is seriously interested in these fascinating ancient stories. But instead of allowing Professor Dalley to decide in advance for you, it might be better if you were to make up your own mind as to whether they are merely “myths,” or are instead a distant echo of our true history.

    43 people found this helpful

  29. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Perfect source for Ancient Context

    I purchased this to grasp a better understanding of the ANE (ancient near east) and to deepen my understanding of the context & stories that were familiar to the Biblical writers, in order that I could better understand some of the backdrops to many of the biblical stories.After researching, this book was praised as one of the most reliable and accurately translated for the Mesopotamian material included.There is also a glossary of names/terms in the back, which is incredibly helpful when reading through the material… there’s a lot of characters!

    7 people found this helpful

  30. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    To the casual and curious readers of Antiquity.

    If your the casual curious reader of antiquity and wish to plunge yourself into middle of writings from the times of Babylon and Assyria this is a good way to do it. But if your like most people I suspect who thought this might be more along the Sumer/Akkad trail of writings your not going to be entirely disappointed as all that Sumer/Akkad readings you may have been doing now get put to the test, however the glossary is excellent and will help you along greatly as you see how the pantheon has expanded and morphed some.Some quick notes:There is an evolution of thought going on here but your going to have to distinguish that for yourself.The author here gets you to the boat, helps you get seated, hands you the oars and then with a gentle push sets you adrift with each story. No glad handling, septic, but nice.If your an Inanna/Isthar fan, you’ll see glimpses of how attempts to push her out of the picture were made, but in the last myth you’ll see too it might not of been all that successful.Spoiler alert. The real treat comes with the last myth. That there truly is nothing new under the sun will be proven with this story written circa 756 BC where you should see in good style, here we are, same place, different time. Enjoy.

    14 people found this helpful

  31. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    A lot of great myths in an affordable collection

    Continuing my exploration of ancient mythology I got this book, which contains most (if not all) of the major myths from Mesopotamian mythology. I am rather new to this sort of literature (save the mandatory reading of Greek myths as a high school freshman) and not a language scholar, so I can’t really comment on quality of translation. However, as pure reading material, I found the Canaanite myths a little more interesting. The source material for these is also a great deal more fragmented, so there are frequent issues of comprehensibility (but not in macrocosm). The big story that probably everyone will recognize (but not necessarily have read) is ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh.’ It certainly was a great read, but there were other stories in here that I found more engaging. For one, the story of Atrahasis, was a good one, relating a story of creation as well as one similar to the story of Noah in Genesis. I also found the Epic of Creation to be fascinating, definitely more so than the ones found in the Bible. It was also the most intact/complete out of everything in here. The book also has different variations on Ishtar’s descent into the Underworld, Nergal and Ereshkigal. However, my absolute favorite was Anzu, the bird-god who stole the Tablet of Destinies. The last story in the book, Erra and Ishum, was also interesting in that it reminded me a lot of prophecies of Israel’s destruction in the second half of the Old Testament. Overall, as a collection of Mespotamian myths, there’s probably not a better book than this one. There are plenty of notes on the translations as well as chapter introductions which give an overview of what you’re about to read and the nature of the sources. There is also a glossary of terms and select bibliography. I can highly recommend this to anyone interested in ancient mythology.

    63 people found this helpful

  32. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Straight from 4,000 years ago — —

    Mesopotamia can lay valid claim to being the oldest civilization for which we have extensive non-religious documents, though it might be better to say that by our lights, the “religious” and “non-religious” (particularly heroic) elements are thoroughly mixed. The top myths are compiled here in this affordable Oxford World Classics volume. “Their” flood was of course echoed in the Old Testament story of Noah’s Ark, and you may see some parallels between their Creation and Ours. Gilgamesh: still a fascinating story, and the best known of Mesopotamian/Akkadian heroes. A great thing to have on the shelf for your own edification or for the budding scholar in your life.

    5 people found this helpful

  33. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Making Accessible the Babylonian Epics

    The translation of these Babylonian epics which parallel with Genesis 1-11 is easy to read with a wonderful concise introduction to the literature. Dalley makes accessible the Epic of Gilgamesh, Atra-hasis, Descent of Ishtar, Nergal and Ereshkigal, Adapa, Etana, Anzu, The Creation Epic, Theogony of Dunnu, and Erra and Ishum. You’ll be amazed at the literary similarities with Genesis, clearly a borrowing of cultural myths. You may just finish this in a few days, it is a very enjoyable and easy reading of primary sources. A must have for seminary students and those conducting serious Bible study.

    16 people found this helpful

  34. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Any one person without faith or with faith will gain …

    Any one person without faith or with faith will gain something from the book. If you are simply looking for historical facts this book is gold mine. Incredibly conclusive, the structure of the material is, to me, very readable. It has been an invaluable resource for me spiritually and creatively. Reading this book has actually illuminated my path back to Christ because it is such an exceptional and invaluable contribution to academia.

    3 people found this helpful

  35. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Finding One’s Place in the Panoply of History

    The Myths of Mesopotamia provides a fascinating glance of the world’s most ancient civilization. Obviously written before the Axial Age, that great alignment of religion and morality, they bear more resemblance to ancient Greek myth than Biblical accounts though they obviously influenced the latter.The one caveat I would make is that these texts are the result of excavations of stone etchings and so do not reflect the liveliness of a Homeric epic. There are frequent ellipsis, repetitions, etc. which drain the fluidity of these works.The editor also could have provided more historical context. The book seems to assume that any reader interested enough to purchase the book would be fully conversant with ancient Mesopotamian history which, in this reader’s case, made the texts difficult.Even so, the selection is excellent and the window they provide into the sources of Western and Near Eastern culture make this text suitable for anyone who is interested in peering at the roots of human civilization and thereby better understanding one’s place in the panoply of history.

    17 people found this helpful

  36. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Excellent work of the myths

    Excellent translation work of the myths. Not quite the resource for comparative OT references.

  37. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Affordable and informative

    Excellent book; very informative and essential to anyone interested in understanding the rich history of the Ancient Near East.

  38. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Old stories made readable

    Most people looking at this book probably know how the worldview(s) reflected in these stories are at the roots of much that lies at the roots of western civilization, not least because of the conceptual overlap with the Book of Genesis.I have no qualification to assess the accuracy of the author’s translation, but the rendering into English is readable and in a nice literary style. The introductory essays give the reader a good background, and the footnotes are often quite interesting.The only reason I give the book 4 stars instead of 5 is that it (at least my copy, purchased in late 2023) was poorly printed. Many of the pages have the bottom right corner not printed, so that the last word on the page (or in a footnote) is not readable. A reputable publisher like Oxford University Press shouldn’t be putting out product with such defects.

  39. 3.0 out of 5 stars


    This book is more about translation of scripts than fluid storyline. Chalk full of historical facts ,but doesn’t read like a novel

    2 people found this helpful

  40. 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Great if you are interested in the evolution of God…..

    If you are curious as to the myths that spawned a number of the books of the Old Testament, here is the book that explains a lot of the disconnects that you may have thought about.

    6 people found this helpful

  41. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Stephanie Dalley does an excellent job of presenting information in a form that a …

    Stephanie Dalley does an excellent job of presenting information in a form that a layman can understand. This is actually my second copy of this particular book. I misplaced my original copy and wanted to reread it. IF you want to read an accurate translation of the tablet, this is the book to buy.

    One person found this helpful

  42. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Fully enjoyed

    I have been looking for a book like this for a few years, and now I happened upon this one. This has a lot of the myths and stories that I was wanting to read. Highly recommend to those who are interested in the subject.

  43. 5.0 out of 5 stars

    it is a great collection.

    You want to learn about the roots of Hebrew Bible stories then you have to read these stories. Many Mesopotamian Myths in one book; it is a great collection.Gilgamesh, Ishtar, Adana, adapa Creation myth all of them are in this book. The stories are poetic and very touching. It is a must read book.

  44. 3.0 out of 5 stars

    Not worth the time spent reading it.

    A dry read. Some “public school” instructor could have easily written this book from textbooks out of the high school library. Didn’t seem to be any extra effort expended. I would not buy another book by this author unless someone I trusted recommended it and assured me that there had been a great improvement.

  45. 2.0 out of 5 stars

    Blah! (Warning: This item will bore you to tears.)

    I’m a HUGE fan of mythology and I wanted to pass this love onto my son so I purchased this book. This is not a storybook or a story-stylized telling of the myths, its academia. If you’re looking for a good read of the stories of Gilgamesh and Babylonian/Assyrian myths pass this book up. Ms. Dally was probably a fine academian and you’ll get plenty of notes, and notes on from whence the information came, but as a story it is a wash. There should be some way of notating that.

    13 people found this helpful

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