Archive for March 18th, 2012

March 18, 2012

Tales around the Campfire

by limebirddennis

Many of the posts here, and much of the discussion, revolves around one aspect or another of ‘story’. However, the modern understanding of ‘story’ seems to be based mainly in the world of prose. This is a relatively recent evolution in the history of storytelling (it could be argued that Western fictional narrative, and its more ‘informal’ language, grew out of the ‘histories’ – and only became popular when books first became widely available in the fifteenth century).

If we go back to the first storytellers, while they may not have originally thought of themselves as poets, that is what they were. In order to remember extremely long tales, certain formulations, certain rhythms were used to aid memory.


The oldest known version of the “Epic of Gilgamesh” was originally five independent Sumerian poems that date from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 BC). Four of the poems were used as the source material for the Akkadian version. This first, “Old Babylonian”, version of the epic dates from the 18th century BC and is titled “Shūtur eli sharrī” from the opening lines “Surpassing All Other Kings”.

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