Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Zombie Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised

I've been thinking about the Zombie Apocalypse lately. See, this is not a recent cultural fad, but a literary motif that goes back as far as humans have been creating literature.

Don't believe me? Read the Epic of Gilgamesh (one of the oldest liteary works in existence, it dates to at least the 7th century before Christ). In it, an angry god threatens another god with a Zombie Apocalypse:
"Father, give me the Bull of Heaven,
so he can kill Gilgamesh in his dwelling.
If you do not give me the Bull of Heaven,
I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!"

Another translation:
For if you do not grant me the Bull of Heaven,
I will pull down the Gates of Hell itself,
Crush the doorposts and flatten the door,
And I will let the dead leave
And let the dead roam the earth
And they shall eat the living. The dead will overwhelm all the living!

So, there you have it. Nearly 3000 years ago, poets were talking about the Zombie Apocalypse.

{Yes, I am aware of translations that say "eat food like (or with) the living" which makes the threatened calamity more like Malthus gone wild than a zombie uprising. Zombies are cooler than Malthus, though).

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

This might just be the most awesome post I have read all week. Totally buy the epic oldness of the zombie apocalypse.

Reminds me of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Sweet.