Primitive Culture 11: In Years Gone By / by Trek fm

Star Trek and Epic Heroes.


Running Time: 1 hour 51 minutes 37 seconds
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“Sokath, his eyes uncovered!” When Captain Jean-Luc Picard finally cracked the Tamarian language, he countered “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” with an ancient myth of his own: the Epic of Gilgamesh. One of the earliest known works of literature, this deeply strange but profoundly beautiful Mesopotamian poem, predating the Old Testament by more than a thousand years, offers an unlikely bridge between two very different spacefaring cultures.

In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Clara Cook to discuss Star Trek’s engagement with epic narratives, focusing on the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Old English poem Beowulf, as played out in TNG’s “Darmok” and Voyager’s “Heroes and Demons.” Do Starfleet’s brave and brilliant officers share a common heritage with the epic heroes of yore? And to what extent can a twenty-fourth-century reader understand a poem written in a culture so alien from their own?


Intro (00:00:00)
Epic of Gilgamesh and “Darmok” (00:03:31)
Beowulf and “Heroes and Demons” (00:31:46)
Heroic Qualities and Epic Tropes (00:43:16)
Monsters and Realism (01:07:02)
High and Low Culture (01:24:34)
Final Thoughts (01:36:59)


Duncan Barrett


Clara Cook


Justin Oser (Editor) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)