History of Classical
- an epic poem written in
cuneiform on 12 clay
tablets in ~ 2000BC
- based on a tyranical
ruler Gilgamesh (fl
2700-2650BC) who ruled
the city of Uruk (known
as Erech in the Bible and
now Warka in Iraq)
- includes details of a
great flood similar to
that in the Bible!
- Biblical writers appear
to have modeled the
relationship of David
& Jonathon on the
Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
- later the Greeks
incorporated elements of
this into their
dragon-slaying epics and
in stories of Achilles
- Moses lead the Israelites (probably
only the Joseph tribes) in their
Exodus from Egypt in 2nd half of
13thC BC but "documented" in writing
700yrs later to form the Old Testament of the Bible.
- Mycenean tablets
- Homer c800BC - Homeric Hymns, The Iliad, The Odyssey
- Sappho - c610BC - bisexual female poet from Lesbos - 2 complete poems
out of 9 have survived.
- Aesop's fables 6thC BC
- the veda, a collection of sacred writings
dating from about 1200 BC,
contains considerable information on
Indo-Aryan social practices, religious
beliefs, and cultural attainments.
- Aeschylus 525-456BC:
- Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides
- lust for power & the accompanying violence; male vs female
dominance; crime & punishment; emotion vs reason; tribalism vs
- The Persians, The Seven Against Thebes, The Choephori,
- the Periclean Age:
- Sophocles (496-406BC) - dramatist - Antigone,
Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra, The
- Socrates (470-399BC) - Athenian philosopher
- Euripides (484-406BC) - Alcestis, Andromache,
The Bacchantes, The Cyclops, Electra,
Hecuba, Helen, The Heracleidae, Heracles,
Hippolytus, Ion, Medea, Orestes,
Rhesus, The Suppliants, The Trojan
- Hippocrates (460-377BC) - The Oath, On Ancient Medicine, Aphorisms,
- Plato (427-347BC) - The Last Days of Socrates
- Aristotle (384-322BC) - Virtues and Vices, "On youth and
old age, on life and death, on breathing", etc....
- 240BC, Roman literature began with the translation
and adaptation of Greek epic and dramatic
poetry, and the various Greek schools of
philosophy were formally introduced into
Rome in 155 BC.
- Cicero (106-43BC)
- Virgil (70-19BC) - poetry
- The Georgics - his 1st poem, written during the terrible civil
war following the murder of Julius Caesar. Its predominant theme shows
agriculture as a metaphor for politics.
- The Aeneid - 12 book epic commissioned by Augustus which
occupied the rest of his life. His aim was to fill for Roman culture
what Homer had done for Greek culture. The 1st half mirrors the Odyssey
as Aeneas struggles to return home from Troy. the 2nd half is Virgil's
Iliad - a series of battles between Aeneas & the Italians.
- The Eclogues
- Ovid 1AD - poetry - Metamorphoses
- Plutarch c75AD
- Galen (129-216AD) - On the natural faculties
- see History of The Bible
- Book of Sirach was written (c. 180 BC) and the idea of a
tri-partite bible, the 3rd stage (the
Ketubim or writings) not being finalised
by the Rabbi's until after the fall of
Jerusalem to the Romans in AD
- Flavius Josephus, historian 37-100AD Jewish Antiquities, The
Jewish War, Life of Josephus
- heroic Indian epic, "Mahabharata" being written
(probably 350BC to 350AD)
- Lao-tzu (6thC BC) - The Tao-te Ching
- Confucius (551-479BC) The Analects , The Doctrine of the Mean,
The Great Learning
- Sun Tzu (4thC BC) The Art of War
- Gupta empire in India (320-544AD):
- definition for
Hinduism, the period in
which the epics, the Dharmashastras,
and the Dharmasutras
took final form.
The middle ages:
- see also: The middle ages
- Ferdowski (935-1020AD) - Persian - The epic of kings
- Omar Khayyam (1048-1141AD) Persian - The Rubaiyat
- Sa'di (1213-1291AD) Persian - The Gulistan of Sa'di
- St Thomas Aquinas
- Dante, Italian poet, wrote his epic
masterpiece The Divine Comedy
- Chaucer (1343?-1400)
- one of the greatest English
poets, whose masterpiece, The
Canterbury Tales, was one of
the most important influences on
the development of English
- wrote in iambic pentameter meter which
became the dominant rhythm for English verse from
the 16thC onwards including Shakespeare.
- this is five disyllabic feet
("iambs"), each comprising one short
or unstressed syllable followed by one long or
stressed syllable. eg. "Now IS the WINter
OF our DISconTENT" from Shakespeare's Richard
- 1485: Thomas Malory "Morte d'Arthur"
- see The 16th century
- the age of the printing press
- Machiavelli (1469-1527)
shamed by the incompetence of the Italian leaders of the
time, watching his proud 1st rate city state of Florence
become a 2nd-rate power under domination of Spain, wrote
his infamous book "The
Prince" in 1514, and "Discourses upon
Livy", "History of Florence"
& "Dialogue on language"
- 1523: 1st English manual of agriculture: Fitzherbert's "Book of
- 1531: 1st complete edition of Aristotle's works published by Erasmus;
- 1532: Chaucer's works published posthum; Machiavelli "Il Principe"
written in 1513 published posthum;
- Sir Thomas More Utopia c1540?
- 1547: Nostradamus
- 1556: Stationers' Company of London granted monopoly of printing
- 1563: 1st printing presses in Russia;
- 1570: Henryson's "The moral fables of Aesop";
- 1590: Shakespeare's "Henry VI"; 1st English paper mill at
- 1592: Shakespeare's "Richard III";
- 1594: Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet"; 1st opera:
- 1595: Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream";
- 1596: Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice";
- 1597: Shakespeare's "Henry IV";
- 1598: Shakespeare's "Much Ado about Nothing" & "Henry
- 1599: Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar";
- 1600: Shakespeare - "Hamlet", "The Merry Wives
Shakespeare - "King Lear", "Macbeth";
- 1606: Joseph Scaliger "Thesaurus temporum" -
chronology of ancient times;
- 1611: Authorised version (1st English translation) of the Bible
- 1612: Shakespeare -
- 1614: Sir Walter Raleigh - "History of the World";
- 1616: Shakespeare dies - it now appears that although
Shakespeare directed, acted in, and part-owned the company that
performed the plays, he never wrote them, instead, for political
reasons, he was a front man for a Tudor politician descended from the
Plantagenet (the rival dynasty to the Tudors) Edward III, and whose
grandfather and great uncle had been executed by Henry VIII - Sir
Henry Neville, an English courtier and diplomat (1562-1615) who
was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1601 after being involved in
an unsuccessful revolt led by the Earl of Essex. (Ref. Brenda James,
William Rubinstein 2005).
- "Loves Labour Lost" echoes in part issues
discussed specifically at Oxford University when Neville studies
there in 1574-9. Many characters in the play were known personally
- "Measure for measure" was set in Vienna which
Neville visited in 1580 - the them - laws against immorality -
reflects specific ideas Neville encountered when he met a
Calvinist philosopher there.
- "Romeo and Juliet", "The Taming of the
Shrew", "Two gentleman of Verona" and
"The merchant of Venice" were are set in northern
Italy which Neville visited at length in 1581-2.
- Neville visited Poland and possibly Denmark where "Hamlet"
- "Henry V" reflects Neville's journey to France,
where he was briefly English ambassador in 1599-1600;
- the plays also portray many of Neville's royal and other
ancestors - John of Gaunt in "Richard II",
Warwick the King Maker in "Henry IV Part II",
King Duncan in "Macbeth" - in a particularly
favourable light, while the character Falstaff who appears in four
plays was based on Neville himself.
- after his imprisonment the plays became more sombre and tragic
and the contents of a note written while imprisoned ended up being
used in "Henry VIII".
- a document discovered in 1867 shows Neville practicing faking
- Shakespeare's patron was the Earl of Southampton , a close
associate of Neville.
The Age of
- see also: The 17th century
- c1600: Cervantes "Don Quixote de la Mancha"
- 1687: Newton "Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica";
- see also: The 18th century
- 1702: 1st daily newspaper
in England- "The Daily Courant"
- 1719: Daniel Defoe
- 1720, 1st serialisation of novels in newspapers;
- 1724, Voltaire "La Henriade"
- 1725, Alexander Pope translates Homer's "The Odyssey";
- 1726, Jonathan Swift "Gulliver's Travels"
- 1754, David Hume's "History of Great Britain Vol. 1";
- 1760's, Voltaire "Candide"
- 1768, Encyclopedia Brittanica;
- 1797: Immanuel Kant "Fundamentals of Metaphysical Morals"
- 1798 Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads
- 1799, Rosetta Stone found & makes deciphering of Egyptian
- see also: The 19th century
- 1812-15: Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm "Household Tales" -
German fairy tales
- 1813: Jane Austen "Pride and prejudice"
- 1814: Jane Austen "Mansfield Park"
- 1815: Jane Austen "Emma"
- 1831: Victor Hugo "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
- 1847: Marx & Engels "The Communist Manifesto"
- 1842-48: Balzac "Human Comedy"
- 1850: Tennyson "In Memoriam"
- 1851: Melville "Moby Dick"
- 1854 Dickens "Hard Times"; George Eliot's translation of
Feuerbach, "The Essence of Christianity"
- 1857: Flaubert "Madame Bovary"
- 1859 Darwin, Origin of Species
- 1861: Turgenev "Fathers and sons"; Dickens "Great
- 1862 Colenso, A Critical Examination of the Pentateuch; Victor Hugo
- 1867 Karl Marx, Das Kapital
- 1870: George Eliot "Middlemarch"
- 1871 Darwin, Descent of Man
- 1880 Huxley, Science and Culture
- 1883: Robert Louis Stevenson "Treasure Island"
- 1886: Robert Louis Stevenson "Kidnapped", "The
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"
- 1888 Kipling, Plain Tales from the Hills
- 1895 Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, performed, Wilde
- 1896: H.G.Wells "The Island of Doctor Moreau"
- 1897: H.G.Wells "The Invisible Man"
- 1898: H.G.Wells "The Time Machine", "The War of
- Pushkin "Eugene Onegin"
- Dostoevsky "Crime and Punishment"
- Tolstoy "War and Peace", "Anna Karenina"
- Chekhov "Plays"
- Thackeray "Vanity fair"
- Wilde "The picture of Dorian Gray"
- Hans Christian Andersen "The Ugly Duckling", "The
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Mark Twain "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
- see also: The 20th century
- 1901 Kipling, Kim
- 1902 Conrad, Heart of Darkness
- George Bernard Shaw "Pygmalion"
- 1920: Edith Wharton "The Age of Innocence"
- Virginia Woolf