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history:h_literature_classical

History of Classical Literature

Before 500BC:

  • Sumerian:
    • Gilgamesh
      • 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 relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
      • later the Greeks incorporated elements of this into their dragon-slaying epics and in stories of Achilles & Patroclus
  • Judaic:
    • 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.
  • Greek:
    • Mycenean tablets
    • Homer c800BC - Homeric Hymns, The Iliad, The Odyssey 
    • Sappho - c610BC - female poet from Lesbos - 2 complete poems out of 9 have survived.
    • Aesop's fables 6thC BC
  • India:
    • 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.

Ancient Greek:

  • Aeschylus 525-456BC:
    • AgamemnonLibation Bearers, Eumenides trilogy
      • lust for power & the accompanying violence; male vs female dominance; crime & punishment; emotion vs reason; tribalism vs democracy; 
    • The Persians, The Seven Against Thebes, The Choephori,
  • the Periclean Age:
    • Sophocles (496-406BC) - dramatist - Antigone, Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra, The Trachiniae, etc
    • 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 Women  
  • Hippocrates (460-377BC) - The Oath, On Ancient Medicine, Aphorisms, etc
  • 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….
  •  

 

Ancient Roman:

  • 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 
  • Ptolemy
  • Plutarch c75AD
  • Seneca
  • Galen (129-216AD) - On the natural faculties 
  • Horace
  • Catullus
  • Propertius
  • Sulpicia

 

Ancient Judeo-Christian:

  • 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 70
  • Flavius Josephus, historian 37-100AD Jewish Antiquities, The Jewish War, Life of Josephus
  •  

Ancient Eastern:

  • 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 
  • Avicenna
  • St Thomas Aquinas
  • Dante, Italian poet, wrote his epic masterpiece The Divine Comedy in 1307
  • 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 literature.
    • 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 III.
  • 1485: Thomas Malory “Morte d'Arthur“ 

 

Renaissance:

  • 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 husbandry”;
  • 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 in England
  • 1563: 1st printing presses in Russia;
  • 1570: Henryson's “The moral fables of Aesop”; 
  • 1590: Shakespeare's “Henry VI”; 1st English paper mill at Dartford;
  • 1592: Shakespeare's “Richard III”;
  • 1594: Shakespeare's “Romeo & Juliet”; 1st opera: Peri's “Dafne”; 
  • 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 V”;
  • 1599: Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar”;
  • 1600: Shakespeare - “Hamlet”, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”;
  • 1605: Shakespeare - “King Lear”, “Macbeth”;
  • 1606: Joseph Scaliger “Thesaurus temporum” - chronology of ancient times;
  • 1611: Authorised version (1st English translation) of the Bible published;
  • 1612: Shakespeare - “Henry VIII”;
  • 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 to Neville.
    • 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” was set.
    • 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 signature.
    • Shakespeare's patron was the Earl of Southampton , a close associate of Neville.

The Age of Reason:

  • see also: The 17th century
  • c1600: Cervantes “Don Quixote de la Mancha“ 
  • 1687: Newton ”Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica”;

The Age of Enlightenment:

  • see also: The 18th century
  • 1702: 1st daily newspaper in England- “The Daily Courant
  • 1719: Daniel Defoe “Robinson Crusoe”; 
  • 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 hieroglyphics possible; 

The 19th Century:

  • 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 Expectations”;
  • 1862 Colenso, A Critical Examination of the Pentateuch; Victor Hugo “Les Miserables”;
  • 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 arrested
  • 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 the Worlds“ 
  • 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 Snow Queen”,
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Mark Twain “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The 20th Century:

  • 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
history/h_literature_classical.txt · Last modified: 2013/01/14 20:09 by gary1