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Epic of Gilgamesh – Mesopotamian writing

By |2018-04-13T01:43:06+00:00September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Epic of Gilgamesh: Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu fight the monster Humbaba, on an Assyrian cylinder seal from the 600s BC The real king Gilgamesh The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about a Sumerian king (Gilgamesh) who seems to have lived around 2500 BC, in Mesopotamia. Story-tellers probably began telling this story not long after he [...]

Medieval literature – Europe

By |2018-04-24T09:23:15+00:00August 3rd, 2017|Literature, Medieval|

Medieval Book (Cluny Museum, Paris) In the Early Middle Ages, as the Roman Empire was collapsing, the new power of Christianity inspired Augustine, in North Africa, and Pope Gregory the Great in Italy. They both wrote new books in Latin about Christian philosophy. In Constantinople, Procopius wrote in Greek about Justinian's conquests. And about the same time, Cassiodorus in Italy [...]

Shahnameh – Islamic Literature

By |2017-07-26T09:31:51+00:00July 26th, 2017|Islam, Literature|

Death of Iskandar (Alexander), from the Great Mongol Shahnameh (Iran, 1330s AD) In the 900s AD, Central Asia was the most civilized part of the world. The universities and libraries of Iran and Afghanistan were famous for a thousand miles in every direction. The Iranian Al-Tabari had recently finished writing his huge Islamic History. Here, in [...]

Who was Homer? Greek epic literature

By |2018-04-23T09:02:17+00:00July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Cup by Sophilos, showing a race from the Iliad (as the inscription says - Athens, ca. 570 BC) To the classical Greeks, Homer's epics played very much the same role that the Bible plays for a lot of people today. People memorized big chunks of Homer's writings in school, and they repeated bits [...]

Greek literature – ancient Greece

By |2018-04-23T08:12:51+00:00July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Sappho The Greeks wrote a great deal, and a surprising amount of what they wrote is still available to us today, 2500 years later. We traditionally divide Greek literature into types: 1) the epic (EH-pick): Around 700 BC, Homer wrote two connected epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Epics are long poems which [...]