Enjoy the Famous Daily Mesopotamia: 3rd millennium BC The earliest uses of writing are strictly practical - lists of commodities, temple accounts, details of a contract. Such documents are short and not too daunting to a Mesopotamian scribe, writing with a reed stylus on a tablet of damp clay.
For centuries it seems unthinkable to write down an entire epic poem, familiar to these societies only in the form of recitation. When writing is first developed, an oral poetic tradition is already a feature of civilized life. Eventually the scribes get round to the task of recording some of this material. Asian dating riverside provides the world's two earliest surviving works of literature. The Sanskrit literature of India dates back in oral tradition to the middle of the second millennium BC.
It enshrines the Vedic religion of the newcomers into India at this time, the Aryans. The earliest and best known of the four Vedas is the Rigvedaa collection of temple hymns. Of the other three, the Samaveda and the Yajurveda are collections of priestly chants and prayers for use during sacrificial rituals; the Atharveda is more concerned with religion in the life of the individual worshipper.
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It is a massive compilation of chronicle and myth, brought together from about the 4th century BC and probably reaching its present form by about AD It is traditionally but most improbably attributed to a single author, a wise man by the name of Vyasa.
The poem amounts to nearlycouplets, about seven times as long asian dating riverside the Odyssey and the Iliad combined. Like the Homeric poemsit probably derives from historical events - and events of much the same period somewhere between and BC.
Poems ranging in date from to BC are collected in the earliest work of Chinese literature, the Shijing asian dating riverside 'Classic of Poetry'. Most of them are lyrical and often wistful - as, for example, in the poignant appeal of a girl Growing old without a lover. This collection of about poems has a profound influence on the development of literature in China, inclining writers to delicate impressionism rather than the more violent epic tradition of India and Europe.
The poems of the Shijing are gathered together shortly before asian dating riverside time of Confucius. He makes much use of the collection as a source of quotations, and it becomes known as one of the five Confucian Classics. Two great reservoirs of source material for European literature and indeed for all European art are recorded for posterity in regions bordering the eastern Mediterranean during the centuries after BC.
The holy books of Judaism are slightly the earlier of the two. Known to Christians as the Old Testamentthey are written down at first from earlier oral sources from about BC onwards. The other comparable body of material derives entirely from an oral tradition. Somewhere around BC the Odyssey and the Iliad are transformed from bardic songs into written texts - the transition from folklore to literature. They are credited to a blind poet, Homer.
Who was Homer? When did he write? What did he write?
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These difficult asian dating riverside, known collectively as the 'Homeric question', have puzzled scholars since as early as the 6th century BC. The problem is neatly avoided in Max Beerbohm's phrase 'those incomparable poets Homer'. And it is well stated in a legendary schoolboy howler: 'Homer was not written by Homer but by another poet of the same name.
But a greater truth is that European literature begins, in Homer, with two amazing masterpieces. There is a good reason for this particular date, the 8th century BC.
It is when writing returns to Greece, in a more congenial alphabetic form.
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But it is not a case of someone simply writing down an existing poem. The strongest argument for Homer as a single writer of genius is the accomplished literary form of the Iliad and the Odyssey. The separate incidents which make up the two stories must certainly have been in the repertoire of many performers, but no single bard is likely to have sung all the material asian dating riverside Homer uses.
And nobody, in an age before writing, has either the incentive or the opportunity to fashion such skilfully shaped overall narratives - with beginning, middle and end. The writing down of the Homeric poems in the 8th century BC does not mean that they become available to readers. The texts merely enable his followers to preserve the works and to perform them in a consistent manner.
A group of such followers, the Homeridae, become associated with the island of Chios, off the coast of Ionia.
Ancient tradition links Homer himself with Ionia, and the language of the poems seems to confirm an Ionic background. The origins of Greek theatre lie in the revels of the followers of Dionysus, a god of fertility and wine. In keeping with the god's special interests, his cult ceremonies are exciting occasions. His female devotees, in particular, dance themselves into a state asian dating riverside frenzy.
Carrying long phallic symbols, known as thyrsoi, they tear to pieces and devour the raw flesh of sacrificial animals. But the Asian dating riverside also develop a more structured form of drama. They dance and sing, in choral form, the stories of Greek myth. Only a small number of tragedies survive as full texts from the annual competitions in Athens, but they include work by three dramatists of genius. The earliest is the heavyweight of the trio, Aeschylus. Aeschylus adds a second actor, increasing the potential for drama.
He first wins the prize for tragedy in BC. He is known to have written about eighty plays, of which only seven survive.
One of his innovations is to write the day's three tragedies on a single theme, as a trilogy. By good fortune three of his seven plays are asian dating riverside such trilogy, which remains one of the theatre's great masterpieces - the Oresteiacelebrating the achievement of Athens in replacing the chaos of earlier times with the rule asian dating riverside law.
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From BC there is an annual competitition for comedies at Athens - held as part of the Lenaea, a three-day festival dentist dating site January. Only one comic author's work has survived from the 5th century. Like the first three tragedians, he launches the genre with great brilliance. He is Aristophanes, a frequent winner of the first prize in the Lenaea on the first occasion, in BC, with the Acharnians.
Eleven of his plays survive, out of a total of perhaps forty spanning approximately the period BC. They rely mainly on a device which becomes central to the tradition of comedy.
They satirize contemporary foibles by placing them in an unexpected context, whether by means of a fantastic plot or through the antics of ridiculous characters.
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In most cultural matters Rome is greatly influenced by Greece, and this is particularly true of theatre. Two Roman writers of comedy, Plautus and Terence, achieve lasting fame in the decades before and after BC - Plautus for a robust form of entertainment close to farce, Terence for a more subtle comedy of manners.
But neither writer invents a single plot. All are borrowed from Greek drama, and every play of Terence's is set in Athens. The misfortune of Plautus and Terence is that their audience is very much less attentive than in Athens. And the reason is that Roman plays are presented as part of a broader event, the Roman games. The next great achievement of Greek literature is the asian dating riverside of history. No one before Herodotus has consciously attempted to discover the truth about asian dating riverside past and to explain its causes.
He is rightly known as the 'father of history'. Darwin nt dating saga which inspires him to undertake anything so new and so difficult is the one which has overshadowed his own childhood and youth - the clash between Greeks and Persians.
Herodotus grows up in Halicarnassus, in Ionia. At the time of his birth the Asian dating riverside are winning great battles asian dating riverside mainland Greece. During his adult life they drive the Persians from the Greek colonies of Ionia. The second Greek historian, Thucydides, adds a new dimension - that of contemporary history.
An Athenian, born probably in about BC, he is a young man when war is renewed between Athens and Sparta inafter a peace of sixteen years.
Although the complete work of Herodotus is not yet published, Thucydides is certain to know the work of the older historian - who has made his living by reciting the highlights of his narrative.
Herodotus has told the story of the last great war, between Greeks and Persians. In Thucydides recognizes the onset of the next major conflict, between Greeks. He resolves to record the Peloponnesian War as it happens. Thucydides ' history is continued from BC by the third and last of the great trio of Greek historians - Xenophon. The fact asian dating riverside a contemporary continues the work so precisely from this date proves that Thucydides did indeed finish his work there, rather than the remainder being lost.
But Xenophon, though a vivid writer, proves a very inadequate historian at a serious level. A supporter of Sparta, he lacks any sense of objectivity.
Fortunately this does not spoil the work which has made him famous. In BC asian dating riverside finds himself part of a Greek force making a desperate retreat from Persia.
Objectivity is irrelevant. He describes only what he sees and hears. The result is vivid eyewitness history, akin almost to journalism. In addition to epic poetry, tragedy, comedy and history, the Greeks pioneer yet another branch of literature - philosophy. The earliest Greek philosophers, begining with Thales in the 6th century, are concerned chiefly with what we would call science.
They seek explanations of the mysteries of the cosmos and of our planet. But their method is philosophical rather than scientific.
Instead of observing the natural world, and testing their ideas against what they observe a scientific procedure for which they lack the equipmentthey take a more high-minded and dangerous route.
They dream up magnificent theories which can only be judged by their own interior consistency - a congenital habit of philosophers. Greece, in the century following Parmenides, sees the rise of a professional class often described as philosophers.
They are the Sophists, who derive their name from the same Greek root, sophos. But unlike pure philosophers, their aims are practical. They are travelling teachers, earning their living by educating the sons of the rich.
Education of this kind is carried out largely in conversation.
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The dialogue becomes a feature of the classroom, and the art of persuasion - formalized as rhetoric - is an important part of the curriculum. Like the teaching of Confucius in China a little earlier, this training prepares young men to make their way in the world.
There is a particular need for it in Athens. Socrates, one of the most famous philosophers in history, is the author of not a single book.