Eras of Literature We Will Look at Today
- 2150-1100BCE Mesopotamia
- 1100-146BCE Greek Empire
- 146BCE-476ACE Roman Empire
- 450BCE-1066ACE Medieval Era
- 1300s-1500s The Renaissance
2150-1100BCE Mesopotamia The first story ever told
- Mesopotamia is considered the cradle of civilisation.
- It was located where Iraq and Syria are today.
- The oldest known recorded story, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a series of Sumerian poems preserved on clay tablets.
- It is about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh who searches for immortality, when his friend, Enkidu dies.
- This epic hero genre is common in later Greek and Roman stories.
1100-146BCE Greek Empire Dawn of Western Literature
800–490BCE Archaic Period
Homer writes the epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, which describe the Trojan War and Odysseus’ journey home.
They are revered for their vivid depictions of war and peace, honour and disgrace, love and hatred.
490–323BCE Classical Period
- Many plays were written.
- Aeschylus invented tragedy with the Oresteia.
- Aristophanes invented comedy with Lysistrata and The Frogs.
- Sophocles invented irony as a dramatic technique in Oedipus Rex.
- Socrates, the philosopher, is executed and Plato writes down Socrates’ ideas and his own in The Republic.
- Aristotle, a student of Plato’s, began tutoring Alexander the Great, who conquered Persia, Egypt and Northern India, expanding the Greek Empire.
323–146BCE Hellenistic Alexandrian Period
- Aristotle investigated science, philosophy, drama and established the first criteria for literary criticism.
- Plutarch wrote the ancient history book Plutarch’s Lives.
508BCE-476ACE Roman Republic and The Empire
- Romans like to copy and improve older writers. e.g. Virgil’s Aeneid emulated Homer’s Iliad.
- Ovid’s Metamorphoses is the modern source of many Greek and Roman myths.
- Satire is one of the few Roman additions to literature.
450BCE-1509ACE The Middle Ages
450BCE-1066ACE Old English in the Early Middle Ages
1066-1509ACE Medieval Literature
The Song of Roland is the oldest piece of French literature, a chanson de geste that celebrated a hero’s deeds in service of a king.
Such poems link divine or supernatural powers and the powers of the king.
Geoffrey Chaucer with his raunchy humour became the father of English literature.
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories told by pilgrims, knights, tailors and friars, as a competition while travelling to Canterbury.
Around 1430 The printing press is invented
Gutenberg’s printing press allowed books to be mass produced rather than rewritten by hand.
Information was more affordable, available and able to spread long distances.
Science, literature and basic literacy all blossomed into…