Outline of Logos 7: The Origins of Writing, Poetry, Drama, Fiction (lecture by Piero Scaruffi)

Bernard Comrie: The Atlas Of Languages (1996)
Steven Pinker: The Language Instinct (1994)
Robin Dunbar: Grooming, Gossip And The Evolution Of Language (1996)
Terrence Deacon: The Symbolic Species (1997)
Derek Bickerton: Language And Species (1992)
The Origin of Language
The Origin of Language
Who invented the heartbeat?
The Origin of Language
Who invented language?
The Origin of Language
Noam Chomsky: children learn language because their brains are programmed to learn languages
The Origin of Language
Terrence Deacon
Language and the brain evolved together influencing each other step by step.
Language originated from symbolic thinking
that arose when humans became hunters
because of the need to overcome the sexual bonding
in favor of group cooperation
The Origin of Language
Derek Bickerton
Human language is not primarily a means to communicate but a means to represent the world
Human language did not evolve from animal communication but from older representation systems (the first cells capable of representing the world)
The Origin of Language
Why don't we all speak the same language?
The Origin of Language
Robin Dunbar
The function of language was not to communicate information, but to cement society.
It is difficult to imitate a dialect
A dialect allows a member of a group to recognize members of the same group
The Origin of Language
Language families
Semitic: Akkadian, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic (Ethiopic)
Indo-European (Italic, German, Indian, English...)
Dravidian (South Indian)
Sino-tibetan languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, Burmese)
Altaic (Turkish, Mongolian, Central Asian, Japanese, Korean)
Austric (Thai, Malay, Khmer, Vietnamese)
The Origin of Writing
Ancient civilizations
The Origin of Writing
At least three independent origins of writing

An evolution of record keeping
The original symbols of record keeping were clay tokens
From envelops containing three-dimensional representations (clay tokens) of the objects to the surface of the envelop displaying a two-dimensional representation (the imprint) of the three-dimensional representations to cuneiform writing
Original function: business activities of temple and palace
Capitalism led to the invention and diffusion of writing, the alphabet and (later) of coins.
Traders needed a way to keep track of their business
Traders traveled and thus spread their inventions
Earliest tablets: 3,400 BC
Scribes evolved pictures of objects into stylized representations of the objects, and eventually pure symbols
Cuneiform language: 800 symbols, one per syllable
3,000 BC: Curved lines replaced by linear strokes and wedges
Cuneiform used to render Sumerian, Akkadian, Elamite (neither Semitic nor Indo-European), Hurrian, Hittite (Indo-European)
Decline of cuneiform in 1000 BC with Aramaic's alphabetical system (easier to learn)
Poetry, music and dance originated as collective expression of religious themes during rituals
The dance rhythm (clapping, stomping, chanting) evolved into rhythmic songs and rhymed poetry
Religious narratives (creation myths) evolved into epic poetry
The meaning became more important than the sound/rhythm
Epic of Gilgamesh (2,600 BC): vain quest for immortality
Kings' List (2,125 BC)
Enheduanna (2,300 BC): lyrical poetry
Enheduanna (2300 BC)
Daughter of king Sargon of Akkad
High priestess of the Moon-God temple of Ur
First known female poet in history
"I, Enheduanna, the highest priestess. I carried the ritual basket, I chanted your praise.
Now I have been cast out to the place of lepers.
Day comes and the brightness is hidden around me.
Shadows cover the light, drape it in sandstorms.
My beautiful mouth knows only confusion.
Even my sex is dust."
Standard of Ur
King of Uruk (2300BC)
Leads a military expedition to a distant place to find cedar wood
Quest for immortality
Tablet 1
"The one who saw all _
He saw the great Mystery, he knew the Hidden:
He recovered the knowledge of all the times before the Flood.
He journeyed beyond the distant, he journeyed beyond exhaustion..."

Gilgamesh is two-thirds god and one-third human.
He is the most powerful king that ever existed, but is a brutal dictator.
The people of Uruk ask god Anu for help.
Anu sends a powerful savage, Enkidu,
He has sex with one of the sacred prostitutes of the temple
and suddenly becomes civilized and knowledgeable.
Gilgamesh dreams that a meteor falls to Earth which is so great that not even Gilgamesh can lift it.
Tablet 2
Enkidu moves to the city. Enkidu briefly fights Gilgamesh over a woman but then they become friends. When Gilgamesh decides to leave on a journey and confront the demon Humbaba, Enkidu follows him to protect him.

Tablet 4
Gilgamesh has several dreams, including a dream of the apocalypse:
"The skies roared with thunder and the earth heaved,
Then came darkness and a stillness like death.
Lightening smashed the ground and fires blazed out;
Death flooded from the skies.
When the heat died and the fires went out,
The plains had turned to ash."
Tablet 5
Gilgamesh and Enkidu find and kill the demon.

Tablet 6
The goddess Ishtar hears of the event and offers herself to Gilgamesh, but Gilgamesh despises her as a slut and a jinx. Ishtar then begs her father Anu to wreak vengeance on Gilgamesh and Uruk, threatening to
"...pull down the Gates of Hell itself,
Crush the doorposts and flatten the door,
And I will let the dead leave
And let the dead roam the earth
And they shall eat the living.
The dead will overwhelm all the living"
Tablet 7
The gods condemn Enkidu to hell for helping G. kill Humbaba:
"The house where the dead dwell in total darkness,
Where they drink dirt and eat stone,
Where they wear feathers like birds,
Where no light ever invades their everlasting darkness,
Where the door and the lock of Hell is coated with thick dust.
When I entered the House of Dust,
On every side the crowns of kings were heaped,
On every side the voices of the kings who wore those crowns,
Who now only served food to the gods Anu and Enlil,
Candy, meat, and water poured from skins.
I saw sitting in this House of Dust a priest and a servant...
There sat Etana and Sumukan,
There sat Ereshkigal, the queen of Hell,
Beletseri, the scribe of Hell, sitting before her."
Tablet 9
Gilgamesh fears that the gods will now come after him, and decides to set out on a journey to find out the secret of immortality.
Utnapishtim and his wife are the only humans who are immortal: they are the only humans who survived the Flood and now live at the mouth of all rivers.

Tablet 11
After many encounters (everybody telling him that his quest is futile), Gilgamesh meets Utnapishtim, who tells him the story of the Flood.
The Flood
Tablet 11/ The Flood
When the gods followed the suggestion of one of them (Enlil) and decided to punish the humans with the Flood, the goddess Ea warned Utnapishtim in time so that he could build an ark, gather all living beings and survive the Flood.
The Flood lasted for seven days and seven nights, and destroyed everything, but the gods felt remorse. The gods found Utnapishtim's ark on top of Mount Nimush, and Enlil in person granted him immortality and the right to live at the source of all the rivers.
Tablet 11/ The End
Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that he will become immortal if he too can stay awake for six days and seven nights, but Gilgamesh falls asleep and sleeps the whole time and when he wakes up he is condemned:
"What do I do now, where do I go now?
Death has devoured my body,
Death dwells in my body,
Wherever I go, wherever I look, there stands Death"
Utnapishtim grants Gilgamesh only the secret to become young again. Gilgamesh does not trust him and brings back to Uruk the magic plant, but a snake eats the magic plant. Gilgamesh returns to Uruk and contemplates the city's splendour.
Kings List
"After kingship had descended from heaven, Eridu became the seat of kingship. In Eridu Aululim reigned 28,800 years as king. Alalgar reigned 36,000 years. Two kings, reigned 64,800 years. Eridu was abandoned and its kingship was carried off to Bad-tabira. . . .
Total: Five Cities, eight kings, reigned 241,200 years.
The flood then swept over. After the Flood had swept over, and kingship had descended from heaven, Kish became the seat of Kingship. In Kish .... Total: twenty-three kings, reigned 24,510 years, 3 months, 3 1/2 days. Kish was defeated; its kingship was carried off to Eanna.
Kings List
"In Eanna, Meskiaggasher, the son of (the sun god) Utu reigned as En (Priest) and Lugal (King) 324 years--Meskiaggasher entered the sea, ascended the mountains. Enmerkar, the son of Meskiaggasher, the king of erech who had built Erech, reigned 420 years as king. Lugalbanda, the shepherd, reigned 1,200 years. Dumuzi the fisherman, whose city was Kua, reigned 100 years. Gilgamesh, whose father was a nomad (?) reigned 126 years. Urnungal, the son of Gilgamesh, reigned 30 years. Labasher reigned 9 years. Ennundaranna reigned 8 years. Meshede reigned 36 years. Melamanna reigned 6 years. Lugalkidul reigned 36 years.
Total: twelve kings, reigned 2,130 years. Erech was defeated, its kingship was carried off to Ur...."
King List
Kings After the Flood
Dynasty of Kish: 23 kings ruled for 24,510 years (the first three all ruled 1,200 years, the second three ruled 960 years, the third three ruled 900 years)
Dynasty of Uruk: 12 kings ruled for 2,310 years
Dynasty of Ur: 4 kings ruled 171 years
Dynasty of Awan: 3 kings for 356 years
Kish 2: 8 kings for 3,195 years
Hamazi: 1 king for 360 years
Uruk 2: 3 kings for 187 years
Ur 2: 4 kings for 108 years
etc etc
Rosetta stone (Ptolemaic decree of 196 BC)
(British Museum)
"Memphite Drama" (inscribed on a a black basalt stelae of 8th c BC at the Temple of Ptah at Memphis that copied a papyrus of 3,000 BC): Ptah creates the world
Texts of the pyramids of 2800 - 2400 BC that include dialogue and prescribe a "play" to be performed periodically by priests to insure the well-being of the dead pharaoh
Abydos Passion Play (inscribed on the tomb of a court official in 1849 BC): reenacts the legend of Osiris and his sister/wife Isis
Set kills his brother Osiris and scatters his body parts
Isis wife/sister of Osiris reassembles his body
Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, avenges Osiris' death by killing Set (good vs evil)
Osiris king of the underworld,Horus king of the living, and Set god of evil
"The Shipwrecked Sailor" (1990 BC): fairy tale of a castaway on an island with a talkative serpent
"The Tale of Sinuhe" (1875 BC): epic novel about the picaresque and exotic adventures of a servant who flees Egypt, becomes powerful and then returns to die in his homeland
"The Plea of the Eloquent Peasant" (1875 BC): fiction (story of a peasant who is robbed by an official) + didactic (moral duties of the state official)

"Maxims of Ptahhotep" (25## BC, Egypt) [h]
"Song of the Harp Player" (2100 BC, Egypt) [h]
"Dialogue of a Misanthrope and his Soul" (20## BC, Egypt) [h]
Khekheperre-sonbu: "The Admonitions" (18## BC, Egypt) [h]
Ipuwer: "The Admonitions" (1780 BC, Egypt) [h]

Scribes: archivists, librarians, record-keepers, not writers
Who were the authors?
Hammurabi law code (18th c BC)
"Enuma Elish" (1700 BC)
Tablet 1 of the Enuma Elish in Akkadian
"Enuma Elish" (1700 BC):
Marduk, the supreme god (a third-generation god), and Ishtar (his wife), goddess of the Earth
The male freshwater ocean (Apsu) and the female saltwater ocean (Tiamat) created the elohim (gods) that created the world
Conflict between the gods (Apsu gets killed, Tiamat leads persecution of the gods)
Gods are tired of their tough life
Marduk creates humanity to be the servants of the gods
Grateful, the gods declare Marduk the supreme god
Struggle between order and chaos (Marduk's battle with Tiamat)
Enuma Elish
Enuma Elish
Enuma Elish
Summa alu
Compendium of omens related to the Earth
Enuma Anu Enlil
Compendium of omens related to the Cosmos
Shang map
Shang (1766 BC - 1122 BC)
Anyang: Oldest known form of Chinese writing
Emphasis on predicting the future (divination bones to ask ancestors questions)

Shang Oracle Bones
Shang (1766 BC - 1122 BC)
Evolution of Chinese writing
Pictographs for words referring to objects
Ideographs (combination of pictographs to express a concept)
Phonetic signs (pictographs "borrowed" in other words because of the sound they represented)
Disambiguation signs
More than 2,000 characters
Shang (1766 BC - 1122 BC)
Mystery of Chinese alphabet: it is easier for a Chinese child to learn Chinese using pinyin (the phonetic romanization) than the Chinese characters
/I Ching/Yi Jing Book of Changes (900 BC)
64 symbolic hexagrams, each hexagram consisting of a pair of trigrams chosen from a family of eight basic trigrams, each named for a natural phenomenon
The eight trigrams represent the possible combinations of Yang and Yin, or unbroken and broken lines
Divination and numerology
Commentaries on change
"Yin" (quiescence)
"Yang" (movement)
Indo-European map
Indo-European Languages
Indo-European Family tree
Indo-European Languages
Indo-European Family tree
Indo-European Languages
Indo-European or "Aryan" languages: Indo-Iranian, Italic, Slavic, Germanic, Greek, Baltic, Celtic, Albanian, Armenian
5000 BC: the Kurgan ("tumuli") culture in the steppes west of the Ural Mountains (Indo-Aryans)
3000 BC: Dravidian speaking people develop the civilization of the Indus Valley
3000 BC: the proto-indo-european language develops in Central Asia
2000 BC: the Kurgan culture spreads to eastern Europe and northern Iran
Indo-European Languages
Indo-European migration
Indo-European Languages
The Indo-European migrations
2200 BC: Mycenae (Greece)
2100 BC: the Hurrians in northern Mesopotamia
1720 BC: the Hittites in Turkey
1700 BC: Indo-Iranians
1600 BC: Indo-Europeans in the Indus valley
1480 BC: the Mitannis in Mesopotamia
Indo-European Languages
1700 BC: Indo-Aryans migrate eastward, away from the other Indo-European peoples, and settle in Iran
1600 BC: Indo-Aryans invade India from the west and expel the Dravidians
1500 BC: Religious texts are written in Vedic, an Indo-European language
400 BC: Panini's grammar formalizes Sanskrit, an evolution of Vedic
Indo-European Languages
India has 112 mother tongues with at least 10,000 speakers
23 Dravidian (non-Indoeuropean) languages are spoken by 180 million people, mainly in the south (Tamil in Tamil Nadu, Telugu in Andhra Pradesh, Kannada in Mysore, Malayalam in Kerala)
Vedas pictures
Rig-veda (1500 BC)
Beliefs of the Aryans
1028 hymns to a pantheon of gods
Not written down but handed down orally from father to son (jealously guarded secrets)
Veda means "knowledge/wisdom" in ancient Vedic
Yajur-Veda (1000 BC): rites of sacrifice
Sama-Veda: religious hymns
Atharva-Veda (900 BC): magic spells
Brahmanas (900 BC): priestly rites in prose
Creation Hymn from the Rig Veda (Translation by V. V. Raman, University of Rochester)
Not even nothing existed then
No air yet, nor a heaven.
Who encased and kept it where?
Was water in the darkness there?
Neither deathlessness nor decay
No, nor the rhythm of night and day:
The self-existent, with breath sans air:
That, and that alone was there.
Darkness was in darkness found
Like light-less water all around.
One emerged, with nothing on
It was from heat that this was born.
Into it, Desire, its way did find:
The primordial seed born of mind.
Sages know deep in the heart:
What exists is kin to what does not.
Creation Hymn from the Rig Veda (Translation by V. V. Raman, University of Rochester)
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He.
Sources of the Vedas
Indo-European elements
Indo-Iranian elements (eg, Vedic god Varuna similar to Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda)
Dravidian elements

Indo-European Languages
Ethnic groups of 13th c BC Europe
Oldest recorded Indo-European language (6,000 BC?)
"The Disappeared God" (Hittite, 16## BC)
"Kumarbi-ullikummi" (Hittite, 16## BC)
"The Dragon Illujanka" (Hittite, 16## BC)

What language is this?
Canaanites: Semitic people, ancestors of both Phoenicians and Hebrews, 2500 BC - 1000 BC
1500 - 1000 BC: Canaanites develop an alphabet of 24 symbols by removing the vowels from the old Semitic cuneiform alphabet
1000 BC: Byblos condenses original 30 signs to 22
Independent city-state between 1500-1200 BC
Cosmopolitan center with palaces, temples, vaulted tombs, archives in several languages
Trade with Egypt, Mesopotamia, Aegean islands and the Hittites (Anatolia)
1,500 BC: alphabet
"Tale of Aghat" (14## BC, Ugarit)
A wicked Danel makes ablations to false gods, becomes drunk, consumes his funerary offering in Baal's house
"Baal & Anat" (Ugarit, 14## BC)
Arameans or Syriacs
Semitic, nomadic people of Mesopotamia
Settled in Syria in the 14th century BC
Small tribes that never unified in an empire

Language and alphabet
Aramaic language (originally a dialect of Akkadian) written with the Phoenician alphabet
International trade language of the Middle East between 1000 and 600 BCE
Official language of the Persian Empire (539-337 BC)
Aramaic used as far as Egypt and China
Aramaic becomes the language of the Jews in Palestine (Jesus preaches in Aramaic)
Aramaic evolves into Christian Aramaic, Syriac (4th to 7th c. AD)
Aramaic declines with the Arab conquest (7th c. AD)
Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament)
All books in Hebrew except one in Aramaic (Daniel's) divided in three sections
Torah/Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
Nevim/Prophets (Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisa, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc)
Ketuvim/Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, the Book of Job, Daniel, the Song of Songs, etc)
Book of Daniel (composed about 164 BC, accepted about 90 AD)
Psalms of David and Proverbs of Solomon inspired by "Amenemope's Wisdom" (Egypt)
The first five books of the Hebrew Bible:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Traditionally attributed to Moses
A multitude of different writing styles
Two different versions of the creation of the world
Two different versions of the covenant
At least four authors
A Yahwist narrative (950 BC)
An Elohist source (850 BC)
Deuteronomy (650 BC)
A priestly document (500 BC)

The Greeks (700 BC)
No literature from Mycenae (1600 BC to 1100 BC) but legends about Mycenae throughout Greek literature
Earliest example of Greek alphabet: 740 BC (a line of poetry about dancing: writing used for artistic purposes, not just for accounting)
The Greeks (700 BC)
The Homeric poems (1000BC-800BC)
A Greek from Ionia (Asia Minor), perhaps from the island of Chios
Lived between 850 BC and 750 BC.
Blind wandering minstrel reciting poems from a very old oral tradition
Homer lived in the Iron Age but told his stories about the Bronze Age
The Homeric poems (1000BC-800BC)
Poem of 15,693 verses in dactylic hexameter (as in "Canada Canada")
Tenth year of the war between the Achaeans and Troy, a war caused by Paris' abduction of Helen from King Menelaus of Mycenae
Achilles' wrath (withdraws from battle because of his anger at Greek chief Agamemnon, returns to avenge the death of his friend Patroklus, kills Trojan hero Hector)
Odysseus of Ithaca reluctantly joins the Greeks in the siege of Troy
The Homeric poems (1000BC-800BC)
Gods, oracles and heroes drive the action
Gods witness, root, plot and participate
Zeus also foresees the events and makes sure that Fate is respected
Ends with the funerals of the opposing heores, Hector and Patroklus
Gods are not necessarily good, heroes are good
The Homeric poems (1000BC-800BC)
Odysseus/Ulysses' adventures and ultimate return home ten years after the fall of Troy
Cyclopes, nymphae, witches, sirens, monsters
Ulysses recovers his kingdom
Fantasy not chronicle
The Homeric poems (1000BC-800BC)
The poem begins with Ulysses' refusal of immortality (the opposite of the Gilgamesh, which begins with a quest for immortality)
Paradise is a prison: Ulysses does not want immortality with the goddess Calypso; the immortality granted to him by Calypso prevents him from fulfilling his duty
Ulysses travels to Hades (the underworld/afterlife) and meets famous deceased (including Achilles)
Dead Achilles envies the living
The Homeric poems (1000BC-800BC)
Heroic virtues
Fate (the best do not always win)
Life as a continuous titanic struggle
Separation of art and religion (the poet as a vehicle for the gods but not as a priest)
Unity of design
No unity of soul: psyche (vital spirit?), thymos (consciousness?), nous (intellect?)
At death, psyche wanders in Hades, thymos leaves the body
Other epics
Achilles' victories over Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, and Memnon, king of Ethiopia,
Death of Achilles at the hands of Paris
Aeneas escaped the massacre and led the Trojan survivors to Italy
Hesiod (750BC)

Collapse of mythopoetic thought
Emergence of the poet as an individual, not a collective bard: the soul of the individual not the soul of the community
Lyric poem
Archilochus (650 BC)
Sappho (600 BC)
Pindar (b 518BC)
Poikilo' Thron' Athanat' Aphrodita
Pai Dios Doloploka, Lissomai Se
Me M'asaisi Med' Oniaisi Damna
Potnia Thumon.

Alla Tuid' Elth' Ai Pota Katerota
Tas Emas Audos Aioisa Peloi
Eklues, Patros De Domon Lipoisa
Chrusion Elthes

Arm' Updeuxaisa. Kaloi De S'agon
Okees Strouthoi Peri Gas Melainas
Pukna Dinnentes Pter' Ap Oranothe-
-Ros Dia Messo

"...If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared
"all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck
"myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them
"while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song..."
(Translated by Mary Barnard)
... There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess,
Whom I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me...
(Translated by Paul Roche)
...She saw you as a goddess
and above all your dancing gave her deep joy.
Now she shines among Lydian women like
the rose-fingered moon
rising after sundown, erasing all
stars around her, and pouring light equally
across the salt sea
and over densely flowered fields
lucent under dew. Her light spreads
on roses and tender thyme
and the blooming honey-lotus_.
(Translated by Willis Barnstone)
Theater (550BC)
"Theatron" = "seeing place", the place where the audience sat
"Tragedia" = "goat-song" (goat skins of the chorus)
"Chorus" = "dance"
Theater (550BC)
Theater began as a religious ceremony
The Anthenian theatre focused on Dionysus, god of fertility, wine, sexuality, agriculture
Yearly fertility festival in March, including
one week of public wine drinking
phallus-worshiping orgy
dithyrambos (dance and chant to the god)
Theater (550BC)
The first plays were transcriptions in verse form of these religious rites
The first playwrights were poets and the first plays were mostly recited (or sung) and danced by the chorus
The first actors were characters addressing the leader of the chorus during intervals
Second actor added by Aeschylus. Third actor added by Sophocles.
Scenery introduced by Sophocles
Machinery to impersonate a god ("deus ex machina") introduced by Euripides
Theater (550BC)
The chorus' part was gradually reduced, the actors' dialogue gradually increased
The chorus danced in front of the stages ("orchestra")
A play included loud music, bright colors, spectacular dancing
A play consisted of: 1. prologue (a simple speech), 2. introduction of the chorus, 3. the acts/scenes
The chorus commented on the action AND guided the audience's reactions
All the actors were male, and they all played multiple roles (and wore masks to identify the character)
The performance took place in an open-air theater
The audience was 15-17,000 people
Tragedy as narrative of the gods and heroes
The plot is already known to the audience (ancestral legends)
Aeschylus (525 BC): "Oresteia", humans instead of gods
the return of Agamemnon from the Trojan War and his assassination by his wife Clytemnestra to avenge the killing of their daughter Iphigenia
the reunion of Agamemnon's children, Electra and Orestes, and their revenge on their mother
Orestes narrowly escapes the revenge of the Furies
Sophokles/Sophocles (496 BC): "Oedipus Rex", horror of human condition
Oedipus goes on a journey to escape his fate (to wed his mother and kill his father) but his actions bring about precisely that fate
Euripides (485 BC): "Medea", madness rather than accept the human condition; ordinary men
In order to take revenge over her husband Jason's betrayal, Medea kills her own children
Comedy (400BC)
Aristophanes (450 BC): "Lysistrata" (411 BC)
the women force the men to make peace by refusing them sex
Menander (b342 BC): Comedies

Map of Etruria


Map of Roman Empire
Latin alphabet

Archaic period
Theater: Plautus (254BC), first major Latin literature (imitation of Greek comedies)
Ciceronian period (70 - 43 BC)
Poetry: Catullus (87 BC), Lucretius (99 BC)
Augustan period (43 BC - 14 AD)
Horatius/Horace (65 BC): pleasure, condition of the poet
Ovidius/Ovid (43 BC): eros, satire
Theater: Seneca (4 BC)
Augustan period (43 BC - 14 AD)
Vergilius/Virgil (70 BC): epic glorification of Rome's greatness
Modeled after Homer
Aeneas goes to Hades
Moral poem: the dead are divided by ethical category
Civic poem: Aeneas comes back to see the glory of Rome
Arcadia: golden age of simple country pleasures, dream of rural tranquility
Petronius Arbiter's "Satyricon" (60 AD)
Satire, but not moralistic
Small-town life and ordinary people
A mixture of prose and poetry
Misadventures of the narrator, Encolpius, his friend Ascyltus, and their slave boy Giton, their love object
Tales of Trimalchio's guests
Lucius Apuleius' "Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass" (170)
Marcus Valerius Martialis: Epigrams (103 AD)
Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis: Satires (1## AD)
Upanishads (600 BC)
The metaphysical counterpart of the Veda (eg, the Brihadaranyaka is contained in the Yajurveda)
Philosophical meditation on the meaning of life and the nature of the universe, rather than mythology of gods
Pessimistic vision of the human condition: life is evil/sorrow

Theravada/Hinayana Buddhist scriptures ("Tipitaka" or "Pali canon", 247 BC):
Codified in the second half of the 1st century BC in the Pali dialect of the Prakrit language
Transmitted orally by Buddha's disciples
Ananda (Buddha's servant): Buddha's sutras/sermons (Sutra pitaka): over 5,000 sutras
Vinaya "basket" (pitaka) of monastic rules: 227 rules for monks and 311 for nuns
Abhidharma pitaka of philosophical speculation (300BC -100 AD): five treatises due to scholars (not by the Buddha)
Suttas: pitaka of stories and sayings (including the Jatakas, parables of Buddha's previous lives)
Sanskrit Literature
"Kautiliya Arthasastra" (4## BC, India) [h]
Bhasa (3## BC, India): "Svapnavasavadatta/ The Vision of Vasavadatta" (3##) [t]
Gunadhya (1## BC, India): "Baddakaha/ Brhatkatha" (1##), written in prakrit, the spoken language of ordinary people
"Hala Satavahana" (1## BC, India): "Gathasaptashathi" (1##) [p], prakrit anthology of poems
Sanskrit epics
Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa (4th c BC): Mahabarata (6th c BC - 4th c AD)
90,000 verses (longest poem in world literature)
Tale of the rivalry between the Kauravas and the Pandavas for control of the kingdom, culminating in the battle of the Bhagavad Gita. The winner Yudhistira retires in the Himalayas and then ascends to heaven.
The whole war was Brahma's own idea. He sent demons to the Earth to cause massive destruction because the human population was getting out of control.
Hundreds of side stories and meditations
Spiritual synthesis of the main Sanskrit philosophical schools
The world and human life are full of ambiguities
No precise definition of good and evil
An ethical life is important, but there is no definition of what is "ethical"
Humans must look into themselves to find that definition

Bhagavad-Gita/ Song of the Lord (book VI of Mahabarata, 100 BC)
700 verse
Dialogue between Krishna (God incarnate) and a human hero before the battle
Attempt at reconciling worldly view of the Veda and metaphysical view of the Upanishad.
Three paths to religious realization
path of deeds (karma yoga)
path of knowledge (jnana yoga)
path of devotion (bhakti yoga)
Bhagavad-Gita/ Song of the Lord (book VI of Mahabarata, 100 BC)
Gunas are born from Prakriti
They cause the division of reality and unreality
Gunas create the illusion of the material world
The illusion keeps living beings under the control of Prakriti, i.e. of desire and attachment
The relative strength and combination of gunas determine the nature/behavior of beings
Sattva (purity) is pure knowledge
Rajas (change) is passion caused by desire and attachment and causing greed
Tamas (inertia) is darkness caused by ignorance and delusion and causing inaction
Each one tries to annihilate the others
Maharshi Valmiki: "Ramayana" (100 BC, India) [p]
King Rama's wife is kidnapped by the demon Ravana
Rama recovers his wife with the help of the monkey Hanuman

Tamil literature
Tiruvalluvar (India, 1##): "Thirukkural" (1##) [p]
Ethical poem
1330 chapters, each chapter being a couplet
three parts: Aram (Virtue), Porul (Wealth), Kamam (Love)
Nagarjuna (15#, India): "Mulamadhyamakakarika/ Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way" (2##) [p]
Philosophical treatise on Buddhism
Written in Sanskrit instead of Pali
Evoke emptiness through the play of language
Neither from itself nor from another,
Nor from both,
Nor without a cause,
Does anything whatever, anywhere arise.
Zhou China
The "Six Classics"
Four books of Confucianism/ Shih Shu
Lun Y (Analects)
Daxue (Great Learning)
Zhongyong (Doctrine of the Mean)
Mengzi (Mencius)
Two books of Daoism
Dao-te Ching (The Virtue of the Way)
Zuangzi/ Chuang Tzu
Zhou China
Civil war/ Warring states (403 BC - 256 BC)
Chu Yuan (332 BC): lush and verbose poems (chu-tzu style)
Shih style (folk songs)
Chu Yuan (332 BC)
The God of the River
With you I wander the Nine Rivers.
The whirlwind and the waves arise.
Riding the water chariot with the roof of lotus leaves,
I am drawn by two dragons and a hornless serpent.
Climbing on K'un-lun Mountains I look in the four directions.
My spirit wanders over the face of the deep.
The day is waning. Bemused, I forget my home.
I am dreaming of a distant shore.
In a fish-scale house, in a hall of dragons,
Under a purple-shell gateway, in a palace of pearl,
O spirit, why do you dwell in the waters?
Riding the white tortoise, chasing the spotted fishes,
I wander with you among the small islets.
The swift-flowing freshet comes swirling down-river.
With a gentle bow you turn towards the East.
So I escort the beautiful one to the south anchorage.
Wave after wave comes to welcome me;
Multitudes of fishes bid me farewell.
Han China
Han (206 BC - 220 AD)
The fu (baroque mixture of verse and prose, an evolution of the chu-tzu style)
Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju (179 BC): "Shang-lin Fu"
The shih style (the style of the folk songs)

Post-Han China
Six Dynasties (220 AD - 589 AD)
The yueh-fu (free-form shih)
The lu-shih (shih with tonal rules besides formal rules)
Tao Chien/Qian (365): landscape poet
"T'ao-hua-yuan t'u/ Peach Blossom Spring"
A fisherman of a mountainous region of discovers a hidden valley in which people live in peace and know nothing of the outside world. After a pleasant stay the fisherman goes home. But when he tries to find it again he cannot.
Post-Han China
Six Dynasties (220 AD - 589 AD)
Calligraphy: Wang Hsi-chih (321)
Post-Han China
Gu Kaizhi/ Ku Kai-chih (345-406): "The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies" (6th-8th c AD)
It illustrates a political parody written by Zhang Hua (232-300)
A court instructress guides the ladies of the imperial harem on correct behaviour
A series of courtyard scenes depicting young ladies
Post-Han China
Gu Kaizhi (345-406): "The Admonitions Scroll"
Gupta India (318-550)
Gupta India (318-550)
India's classical age
Revival of Sanskrit
University of Nalanda (students from China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Sri Lanka)
Kalidasa (353)
Drama (Nataka, derived from dance)
Six darshana (schools) of philosophy

Kalidasa (353)
"Shakuntala" [t] ++
"Vikramorvasi" [t] +
"Malavikagnimitra" [t] +
Romantic love
Kalidasa (353)
"Raghuwamsa" [p] +
"Kumarasambhava" [p] +
"Meghadhuta" [p] ++
Epic and lyrical poetry
Kalidasa (353)
The autumn comes, a maiden fair
In slenderness and grace,
With nodding rice-stems in her hair
And lilies in her face.
In flowers of grasses she is clad;
And as she moves along,
Birds greet her with their cooing glad
Like bracelets' tinkling song.
Gupta India (318-550)
Sanskrit Puranas (5th c): Vedic textbooks for women and lower-caste men
18 lengthy poems in Sanskrit
Encyclopedias of folk tales, mostly taken from the Mahabharata
Stories of the gods fighting the demons
Mythology of Vishnu (several incarnations and parables, including Rama and Krishna)
Mythology of Shiva (sex and violence, ambiguous qualities, pre-Aryan themes)
Bhagavata-Purana (18,000 verses)
Gupta India (318-550)
"Pancatantra" (4##), fairy tales
Shudraka (3##): "Mrcchakatika/ The Little Clay Cart)" (40#) [t]
Dandin (6##): "Dasa-Kumara-Charita/ Tale of the Ten Princes" (6##), adventure story
Banabhatta (59#): "Kadambari" (6##), romantic love story
"Jataka" (500) tales
Bhavabhuti (India, 6##): "Uttararamacarita/ The Later Deeds of Rama" (7##) [t]