Ancient Greek Literature
The literature of the Ancient Greeks has mesmerised the world for nearly 3000 years. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are two of the earliest examples of creative literature, both epic poems which depict the story of Helen of Troy, the Trojan War, and Odysseus’ troubled journey home after the battle. Check them out for some truly epics tales of love, death, jealousy, violence, revenge and divine intervention. There are also the playwrights! Chief among them Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes! These characters invented modern drama and comedy as we know it. Then there are the poets like Sappho. Many of the intellectual traditions of the western world saw their genesis in Ancient Greece, and the miracle is that so much of it still survives for us to enjoy! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_literature
This epic poem written in Sanskrit and attributed to Vyāsa was composed around 400 BCE and is the longest epic poem, at ten times the length of the Iliad and Odyssey combined (and they are pretty long!). It contains texts you might recognise that are of great significance to Indian culture such as the Bhagavad Gita. The importance of this work to the development of world literature can’t over overstated!
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Discovered in the Library of Ashurbanipal, which H.G. Wells called the most precious source of historical material in the world, this epic poem is considered one of the earliest examples of notable literature, and the second oldest religious text after the Pyramid texts. The tale from ancient Mesopotamia recounts the exploits of Gilgamesh and his buddy Enkidu. Here’s a pretty fancy video all about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWppk7-Mti4&ab_channel=CrashCourse
To Ancient Rome! Virgil wrote this tasty ancient snack to glorify the rule of Augustus, the emperor whose stated aim was to bring stability, peace, and moral purity to the Rome after the fall of the Republic. Virgil tells the tale of Aeneas, a refugee from the fall of Troy which features in Homer’s Iliad. It functions as a mythology for Rome itself, as we see Aeneas found Rome after his flight from Troy. The text ties the Augustan regime to the ancient Greek mythology, and legitimises and celebrates Augustus’ authority, although some have noted a subversive and ultimately pessimistic tone in the work. It’s a gripping tale, one of the greatest examples of epic poetry and regarded as Virgil’s masterpiece!
Tao Te Ching
Check out this comparatively short text from the Chinese sage Laozi, written around the 6th Century BC. It’s one of the most widely translated works in world literature, and is a fundamental text for Taoism as both religion and philosophy. Here’s a taste to whet your appetite:
Holding a cup
and overfilling it
Cannot be as good as stopping short
Of course this is only a tiny taste of what the ancient world has to offer! Check out this wiki page for lots, lots more! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_literature