Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Testament (continued) to A.D. 50.

New Testament (continued)

Paul to the Thessalonians. Founding of the church in Thessalonica. Jesus' second coming. Description of the Antichrist.

Paul to Timothy. Theme: care of the Church. Written by someone else? Outlines course of Church action, guidelines for Christians. Administrative functions; selection of Bishops and ministers. Theme: Gnosticism. Matter is evil; spirit is good. Gnosticism said that Christ allowed men to escape the prison of the flesh, leading to asceticism and licentiousness. Problems with Gnosticism: How could a good God create an evil world? If matter is evil, and Christ was both flesh and God, then Christ could not be truly human.

Paul to Titus. The same as Timothy.

Paul to Philemon. The only personal letter in the New Testament. To the master of a runaway slave asking him to forgive the slave. Christian social order: harmoniously includes slaves, rabbis and pagans.

Paul to the Hebrews. Who actually wrote this letter? The role of Jesus as the highest priest of God. Christ's personal sacrifice made for all.

The Epistle of James. Who was the author? Moral obligation of Christians; Christian acts.

The Epistles of Peter. Who was the author? Encourages Christians who suffered persecution. Suffering will be rewarded with salvation. Moral and ethical responsibilities as a means to holiness. Denounces moral laxity and false teachers. Knowledge of Jesus is most important.

The Epistles of John. Warn against false teachings, especially Gnosticism. Adherence to the 10 Commandments and brotherly love. Concern about an arrogant, ambitious young Church official. Also the author of the Gospel?

Jude. Crisis. Defends the Christian faith against corrupt doctrines and practices. Antinomianism: person with faith is free from observing the law. "Once saved, always saved." Also concerned with gnosticism.

Revelation. Only pure apocalyptic book in the New Testament. Unknown author, a prisoner. Vision of the end of the world and the triumph of Jesus. Symbolic Mystic numbers. Antichrist precedes the second coming of Christ. Beast with 7 heads, 10 horns and the number 666 are associated with Antichrist.

London (Londinium) is founded by the Romans.

A.D. 50. On the Sublime. Anon. Greek. Treatise. Five sources of the sublime in literature: significant thought; intense emotion; powerful figures of speech; excellence in choice of language; effective organization. Passion for novelty converts the sublime to the ridiculous.

A.D. 50. Kama-sutra. Vatsyayana. India. Nonfiction. Kama = love. sutra = science. The art, techniques of Indian erotics.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

AD 1 to AD 1099 (continued)

Metamorphoses. Ovid. Roman. AD 8. Figures of myth, legend and history, from the creation through Julius Caesar to Augustus.

AD 9. The Battle of Teutoburger Wald (forest) permanently secures the independence of the Teutonic tribes and establishes the Rhine as the boundary between Latin and German territories.

AD 33. Jesus of Nazareth crucified, probably April 3.

New Testament. Matthew. Unique in tracing Christ's ancestry back through David and Abraham. Emphasizes Jesus as the Messiah. Probably written for Jewish readers. Most complete account of the sayings of Jesus. Mark is more a narrative of actions. Written in Greek. Does not seem to be an eyewitness account. Some evidence that the author drew on the accounts of Mark and Luke.

New Testament. Mark. Earliest account of Christ's life? Missionary companion of Barnabas, Peter, Paul? John the Baptist, Christ's baptism, miracles and teachings, denial by Peter, mockery of Jesus, the Crucifixion, resurrection, ascension to heaven; sources of the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

New Testament. Luke. Greek physician and painter; also author of Acts of the Apostles. John the Baptist, birth, ministry in Galilee, journey to Jerusalem. Crucifixion, resurrection, ascension. High literary merit.

New Testament. John. Most spiritual account of Jesus' life. Meaning of his life and death. Less emphasis on recounting events. Emphasis on the Incarnation. Truly man and God. Betrayal by Judas, crucifixion, resurrection.

New Testament. Acts of the Apostles. Earliest history of the Christian church. Begins with the Ascension. Ends with the imprisonment of St. Paul. Author was Luke? Preachings and evenst in lives of the apostles, especially Peter and Paul. Emphasis on Christianity as a universal religion, not restricted to Jews.

New Testament. Paul to the Romans. Profound exposition of the nature of Christianity. Christianity is the religion of the whole world with roots in the prophetic religion of the Jews.

New Testament. Paul to the Corinthians. Greek cit of Corinth. Worldly, licentious atmosphere of the city. Internal dissension. First-century Christians' problems with the Pagan world. Discussion of Christian love.

New Testament. Paul to the Galatians. Defense of Paul's authority. Received the Gospel directly from God, not from the 12 Apostles. Universality of the Christian faith.

New Testament. Paul to the Ephesians. God's plan to unite all humanity in Jesus. The Church's role in working of the plan. Probably written by someone else.

New Testament. Paul to the Philippians. Letter of thanks and encouragement. Encourages those facing persecution. Joy, sense of triumph, the strength of Paul's faith.

New Testament. Paul to the Colossians. Written while in prison. Difficult to reconstruct the doctrine he was fighting. People felt the need to propitiate spirits, controlling fates, powers. Affirms the importance of mystic visions. Circumcision is a prerequisite for salvation.

Monday, March 26, 2007

AD 1 to AD 1099 Introduction

Notable Events and People from AD 1 to AD 1099
The Crucifixion/ London/ Persecution of Christians/ Vesuvius/ The Coliseum/ Barbarians/ Gun powder/ Constantine/ The Huns/ Alexandreia/ Eastern and Western Roman Empires/ Visigoths/ St. Patrick/ The Virgin/ Attila/ Angles, Saxons and Britons/ Hawaiian Islands/ End of the Roman Empire/ Paris/ Vesuvius/ Benedictines/ King Arthur/ Canterbury/ Mohammad/ Mayans/ Charles Martel/ Pepin/ Charlemagne/ Harun al-Raschid/ Yiddish/ Cyrillic alphabet/ Schism between Roman Church and Constantinople/ King Alfred of England/ Printing/ Cordova/ Lief Ericcson/ Danes conquer England/ Norman conquest of England/ Halley's Comet/ Domesday Book/ El Cid/ First Crusade/ Middle English.
List of Literary Works
Metamorphoses. Ovid.
New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Acts of the Apostles, Paul to the Romans, Paul to the Corinthians, Paul to the Galatians, Paul to the Ephesians, Paul to the Philippians, Paul to the Colossians, Paul to the Thessalonians, Paul to Timothy, Paul to Titus, Paul to Philemon, Paul to the Hebrews, The Epistle of James, The Epistles of Peter, The Epistles of John, Jude; Revelation.
On the Sublime. Anon.
Kama-sutra. Vatsayana.
Thyestes. Seneca.
The Golden Ass. Apuleius.
The Elegies of Ch'u. Ch'u Yuan.
The Meditations. Marcus Aurelius.
Raghuyamsa. Kalidasa.
The Little Clay Cart. King Shudraka.
Mahabharata. Anon.
Ethiopica. Heliodoros.
Daphnis and Chloe. Longus.
Nicene Creed. Council of Nicea.
The Confessions of Saint Augustine.
Panchatantra (fables). Bidpai.
Mudraraksasa (The Minister's Signet Ring). Visakhadatta.
The City of God. St. Augustine.
The Consolation of Philosophy. Boethius.
"The Seafarer." Anon.
"The Wanderer." Anon.
Beowulf. Anon.
The Fight at Finnsburg. Anon.
"The Dream of the Rood." Anon.
Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Bede.
The Fables of Bidpai. Anon.
Man'yoshu (Collection of Myriad Leaves). Anon.
The Tale of Genji. Murasaki Shikibu.
"Deor's Lament." Anon.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. King Alfred.
"The Spoils of Annwn." Anon.
Annales Cambriae. Anon.
"Battle of Maldon." Anon.
Kathassaritsagara (Ocean of the Streams of Story). Somadeva.
"The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam."
Chanson de Roland. Anon.
Domesday Book. William the Conqueror.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

37BC to 7BC

37/30BC. Georgics. Vergil. Roman. Poetry. Four books. Didactic. Agriculture is the subject. Based on Hesiod's Works and Days. The work of a philosopher-poet. Book I: Advice on farming in general. Lament over the ills following assassination of Julius Caesar. Book 2: Grapevines and fruit trees. Paean to the crops and the heroes of Italy. Book 3: Care and propagation of livestock. Describes the effect of a plague that killed all living things. Book 4: Tales of miraculous regeneration, including the bees of Aristaeus, the god of beekeeping, and the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice.

31BC. The Battle of Actium, Sept. 2, ends in a naval victory for Octavian (Augustus Caesar) who becomes ruler of the entire Roman world.

30BC. Marc Antony commits suicide after hearing a false report that Cleopatra has killed herself. Cleopatra dies by suicide after failing to seduce Octavian (Augustus Caesar).

27BC. The Roman Empire that will rule the world until AD 476 is founded January 23. Octavian receives the name Augustus Caesar from the Senate.

19BC. Aeneid. Vergil. Roman. Poetry. Twelve books. The Trojan origin of the Roman people from the Trojan hero Aeneas to Octavius (Augustus). Book 1: Aeneas and his Trojan followers are driven by storm to the shores of Carthage and Queen Dido. Book 2: The tale of the wooden horse, the destruction of Troy and the escape with his father Anchises, his son Ascanius, and his followers. Book 3: The perils encountered on the westward voyage from Troy. The death of his father. Book 4: Dido's love for Aeneas. Departure from Carthage. Her suicide and cremation. Book 5: In Sicily, they hold funeral games in honor of Anchises. Book 6: Visits his father in the underworld, sees future generations of Romans and is told of their exploits. The Roman skill is to make peace the custom, to spare the conquered, to wage war until the haughty are brought low. Book 7: Latinus promises his daughter Lavinia to Aeneas. Turnus, her betrothed vs. Aeneas. Book 8: Preparations for war. Visit to Latium, future home of the Romans. Book 9: In the absence of Aeneas, Turnus fires Trojan ships. Assaults camp. The heroism of Nisus and Eurylaus. Book 10: War between Aeneas and Turnus. Book 11: The battle continues. Book 12: Aeneas defeats Turnus in hand-to-hand combat.

13BC. Ars Poetica. Horace. Roman. Poetry. Rules for writing poetry. Influenced English critics of the Renaissance and post-Renaissance.

7BC. Jesus is born at Bethlehem near Jerusalem.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

202BC to 37BC

202BC. Battle of Sama, Oct. 19, ends the Second Punic War; largely destroys the power of Carthage.

201BC. Carthage surrenders all her Mediterranean possessions to Rome.

167BC. Led by the Maccabees, a Jewish revolt against the Syrians begins.

146BC. Carthage falls to Roman legions. It becomes the Roman province of Africa.

142BC. Judea gains independence from Syria under the leadership of Simon Maccabee.

95/55BC. On the Nature of Things. Lucretius. Roman. Poetry. (De rerum natura). Book 1: All things are made up of eternal atoms moving through infinite space. Book 2: The entire world of material substances is produced through joining of these atoms. Book 3: Mind and spirit are also arrangements of atoms. At death the soul is dispersed as imperishable atoms fly apart. Book 4: Sensation, perception and thought are produced by images emitted by external surfaces. Book 5: The world as we know it is created by a fortuitous concourse of atoms. Book 6: All natural phenomena can be explained according to this atomic theory. All things operate according to their own laws and are not influenced by supernatural powers. Lucretius committed suicide before completing the final draft of his poem.

87BC. A new Roman demagogue appears in the person of L Cornelius Cinna.

64BC. Jerusalem falls to Pompey after a siege as the Romans move to subdue Judea.

60BC. A triumvirate to rule Rome is created by Gaius Julius Caesar, 42; forges alliance with Pompey and Crassus. Caesar is the son-in-law of the late Cinna.

58BC. Julius Caesar invades Gaul.

58/44BC. Commentaries on the Gallic War. Julius Caesar. Roman. History. Seven books. Each book covers one year. Caesar made Gaul a permanent part of the empire. Clear, concise Latin. Historical accuracy.

54BC. Julius Caesar invades Britain.

49BC. Julius Caesar leads his forces across the Rubicon River into Italy to begin a civil war. Caesar defeats Pompey on June 29, 48BC, and becomes absolute ruler of Rome.

44BC. Julius Caesar is assassinated at the Senate on March 15. Roman orator Marc Antony, 39, persuades the Romans to expel Caesar's assassins.

44BC. De amicitia (Friendship). Cicero. Roman. Essay. Dialogue on the subject of friendship.

44BC. De senectute (Old Age). Cicero. Roman. Essay. Essay on old age in the form of a dialogue. The advantages of serene old age.

43/37BC. Bucolics. Vergil. Roman. Poetry. Ten pastoral poems. Eclogues. Allegories of contemporary events, persons. First: anguish of shepherd forced to leave his ancestral lands. Second: love song of Corydon for boy Alexis. Third: singing contest. Impromptu couplet must be answered with variation of tone, subject. Fourth: Most famous. Predicts new age of peace, ushered in by the birth of a child. Called the Messianic Eclogue. Fifth: exchange of songs. Elegiac. Death of young shepherd, actually Julius Caesar. Sixth: capsule cosmogony. Shows Vergil's acquaintance with Lucretius's De rerum natura. Seventh: another singing contest. Eighth: two love elegies. Magical refrains. "Sorcery." Ninth: exchange of songs between old and young man. References to the death of Caesar, Roman civil wars, and confiscations. Tenth: To Gallus, brokenhearted over the infidelity of his mistress. Actually a pastiche of Gallus's love lyrics? The Bucolics influenced the pastoral tradition after the Renaissance. Calm elegance is the dominant tone of pastoral verse.

41BC. Egypt's Cleopatra, 28, meets Marc Antony, 42, and he succumbs to her charms.

37BC. Judea's Herod the Great begins a 33-year reign at age 36.

Friday, March 23, 2007

405Bc to 204BC

405BC. Iphigenia in Aulis. Euripides. Greek. Play. Seer Calchas predicts that only the sacrifice of Iphigenia will save Greeks from being trapped in the harbor of Aulis. In spite of many changes of mind, she is sacrificed. Was a deer substituted?

404BC. Athens capitulates to Sparta, April 25, after being starved into submission; first Peloponnesian War ends.

401BC. Oedipus at Colonus. Sophocles. Greek. Play. Banished and shunned by sons Etiocles and Polynices. Wanders as outcast. Daughter Antigone leads him to grove at Colonus. Creon tries to force him to return to Thebes in order to protect it by being buried outside its walls. Theseus of Athens defends him. Buried outside Athens where he has promised to protect the city at the time of war.

400BC. London has its origins at a point where the Walbrook joins the Thames River.

390BC. Socrates is condemned for flouting conventional ideas and for allegedly corrupting youth.

372BC. The Mencius. Chinese. Philosophy. Unsystematic collection of sayings and dialogues. Model of classical Chinese prose. Lived in time of great social change and constant warfare. Goodness of man and necessity of virtuous, benevolent king to bring order to the world.

347BC. The Academy is founded by Plato.

347BC? The Republic. Plato. Greek. Dialogue. Attempt at definition of justice. Justice must exist in the state before the individual. Three classes of citizens: Guardians, soldiers, workers and producers. Rejects democracy and tyranny. Temperance, restraint required of all classes.

342BC. Aristotle begins seven years of teaching in Macedon; his pupils include Alexander the Great.

336BC. Philip of Macedon is assassinated. He is succeeded by his son Alexander, now 20 years of age.

335BC. Poetics. Aristotle. Greek. Treatise. All arts originate in imitation and instinct for harmony and rhythm. Poetry more philosophical than history; deals with universals vs. particulars. Objects of imitation are men of action. Better than life: tragedy; worse than life: comedy. Epic = no limits of time; tragedy: single revolution of sun. Tragedy: emotions of pity, fear are released, catharsis. Fortunes fall from good to bad because of tragic flaw. Disapproves of the use of deus ex machina. First treatise devoted wholly to literary criticism.

332BC. Alexander of Macedon takes over Egypt and founds a city that will be called Alexandria.

323BC. Alexander the Great dies at age 32 after unparalleled military victories.

300BC. Carthage in North Africa gains economic ascendancy in the Mediterranean.

300BC. Hsun Tzu, Hsun Ch'ing. Chinese. Nonfiction. First expository Confucian text. Man by nature evil. Attacks superstition, extols reason. Emphasizes need for education. Contradicts Mencius who believed in the goodness of man's nature.

270BC. Rome's subjugation of Italy is completed.

264BC. A Punic War embroils Rome in a conflict with Carthage that will continue for 23 years.

264BC. Gladiatorial combat gains huge popularity in Rome.

218BC. Second Punic War begins; Carthaginian army under Hannibal attacks Rome's Hispanic allies.

216BC. The Battle of Cannae, August 2, ends in victory for Hannibal.

205BC. Miles Gloriosus. Plautus. Roman. Play. Prototype of a long line of military braggarts.

204BC. Roman forces besiege Carthage.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

415BC to 405BC

Lysistrata. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. In the twenty-first year of the Peloponnesian War, Lysistrata persuades the wives of Athens to shut themselves away from their husbands until peace shall be concluded. She has the satisfaction of dictating the terms.

414BC. The Birds. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Fugitives from Athenian taxation and litigation persuade the birds to build a city in the clouds to block smoke from sacrifices of mortals from reaching the gods unless the gods comply with the birds' demands. They do.

414BC. Electra. Sophocles. Greek. Play. Emphasizes the qualities of heroism and tragic endurance. Orestes, Electra are reunited. Electra is the heroine. Orestes is a paragon of virtue, an avenger, with no real character. The murder of Clytemnestra for the murder of Agamemnon. A key scene is the recognition between Electra and Orestes. Clytemnestra is also a strong character.

414BC. Iphigenia in Tauris. Euripides. Greek. Play. Pursued by the furies, Orestes can be cured only by rescuing the statue of Artemis from the savages of Tauris who hate Greeks and put them to death if they capture them. Captured, taken before the high priestess, who is Iphigenia, supposedly killed by her father. She recognizes her brother. She arranges the escape of Orestes,his friend and herself. Intervention of Artemis, Athene.

413BC. Electra. Euripides. Greek. Play. Electra is forced to marry a farmer. As a peasant, she cannot avenge the murder of her father, Agamemnon, by her mother Clytemnestra and her consort Aegisthus. Orestes appears. They arrange for the murder of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. Euripides emphasizes the horror of the act. He elicits pity for the victims. The play ends with Orestes' madness.

412BC. Helen. Euripides. Greek. Play. Paris actually abducted a spiritual version of Helen who is really in Egypt. Troy was destroyed because of a phantom. Menelaus arrives in Egypt. He realizes the war was fought for nothing. He escapes with her.

411BC. The Women Who Celebrate the Thesmophoria. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. The women of Athens plan to kill Euripides because of his treatment of them in his plays. Humorous attempts to thwart these efforts. Eventually, Euripides is reconciled with the women.

410BC. The Phoenician Women. Euripides. Greek. Play. Events of the war against Thebes.

408BC. Orestes. Euripides. Greek. Play. Orestes as bungling criminal; inextricable problems solved by Deus ex Machina.

410BC. The Bacchants. Euripides. Greek. Play. Tragic punishment of Pentheus, king of Thebes, who imprisons Dionysus; torn to pieces by his mother, Agave, during Bacchanalian orgy; play most closely resembles Dionysian mysteries from which Greek tragedy came.

405BC. The Frogs. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Dionysus decides to go to Hades to bring back Euripides; dons lion's garb of Heracles only to learn that Heracles is not popular there, so he changes costume; debate between Euripides and Sophocles. Dionysus decides to bring back Sophocles instead. He is a weightier playwright. This play is an example of the freedom of speech allowed in Athens. Dionysus is made an absurd figure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

430BC to 415BC

430BC. The History. Herodotus. Greek. First use of the word "history." History of the Persian Wars. Largely anecdotal. Less emphasis on historical accuracy.

430/400BC? History of the Peloponnesean War. Thucydides. Greek. Athens vs. Sparta. Not as colorful as Herodotus, but historically more accurate.

429BC. Oedipus Rex. Sophocles. Greek. Play. Relentlessly, Oedipus seeks the murderer of his father, Laius. Learns that he is guilty. Further, he has unknowingly married his mother. She commits suicide. He blinds himself with her brooch.

428BC. Hippolytus. Euripides. Greek. Play. Hippolytus enrages Aphrodite by scorning the love of women. She revenges by having Phaedra, his father's wife, fall in love with him. She hangs herself, leaving a note that Hippolytus violated her. Theseus curses Hippolytus, who dies after his horse is frightened by a bull. Artemis tells Theseus the truth. He laments. Hippolytus forgives him with his dying words.

427BC. The Children of Heracles. Euripides. Greek. Play. Eurystheus, king of Argos, who forced Heracles to perform the 12 labors, persecutes his children after Heracles' death. They are championed by old Iolaus, who is young for a day. Eurystheus is killed. Ulterior meaning: Athens championed Heracles, Sparta's ancestor; Sparta should not be fighting Athens.

425BC. Hecuba. Euripides. Greek. Play. Wife of Priam, mother of Hector, Hecuba sees all 50 of her children die except her daughter Polyxena, and her son Polydorus. Polymestor kills them. In revenge, she blinds him, kills his sons. Both antagonists are reduced to the same bestial level.

423BC. The Knights. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Topical, and therefore, less interesting to a modern audience. Remarkable for the freedom to attack the powerful Athenian demagogue Cleon.

423BC. The Clouds. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Equates Socrates with the Sophists, noted for the ability to use argument to prove any point. Socrates, however, believed that argument was only useful to arrive at the truth. A farmer's son enrolls in Socrates' school, the Thinkery, to learn to evade creditors through shrewd argument. However, the son turns his talent against his father. The old man regrets turning away from the old virtues and sets fire to the Thinkery.

422BC. The Wasps. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Attack on Aristophanes' favorite butt, Cleon, who initiated paying citizens for jury duty. Parody of legal proceedings. Passion of a foolish old man for jury duty.

421BC. The Peace. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Farmers and workingmen rescue the goddess Peace from the clutches of War.

421BC. The Suppliant Women. Euripides. Greek. Play. Mothers of the Seven against Thebes plead successfully with Theseus to bury the bodies of their sons.

418BC. Ion. Euripides. Greek. Play. Ion became the king of Athens and ancestor of the Ionian race. Interpreted as questioning Apollo and the honesty of his Delphic oracle.

415BC. The Trojan Women. Euripides. Greek. Play. Fate of the family of Priam at the fall of Troy. Priam, Hector are dead. Their wives, Hecuba and Andromache and Cassandra are to be slaves. The Greeks sacrifice Hector's sister Polyxena to the ghost of Achilles. They also fling Hector's infant son from the walls to end the royal line. Helen appears and, through sheer sexual attraction, sways Menelaus from his intention of killing her. Her presence, vain and frivolous, demonstrates the futility of a war fought over her. Portrays the Greeks as cruel and cowardly. Rebukes the Athenians for the slaughter of Melos. One of the most powerful indictments of war ever.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

509BC to 432BC

509BC. Rome overthrows her Etruscan king; becomes a republic.

508BC. Ramayana. Valmiki. India. Epic poetry. Ranks with Mahabharata. 24,000 stanzas. Rama is the 7th incarnation of the deity Vishnu. Rama wins his wife Sita by bending god's bow; lovers separated, reunited. She is sent away because of concern for her chastity and raises Rama's sons. In the end, they are reunited again, but continuing doubts about her faithfulness to Rama while kidnapped causes Earth Mother to take her back to herself, away from Rama and the other doubters.

Analects. Confucius. China. Nonfiction. Collection of sayings of Confucius, anecdotes about him and his disciples. Brief, unsystematic pronouncements on ethics, government, ritual, literature. Fundamental part of education in traditional China.

490BC. The Battle of Marathon, September 15, gives Athens its Frost great military triumph over Persia.

490BC. The Suppliant Women. Aeschylus. Greek. Play. Father flees Egypt with fifty daughters. King of Egypt demands that his 50 sons marry them. All but one son is murdered by the daughters on their wedding night. First of a trilogy. Others lost.

480BC. Battle of Thermopylae, August 19, ends in victory for the Persians under Xerxes. He sacks Athens. The Battle of Salamis, Sept. 23, brings victory to the Greeks.

472BC. The Persians. Aeschylus. Greek. Play. Only extant Greek tragedy dealing with recent history rather than myth. Shows compassion for Xerxes who was responsible for defeat at the hands of the Greeks.

467BC. Seven Against Thebes. Aeschylus. Greek. Play. War between the sons of Oedipus for the throne of Thebes. Martial in spirit. Eteocles vs. Polynices. They meet in single combat and kill each other.

460BC? Prometheus Bound. Aeschylus. Greek. Play. Prometheus knows who will overthrow Zeus. Won't tell. Plunged into Tartarus. Men's relations to the gods.

458BC. Oresteia. Aeschylus. Greek. Trilogy. The Agamemnon recounts the murder of Agamemnon. The Libation Bearers tells of the vengeance of Orestes, killing Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The Eumenides recounts Orestes' trial in which he is shown not to have shed the blood of kin since the blood of the family passes through the father, not the mother.

457BC. A 28-year Golden Age begins in Athens as the statesman Pericles makes the city preeminent.

441BC. Antigone. Sophocles. Greek. Play. In defiance of Creon, Antigone buries her brother, Polyneices. She's condemned to be buried alive. Creon regrets too late. Her fiance (his son Haemon), Antigone and Eurydice, his wife, commit suicide.

438BC. Alcestis. Euripides. Greek. Play. Alcestis, wife of Admetus, agrees to replace him in death after no one else will. Drunk, comic Heracles rescues her from Hades. Implies question about Athens' attitude toward women.

432BC. The Peloponnesian Wars begin in Greece. Sparta declares war on Athens.

431BC. Medea. Euripides. Greek. Play. One of the most complex heroines/villainesses in dramatic literature Changes from a woman overwhelmed with sorrow to a woman dominated by the fury of revenge against Jason who has deserted her. As her ultimate revenge, she icily kills their two children on whom he dotes.

Monday, March 19, 2007

1193BC to 516BC

1193BC. King Priam's city of Troy falls to Greek forces under Agamemnon, after a 10-year siege.

1025BC. The prophet Samuel anoints Saul, who will reign until 1012BC as king of Hebron.

1005BC. Jerusalem falls to David who is anointed king of Judea by the prophet Samuel.

1000-500BC. The Vedas. Anonymous. Hindu. Religious. The four most sacred books of Hinduism. Collectively called the Sambitas. Rig Veda is the Veda of the Stanzas, including prayers, hymns in verse. The Veda of Liturgical Formulas includes prayers in prose. The Veda of Melodies includes prayers for musical chanting. The Athara Veda includes magical spells and incantations. The Brahmanas includes prose interpretation. The Aranyakas included treatises on meditation. Finally, the Upanishads includes speculative treatises.

961BC. Judea's King David dies and is succeeded by his son Solomon, who will reign until 922BC.

800BC. Works and Days. Hesiod. Greek. Poem. Moral maxims and precepts on farming. Source of information on primitive beliefs concerned with everyday life. Addressed to his brother who had cheated him of much of his share of the family property.

800BC. Iliad. Homer. Greek. Epic Poetry. 24 books. Focus on the withdrawal of Achilles from the contest, with the disastrous effects of this act. Concentrated not on the siege but on the effects of one man's anger. He is a noble figure who embraces death. Includes battle formulas. The principal figures are individualized. Includes humorous scenes, moving scenes and has human significance. One can find anachronisms. Written in dactylic hexameter. There is an essential unity of concept. Written about four centuries after the war.

800BC. The Odyssey. Homer. Greek. Epic Poetry. First novel. Flashbacks. Dramatic structure and consistent style. Largely a collection of folk tales. Has continuity and coherence by attributing the adventures to a single hero. Hercules, in contrast, never has any unifying point. Just a series of tales.

776BC. Greece's first recorded Olympic games are held.

722-418BC? Spring and Autumn Annals. Anonymous. China. Chronicle. Chronicle of the feudal state. Terse, dry i style. One of the Chinese Five Classics.

703BC. Rome is founded, according to legend.

700-600BC. [Greek] Epic Cycle. Anonymous. Poetry. Trojan War stories not covered in the Iliad or Odyssey. Other stories as well, including Theogonia, Titanomachia on the creation and early history of the world. Also, Cypria, on the theft of Helen; and Aetheopis, Ilias Parva, Iliu Persis, Nostoi which are continuations of the Iliad. Telegonia is on the death of Odysseus. Also includes stories on Thebes, Heracles, Theseus, and the Argonauts.

621BC. The Book of Deuteronomy, one of five books of Moses, contains his dying words to his people.

600-200BC. Upanishads. Anonymous. Hindu. Treatises. Treatises on the nature of man and the universe; part of the Vedic writings. Supreme Godhead, completely attributeless, is uncommunicable, but "realizable." Individual self (Atman) is also the universal self (Brahman) but unaware of the identity. Phenomenal world of appearance exists on relative plane, appears to be real, but isn't. Yoga (physical and spiritual discipline) necessary to effect union of Atman and Brahman.

587BC. Jerusalem falls to Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar II. He carries the Jews off to Babylonian captivity.

586BC. Jerusalem's Great Temple is destroyed by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar II.

538BC. Persia's Cyrus the Great destroys the city of Babylon; permits its Jews to return to Jerusalem.

528BC. Buddhism has its beginnings in India where Siddhartha Gautama, 35, has found enlightenment.

516BC. Jerusalem's Great Temple is rebuilt.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

1200BC to 100BC The Apocrypha (continued)

The Wisdom of Solomon. Most important of apocryphal books. Does not use brief, pithy, didactic epigram. More in style of literary essay. Different in purpose from Proverbs, etc. Not designed to prepare young men for service in stable, homogeneous environment. Tries to preserve transplanted way of life and thought in alien environment, e.e., Hellenistic Egypt where Jews were in danger of losing their identity.

Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach. By a sage or wisdom teacher who lived in Jerusalem in 2nd century BC. Wisdom literature consisted of essays and brief discourses. Revised edition of his oral teaching? Diverse content. No brief summary is possible. Man-centered and practical wisdom, but "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Identifies wisdom with the law. Learning, study, interpretation, exposition of Scriptures.

Baruch. Three parts. Prays on behalf of Jerusalem's conquerors. Equates wisdom with possession of the Torah, i.e., the Pentateuch. Lamentation for captivity of Zion's children.

Letter of Jeremiah. Rambling, repetitious attack on idols and idol worship. Appeal not to succumb to worship of Babylonian deities.

Prayer of Azariah or The Song of the Three. Additions to the Book of Daniel. Azariah (nicknamed Abednego) in fiery furnace--prayer. Blessing God, not thanksgiving. Willingness of Almighty to receive blessing from man is significant. Song of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego in fiery furnace.

Susanna and the Elders. Susanna accused of adultery by Jewish elders who had attempted her chastity. Innocence proved by Daniel. Elders put to death. Literary gem in support of morality. Joseph story in reverse. Also shows God loyal to individuals as well as to chosen people as a whole. Didactic story, not an historical incident. Builds suspense: How will author extricate heroine from her plight?

Daniel, Bel, and the Snake. Bel was the supreme Babylonian god of earth and atmosphere. Bel symbolizes male generative power. Same as Baal. Daniel exposes Bel as an image, not a living god. Not historical.

The Prayer of Manasseh. Manassah was the most evil of all the kings of Judah. Chief cause of Yahweh's punishment of Israel through the Babylonian conquest. Supposed to have repented. Explains how evil king could have such a long and quiet reign.

The First Book of the Maccabees. History. Period between the Testaments. Jewish wars of resistance against Syrian power, 175-135BC. Narratives of military campaigns and 6 poems. Describes 4 heroes: Mattathias, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon.

The Second Book of the Maccabees. Not a sequel to the First Book of the Maccabees. Different account of the same crisis from a different point of view. Flamboyant, emotional, Greek style. Emphasis on spectacular, miraculous, gruesome. Focus on only one hero: Judas Maccabeus. Preserves heroic image of the hero. Ignores his final defeat and death. Viewpoint of Hasidians, most deeply devoted to the Mosaic Law.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

1200BC to 100BC: The Old Testament (continued)

Obadiah. Foretells destruction of Edom, enemy of Israel; prophesies deliverance of Israel.

Jonah. Disobeys Jehovah’s command to preach in Nineveh. Takes ship in opposite direction. God sends tempest. Sailors throw Jonah into the sea. Swallowed by whale. Vomited on land. Told to go to Nineveh again and this time he goes.

Micah. Predicts fall of Israel and Judah, but sees hope of redemption in Messiah.

Nahum. Short, poetic book. Prophesies bloody destruction of Nineveh in graphic detail.

Habakkuk. Questions actions of a god who uses wicked enemy to punish sinful people. Foresees final triumph over evil by forces of righteousness and faith.

Zephaniah. Before Babylonian captivity. Apocalyptic vision: warns of Day of Judgment. Exhortation to repent; prophesies restoration of Israel.

Haggai. After Israelites returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity. Rebukes people for not rebuilding Temple. Encourages them to begin.

Zechariah. Time of restoration of Temple, 430 BC. Contains same message as Haggai. Part 2 after death of Alexander the Great. Visions of Israel’s future, the Messiah.

Malachi. Last book of the Old Testament. After rededication of Temple in Jerusalem, 516 BC. Economic hardships of people and moral laxness. Criticizes priesthood. Reproves people for general indifference, apathy and for adultery and marriage to heathens. Foretells Judgment Day.

The Apocrypha
Ezdra I. Ezra. Last days of Judean kingdom, fall of Jerusalem, Babylonian exile. Reorganization of Jewish state under Ezra. No mention of Nehemiah.

Ezdra II. Comparable to Daniel and Revelations and other apocalypses. Fantastic imagery; dominant concern with human suffering. Anguished contemplation of disaster that had already run its course?

Tobit. Afflictions of pious Israelite. Adventures of dutiful son who makes journey in company of disguised angel and returns with bride and means to restore his father’s health and wealth. Portrayal of ancient Jewish family life. Religious teachings characteristic of stage in development of post-exilic Judaism.

Judith. Judith slays Holofernes, leader of opposing army. Gets him drunk, cuts off his head, leaves enemy camp with his head in a bag. With leader dead, enemy scatters in disarray. Like Esther, glory in ruthless destruction of an enemy accomplished by a beautiful woman. Excellent example of an ancient short story.

Esther, Additions. Six passages not found in Hebrew text. Purpose: add details and add religious element lacking in original. Not very successful; still vindictive and does not raise religious tone of story.

Friday, March 16, 2007

1200BC to 100BC Old Testament (Continued)

Ezra. Led band of 1500 Jews back to Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity. With Nehemiah, tells of journey and attempts to reestablish temple and morally purify Jewish community.

Nehemiah. Jewish patriot. Persian king Artaxerxes appointed him governor of Judea. Reforms instituted by Nehemiah and Ezra. Rebuilding of walls of Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity, reading of Law of Moses by Ezra, public confession of sin, and dedication of walls.

Esther. Haman secures decree to kill all Jews and hang Mordecai. Persian king has married Esther who exposes Haman's plot. Haman hanged on the gallows he had erected for the hanging of Mordecai. Feast of Purim celebrated in commemoration of this event.

Job. Greatest poetic drama in the Old Testament. Undeserved suffering and God's justice. Is suffering always punishment for sin? Job tested. Wealth vanishes. His children die. He is smitten with boils. Does not "curse God and die." Faith is rewarded.

Psalms. 117 hymns. Many ascribed to David.

Proverbs. Maxims and pithy statements about sin and righteousness. Common sense observations. Solomon?

Ecclesiastes. All is vanity. Rejoice in labor, the gift of God. Despairing tone. To everything a season.

The Song of Songs. Love idyll. Oriental love poem? Allegory of union between Christ and the Church?

Isaiah. Foresees Babylonian Exile. Urges Jews not to lose their faith. Foretells Nehemiah's return to Jerusalem. The life of the Messiah is foretold in Isaiah.

Jeremiah. Fall of city of Jerusalem to Babylonians. True root of religion is heart not Temple. God promises Restoration of Israel and "new covenant."

Lamentations. Jeremiah? Acrostics. Laments misery, suffering from destruction of Jerusalem. Offers repentance for sins of people.

Ezekiel. Prophet during Babylonian exile. Moral responsibility of Jews in captivity. Calls for return to godliness and faith.

Daniel. Continued praying to his own God during Babylonian captivity. Cast into den of lions. Interpreted dreams of Nebuchadnezzar and handwriting on Belshazzar's wall.

Hosea. Life of Hosea with his unfaithful wife, i.e., God's trials with sinful Israel. Catalog of Israel's idolatrous impieties. Call to repentance. Promise of God's blessing.

Joel. Plague of locusts and terrible drought. Repentance, fasting urged. Foretells return of God's love and restored wealth of land.

Amos. Foretold destruction of Israel because of corruption, immorality, social injustice. Five visions, last of which promised redemption and rebuilding of Israel after all sinners have died "by the sword."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

1200BC to 100BC

Bible. Hebrew Canon. 24 books. 3 divisions. First, the Law or Torah, the first 5 books, the Pentateuch. Second, the 8 books of the Prophets. Finally, the “Writings,” including the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Chronicles.

Bible. Christian. 39 books. 17 historical books, from Genesis to Esther. 5 poetical books, from Job to the Song of Solomon. Prophetic books from Isaiah to Malachi.

Old Testament 1200 – 100 BC.
Genesis. Creation, fall of man, expulsion from Garden of Eden, flood, dispersion. Accounts of lives of patriarchs of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.

Exodus. Escape by Jews from bondage in Egypt, led by Moses. Finally reach Canaan. Covenant with Yahweh. Moses’ birth, departure from Egypt, beginning of journey to Palestine. Ten Commandments.

Leviticus. Basic compendium of Jewish law, instructions to priests on procedures for sacrifices. Ritual practices, rules of ethics, penalties for transgressors.

Numbers. Trip through wilderness. Mt. Sinai to Moab, n border of Promised Land. Mosaic law; Moses portrayed as prophet to whom God speaks directly.

Deuteronomy. Reiterates Mosaic law; death of Moses.

Joshua. Successor of Moses. Israelites fearful of Canaanites. Condemned to wander for 40 years for lack of faith. Joshua led conquest. Walls fell at sound of trumpets.

Judges. Tribes of Israel between Joshua and Samuel. Attempts to subdue and settle land.

Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite. Her Israelite husband died and she followed his mother to Bethlehem. She became a gleaner in the fields and married the wealthy Boaz. From this marriage came the line that led to David.

Samuel I and II. Samuel was a religious, political reformer of early Israel. Consecrated to Temple service by mother. Heard Jehovah’s voice in the night. Forced to yield to people’s demand for a king, Saul. Prophesied loss of liberty. Anointed David as future king.
Saul and David. Saul was the first king of Israel. Repeated conflicts with the Philistines. Moods of despair. Jealous of David. Tried to have David killed. Prophecy of defeat from Witch of Endor. Suicide. David, the Shepherd King. Author of Psalms? Friendship for Jonathan, Saul’s son. Killed Goliath. Became second king of Israel. David’s guilty love for Bathsheba; grief over revolt of his son Absalom.

Kings I and II. History of Israel from last year of David to Babylonian Exile. Glories of the reign of Solomon. Decline of Southern Kingdom. Destruction of Temple in 586BC.

Chronicles I and II. Israel under David and Solomon. Genealogies back to Adam. David’s death, succession of Solomon. Building of Temple in Jerusalem; wisdom of Solomon. Reign of Rehoboam to destruction of Jerusalem and Babylonian captivity. Book ends as Ezra begins, with charge of Cyrus to restore worship in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

36,000BC to 1275BC

13,600BC. A great flood inundates much of the world.
3500BC. Sumerian civilization marks the beginning human civilization.

3000-2000BC? The Epic of Gilgamesh. Babylon. Epic. Gilgamesh, legendary king. Sumerian origin; Enkidu, primeval man; Utnapishtim, Babylonian Noah. Gilgamesh was a tyrant. Enkidu created to challenge him. Wrestled and defeated Gilgamesh. They became friends. In the sacred wood, guarded by the monster Humbaba who breathed fire, spread plague and with one eye turned men to stone, they cut down a cedar. Defeated and beheaded the monster with the help of the gods.

Ishtar tried to seduce Gilgamesh. He declined because she had the habit of turning her lovers into beasts. She was furious and sent a storm bull which Gilgamesh and Enkidu killed and offered its heart to the sun god.

Enkidu dreamed that he would die and he did. Gilgamesh searched for Enkidu, met Utnapishtim, only mortal to escape death. He had ridden out the flood in an ark. Gilgamesh learns that no mortal can know the secret of eternal life. He finds an herb that restores youth, but it is eaten by a snake. Gilgamesh learns to accept death as inevitable.

2500BC. Sumerians develop a cuneiform script alphabet of some 600 simplified signs.

2100BC? War of the Gods. Anonymous. Babylon. Epic. Babylonian epic poem. Myth of creation of world and establishment of divine hierarchy. One of the oldest known creation myths. Striking parallels to Greek myths.

1950BC. Babylonian King Hammurabi’s code. Generally humanitarian but features “eye for an eye…,” literally.
1700BC. Judaism founded by Abraham. Replaces human sacrifice with animal sacrifice.

1700-1400BC. The Poem of Baal. Anonymous. Canaan. Epic. Myth growing out of Canaanite rituals: fertile vs. infertile seasons; death, revival of young god. Baal vs. the god of death, Mot. Mot wins. Baal resurrected. Suggests Greek myths. The biblical books of Joel and Zephaniah contain satires of heathen Canaanite myths, rituals in the Old Testament.

1650BC. Jacob follows his father Isaac (son of Abraham) in propagating the Jewish religion.

1500BC. Rig Veda. Anonymous. India. Hymns. 1028 hymns in 10 books or mandalas; divinely revealed to ancient seers.

1400BC. Poem of Aqhat. Anonymous. Canaan. Epic. Contains basic elements found in seasonal rites. Death and resurrection.

1275BC. Moses and Aaron begin 40-year Israelite migration after 3 centuries of Egyptian oppression.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ancient People, Events and Literature

Notable Events and People
Great flood/ Sumerian civilization/ Hammurabi/ Judaism/ Trojan War/ David/ Solomon/ Nebuchadnezzar/ Persia/ Buddhism/ Athens/ Pericles/ Peloponnesian Wars/ Socrates/ Plato/ Aristotle/ Alexander the Great/ Carthage/ Rome/ Punic Wars/ The Maccabees/ Julius Caesar/ Marc Antony/ Cleopatra/ Augustus Caesar/ The Roman Empire/ Jesus Christ.

Literary Works
The Epic of Gilgamesh
War of the Gods
The Poem of Baal
Rig Veda

Poem of Aqhat
Hebrew Bible
Christian Bible

Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuternonmy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel I and II, Kings I and II, Chronicles I and II, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekial, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephanian, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

The Apocrypha: Ezdra I, Ezdra II, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach; Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Azariah or the Song of the the Three, Susanna and the Elders; Daniel, Bel and the Snake; The Prayer of Manasseh, The First Book of the Maccabees, The Second Book of he Maccabees.

The Vedas
Works and Days
. Hesiod.
Iliad. Homer.
Spring and Autumn Annals.
[Greek] Epic Cycle

Prometheus Bound. Aeschylus.
Ramayana. Valmiki.
The Frogs. Aristophanes
Iphigenia in Aulis. Euripides
Oedipus at Colonus. Sophocles.
The Suppliant Women. Aeschylus.
The Persians. Aeschylus.
Seven Against Thebes. Aeschylus.
Antigone. Sophocles.
Alcestis. Euripides
Medea. Euripides.
The History. Herodotus.
History of the Peloponnesean War. Thucydides.
Oedipus Rex. Sophocles.
Hippolytus. Euripides.
The Children of Heracles. Euripides.
Hecuba. Euripides.
The Knights. Aristophanes.
The Clouds. Aristophanes.
The Wasps. Aristophanes.
The Peace. Aristophanes.
The Suppliant Women. Euripides.
Ion. Euripides.
The Trojan Women. Euripides.
Lysistrata. Aristophanes.
The Birds. Aristophanes.
Electra. Sophocles.
Iphigenia in Tauris. Euripides.
Electra. Euripides.
Helen. Euripides.
The Women Who Celebrate the Thesmophoria. Aristophanes.
The Phoenician Women. Euripides.
Orestes. Euripides.
The Bacchants. Euripides. \
The Mencius. Mencius.
The Republic. Plato.
Poetics. Aristotle.
Hsun Tzu. Hsun Ch’ing.
Miles Gloriosus. Plautus.
On the Nature of Things. Lucretius.
Commentaries on the Gallic War. Julius Caesar.
De Amicitia (friendship). Cicero.
De Senectute (old age). Cicero.
Bucolics. Vergil.
Georgics. Vergil.
Aeneid. Vergil.
Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry). Horace.

Monday, March 12, 2007

History of Society and Literature March 12, 2007

History of Society and Literature
Compiled by Raymond Stopper

I completed this project in 2001. Thanks to blogging, I am able to make it available to others who might find the history of ideas interesting.

I wish I had had this book as I began my study of literature when I was an English major at Villanova University. One of the instructors told me that, ideally, students who majored in English should have read all of the works to be covered before taking the courses, leaving them with the opportunity to study in depth the critical works concerning the literature. However, I was then reading all of these works for the first time, leaving me with relatively little time to explore the critical studies. I had no concept of the chronology of literature and very little understanding of the flow of events in society. In my high school, history and English were isolated subjects, and the thought never occurred to me to relate the literature we studied to the events occurring at the time the literary works were produced.

While I have reduced most of the literary works to brief paragraphs or even sentences, the summaries should give the reader an understanding of the essential ideas of the works and therefore an overall understanding of the flow of literary history from 3500 B.C. to A.D. 1950. These descriptions of the literary works are not intended to substitute for reading the works in their entirety, but they should pique readers into reading the entire works and they give a background of the rich variety in ideas treated in the history of world literature.

My purpose in compiling this information is to give young students an overview of notable events in society and the literature produced at the time of these events. It helps to answer the question, “What was going on in society when literary works were produced?” And it raises a further question, “Is there a relationship between the literary works produced and the notable events occurring in society?” Although readers will have to draw their own conclusions to answer that question, my conclusion after completing this work is that the relationship between literary works and events in society is “slim to none.”

I have always felt that understanding the overview of a subject before concentrating on its parts is sound educational procedure. My own education emphasized the parts and I was either too inexperienced, too unimaginative or, perhaps, to unintelligent to relate the parts into a whole. I never developed a concept of the “flow” of literature or of notable events in society and I never thought to determine the relationship between them. Such is the reason for this book.

I hope this publication will be useful for other aspiring English majors and for anyone else who wants to try to understand how literature expands our perspective on life.

My source for the brief summaries of the literary works was Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, edited by Seipmann, 1987; the source for summaries of events in society was The People’s Chronology, edited by Trager in 1992.

It is my hope that the brief summaries of both historical events and literary works will stimulate readers to gather more information about the events and to read the complete literary works.

Raymond Stopper
March 2007