Literature 1500BC - 500AD


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Literature 1500BC - 500AD

Literature 1500BC - 500AD

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"The Aeneid" in 29-19BC by Virgil (70-19BC). Latin epic poem (12 books in dactylic hexameter). Tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. Written under the reign of Augustus, presents the hero as a strong and powerful leader. The propagandistic representation of Aeneas parallels Augustus in that it portrays his reign in a progressive and admirable light. The hero was already known in the Iliad,by Homer in the 8th c.BC.

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"Metamorphoses" in 8 AD by Ovid (Sulmona 43 BC - Constanta 17 AD). Latin narrative poem considered his magnum opus. Comprising 15 books and over 250 myths, the poem chronicles the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. The different genres and divisions in the narrative allow the Metamorphoses to display a wide range of themes (Metamorphosis, mutability, love, violence, artistry, power, etc.).

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“Natural History (edition 1669)” c. AD.77-79 by Pliny the Elder (Como 23AD – Pompeii 79AD). One of the largest single works to have survived from the Roman Empire, purports to cover the entire field of ancient knowledge. Became a model for all later encyclopedias. Consists of 37 books, including mathematical and physical description of the world, geography, ethnography, anthropology, human physiology, zoology, botany, agriculture, pharmacology, mineralogy, statuary, painting and sculpture.

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"Parallel Lives (Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans)" c.AD 80-100 by Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus (AD 46-120). Hellenistic literature. A series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings. The surviving Lives contain twenty-three pairs of biographies, each pair consisting of one Greek and one Roman. It is a work of considerable importance, for the information about the individuals biographized and the times in which they lived.

plutarch's lives

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"The Characters" by Theophrastus (Eresos c.371 - Athens c.287 BC). Successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. His interests were extending from biology and physics to ethics and metaphysics. The work contains thirty brief, vigorous, and trenchant outlines of moral types (valuable picture of the life of his time, and human nature in general). They are the first recorded attempt at systematic character writing. Contains the earliest mention of Hermaphroditus in Greek Literature.

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