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Ancient Literature (myths, origins, and traditions)

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Title: Ancient Literature (myths, origins, and traditions)


1
Ancient Literature(myths, origins, and
traditions)
2
The Origins of Story and Writing
  • The first stories on earth exist as song and
    often through ritual. This is known as the Oral
    Tradition. Many storytellers had to memorize
    hundreds or thousands of lines and recited these
    stories for hours for an audience.
  • The first written languages, Cuneiform, was
    created around 4000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, also
    known as the Fertile Crescent. It later evolved
    into the modern day writing still used in that
    region.
  • Mesopotamia was also a region rich with
    scientific and mathematical knowledge,
    architectural advancements, religious systems,
    and even complex legal systems such as Babylonian
    ruler Hammurabis Code of Hammurabi. (An eye
    for an eye, a tooth for a tooth) The Great
    Library of Nineveh was one of the first great
    sources for literature.

3
Mesopotamia And Nineveh
4
The Origins of Story and Writing
  • Most ancient cultural stories contain the
    following sacred narrative elements
  • - An Origin Story
  • - Creation Stories
  • - God(s)
  • - Epic Hero
  • - Duality
  • - Morals
  • - Animals - A great flood
  • - Symbolic colors and numbers

5
Ancient Hebrew
  • The majority of Hebrew writing is contained
    within the 24 chapter Hebrew Bible called Tanakh
    named after the three categories of books
    contained in it the Torah (Law), Neviim
    (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings).
  • The Hebrew Bible differed from other ancient
    religions in that it was approached as a sacred
    history of Gods interaction with his people,
    unlike myths that typically distanced the gods
    from mankind in a pre-history sense.
  • The Book of Ruth is a simple, realistic story
    about ordinary people in Israel. It places
    importance on the decisions of women, as well as
    the Hebrew law and sense of community.

6
Book of Ruth Review
  • 1. How does Boaz meet Ruth? What must Boaz do to
    redeem the land and marry Ruth? Why?
  • 2. From this narrative we learn that David, the
    greatest king of Israel, is descended from Ruth.
    What is ironic about this detail?
  • 3. To some feminist critics, Ruth and Naomi are
    courageous women who defy social conventions and
    make their own decisions, taking control of their
    own lives in a male-dominated society. Male
    characters are seen as playing relatively minor
    roles in the narrative. Do you agree or disagree
    with this view of the Book of Ruth? Explain.

7
Ancient Egypt
  • The Kingdoms of Egypt lasted for twenty-seven
    centuries. The pharaoh was the single ruler who
    was viewed as a god on earth.
  • Egyptians developed one of the first forms of
    paper from papyrus reeds. Their civilization
    developed rapidly because they could easily keep
    records and share ideas.
  • Hieroglyphs were viewed as divine words.
  • Almost all Egyptian writing pertained to their
    religion, such as the Book of the Dead, but over
    time lyrical poetry also became prominent.

8
Akhenatens Legacy
9
Great Hymn to the Aten Review
  • Apostrophe a figure of speech in which a writer
    directly addresses a thing, concept, or absent
    person.
  • 1. List three examples of apostrophe used in the
    Great Hymn. How does the use of apostrophe
    convey a deep reverence for Aten?
  • Epithet a brief descriptive name, title, or
    adjective that characterizes a person, place, or
    thing (ex living Aten, creator of life!
  • 2. Find two more epithets in the poem. What do
    the epithets tell you about the relationship
    between Aten and his people?

10
Norse mythology
  • The religion of the Scandinavian regions,
    pre-Christianity. These tales are important, as
    they come from the Anglo-Saxons, the originators
    of the English language. Their stories followed
    them to England.
  • There are nine separate worlds, each one being
    the home of a different race the gods home
    Asgard, the humans home Midgard, the giants
    home Jötunheimr, etc.
  • (The races and many of the terms used in Lord of
    the Rings come from Norse mythology.)

11
Norse mythology key terms and figures
  • Yggdrasil the world tree
  • Ragnarok a series of pre-destined
    disasters that will bring the end of most of the
    magical races
  • Valhalla an enormous mead hall where the
    greatest warriors go after they die
  • Odin King of the Asgardians, traded his
    eye for ultimate wisdom
  • Thor Son of Odin, known for his strength
    and hammer, Mjolnir
  • Loki Antagonist. A shape-shifting,
    part-giant, shape-shifting god.
  • Ymin A giant, the first being in the
    world
  • Sigurd (Siegfried) epic hero

12
Yggsdrasil
13
Norse Creation Myth Baldurs Death Review
  • 1. From the Creation Myth, find three elements
    that are seen in the story of the Garden of Eden.
    Compare/contrast how these elements are
    presented in Norse mythology vs. the Old
    Testament.
  • 2. Is there a moral to the Death of Baldur?
  • 3. The Funeral of Balder reveals the origin of
    what?

14
Look at your Norse family tree, choose a god,
research them, complete the following
  • 1. Is it a god, a goddess or something else
    (if something else, then what)?
  • 2. How is he/she related to the other gods
    (only the close family as in mother, father,
    sister, brother, spouse, children)?
  • 3. What are the special traits of this
    person?
  • 4. Do you find the person likeable? Why?
  • 5. What are the physical traits of the
    person?
  • Make a drawing of how you think your god
    would look like. Worth up to 5 bonus points.

15
African Stories
  • At the fall of the Egyptian empire, great
    civilizations started to spring up throughout the
    African continent, marking the Golden Age of
    African culture.
  • Despite using writing systems for record keeping
    and other practical purposes, African literature
    before the 20th century was primarily an oral
    tradition.
  • Many African languages are unique in the
    importance of their tonal qualities. One word
    can have numerous meanings depending on the tone
    used when it is spoken.
  • - Example cameroon means
  • payment if said with a high
  • tone and crossroads if said
  • with a low tone.

16
Spider Tale and African Proverbs Review
  • Proverb a short saying that expresses a common
    truth or experience
  • Alliteration repetition of consonant sounds
  • Parallelism repetition of words, phrases, or
    sentences that compare or contrast ideas
  • 1. How is Anaanu an example of a trickster
    archetype?
  • 2. Find three examples of parallelism in the
    African proverbs. What does the use of
    parallelism achieve?

17
Middle Eastern Literary History
  • The creation of the religion of Islam in 622AD
    spawned a rich literary history in Arabic
    culture. Scholars and poets were highly
    respected in the Middle East the Arabic word
    for poet, shaer, translates as he who knows.
  • Scholars were sent all over the world, during the
    Dark Ages in Europe, and preserved the great (and
    neglected) Greek and Roman texts by translating
    them to Arabic. -- AD 800-1200
  • Arabs have a long oral literary tradition that
    took place before Islam. Poets often gathered
    and had contests reciting Arab proverbs or
    poetry.
  • Once formed into the Islamic empire, there was a
    boom of cultural growth in the Middle East. With
    a thriving civilization, and scholars venturing
    out of the kingdom to study the knowledge of the
    world, literature branched out in all directions.
    Poetry, secular and non-secular prose, fables,
    philosophy, history all were developed and
    perfected.

18
Anecdotes and Sayings of Saadi Review
  • Anecdote a brief story that focuses on a single
    incident, often to make a point or teach a lesson
  • Sufism the inner, mystical dimension of Islam
    that focuses on developing the mind above all
    else often withdrawing from the material world
    to do so
  • Dervish the holy men who practice Sufism
  • 1. What is the moral of each
  • of the anecdotes you read?

19
The Thousand and One Nights
  • Frame story A story or stories told within
    another story
  • The Thousand and One Nights was developed over
    several centuries. Many stories came from the
    oral tradition, many were taken from tales
    brought by travelers from China and India (the
    Panchatantra).
  • The frame story of The Thousand and One Nights
    follows a sultan, Shahriyar. His wife is
    unfaithful and he has her executed. After that
    he takes a new wife each day and has each
    executed at dawn the following day because he no
    longer believes any woman to be faithful.
  • This changes when he takes Scheherazade as his
    wife. She is a clever storyteller, telling the
    sultan a new tale every night but delays
    revealing the ending until the following night.
    The sultan is always too captivated by her
    stories to kill her, and after 1,001 nights he
    abandons his plans to kill her and they remain
    happily married.

20
The Thousand and One Nights Review
  • Folk tales stories passed down by word of mouth
    from generation to generation
  • 1. The evil Vizier tells King Yunan, He who does
    not weigh the consequences of his acts shall
    never prosper. In what ways might this
    statement apply to the jinnee, King Yunan, and
    King Sinbad? Explain.
  • 2. What do these tales reveal about the daily
    life and culture of the medieval Muslim world?
    Explain your response, citing examples.

21
Indian Culture
  • A mixture of three early cultures Indus Valley,
    Dravidian, and Aryan contributed to Indias
    Hindu civilization.
  • Hinduism is one of the oldest existing religions.
    It appears polytheistic, having hundreds of
    gods, but it is actually monotheistic. The many
    gods are all parts of one whole, Brahman.
  • Central to Hinduism is the caste system
  • Brahmins (scholars and priests)
  • Kshatriyas (rulers and warriors)
  • Vaisyas (merchants, farmers, artisans)
  • Sudras (menial laborers)
  • Excluded from society altogether are the
    untouchables. Hindus believe that you are born
    into your caste based on the kharma built up in
    your previous life.
  • Islam and Buddhism were other prominent religions
    of India. Metalworking, medicine, and frescoes
    were all greatly developed. The mathematical
    concept of zero came from Indian Buddhist
    philosophy.

22
Indian Literature and Rig Veda
  • Indian Literature encompasses epics, religious
    hymns and sacred texts, dramas (plays), poems,
    and love lyrics
  • Emphasis is placed upon the language of Sanskrit.
    It was viewed by the Indian people as sacred.
    The inner workings of the language are admired by
    linguists still today.
  • The Rig Veda is the oldest surviving record of
    Indian religion. It is a book of hymns, not
    systematic religious ideas. It served as the
    foundation for Hinduism.
  • Aryans (Central Europeans) created the Rig Veda
    back in 1,400 B.C. and theres no known authors.
    The Rig Veda portrays natural phenomena as
    godlike beings. They are praised for their
    power, beauty, and the prosperity they bring.

23
Bhagavad-Gita
  • The Bhagavad-Gita, literally Song of the Lord,
    that takes place in the middle of the epic
    Mahabharata.
  • The premise of the Bhagavad-Gita is that warrior
    Arjuna does not wish to kill his relatives who
    are on the opposing side of a major battle. He
    asks for the advice of his brother-in-law
    Krishna, who happens to be one of the
    incarnations of the god Vishnu.
  • This ancient poem is divided into eighteen
    teachings that deal with the nature of the body
    and the soul, and the relationship of human
    beings and the divine.
  • This poem inspired the philosophy of Mohandas
    Gandhi.

24
Bhagavad-Gita Review
  • Paradox an apparent contradiction that is
    actually true
  • 1. From stanzas 4-8, what can you infer about
    Arjunas values? How have these values
    contributed to his dilemna?
  • 2. In the Mahabharata, the hero Yudhistira,
    Arjunas brother, says that the highest duty is
    to refrain from injuring others. In the
    Bhagavad-Gita, however, Krishna tells Arjuna that
    it is his sacred duty to fight. How do stanzas
    18-21 help to resolve this paradox?

25
Ramayana (Valmiki)
  • The Ramayana is Indias other great epic and it
    better resembles the epics of the Western world.
    The lead character is half-god but the story is
    incredibly human.
  • Most of the story focuses on Ramas quest to
    regain his throne and his wife Sita.

26
Rama and Ravana in Battle Review
  • 1. What support do the gods give Rama? What
    doubts does Rama have about the chariot, and who
    reassures him?
  • 2. How do the details in the first paragraph
    establish the main external conflict in the
    episode? What details show Ravanas internal
    conflict?
  • 3. What heroic values does Rama embody? How does
    Ramanas treatment of the defeated Ravana
    emphasize these values?
  • 4. What is the significance of Ravanas face
    changing after his death? What do you think this
    says about Indian culture?

27
Chinese culture
  • China has gone through many mighty dynasties with
    few rebellions overthrowing one dynasty for the
    next. Writing developed in the Shang dynasty.
  • Chinese literature dwarfs the literature of any
    other country. More than half of all books ever
    written are Chinese. Having extensive knowledge
    of classic texts and the ability to write poetry
    were requirements for employment in imperial
    bureaucracy.
  • Chinese writing had many sources of inspiration
  • - Confucianism
  • - Taoism
  • - Buddhism

28
The Book of Songs Review
  • Refrain a repeated word, phrase, or group of
    lines in a poem or song
  • 1. In Song 103, why does the speaker tell the
    oriole of her desire to go home?
  • 2. Point out three lines in Song 130 that state
    the speakers concerns. Paraphrase these
    concerns in your own words.
  • 3. Thoroughly explain what you think To Note
    After Note is about.
  • To Turn In In a two- to three-paragraph essay,
    compare and contrast What Plant is Not Faded?
    with the classic folk song Where have all the
    Flowers Gone? by Pete Seeger. End your essay
    with a comment about the qualities Seegers song
    shares with the selections from The Book of Songs
    you have just read. Make a generalization about
    the relevance of these ancient Chinese poems.

29
Confucianism
  • Confucius had an extraordinary love of learning
    that took him from a childhood of poverty to the
    position of most learned teacher in all of China.
  • He was the first person in recorded Chinese
    history to believe in education for all and to
    regard teaching as a lifes work.
  • Confucius tried to reform society according to a
    traditional code of personal ethics. He sought
    out rulers who were willing to rule according to
    the code instead of personal gain.
  • Key words scholarly, tradition, obedience,
    justice

30
Taoism
  • Taoism (The Way), according to legend, was
    founded by an old wise man named Laotzu.
  • Laotzu wrote the Tao te Ching a collection of
    sayings and poetry that teach the nature of
    Taoism. Taoism teaches a joyful acceptance of
    life and a willingness to become one with the
    natural world.
  • Numerous other Taoist philosophers reinterpreted
    the Tao te Chings concepts over the years.
    Chuang-tzu, for example, wrote quirky stories
    that exemplified Taoist ideals.
  • Key words harmony, fluidity, truth, paradox,
    passive

31
Analects, Tao te Ching, and Taoist Anecdotes
Review
  • 1. In Analects, which of the Masters sayings is
    most like the Bibles golden rule Do unto
    others as you would have them do unto you? What
    is the main difference between Confuciuss saying
    and the golden rule?
  • 2. One of the maxims in the Analects states, A
    gentleman is distressed by his own lack of
    capacity he is never distressed at the failure
    of others to recognize his merits. Paraphrase
    this maxim. Do you agree with it?
  • 3. In passage 29 of the Tao te Ching, how does
    Laotzu advise readers to approach the world?
    What does Laotzu mean when he says the world
    cannot be improved?
  • 4. What does Wagging My Tail in the Mud reveal
    about Chuang-tzus character? How does the tale
    reflect Taoist beliefs about the need to be true
    to oneself?

32
Journey to the West (Wu Cheng En)
  • The most widely-known Chinese novel.
  • The story of an incredibly powerful monkey, a
    Buddhist monk, a pig, and a water demons journey
    to the Western Heavens to return sacred
    scriptures.

33
Journey to the West (Wu Cheng En)
  • 1. What is the Monkey Kings greatest flaw? Give
    three examples from the story that demonstrate
    this flaw.
  • 2. How is the Monkey King punished in the end?

34
Japanese Literature
  • Most of Japanese politics was based on family
    and clan divisions until warlords took power in
    the 12th century.
  • Shintoism gave Japan a rich folklore of divine
    spirits (kami).
  • Early Japan was greatly inspired by China and
    took their form of writing, politics, as well as
    their love of poetry. Officials competed with
    their poetry in Japan as well. Tanka and haiku
    are both forms of poetry developed in Japan.
  • Many fantastical tales came to life thanks to Noh
    and Kabuki theatre. Noh was drama that focused
    on Zen Buddhist tradition Kabuki was theatrical
    over-the-top plays full of singing, dancing, and
    spoke to a general audience.
  • Classical Japanese prose occurred during the
    Heian period (A.D. 794-1185). Women had a
    leisurely life at court and were well-educated.
    That, in addition to scandalous stories, gave
    court ladies perfect backgrounds to write
    romantic novels, such as the first novel ever
    written The Tale of Genji.

35
Zen Parables
  • Zen Buddhism is more a form of inner meditation
    than a religion. It focuses on emptying the
    mind, suppressing the ego, and finding a inner
    enlightenment.
  • Zen appealed to people of all walks of life
    Japanese warriors, politicians, and artists lived
    according to its principles. It also worked its
    way into the culture like tea drinking,
    simplistic architecture, and gardening.
  • The Zen Parables were originally used to teach
    aspiring monks. The parables focus on confusing
    students to force them to abandon preconceived
    ideas. Zen masters want their students to
    realize how dangerous and misleading words can
    be.

36
Zen Parables Review
  • 1. In A Parable, what might the precipice, the
    tigers, and the mice symbolize? What is the
    significance of the man eating the strawberry?
    What lesson about life do you think this parable
    teaches?
  • 2. Why do you think the thief becomes the
    disciple of Shichiri Kojun? What values does
    this parable teach?
  • 3. Describe Banzos unconventional teaching
    methods. What do you think he is teaching
    Matajuro about the art of swordsmanship?

37
The Pillow Book (Sei Shonagon)
  • Shonagon wrote this book just as personal notes
    on court life. A pillow was a wooden drawer
    where aristocrats wrote and stored letters and
    journals, much like a diary today.
  • The Pillow Book is an insight into the
    aristocrats of her time (10th century Heian
    Japan) quick-witted, repulsed by working people,
    with unusual court etiquette.
  • Style the unique manner in which writers use
    language to express their ideas
  • Diction word choice (plain or fancy,
    abstract or concrete)
  • Syntax the way sentences are constructed
    (long or short, simple or complex)
  • Tone the attitude a writer takes toward
    his subject (sarcastic, tender, melancholy,..)

38
The Pillow Book Review
  • 1. In Pleasing Things, what role do reading and
    writing seem to play in Shonagons life? Cite
    four examples to support your view.
  • 2. What is Shonagons attitude toward people of
    very high rank? Give two examples to support our
    opinion.
  • 3. Describe Shonagons writing style describe
    her diction, syntax, tone.
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