Classical Era Literature

Bailey, Tyler, Tanner, Caleb

1200 BCE to 455 CE

1. Homeric - This is the period of greek legends being passed on through oral traditions. Homer’s The Iliad and the Odyssey are the main works throughout this period.

2. Classical Greek - Philosophy and Writers really come into the limelight during this period. The “Golden Age of Greece” happened within this period where so many of the world's finest and most treasured works of art originated. Aesop, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle are some very well known authors who came out of this period. Classical Greek Period is where Greek Tragedy is formed. Prominent authors of these tragedies are Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Their most famous works include the escapades of The Shamed King of Thebes, Oedipus.

3. Classical Roman - Rome conquers Greece in 146 CE giving them a cultural advantage. After 500 years of being a Republic, Rome becomes under the leadership of Julius Caesar and the under Caesar Augustus. Famous writers in this era include, Plautus, Terence, Ovid, Horace, Virgil. Some Roman philosophers are Lucretius and Aurelius.

4. Patristic Period

This is the beginning of a very religious Rome. Christian writings begin to appear from Saint Augustine. One of his greatest works being, The City of God Against the Pagans. Saint Jerome compiles the Bible. Christianity spreads across Europe. Rome finally falls in 455 CE.

What was happening in history during this era?

1200 BC - The Trojan War

800 BC - Beginning of City States in Greece

776 BC- 1st Olympic games

753 BC - Founding of Rome

550 BC - Persian Empire

508 BC - Democracy started in Athens

483 BC - Death of Gautama Buddha

447 BC - Building of Parthenon is finished

264 - 146 BC - Punic Wars

146 BC - Rome conquers Greece

80 BC - Florence is founded

46 - 44 BC - Dictatorship of Julius Caesar

4 BC - accepted date for birth of Jesus Christ

26-34 CE - Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

79 CE - Destruction of Pompeii by volcano

313 - Constantine met with Licinius and wrote an edict saying Christians should be able to follow faith without oppression.

325 CE - Constantine 1 becomes sole ruler of both west and east Roman Empire.

- Founded city of Constantinople on site of Byzantium.

Major Social Movements

Expansion/creation of christianity -

  • Originally illegal because christians didn't worship emperor
  • Constantine became the first Christian emperor in 312 after seeing a vision of a cross with the words, "Follow me," during a big battle.
  • Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 312 making Christianity legal.

Democracy -

  • Built mainly out of Rome.
  • Greece began a political movement, dividing the population into states for purely political purposes
  • The Greek city-states were mainly oligarchies, which meant they were ruled by a select group of wealthy or powerful individuals.

Key Authors

Major Literature Movements

Transition of Oral Literature to Written Literature -

Without the creation of a colloquial writing forms, many oral cultures utilized techniques to easily recall their stories. Such techniques include mnemonic devices to enhance memory and recollection. Once writing became a prominent form of documentation, ‘Authors,’ such as Homer, wrote down oral these stories and were given credit as the people who created then.

Greek Tragedy -

Greek Tragedy is a form of theater. Tragedy is based upon tragic plots based on myths and were supposed to be an extension of the ancient rites carried out in honor of Dionysus. Prominent authors of these tragedies are Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Their most famous works include the escapades of The Shamed King of Thebes, Oedipus (Both Aeschylus and Sophocles wrote about these). Whereas, Euripides had a slightly different take on Greek Tragedy. Euripides experimented more with the use of monologues to inform spectators of a character's background. He also experimented with the realism of human conflict. Often times Euripides’ characters would be insecure and would have internal dilemmas to add depth to the plot.

Mythology -

Mythology consisted of Olympian gods which were key gods, Myths were passed down by word of mouth for ages, then they were later turned into stories. Myths consisted of the Olympic gods, gods that weren't as important, mortals that had connections with god's, strange creatures like the cyclops or pegasis. Important Greek mythology includes the Odyssey or the Iliad of Homer. Main protagonist's journey is normally determined (fated) by the gods. Heroes are normally the half-blood children of gods/goddesses and humans.

Transition into religious writing -

Rome was majorly influenced by Greece when it came to religion, but only when Constantine took control of Rome, did focus change from mythology to Christianity. Christianity was the focus of major art and literature movements through this period.