10-second Literature Reviews
700-600 BC. 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, Iliu Parva, Ilias 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.
600-300 BC. 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.
600-500 BC. 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.
500 BC. 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.
490 BC. 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.