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|History of literature|
|Modern by century|
Before the spread of writing, oral literature did not always survive well, though some texts and fragments have persisted. August Nitschke sees some fairy tales as literary survivals dating back to Ice Age and Stone Age narrators.[example needed]
List of ancient texts
Early Bronze Age: 3rd millennium BC (approximate dates shown). The earliest written literature dates from about 2600 BC (classical Sumerian). The earliest literary author known by name is Enheduanna, a Sumerian priestess and public figure dating to ca. 24th century BC. Certain literary texts are difficult to date, such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was recorded in the Papyrus of Ani around 1240 BC, but other versions of the book probably date from about the 18th century BC.
- 2600 Sumerian texts from Abu Salabikh, including the Instructions of Shuruppak and the Kesh temple hymn
- 2600 Egyptian The Life of Metjen, from Saqqara
- 2500 Egyptian Diary of Merer (Oldest papyrus)
- 2400 Egyptian Pyramid Texts, including the Cannibal Hymn
- 2400 Sumerian Code of Urukagina
- 2400 Egyptian Palermo stone
- 2350 Egyptian The Maxims of Ptahhotep
- 2270 Sumerian Enheduanna's Hymns
- 2250 Egyptian Autobiography of Weni
- 2250-2000 Earliest Sumerian stories in the Epic of Gilgamesh
- 2200 Egyptian Autobiography of Harkhuf
- 2100 Sumerian Curse of Agade
- 2100 Sumerian Debate between Bird and Fish
- 2050 Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu
- 2000 Egyptian Coffin Texts
- 2000 Sumerian Lament for Ur
- 2000 Sumerian Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta
Middle Bronze Age: ca. 2000 to 1600 BC (approximate dates shown)
- 2000-1900 Egyptian Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor
- 1950 Akkadian Laws of Eshnunna
- 1900 Akkadian Legend of Etana
- 1900 Sumerian Code of Lipit-Ishtar
- 1859-1840 Egyptian The Eloquent Peasant
- 1859-1840 Egyptian Story of Sinuhe (in Hieratic)
- 1859-1840 Egyptian Dispute between a man and his Ba
- 1859-1813 Egyptian Loyalist Teaching
- 1850 Akkadian Kultepe texts
- 1800 Akkadian Enûma Eliš
- 1780 Akkadian Mari letters, including the Epic of Zimri-Lim
- 1754 Akkadian Code of Hammurabi stele
- 1750 Hittite Anitta text
- 1700 Akkadian Atra-Hasis epic
- 1700 Egyptian Westcar Papyrus
- 1700 Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh
- 1650 Egyptian Ipuwer Papyrus
- 1600 Akkadian Eridu Genesis
Late Bronze Age: ca. 1600 to 1200 BC (approximate dates shown)
- 1600 Hittite Code of the Nesilim
- 1500 Akkadian Poor Man of Nippur
- 1500 Hittite military oath
- 1500-1200 Ugaritic Legend of Keret
- 1550 Egyptian Book of the Dead
- 1500 Akkadian Dynasty of Dunnum
- 1400 Akkadian Marriage of Nergal and Ereshkigal
- 1400 Akkadian Autobiography of Kurigalzu
- 1400 Akkadian Amarna letters
- 1330 Egyptian Great Hymn to the Aten
- 1240 Egyptian Papyrus of Ani, Book of the Dead
- 1200-900 Akkadian version and younger stories in the Epic of Gilgamesh
- 1200 Akkadian Tukulti-Ninurta Epic
- 1200 Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers
Iron Age texts predating Classical Antiquity: 12th to 8th centuries BCE
- 1200-800 BCE approximate date of the Vedic Sanskrit Rigveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, Samaveda
- 1050 BCE Egyptian Story of Wenamun
- 1050 BCE Akkadian Sakikkū (SA.GIG) “Diagnostic Omens” by Esagil-kin-apli.
- 1050 BCE The Babylonian Theodicy of Šaggil-kīnam-ubbib.
- 1000 BCE Akkadian Dialogue of Pessimism
- 900 BCE Akkadian Epic of Erra
8th century BCE
- Greek Trojan War cycle, including the Iliad and the Odyssey
- 800-500 BCE: Vedic Sanskrit Brahmanas
- Oldest books of the Hebrew Bible (the Book of Nahum, Book of Hosea, Book of Amos, Book of Isaiah)
7th century BCE
- Vedic Sanskrit
6th century BCE
- Cyrus Cylinder
- Hebrew Bible: Psalms (according to late dating), Book of Ezekiel, Book of Daniel (according to conservative or early dating)
- Chinese: Sun Tzu: The Art of War (Sūnzǐ Bīngfǎ)
- Vedic Sanskrit:
5th century BCE
- Vedic Sanskrit:
- Avestan: Yasht
- Pindar: Odes
- Herodotus: The Histories of Herodotus
- Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War
- Aeschylus: The Suppliants, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes, Oresteia
- Sophocles: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Electra and other plays
- Euripides: Alcestis, Medea, Heracleidae, Hippolytus, Andromache, Hecuba, The Suppliants, Electra, Heracles, Trojan Women, Iphigeneia in Tauris, Ion, Helen, Phoenician Women, Orestes, Bacchae, Iphigeneia at Aulis, Cyclops, Rhesus
- Aristophanes: The Acharnians, The Knights, The Clouds, The Wasps, Peace, The Birds, Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, The Frogs, Ecclesiazousae, Plutus
- Hebrew: date of the extant text of the Torah
4th century BCE
- Pali: Tipitaka 
- Hebrew: Book of Job, beginning of Hebrew wisdom literature
- Hebrew Torah, also called the Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses with a final redaction between 900-450 BCE.
- Xenophon: Anabasis, Cyropaedia, Oeconomicus, Memorabilia
- Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics, Metaphysics, Organon, Physics, Historia Animalium, De Partibus Animalium, De Motu Animalium, De Mundo, De Caelo, Poetics, Politics, Magna Moralia
- Plato: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Theaetetus, Parmenides, Symposium, Phaedrus, Protagoras, Gorgias, Meno, Republic, Timaeus, Critias, Laws, Menexenus, Phaedo, Lysis, Alcibiades I, Alcibiades II, Hippias minor, Epinomis, Minos, Hipparchus
- Euclid: Elements
- Menander: Dyskolos
- Theophrastus: Enquiry into Plants
3rd century BCE
- Avestan: Avesta
- Etruscan: Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis (Linen Book of Zagreb)
- Hebrew: Ecclesiastes
- Lucius Livius Andronicus (c. 280/260 BCE — c. 200 BCE), translator, founder of Roman drama
- Gnaeus Naevius (ca. 264 — 201 BCE), dramatist, epic poet
- Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254 — 184 BCE), dramatist, composer of comedies: Poenulus, Miles Gloriosus, and other plays
- Quintus Fabius Pictor (3rd century BCE), historian
- Lucius Cincius Alimentus (3rd century BCE), military historian and antiquarian
2nd century BCE
- Avestan: Vendidad
- Chinese: Sima Qian: Records of the Grand Historian (Shǐjì)
- Aramaic: Book of Daniel
- Hebrew: Sirach
- Terence (195/185 BCE — 159 BCE), comic dramatist: The Brothers, The Girl from Andros, Eunuchus, The Self-Tormentor
- Quintus Ennius (239 BCE — c. 169 BCE), poet
- Marcus Pacuvius (ca. 220 BCE — 130 BCE), tragic dramatist, poet
- Statius Caecilius (220 BCEE — 168/166 BCE), comic dramatist
- Marcius Porcius Cato (234 BCE — 149 BCE), generalist, topical writer
- Gaius Acilius (2nd century BCE), historian
- Lucius Accius (170 BCE — c. 86 BCE), tragic dramatist, philologist
- Gaius Lucilius (c. 160's BCE — 103/2 BCE), satirist
- Quintus Lutatius Catulus (2nd century BCE), public officer, epigrammatist
- Aulus Furius Antias (2nd century BCE), poet
- Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus (130 BCE — 87 BCE), public officer, tragic dramatist
- Lucius Pomponius Bononiensis (2nd century BCE), comic dramatist, satirist
- Lucius Cassius Hemina (2nd century BCE), historian
- Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi (2nd century BCE), historian
- Manius Manilius (2nd century BCE), public officer, jurist
- Lucius Coelius Antipater (2nd century BCE), jurist, historian
- Publius Sempronius Asellio (158 BCE — after 91 BCE), military officer, historian
- Gaius Sempronius Tuditanus (2nd century BCE), jurist
- Lucius Afranius (2nd & 1st centuries BCE), comic dramatist
- Titus Albucius (2nd & 1st centuries BCE), orator
- Publius Rutilius Rufus (158 BCE — after 78 BCE), jurist
- Quintus Lutatius Catulus (2nd & 1st centuries BCE), public officer, poet
- Lucius Aelius Stilo Praeconinus (154 BCE — 74 BCE), philologist
- Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius (2nd & 1st centuries BCE), historian
- Valerius Antias (2nd & 1st centuries BCE), historian
- Lucius Cornelius Sisenna (121 BCE — 67 BCE), soldier, historian
- Quintus Cornificius (2nd & 1st centuries BCE), rhetorician
1st century BCE
1st century CE
- Chinese: Ban Gu: Book of Han (Hànshū)
- Latin: see Classical Latin
- Sanskrit: Aśvaghoṣa: Buddhacharita (Acts of the Buddha)
- Latin: see Classical Latin
- Avestan: Khordeh Avesta (Zoroastrian prayer book)
- Pahlavi: Mani: Shabuhragan (Manichaean holy book)
- Greek: Plotinus: Enneads
- Latin: see Late Latin
- Hebrew: Mishnah
- Latin: see Late Latin
- Syriac: Aphrahat, Ephrem the Syrian
- Aramaic: Jerusalem Talmud
- Sanskrit: Kālidāsa (speculated): Abhijñānaśākuntalam (अभिज्ञान शाकुन्तलम्, "The Recognition of Shakuntala"), Meghadūta (मेघदूत, "Cloud Messenger"), Vikramōrvaśīyam (विक्रमोर्वशीयम्, "Urvashi Won by Valour", play)
- Latin: see Late Latin
- Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus: De Re Militari
- Augustine of Hippo: The City of God
- Paulus Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans
- Jerome: Vulgate
- Prudentius: Psychomachia
- Consentius's grammar
- Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite: De Coelesti Hierarchia (Περὶ τῆς Οὐρανίας Ἱεραρχίας, "On the Celestial Hierarchy"), Mystical Theology
- Socrates of Constantinople: Historia Ecclesiastica
- Latin: Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae ("The Consolation of Philosophy", 524), widely considered to be the last work of classical philosophy
- Aramaic: Babylonian Talmud
Karimi, Edith (2016). Mimetische Bildung durch Märchen: Phantasie, Narration, Moral [Mimetic education through Märchen: phantasy, narration, morality]. European Studies in Education (in German). 34. Münster: Waxmann Verlag. p. 110. ISBN 9783830984726. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
Manche Märchen ordnet [August] Nitschke den Jägern und Hirten der letzten Eiszeit zu, andere den Bauern und Fischern im Mesolithikum, wieder andere den Seefahrern der Meglithgesellschaft oder den Helden der Indogermanen. [August Nitschke assigns many fairy-tales to the hunters and herders of the last Ice Age, other ones to the farmers and fisherfolk of the Mesolithic, and still other ones to the seafarers of the megalith cultures or to the heroes of the Indo-European peoples.]
- Grimbly, Shona (2000). Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. Taylor & Francis. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-57958-281-4.
The earliest written literature dates from about 2600 BC, when the Sumerians started to write down their long epic poems.
- "Why Has No One Ever Heard of the World's First Poet?". Literary Hub. 2017-06-22. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
- Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge, London/New York 2001, ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
- Jones, Mark (2006). Criminals of the Bible: Twenty-Five Case Studies of Biblical Crimes and Outlaws. FaithWalk Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-932902-64-8.
The Sumerian code of Urukagina was written around 2400 BC.
- Stephanie Dalley, ed. (2000). Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-953836-2.
- Eccles, Sir John Carew (1989). Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self. Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-415-03224-7.
The Epic of Gilgamesh, written in Sumer about 2200 BC.
- Miriam., Lichtheim (2006). The Old and Middle Kingdoms. University of California press. p. 23. ISBN 9780520248427. OCLC 889165092.
- James P. Allen (2015). Middle Egyptian Literature: Eight Literary Works of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-08743-9.
- Dalley, Stephanie, ed. (2000). "Etana (pp. 189ff.)". Myths from Mesopotamia. Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199538360.
- Noonan, John T. (1987). Bribes. University of California Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-520-06154-5.
The Poor Man of Nippur dates from about 1500 BC.
- Thorkild Jacobsen (1978). The treasures of darkness: a history of Mesopotamian religion. Yale University Press. pp. 167–168, 231. “Perhaps it was brought east with the Amorites of the First Dynasty of Babylon.”
- Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol.2, 1980, p.203
- Alan Lenzi (2008). "The Uruk List of Kings and Sages and Late Mesopotamian Scholarship". Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions. 8 (2): 137–169. doi:10.1163/156921208786611764.
Berlin, Adele (2005). "Psalms and the literature of exile: Psalms 137, 44, 69, and 78". In Flint, Peter W.; Miller, Patrick D.; Brunell, Aaron; Roberts, Ryan (eds.). The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum: Formation and interpretation of Old Testament literature. 99. Leiden: Brill. p. 66. ISBN 9789004136427. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
The dating of psalms is notoriously difficult [...]. Moreover, dating the psalms also follows more general trends in dating biblical texts, the favored period having moved from the Maccabean period, to the maonarchical period, to the Persian period, wherein today much of the Hebrew Bible is thought to have taken shape. To say that a psalm speaks of the destruction and exile is to date it no earlier than 586 BCE; I would place all these psalms in the exilic or postexilic period.
- according to ancient Jewish and Christian tradition, and some modern scholars; see above inline citations.
- Talmud, Bava Bathra 146
- Mishnah, Pirqe Avoth 1:1
- Josephus, Flavius (1926). "11:8". The Life. Against Apion. (Loeb Classical Library). Loeb Classical Library. p. 448. ISBN 978-0-674-99205-4.
For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another (as the Greeks have) but only 22 books, which are justly believed to be divine; and of them, five belong to Moses, which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death.
- Stuart, Douglas K (2006). New American Commentary Vol. II: Exodus. Holman Reference. p. 826. ISBN 978-0-8054-0102-8.
- "Introduction to the Pentateuch. Introduction to Genesis.". ESV Study Bible (1st ed.). Crossway. 2008. p. XLII, 29–30. ISBN 978-1-4335-0241-5.
- RA Torrey, ed. (1994). "I-XI". The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (11th ed.). Baker Academic. ISBN 978-0-8010-1264-8.
- Zvelebil, Kamil (1973). The Smile of Murugan on Tamil literature of South India. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004035911.
- The Consolation of Philosophy (Oxford World's Classics), Introduction (2000)
- Dante placed Boethius the “last of the Romans and first of the Scholastics” among the doctors in his Paradise (see The Divine Comedy).