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- - World Lit Book Summaries Gilgamesh The Gilgamesh epic is very interesting and historically important because of its very early position in world literature. It tells us about an actual Sumerian king Gilgamesh of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates in modern Iraq. He lived about 2700 B. C. In the epic the deeds of Gilgamesh and his companion, the wild man Enkidu are described. All these stories were composed into a long poem, which is considered as the earliest epic cycle yet known.
The epic is really fascinating because it showed the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian cultures; Gilgamesh's struggle against the gods, the forces of nature, and his own mortality mirrors the always-contemporary endeavor to find one's place both in wider society and in the cosmos. At the same time the Epic of Gilgamesh addresses these important metaphysical themes, it is also a story of two friends, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and their devotion to one another even after death. At first glance Gilgamesh is the epitome of a bad ruler. He is prideful, oppressive, and brutal. The people of Uruk complain of his oppression to the gods and the gods respond by creating Enkidu as a counterweight or foil to Gilgamesh. Although the two are intent on killing each other they quickly become friends.
They find true companionship in each other. Gilgamesh then proposes their adventures to gain them popularity among the people of Uruk and to refresh the spirit of Enkidu, who has been weakened and confused by civilization. Together they do great things and accomplish many feats. All in all, the Epic of Gilgamesh contains everything we have come to expect from great epic literature: fantastic geographies and exotic characters; exhausting quests and difficult journeys; heroic battles with monsters, supernatural beings and natural forces. It is, above all, the gripping story of an epic hero who is driven to meet his destiny and who rises to every challenge with courage and determination. Homer The Odyssey Odysseus - the poem's name in Greek since Herodotus called it that in the fifth century BC - means simply "the story of Odysseus" written by great Homer.
The word "odyssey" that derives from this name has come to mean any significant and difficult journey. In the context of Odysseus' voyages and troubles, the poem touches on a number of significant topics such as loyalty, heroism, creativity, and order. Ten years after the fall of Troy, the victorious Greek hero Odysseus has still not returned to his native Ithaca. They believed that he was already dead, and only his wife Penelope was waiting for him for years. Their son Telemakhos was seeking news of his father at Pylos and Sparta. Telemakhos tracks Odysseus trail through the stories being told.
A lot of places were visited by Odysseus: the island of the beautiful goddess Kalypso whose prisoner and lover he has been for eight years; he was tempted to stay on the island of Lotos Eaters and suffered a lot of losses; he started also his personal war with Poseidon, the god of the Sea; he and his men visited the land of the giant, man-eating Laistrygonians, where they again barely escaped; the goddess Kirke tricked Odysseus' men and turned them into pigs. With the help of the god Hermes, Odysseus defied her spell and metamorphosed the pigs back into men. They stayed on her island for a year in the lap of luxury, with Odysseus as her lover; then resisted the temptations of the seductive and dangerous Scenes, etc. With Athena's help Odysseus reveals his identity to his son, and makes the plans to overthrow the suitors from his palace.
Suitors want to marry Odysseus wife Penelope, so she says she will marry the one who can string Odysseus' great bow and shoot an arrow through a dozen axeheads. Only Odysseus can pull off the feat. Bow in hand, he shoots and kills the suitors. Then he lovingly reunites with his Penelope. Virgil The Aeneid The Aeneid was written by Publius Vergilius Maro, known to us as Virgil, a great Italian writer. It took him 10 years to write the poem, the action of which takes place after the Trojan War.
After the destruction of Troy, Aeneas, his father Anchises and son Iulus lead the other Trojan fugitives to establish another city. But the goddess Juno tries to resist them and prevent from doing this since she hates them. On Sicily the Aeneas father died. After they set out from Sicily a storm caused by Juno diverted the ship to Carthage. There the Trojans were given shelter and material to repair their ships and the beautiful queen Dido falls in love with Aeneas. But Aeneas had to sail away and Dido kills herself cursing Aeneas that his way will be strewn with blood and death before his city is established.
After reaching Sicily the ships of Aeneas are burned by the Trojan women instigated by Juno. Then Aeneas is required to visit the underworld and see a vision of the descendants of Rome. Here he encounters figures from his past including Dido. Anchises shows him the future that Aeneas and his son Iulus are destined to lay the foundations of a great warrior race. Finally Aeneas and his fleet reached the mouth of the river Tiber, where they were welcomed by King Latinas of Latium who was told, that he should marry his daughter to the leader of the foreigners. But his queen arouses her people to oppose the marriage.
Consequently a whole group of tribes from all over Italy are gathered to prepare for battle. Aeneas in turn get support from Evanders son Pallas. During the war both sides lost their finest warriors including Evanders Pallas. Despite Juno's greatest efforts to destroy the Trojans proclaimed victory and Rome on the way to being founded. The thousand and one nights.
The Vizier's daughter, Sharazad, volunteers to entertain and distract the cruel Sassanid king, King Shahriyar, by telling him stories. She drags these out over 1001 nights, in order to prevent him from killing more of the virgins of the realm (a rampage he began after killing his wife for adultery). Sharazad has had 3 sons by the King. He spares her life and repents his murderous ways. This large and heterogeneous collection consists of clever stories, fables, fairy tales, romances, legends, parables, anecdotes, morality tales, adventure stories, bawdry, etc. Here are some of the stories Sharazad used to tell Sassanid king: The Tale of the Lame Young Man and the Barber of Baghdad (a young man loves the Cadi's daughter) The Barber's Tale (the talkative barber tells how he came to care for his brothers) The Tale of Bakbook, the Barber's First Brother (the cunning cruelty of women) The Tale of Al-Harder, the Barber's Second Brother (a cruel trick is played by a woman) Sindbad the Sailor and Sindbad the Porter (Sindbad recounts his fantastic voyages to a porter of the same name) The Porter and the Three Girls of Baghdad (a porter is attracted to 3 seductive half-sisters who live together) The Dream (a poor merchant finds treasure through his dream) The Inferno by Dante Alighierei The Divine Comedy was written by Dante Alighierei, the Italian poet, who lived in 1265 - 1321.
It describes Dantes imaginary journey with the Roman poet Virgil who serves as a guide as Dante begins his religious pilgrimage to find God. To reach his goal, Dante passes through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. The Divine Comedy is made up of three parts, corresponding with Dantes three journeys: Inferno, or Hell; Purgatorio, or Purgatory; and Paradiso, or Paradise. Dante and Virgil enter the wide gates of Hell and descend through the nine circles of Hell. In each circle they see sinners being punished for their sins on earth.
The First Circle of Hell Limbo houses pagans, including Virgil and many of the other great writers and poets of antiquity such as Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. Inside the Second Circle of Hell, reserved for the sin of Lust, Dante watches as the souls of the Lustful swirl about in a terrible storm. In the Third Circle of Hell, the Gluttonous lie in mud and endure a rain of filth and excrement. In the Fourth Circle, the Avaricious and the Prodigal are made to charge at one another with giant boulders. The Fifth Circle of Hell contains the river Styx, in which the Wrathful spend eternity struggling with one another. The Sixth Circle of Hell houses the Heretics.
The Seventh Circle of Hell contains those who were violent toward others spend eternity in a river of boiling blood. Virgil and Dante meet a group of Centaurs, creatures who are half man, half horse. In the Eighth Circle of Hell, Dante speaks to Ulysses, the great hero of Homers epics. Virgil and Dante proceed to the Ninth Circle of Hell through the Giants Well, which leads to a massive drop to Cocytus, a great frozen lake. Dante sees the three-headed giant Lucifer plunged waist-deep into the ice, his body is in the center of the Earth, where he fell when God hurled him down from Heaven. Eventually, the poets reach the Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, and travel from there out of Hell and back onto Earth.
Through his travels, he has found his way to God and is able, once more, to look upon the stars. Hamlet by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare is considered the greatest dramatist...
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