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Friday, August 11, 2006

Tales That Endure

Recently CNN reported that a 1,000-year-old medieval manuscript was unearthed in Ireland. Here are a few ancient stories you can “dig up” at the Fairfax County Public Library:

Gilgamesh: A New English Version
The Epic of Gilgamesh is thought to be the oldest work of literature in the world. The most complete version of the tale of this Sumerian hero-king exists on 11 clay tablets that date from the 7th century B.C.

I Ching: Book of Changes
Considered both a treatise on Chinese philosophy and a system of divination, the exact origin of the I Ching can’t be dated, but it was in use by the time of the Zhou Dynasty (1122 – 256 B.C.).

The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
Written by the blind Greek poet, the Iliad and the Odyssey, which make up the epic poem about the Trojan War, date somewhere between the 7th and 6th century B.C.

The Aeneid by Virgil
The Roman poet Virgil lived in the 1st century B.C. His most famous work, The Aeneid, took him 10 years to write and became the Roman Empire’s national epic.

The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon
The Pillow Book contains the somewhat gossipy observations and musings of a court lady written to Empress Sadako during the 990s A.D. in Heian, Japan.

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
This epic poem dates from 700 – 1000 A.D. It tells the story of Beowulf, a hero from a Germanic tribe in Sweden, who travels to Denmark to defeat a monster known as Grendel.

The Song of Roland
The oldest French epic poem, The Song of Roland, dates to around 1000 A.D. It concerns a minor incident, the battle of Roncevaux Pass, in which Charlemagne’s Franks were attacked by Basques.

What’s your favorite old story?

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