Middle eastern pre Islamic literature: did it fail to develop or lost

Mar 2019
1,809
KL
what is the middle eastern literary tradition before the Islamic age, there is mago, there were also efforts by the sassanids to kick start middle eastern tradition but soon after islamic conquest happened. Of course there are clay tablets but they cannot be compared with established traditions in india, greece and china. There are accounts of burnt libraries of the achamenids.

regards
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,783
SoCal
what is the middle eastern literary tradition before the Islamic age, there is mago, there were also efforts by the sassanids to kick start middle eastern tradition but soon after islamic conquest happened. Of course there are clay tablets but they cannot be compared with established traditions in india, greece and china. There are accounts of burnt libraries of the achamenids.

regards
Mago = this guy? :

 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,410
Coastal Florida
This kind of thread always gives me a little chuckle. The "Middle Eastern literary tradition" had already existed for like 2500 years or more before Islam was even invented. In particular, at least by the Third Dynasty of Ur (and perhaps before), the Sumerians/Akkadians appear to have had complex written works, primarily of religious and/or wisdom genres. That's long before any comparable written works are attested in "india, greece and china". The Old Babylonian and Egyptian Middle Kingdom periods are also noted for significant early literary accomplishment. During this era, the Gilgamesh story is first attested in a combined epic form and the Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe was written. I know one's conception of what composes literature may be subjective but I don't think it really makes much difference whether a written work stretches across a collection of clay tablets, papyrus scrolls or pages of a codex.

Edit:
Another thing I'd note is the biblical text. It seems to channel literary traditions from across the region. Certainly, it's authors seem to have been well-versed in wisdom literature and the Sumerian narrative corpus.
 
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Mar 2019
1,809
KL
This kind of thread always gives me a little chuckle. The "Middle Eastern literary tradition" had already existed for like 2500 years or more before Islam was even invented. In particular, at least by the Third Dynasty of Ur (and perhaps before), the Sumerians/Akkadians appear to have had complex written works, primarily of religious and/or wisdom genres. That's long before any comparable written works are attested in "india, greece and china". The Old Babylonian and Egyptian Middle Kingdom periods are also noted for significant early literary accomplishment. During this era, the Gilgamesh story is first attested in a combined epic form and the Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe was written. I know one's conception of what composes literature may be subjective but I don't think it really makes much difference whether a written work stretches across a collection of clay tablets, papyrus scrolls or pages of a codex.

Edit:
Another thing I'd note is the biblical text. It seems to channel literary traditions from across the region. Certainly, it's authors seem to have been well-versed in wisdom literature and the Sumerian narrative corpus.
That is the reason why im asking why the middle eastern literature despite being much older tradition didn't mature along the lines of the indian, chinese and the greek literature?

The bible seems to be the only single complete specimen of middle eastern literature beyond the clay tablets, i have highlighted mago etc but not much else is present. Was there a tradition but no records survive, or the tradition failed to develop due to persian and roman invasions?

as far as islamic golden age literature goes, that tradition doesnt seem to be derived from previous middle eastern traditions but it inherits from major greek and some indian traditions and some persian elements which as i stated started to be developed by the sassanids just before islamic invasion. There are not many middle Persian texts as well.

regards
 
Mar 2013
1,086
Breakdancing on the Moon.
The problem is how do we define middle east? If we include Egypt, then we have quite a strong Demotic and Coptic literary corpus. Do we include Armenian? Syriac flourished for a while. Persian too, but the Islamic invasion was deleterious there, as else where. Although ironically Persian tastes would later have a huge effect on Arabic. Oh, don't forget Hebrew. Huge tradition in Aethiopic too, if that counts.

Even within Arabic we have some pre-Islamic stuff. I think Ibn Intarra may be pre-Islamic. Then there's that famous poem about the moon and the mirror.

Depending on how you define it you get a lot or at least a good amount.

Comparing it to India, Greece, Rome, or China is a bit silly. These are the great classical traditions of the world.
 
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