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Defining Documents in World History: The Ancient World (2700 B.C.E.–c.500 C.E.)

Table of Contents

Publisher's Note

Editor's Introduction



Umma and Lagash, Sumer

“A Hymn to Inana”

The Advice of an Akkadian Father to His Son

Proverbs from Sumer

Code of Hammurabi

Enuma Elish—The Babylonian Creation

Babylonian Proverbs

From the Epic of Gilgamesh

Egypt and Environs

“A Hymn of Praise to Ra When He Riseth”

“Hymn to Osiris,” from the Egyptian Book of the Dead

Description of the Ethiopians

The Selection of Aspalta as King of Kush

Asia: China and India

Excerpt from The Art of War, Chapter 1

The Doctrine of the Mean, Section 2

Excerpts from the Dao De Jing

“Lessons for Women”

The Edicts of King Ashoka

The Duties of a King, from the Arthashastra

The Laws of Manu, Chapter 1

Excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1


Excerpts from the Law Code of Gortyn, Ancient Crete

Pericles' Funeral Oration

Excerpt from the History of the Peloponnesian War

Excerpt from Anabasis, or “March Up Country”

The Athenian Constitution, Section 1

Requirements for a Physician

Excerpt from “The Training of Children”

Gladiator Games in the Reign of Emperor Caligula


Advice for Keeping Slaves in Ancient Rome

Letter from Cicero to Atticus

The Romans Destroy the Temple at Jerusalem

Vespasian's Triumph Following the Vanquishing of the Jews

A Tour of Ancient Rome

Seeking Advice from Emperor Trajan Regarding the Christians

Excerpt from Meditations, Book I

Description of the Devastation of Rome

Distant Lands

Description of the Druids

A Fourth-Century Description of the Huns

Dining with Attila the Hun

Creation Story of the Maya, from the Popol Vuh

Chronological List

Web Resources