Civilopedia entry[edit | edit source]
The art of writing as literature, bodies of works written thematically, is at least as old in the western world as Greek culture. Surviving records of Babylonian culture refer to at least two epic tales, which infers that literature as a comprehensive body is much older, but neither survive to this day. The development of a living body of literature became indicative of an advanced culture and are always correlated with advances in science, philosophy, theology, and art. Literature in the western world has survived in the forms that the Greeks and Romans established, but the expense and effort of hand copying texts ensured that only the wealthy had access to literate education. Libraries, which served as storehouses of these bodies of text, also became centers for education and the proliferation of ideas. Unfortunately the loss of many such libraries, such as the Great Library of Alexandria in a civil war in the 3rd century AD, also heralded the loss of many of these irreplaceable texts. It wasn't until the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg that books were printed rather than transcribed. That single advance in literature opened the field up to those other than monks and the wealthy, birthing a proliferation of literature that spread across the world.