15/03/12 at 6:00 am
Authors and their works started appearing on the sand written by the tips of fingers. Going through the Cuneiform script on clay tablets and stones, and hieroglyphic works or pictograms on the walls of the ancient Egyptian pyramids, they started appearing in ink on hides, wood, and on papyrus which evolved later. It required a thousand libraries and miles of area to store one book in the past, but the current CD, DVD, USB, and the latest devices enable the preservation of huge amounts of data in just a matter of few grams. Today we can store and preserve a thousand libraries of the famous authors and their works in just a few hard disks.
1. Hammurabi: Code of Hammurabi
Hammurabi; the King of Babylon was born in c.1810 BC and died in 1750 BC. His predecessor was Sin Muballit and his successor was Samsu-Iluna. He is best known for his “Code of Hammurabi.” He ruled over Babylon for 42 years. The code comprises 282 laws inscribed on stones of average human height or found on well-preserved clay tablets. The code applies to various contracts, social or professional, like those pertaining to marriage or wages. The code also mentions the punishment on the basis of a tooth for a tooth and also about the removal of an unjust justice from office in case of inappropriate decisions. The Code of Hammurabi was written in Cuneiform script wherein shapes of the letters are chiseled out in stone or a clay tablet. Hammurabi, in this perspective, is the most famous author of the well-preserved legal document, the Code of Hammurabi.
2. Jerry B. Lincecum: Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is definitely one of if not the most beautiful books in the world. It was handwritten by monks in about 800 A.D. Its name is derived from Abbey of Kells, an Irish Midland where it was written first and kept there from the year 900 to 1541. The famous manuscript of Ireland has been copied at an exorbitant cost of $18,000 per book, and only 1,480 copies are available all over the world. The Book of Kells has been kept in the library of Trinity College, Dublin since 1661. In an effort to standardize the size of the pages, the book binders have done more harm than good by deleting some illustrated portions. Efforts were made to restore the originality in 1953. Artwork from the Book of Kells is a treat for the sight of all book lovers. The book is kept under strict security, and its pages are changed occasionally to let the viewers see different pages and illustrations during their visits.
3. Socrates: Plato’s Dialogues
Socrates was born in 470 BC in Deme Alopece, Athens and died in Athens in 399 BC at around 71 years of age. He is one of the two greatest classical Athenian philosophers. He is regarded as the founder of Western philosophy, and his great pupils, particularly Plato and Xenophon, have played vital roles in the preservation of his thoughts and philosophical views. Socrates is known for his views like Socratic questioning, paradox, and Socratic problem. Socrates was tried on ambiguous charges of not recognizing the gods of Athens as the Athenians did. His trial is considered as the most famous of all time trials and is often quoted proverbially. He was sentenced to death by drinking a cup of poisonous hemlock juice. Socrates said, “I know that I know nothing.”
4. Plato: The Republic
Plato was born in Athens in 428 BC and died in the same city in 347 BC at the age of about 80 years. He was one of the two most famous philosophers of the world. There is some controversy over their ranking. But according to Plato in his “Apology of Socrates,” he clarifies that he was his younger and devout follower. He is best known for his most famous work “The Republic” (Politeia- in Greek), which is a dialogue written by Plato in approximately 380 BC. The dialogue is about an “Ideal City State” run by a philosopher king. His works entail a theory of form, political theory, immortality of the soul, and the role of the state ruler. The Republic is one of the most influential works of philosophy.
5. Jalal ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi: Masnavi
Mewlana (title), Jalal ad Din Rumi, Balkhi, popularly and dearly known simply as “Rumi,” was born in 1207 A.D. in Balkh, currently Afghanistan. He died in Konya, currently Turkey, on December 17, 1273. He belongs to the Mevlevi order of the Sufism and was one of the topmost Muslim theologians and mystic poets. He was influenced by Bayazid Bistami, Bah-ud-din Zakriya and Shams-e-Tabrizi. The most famous people, he influenced include: Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Sir Mohammad Iqbal.Diwan-e-Tabriz, and Fih-Ma-Fih are his great works, but his poetry contained in Masnavi is by far his most popular work and occupies a great place in the Muslim religious and poetic literature. East or West, one has nothing to do with mysticism if they’ve never heard of Rumi.
6. Shakespeare; As Othello
Exact date of his birth is unknown, though he was baptized on April 26, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England and died at Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England on April 23, 1616. What roses are in the plant kingdom, so are Shakespeare’s works in the kingdom of literature. He is the best English playwright, poet, and actor. His early career as a poet, actor, and part owner of a theatrical company, first known as Lord Chamberlain’s Men and later as the Kings Men, was a great success. It is hard to skip the mention of any one of his works, but for the purpose of an introduction to his great works, a few of them are: Othello, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, As You Like It, and Merchant of Venice.
7. John Milton: Paradise Lost
John Milton was born on Bread Street, Cheapside, London, England, U.K. on December 9, 1608 and died at Bunhill, London, England on November 8, 1674 at the age of 65 years. He was a renowned English prose writer, poet, and civil servant. He was educated at Cambridge University. In addition to English, he was well-versed with many languages including: Aramaic, Syriac, Latin, German, French, Hebrew, Greek, and Spanish. In 1796, William Hayley I opined in his biography that John Milton was, “The greatest English author” and commenting on his Paradise Lost Samuel Johnson wrote, “A poem which…with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance the second among the productions of the human mind.”
8. Charles Darwin; On the Origin of Species
Charles Darwin was born in Mount House, Shrewsbury, and Shropshire, England on February 12, 1809 and died at Down house, Downe, Kent, England on April 19, 1882 at the age of 73 years. He was educated at the Geological Society of London, University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge. He is one of the most influential scientists of the world and is best known for his works; On the Origin of Species and Evolution by Natural Selection, regarding common descent. His five-year voyage in the HMS Beagles established his repute as a geologist. In recognition of his eminence he was honored by a ceremonial funeral and buried in the vicinity of John Herschel and Isaac Newton.
9. Robert Michael Ballantyne: Coral Island
R. M. Ballantyne was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on April 24, 1825 and died in Rome, Italy on February 8, 1894 at the age of 68. Sometimes he used his pen name “Comus” and was known for writing juvenile fiction. Robert Michael Ballantyne is best known for his most famous adventure story Coral Island. His other works include; The World of Ice, Ungava: A Tale of the Eskimos Land, The Dog Crusoe and His Master, The Lighthouse, Deep Down, The Pirate, Fighting the Whales, and many others.
10. Ernest Hemingway: Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.A. on July 12, 1899 and died at Ketchum, Idaho, U.S.A. on July 2, 1961 at the age of 61. His famous works include; The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 for his novel The Old Man and the Sea. His style of writing is unique, and in the simplest words he can say so much more than what appears in the form of words. His Iceberg Theory has a special importance in the literary circles. According to him, “If a writer knows about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.”
An author’s works are to humanity what a mind and soul is to the body. Good or bad, having been once consumed, the effect of the studied work is just inevitable. It is, therefore, imperative to be selective because it is within your option to read or not to read something; just as it is very much within your control to take or avoid a poison which is going to end up in its fatal consequences if once consumed. It is particularly very important for teachers to guide the students regarding the selection of authors and their works.