Analyzing the Evolution of World Cultures Through Epic Stories: From Gilgamesh to Games of Thrones

Part of the Studies on Entrepreneurship, Structural Change and Industrial Dynamics book series (ESID)


We study humanity’s attitude towards violence by looking at the plots of 110 epics in Wikipedia. Starting with Gilgamesh dated 2100 BC, and ending with Games of Thrones firmly anchored in the twenty-first century we analyze the plot section of each epic described in Wikipedia, using different automatic sentiment analysis tools such as LIWC and IBM Watson ToneAnalyzer and AlchemyLanguage to calculate average sentiment. We find an increase in positive sentiment over the centuries, confirming Steven Pinker’s theory of a reduction in overall violence despite a still high potential for conflicts in today’s globalized interconnected fast changing world; indicating growing societal resilience towards violence. We also find more positive emotion in Asian and African epics.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.MIT Center for Collective IntelligenceCambridgeUSA

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