The precursors of short story were legends, mythic tales, folk tales, fairy tales, fables and anecdotes which were present in various ancient communities across the world. These short pieces existed mostly in oral form and they were transmitted from one generation to another in oral form. A large number of such tales are found in ancient literature, from the Indian epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey. The 1001 Arabian Nights, compiled for the first time probably in the eighth century, is also a storehouse of Middle Eastern folk tales and fairy tales. Emerging in the 17th century from oral storytelling traditions and above-mentioned written works of the ancient times (which themselves are based on oral traditions), the short story has grown to encompass a body of work so diverse as to defy easy characterization.