What is the literary evidence for the idea of human progress?

If you were to restrict your inquiry to Western literature, from say Homer to Joyce, what would be the evidence that humankind had (positively, negatively, lateraly) changed?

(Question occurs to me because I was thinking of the idea of “not living a real life” as being a question of more recent literature, not to be found in ancient or even renaissance sources.)

Somewhat related, in Homer’s eyes, how strange would Crime and Punishment have been? Would he have said it was nonsense, would he have said it was a great advance on his own art?

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