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Encyclopedia > Ancient Greek literature
Greek Literature
Ancient Greek Literature (until 4th century AD)
Byzantine Literature (4th - 15th century)
Modern Greek Literature (post 11th century)

Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in the Greek language until the 4th century AD. // Main article: Ancient Greek literature Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in Ancient Greek from the oldest surviving written works in the Greek language until the 4th century and the rise of the Byzantine Empire. ... Byzantine literature refers to literature written in the Greek language during the Middle Ages, although certain works written in Latin, like the Corpus Juris Civilis may also be included. ... Modern Greek literature refers to literature written in the Greek language from the 11th century, with texts written in a language that is more familiar to the ears of Greeks today than is the language of the early Byzantine literati, the compilers of the New Testament, or, of course, the... Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ... Greek ( IPA: or simply IPA: — Hellenic) has a documented history of 3,500 years, the longest of any single language in the Indo-European language family. ... As a means of recording the passage of time, the 4th century was that century which lasted from 301 to 400. ...


Classical and Pre-Classical Antiquity

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
an essay on the transition to written literature in Greece

This period of Greek literature stretches from Homer until the 4th century BC and the rise of Alexander the Great. Alfred North Whitehead once claimed that all of philosophy is but a footnote to Plato. To suggest that all of Western literature is no more than a footnote to the writings of ancient Greece is an exaggeration, but it is nevertheless true that the Greek world of thought was so far-ranging that there is scarcely an idea discussed today not already debated by the ancient writers. Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... For the film of the same name, see Alexander the Great (1956 film). ... Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 Ramsgate, Kent, England – December 30, 1947 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) was an English-born mathematician who became a philosopher. ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...

This article is part of the series on: Image File history File links COA_of_Greece. ...

History of Greece This article covers the Greek civilization. ...

Prehistory of Greece
Helladic Civilization
Cycladic Civilization
Minoan Civilization
Mycenaean Civilization
Greek Dark Ages
Ancient Greece
Archaic Greece
Classical Greece
Hellenistic Greece
Roman Greece
Medieval Greece
Byzantine Empire
Ottoman Greece
Modern Greece
Greek War of Independence
Kingdom of Greece
Axis Occupation of Greece
Greek Civil War
Military Junta
The Hellenic Republic
Topical History
Economic history of Greece
Military history of Greece
Constitutional history of Greece
Names of the Greeks
History of Greek art
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The earliest known Greek writings are Mycenaean, written in the Linear B syllabary on clay tablets. These documents contain prosaic records largely concerned with trade (lists, inventories, receipts, etc.); no real literature has been discovered. Several theories have been advanced to explain this curious absence. One is that Mycenaean literature, like the works of Homer and other epic poems, was passed on orally, since the Linear B syllabary is not well-suited to recording the sounds of Greek (see phonemic principle). Another is that literary works, being the preserve of an elite, were written on finer materials such as parchment, which have not survived. Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece and the Aegean. ... The Helladic is a modern term to identify a sequence of periods characterizing the culture of mainland ancient Greece during the Bronze Age. ... Cycladic civilization (also known as Cycladic culture or The Cycladic period) is an Early Bronze Age culture of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, spanning the period from approximately 3000 BC-2000 BC. // Cycladic marble figurine of the Keros Culture type The significant Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Cycladic... The Minoan civilization was a bronze age civilization which arose on Crete, an island in the Aegean Sea. ... Mycenaean Greece, the last phase of the Bronze Age in ancient Greece, is the historical setting of the epics of Homer and much other Greek mythology. ... The Greek Dark Ages (ca. ... Ancient Greece is a period in Greek history that lasted for around nine hundred years. ... The archaic period in Greece is the period during which the ancient Greek city-states developed, and is normally taken to cover roughly the 9th century to the 6th century BCE. The Archaic period followed the dark ages, and saw significant advancements in political theory, and the rise of democracy... Parthenon This article is on the term Classical Greece itself. ... The Hellenistic period of Greek history was the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome in 146 BC. Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which... Roman Greece is the period of Greek history following the Roman victory over the Corinthians at the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC until the reestablishment of the city of Byzantium and the naming of the city by Emperor Constantine I as the capital of the Roman Empire (as Nova... Roman Greece The Greek peninsula became a Roman protectorate in 146 BC, and the Aegean islands were added to this territory in 133. ... “Byzantine” redirects here. ... Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century until its declaration of independence in 1821. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Combatants Greek revolutionaries United Kingdom France Russian Empire  Ottoman Empire Egyptian Khedivate Commanders Theodoros Kolokotronis Alexander Ypsilanti Georgios Karaiskakis Omer Vryonis Mahmud Dramali Pasha ReÅŸid Mehmed Pasha Ibrahim Pasha. ... Capital Athens Language(s) Greek Religion Greek Orthodox Government Constitutional Monarchy King  - 1832-1862 Otto  - 1863-1913 George I  - 1913-1917 Constantine I  - 1917-1920 Alexander  - 1920-1922 Constantine I  - 1922-1924 George II Historical era Enlightenment Era  - London Protocol August 30, 1832  - Military junta April 21, 1967 The Kingdom... German soldiers raising the Reich War Flag over the Acropolis. ... Combatants Hellenic Army, Royalist forces, Republicans, British troops Communist guerillas (ELAS, DSE) Commanders Alexander Papagos, Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos, James Van Fleet Markos Vafiadis Strength 150,000 men 50,000 men and women Casualties 15,000 killed 32,000+ killed or captured The Greek Civil War (Greek: ) was fought between 1946 and... The Phoenix rising from its flames and the silhouette of the soldier bearing a rifle with fixed bayonet was the emblem of the Junta. ... The history of the Hellenic Republic constitutes three discreet periods in Greek History: 1827 - 1832, 1924 - 1935 and 1974 - present. ... The economic history of the Greek World spans several millennia and encompasses many modern day nation states. ... The military history of Greece is the history of the wars and battles of the Greek people in Greece, the Balkans and the Greek colonies in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea since classical antiquity. ... In the modern history of Greece, starting from the Greek War of Independence, the Constitution of 1975/1986/2001 is the last in a series of democratically adopted Constitutions (with the exception of the Constitutions of 1968 and 1973 imposed by a dictatorship). ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... Greece has a rich and varied artistic history, spanning some 5000 years and beginning in the Cycladic and Minoan prehistorical civilization, giving birth to Western classical art in the ancient period (further developing this during the Hellenistic Period), to taking in the influences of Eastern civilisations and the new religion... Mycenaean is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, spoken on the Greek mainland and on Crete in the 16th to 11th centuries BC, before the Dorian invasion. ... This article is about the ancient syllabary. ... The epic is a broadly defined genre of narrative poetry, characterized by great length, multiple settings, large numbers of characters, or long span of time involved. ... A phonemic orthography is a writing system where there is a one-to-one relationship between graphemes in the written form and phonemes in the spoken form of a language. ... German parchmenter, 1568 Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. ...

Epic Poetry

At the beginning of Greek literature stand the two monumental works of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The figure of Homer is shrouded in mystery. Although the works as they now stand are credited to him, it is certain that their roots reach far back before his time (see Homeric Question). The Iliad is the famous story about the Trojan War. It centers on the person of Achilles, who embodied the Greek heroic ideal. For other uses, see Homer (disambiguation). ... title page of the Rihel edition of ca. ... This article is about the poem by Homer. ... For other uses, see Homer (disambiguation). ...

While the Iliad is pure tragedy, the Odyssey is a mixture of tragedy and comedy. It is the story of Odysseus, one of the warriors at Troy. After ten years fighting the war, he spends another ten years sailing back home to his wife and family. During his ten-year voyage, he loses all of his comrades and ships and makes his way home to Ithaca disguised as a beggar. Both of these works were based on ancient legends. The stories are told in language that is simple, direct, and eloquent. Both are as fascinatingly readable today as they were in ancient Greece. For other uses, see Tragedy (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Tragedy (disambiguation). ... The word comedy has a classical meaning (comical theatre) and a popular one (the use of humor with an intent to provoke laughter in general). ... For other uses of Troy or Ilion, see Troy (disambiguation) and Ilion (disambiguation). ... Localization of Ithaca The big island in the center is Kefalonia. ... Ancient Greece is a period in Greek history that lasted for around nine hundred years. ...

The other great poet of the preclassical period was Hesiod. Unlike Homer, Hesiod speaks of himself in his poetry; it remains true that nothing is known about him from any external source. He was a native of Boeotia in central Greece, and is thought to have lived and worked around 700 BC. His two works were Works and Days and Theogony. The first is a faithful depiction of the poverty-stricken country life he knew so well, and it sets forth principles and rules for farmers. Theogony is a systematic account of creation and of the gods. It vividly describes the ages of mankind, beginning with a long-past Golden Age. Together the works of Homer and Hesiod made a kind of bible for the Greeks. Homer told the story of a heroic past, and Hesiod dealt with the practical realities of daily life. Roman bronze bust, the so-called Pseudo-Seneca, now identified by some as possibly Hesiod Hesiod (Hesiodos, ) was an early Greek poet and rhapsode, who presumably lived around 700 BC. Hesiod and Homer, with whom Hesiod is often paired, have been considered the earliest Greek poets whose work has survived... Boeotia or Beotia (//, (Greek Βοιωτια; see also list of traditional Greek place names) was the central area of ancient Greece. ... Central Greece (Greek: Στερεά Ελλάδα - Stereá Elláda) is one of the thirteen peripheries of Greece. ... Centuries: 9th century BC - 8th century BC - 7th century BC Decades: 750s BC 740s BC 730s BC 720s BC 710s BC - 700s BC - 690s BC 680s BC 670s BC 660s BC 650s BC Events and Trends 708 BC - Spartan immigrants found Taras (Tarentum, the modern Taranto) colony in southern Italy. ... The book Works and Days Works and Days (in ancient Greek , which sometimes goes by the Latin name Opera et Dies, as in the OCT) is a Greek poem of some 800 verses written by Hesiod (around 700 BC). ... Theogony (Greek: Θεογονία, theogonia = the birth of God(s)) is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC. The title of the work comes from the Greek words for god and seed. // Hesiods Theogony is a large-scale... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about the type of character. ...

Lyric Poetry

The type of poetry called lyric got its name from the fact that it was originally sung by individuals or a chorus accompanied by the instrument called the lyre. The first of the lyric poets was probably Archilochus of Paros, circa 700 BC. Only fragments remain of his work, as is the case with most of the poets. The few remnants suggest that he was an embittered adventurer who led a very turbulent life. “Lyres” redirects here. ... Archilochus (or Archilochos) (ca. ... Centuries: 9th century BC - 8th century BC - 7th century BC Decades: 750s BC 740s BC 730s BC 720s BC 710s BC - 700s BC - 690s BC 680s BC 670s BC 660s BC 650s BC Events and Trends 708 BC - Spartan immigrants found Taras (Tarentum, the modern Taranto) colony in southern Italy. ...

The two major poets were Sappho and Pindar. Sappho, who lived in the period from 610 BC to 580 BC, has always been admired for the beauty of her writing. Her themes were personal. They dealt with her friendships with and dislikes of other women, though her brother Charaxus was the subject of several poems. Unfortunately, only fragments of her poems remain. With Pindar the transition has been made from the preclassical to the classical age. He was born about 518 BC and is considered the greatest of the Greek lyricists. His masterpieces were the poems that celebrated athletic victories in the games at Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, and the Isthmus of Corinth. Ancient Greek bust. ... Pindar (or Pindarus) (probably born 522 BC in Cynoscephalae, a village in Boeotia; died 443 BC in Argos), was perhaps the greatest of the nine lyric poets of ancient Greece. ... Centuries: 8th century BC - 7th century BC - 6th century BC Decades: 660s BC 650s BC 640s BC 630s BC 620s BC - 610s BC - 600s BC 590s BC 580s BC 570s BC 560s BC Events and Trends 619 BC - Alyattes becomes king of Lydia 619 BC _ Death of Zhou xiang... Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 620s BC - 610s BC - 600s BC - 590s BC - 580s BC - 570s BC - 560s BC - 550s BC - 540s BC - 530s BC Events and Trends 589 BC - Apries succeeds Psammetichus II as king of Egypt 588 BC _ Nebuchadnezzar II of... Pindar (or Pindarus) (probably born 522 BC in Cynoscephalae, a village in Boeotia; died 443 BC in Argos), was perhaps the greatest of the nine lyric poets of ancient Greece. ... Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 560s BC - 550s BC - 540s BC - 530s BC - 520s BC - 510s BC - 500s BC - 490s BC - 480s BC - 470s BC - 460s BC Events and Trends Establishment of the Roman Republic March 12, 515 BC - Construction is completed on the... Olympia among the principal Greek sanctuaries Olympia (Greek: Olympía or Olýmpia, older transliterations, Olimpia, Olimbia), a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. ... For other uses, see Delphi (disambiguation). ... Nemea (Gr. ... The Isthmus of Corinth is the narrow landbridge which connects the Peloponnesos peninsula with the mainland of Greece, near the city of Corinth. ...


The Greeks invented the epic and lyric forms and used them skillfully. They also invented drama and produced masterpieces that are still reckoned as drama's crowning achievement. In the age that followed the Greco-Persian Wars, the awakened national spirit of Athens was expressed in hundreds of superb tragedies based on heroic and legendary themes of the past. The tragic plays grew out of simple choral songs and dialogues performed at festivals of the god Dionysus. Wealthy citizens were chosen to bear the expense of costuming and training the chorus as a public and religious duty. Attendance at the festival performances was regarded as an act of worship. Performances were held in the great open-air theater of Dionysus in Athens. All of the greatest poets competed for the prizes offered for the best plays. The epic is a broadly defined genre of narrative poetry, characterized by great length, multiple settings, large numbers of characters, or long span of time involved. ... omg holy crap| cellpadding=4 cellspacing=0 style=width:270px; margin: 0 0 1em 1em; background:#FFFFFF; border: 0px #aaaaaa solid; border-collapse: collapse; font-size: 85%; float:right; | // |- |} Lyric be excepted. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... Persian Wars redirects here. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... This article is about the ancient deity. ...

Of the hundreds of dramas written and performed during the classical age, only a limited number of plays by three authors have survived: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The earliest of the three was Aeschylus, who was born in 525 BC. He wrote between 70 and 90 plays, of which only seven remain. Many of his dramas were arranged as trilogies, groups of three plays on a single theme. The Oresteia consisting of Agamemnon, Choephoroi (The Libation Bearers), and Eumenides is the only surviving trilogy. The Persai (The Persians) is a song of triumph for the defeat of the Persians. Prometheus Bound is a retelling of the legend of the Titan Prometheus, a superhuman who stole fire from heaven and gave it to mankind. This article is about the ancient Greek playwright. ... Sophocles (ancient Greek: ; 495 BC - 406 BC) was the second of three great ancient Greek tragedians. ... A statue of Euripides. ... Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 570s BC - 560s BC - 550s BC - 540s BC - 530s BC - 520s BC - 510s BC - 500s BC - 490s BC - 480s BC - 470s BC Events 529 BC - Cambyses II succeeds his father Cyrus as ruler of Persia. ... The Oresteia is a trilogy of tragedies about the end of the curse on the House of Atreus, written by Aeschylus. ... The so-called Mask of Agamemnon. Discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 at Mycenae. ... The Oresteia is a trilogy of tragedies about the end of the curse on the House of Atreus, written by Aeschylus. ... In Greek mythology the Erinyes (the Romans called them the Furies) were female personifications of vengeance. ... The Persians (Πέρσαι) is a tragedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. ... The Persians of Iran (officially named Persia by West until 1935 while still referred to as Persia by some) are an Iranian people who speak Persian (locally named Fârsi by native speakers) and often refer to themselves as ethnic Iranians as well. ... Prometheus Bound is an Ancient Greek tragedy. ...

For about 16 years, between 484 and 468 BC, Aeschylus carried off prize after prize. But in 468 his place was taken by a new favorite, Sophocles. Sophocles' life covered nearly the whole period of Athens' "golden age." He won more than 20 victories at the Dionysian festivals and produced more than 100 plays, only seven of which remain. His drama Antigone is typical of his work: its heroine is a model of womanly self-sacrifice. He is probably better known, though, for Oedipus the King and its sequel, Oedipus at Colonus. Events December 28 - Alaric II succeeds Euric as king of the Visigoths. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 5th century BC - 6th century BC Decades: 520s BC 510s BC 500s BC 490s BC 480s BC 470s BC - 460s BC - 450s BC 440s BC 430s BC 420s BC 473 BC 472 BC 471 BC 470 BC 469 BC 468 BC 467 BC 466 BC 465... Sophocles (ancient Greek: ; 495 BC - 406 BC) was the second of three great ancient Greek tragedians. ... Antigone by Frederic Leighton, 1882 Antigone (Pronunciation: /æntɪɡəni/ Greek: Αντιγόνη) is the name of two different women in Greek mythology. ... Greek Wikisource has original text related to this article: Oedipus the King Oedipus the King (Greek , Oedipus Tyrannos), also known as Oedipus Rex, is a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles and first performed in 428 BC. The play was the second of Sophocles three Theban plays to be produced, but... Oedipus at Colonus (also Oedipus Coloneus, and in Greek Οἰδίπους ἐπὶ Κολωνῷ) is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles. ...

The third of the great tragic writers was Euripides. He wrote at least 92 plays. Sixty-seven of these are known in the 20th century some just in part or by name only. Only 19 still exist in full. One of these is 'Rhesus', which is believed by some scholars not to have been written by Euripides. His tragedies are about real men and women instead of idealized figures. The philosopher Aristotle called Euripides the most tragic of the poets because his plays were the most moving. His dramas are performed on the modern stage more often than those of any other ancient poet. His best-known work is probably the powerful Medea, but his 'Alcestis', 'Hippolytus', 'Trojan Women', 'Orestes', and 'Electra' are no less brilliant. A statue of Euripides. ... Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... Medea is a tragedy written by Euripides, based on the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. Along with the plays Philoctetes, Dictys and Theristai, which were all entered as a group, it won the third prize (out of three) at the Dionysia festival. ...


Like tragedy, comedy arose from a ritual in honor of Dionysus, but in this case the plays were full of frank obscenity, abuse, and insult. At Athens the comedies became an official part of the festival celebration in 486 BC, and prizes were offered for the best productions. As with the tragedians, few works still remain of the great comedic writers. Of the works of earlier writers, only some plays by Aristophanes exist. These are a treasure trove of comic presentation. He poked fun at everyone and every institution. For boldness of fantasy, for merciless insult, for unqualified indecency, and for outrageous and free political criticism, there is nothing to compare to the comedies of Aristophanes. In The Birds he held up Athenian democracy to ridicule. In The Clouds he attacked the philosopher Socrates. In Lysistrata he denounced war. Only 11 of his plays have survived. This article is about the ancient deity. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... Centuries: 6th century BCE - 5th century BCE - 4th century BCE Decades: 530s BCE 520s BCE 510s BCE 500s BCE 490s BCE - 480s BCE - 470s BCE 460s BCE 450s BCE 420s BCE 430s BCE Years: 491 BCE 490 BCE 489 BCE 488 BCE 487 BCE - 486 BCE - 485 BCE 484 BCE... Sketch of Aristophanes Aristophanes (Greek: , ca. ... Sketch of Aristophanes Aristophanes (Greek: , ca. ... The Birds (Ornithes) is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes in 414 BC, and performed that year for the Festival of Dionysus. ... The Clouds (Νεφέλαι) is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes lampooning the sophists and the intellectual trends of late fifth-century Athens. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Lysistrata (Attic Greek: Λυσιστράτη Lysistratê, Doric Greek: Λυσιστράτα Lysistrata), loosely translated to she who disbands armies, is an anti-war Greek comedy, written in 411 BCE by Aristophanes. ...

During the 4th century BC, there developed what was called the New Comedy. Menander is considered the best of its writers. Nothing remains from his competitors, however, so it is difficult to make comparisons. The plays of Menander, of which only the Dyscolus (Misanthrope) now exists, did not deal with the great public themes about which Aristophanes wrote. He concentrated instead on fictitious characters from everyday life stern fathers, young lovers, intriguing slaves, and others. In spite of his narrower focus, the plays of Menander influenced later generations. They were freely adapted by the Roman poets Plautus and Terence in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. The comedies of the French playwright Molière are reminiscent of those by Menander. Greek comedy is the name given to a wide genre of theatrical plays written, and performed, in Ancient Greece. ... Bust of Menander Menander (342–291 BC) (Greek ), Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the New Comedy, was born in Athens. ... Bust of Menander Menander (342–291 BC) (Greek ), Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the New Comedy, was born in Athens. ... Misanthropy is a general dislike of the human race. ... Sketch of Aristophanes Aristophanes (Greek: , ca. ... Bust of Menander Menander (342–291 BC) (Greek ), Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the New Comedy, was born in Athens. ... Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. ... Titus Macchius Plautus, generally referred to simply as Plautus, was a playwright of Ancient Rome. ... Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence, was a comic playwright of the Roman Republic. ... Molière, engraved on the frontispiece to his Works. ... Bust of Menander Menander (342–291 BC) (Greek ), Greek dramatist, the chief representative of the New Comedy, was born in Athens. ...


Two of the most excellent historians who have ever written flourished during Greece's classical age: Herodotus and Thucydides. Herodotus is commonly called the father of history, and his "History" contains the first truly literary use of prose in Western literature. Of the two, Thucydides was the better historian. His critical use of sources, inclusion of documents, and laborious research made his History of the Peloponnesian War a significant influence on later generations of historians. Herodotus of Halicarnassus (Greek: Hērodotos Halikarnāsseus) was a Greek historian from Ionia who lived in the 5th century BC (ca. ... Bust of Thucydides residing in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Tenth-century minuscule Manuscript of Thucydidess History The History of the Peloponnesian War is an account of the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece, fought between the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta) and the Athenian league (Athens). ...

A third historian of ancient Greece, Xenophon, began his 'Hellenica' where Thucydides ended his work about 411 BC and carried his history to 362 BC. His writings were superficial in comparison to those of Thucydides, but he wrote with authority on military matters. He therefore is at his best in the Anabasis, an account of his participation in a Greek mercenary army that tried to help the Persian Cyrus expel his brother from the throne. Xenophon also wrote three works in praise of the philosopher Socrates, Socrates Apology, Symposium, and Memorabilia (Recollections of Socrates). Although both Xenophon and Plato knew Socrates, their accounts are very different, and it is interesting to compare the view of the military historian to that of the poet-philosopher. Xenophon, Greek historian Xenophon (In Greek , ca. ... The Greek term anabasis referred to an expedition from a coastline into the interior of a country. ... A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict who is not a national of a Party to the conflict and is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a... The name Cyrus (or Kourosh in Persian) may refer to: [[Cyrus I of Anshan]], King of Persia around 650 BC [[Cyrus II of Persia | Cyrus the Great]], King of Persia 559 BC - 529 BC — See also Cyrus in the Judeo-Christian tradition Cyrus the Younger, brother to the Persian king... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Symposium originally referred to a drinking party (the Greek verb sympotein means to drink together) but has since come to refer to any academic conference, whether or not drinking takes place. ... Xenophon, Greek historian Xenophon (In Greek , ca. ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ...


The greatest achievement of the 3rd century was in philosophy. There were many Greek philosophers, but three names tower above the rest: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It is impossible to calculate the enormous influence these thinkers have had on Western society . Socrates himself wrote nothing, but his thought (or a reasonable presentation of it) is believed to be given by Plato's early socratic dialogues. Aristotle is virtually without rivals among scientists and philosphers. The first sentence of his Metaphysics reads: "All men by nature desire to know." He has, therefore, been called the "Father of those who know." His medieval disciple Thomas Aquinas referred to him simply as "the Philosopher." Aristotle was a student at Plato's Academy, and it is known that like his teacher he wrote dialogues, or conversations. None of these exists today. The body of writings that has come down to the present probably represents lectures that he delivered at his own school in Athens, the Lyceum. Even from these books the enormous range of his interests is evident. He explored matters other than those that are today considered philosophical. The treatises that exist cover logic, the physical and biological sciences, ethics, politics, and constitutional government. There are also treatises on The Soul and Rhetoric. His Poetics has had an enormous influence on literary theory and served as an interpretation of tragedy for more than 2,000 years. With his death in 322 BC, the classical era of Greek literature drew to a close. In the successive centuries of Greek writing there was never again such a brilliant flowering of genius as appeared in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. For today's readers there are excellent modern translations of classical Greek literature. Most are available in paperback editions. Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason and inquiry. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ... Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... The Socratic dialogues (Greek Σωκρατικός λόγος or Σωκρατικός διάλογος) are prose literary works developed in Greece at the turn of the fourth century BCE, preserved today in the dialogues of Plato and the Socratic works of Xenophon - either dramatic or narrative - in which characters discuss moral and philosophical problems, illustrating the socratic method. ... Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P.(also Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino; c. ... For other uses, see Academy (disambiguation). ... A Lyceum can be an educational institution (often a school of secondary education in Europe), or a public hall used for cultural events like concerts. ... On the Soul (or De Anima) is a writing by Aristotle, outlining his philosophical views on the nature of living things. ... Aristotles Poetics aims to give an account of poetry. ... Centuries: 5th century BC - 4th century BC - 3rd century BC Decades: 370s BC 360s BC 350s BC 340s BC 330s BC - 320s BC - 310s BC 300s BC 290s BC 280s BC 270s BC 327 BC 326 BC 325 BC 324 BC 323 BC - 322 BC - 321 BC 320 BC 319...

Hellenistic Age

By 338 BC all of the Greek city-states except Sparta had been conquered by Philip II of Macedon. Philip's son Alexander the Great extended his father's conquests greatly. In so doing he inaugurated what is called the Hellenistic Ages. Alexander's conquests were in the East, and Greek culture shifted first in that direction. Athens lost its preeminent status as the leader of Greek culture, and it was replaced temporarily by Alexandria, Egypt. After the rise of Rome, all the Mediterranean area was brought within one far-flung empire. Greek civilization then spread westward as well. Educated Romans learned to speak and write Greek, and they looked to Greece's golden age for inspiration in philosophy, poetry, and drama. So dependent did Roman writers become, in fact, that they produced very little that was not based upon Greek works, especially in drama and philosophy. Centuries: 5th century BC - 4th century BC - 3rd century BC Decades: 380s BC 370s BC 360s BC 350s BC 340s BC - 330s BC - 320s BC 310s BC 300s BC 290s BC 280s BC 343 BC 342 BC 341 BC 340 BC 339 BC - 338 BC - 337 BC 336 BC 335... A city-state is a region controlled exclusively by a city. ... Sparta (Doric: Spártā, Attic: Spártē) is a city in southern Greece. ... Philip II of Macedon: victory medal (niketerion) struck in Tarsus, 2nd c. ... For the film of the same name, see Alexander the Great (1956 film). ... The term Hellenistic (established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen) in the history of the ancient world is used to refer to the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance... This article is about the city in Egypt. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ...

The city of Alexandria in northern Egypt became, from the 3rd century BC, the outstanding center of Greek culture. It also soon attracted a large Jewish population, making it the largest center for Jewish scholarship in the ancient world. In addition, it later became a major focal point for the development of Christian thought. The Museum, or Shrine to the Muses, which included the library and school, was founded by Ptolemy I. The institution was from the beginning intended as a great international school and library. The library, eventually containing more than a half million volumes, was mostly in Greek. It served as a repository for every Greek work of the classical period that could be found. Had the library lasted, it would have presented to modern scholars nearly every ancient book for study. The library lasted for several centuries but was destroyed during the reign of the Roman emperor Aurelian late in the 3rd century AD. A smaller library was destroyed by the Christians in 391 because it harbored so many non-Christian works. For other uses, see Christian (disambiguation). ... The Louvre Museum in Paris, one of the largest and most famous museums in the world. ... For the unrelated astronomer, see Ptolemy Ptolemy I Soter (367 BC–283 BC), ruler of Egypt (reigned 323 BC - 283 BC) and founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty. ... Ordinary Magistrates Extraordinary Magistrates Titles and Honors Emperor Politics and Law This article discusses the nature of the imperial dignity, and its dynastic development throughout the history of the Empire. ... Lucius Domitius Aurelianus[1] (September 9, 214–September 275), known in English as Aurelian, Roman Emperor (270–275), was the second of several highly successful soldier-emperors who helped the Roman Empire regain its power during the latter part of the third century and the beginning of the fourth. ...

One of the most valuable contributions of the Hellenistic period was the translation of the Old Testament into Greek. The work was done at Alexandria and completed by the end of the 2nd century BC. The name Septuagint means "seventy," from the tradition that there were 72 scholars who did the work. Since the language of the early Christian community was Greek, the Septuagint became its Bible. Other books not in the Hebrew Bible were also written in Greek and included what is called the Apocrypha. Note: Judaism commonly uses the term Tanakh to refer to its canon, which corresponds to the Protestant Old Testament. ... The Septuagint: A column of uncial text from 1 Esdras in the Codex Vaticanus, the basis of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brentons Greek edition and English translation. ... For other uses, see Christian (disambiguation). ... This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library. ... Apocrypha (from the Greek word , meaning those having been hidden away[1]) are texts of uncertain authenticity or writings where the authorship is questioned. ...

Hellenistic Poetry

Later Greek poetry flourished primarily in the 3rd century BC. The chief poets were Theocritus, Callimachus, and Apollonius of Rhodes. Theocritus, who lived from about 310 to 250 BC, was the creator of pastoral poetry, a type that the Roman Virgil mastered in his Eclogues. Of his rural-farm poetry, Harvest Home is considered the best work. He also wrote mimes, poetic plays set in the country as well as minor epics and lyric poetry. Theocritus (Greek Θεόκριτος), the creator of Ancient Greek bucolic poetry, flourished in the 3rd century BC. Little is known of him beyond what can be inferred from his writings. ... Callimachus (Greek: ; ca. ... Apollonius of Rhodes, also known as Apollonius Rhodius (Latin; Greek Apollōnios Rhodios), early 3rd century BC - after 246 BC, was an epic poet, scholar, and director of the Library of Alexandria. ... For other uses, see Virgil (disambiguation). ... The Eclogues is one of three major works by the Latin poet Virgil. ... Harvest Home is: A song recorded and released by Big Country in 1982. ...

Callimachus, who lived at the same time as Theocritus, worked his entire adult life at Alexandria, where he was cataloger of the library. Only fragments of his poetry survive. The most famous work was Aetia (Causes). It is a kind of poem called an elegy and in four books explains the legendary origin of obscure customs, festivals, and names. Its structure became a model for the work of the Roman poet Ovid. Of his elegies for special occasions, the best known is the 'Lock of Berenice', a piece of court poetry that was later adapted by the Roman Catullus. Callimachus also wrote short poems for special occasions and at least one short epic, the 'Ibis', which was directed against his former pupil Apollonius. For other uses, see Ovid (disambiguation) Publius Ovidius Naso (March 20, 43 BC – 17 AD) was a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid who wrote on topics of love, abandoned women and mythological transformations. ...

Apollonius of Rhodes was born about 295 BC. He is best remembered for his epic the 'Argonautica', about Jason and his shipmates in search of the golden fleece. Apollonius studied under Callimachus, with whom he later quarreled. He also served as librarian at Alexandria for about 13 years. Apart from the 'Argonautica', he wrote poems on the foundation of cities as well as a number of epigrams. The Roman poet Virgil was strongly influenced by the 'Argonautica' in writing his Aeneid. Lesser 3rd-century poets include Aratus of Soli and Herodas. Aratus wrote the 'Phaenomena', a poetic version of a treatise on the stars by Eudoxus of Cnidus, who had lived in the 4th century. Herodas wrote mimes reminiscent of those of Theocritus. His works give a hint of the popular entertainment of the times. Mime and pantomime were a major form of entertainment during the early Roman Empire. Aeneas flees burning Troy, Federico Barocci, 1598 Galleria Borghese, Rome The Aeneid (IPA English pronunciation: ; in Latin Aeneis, pronounced — the title is Greek in form: genitive case Aeneidos) is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC (between 29 and 19 BC) that tells the legendary story... Aratus (Greek Aratos) (ca. ... Herodas (Greek: ), or Herondas (the name is spelt differently in the few places where he is mentioned), Greek poet, the author of short humorous dramatic scenes in verse, written under the Alexandrian empire in the 3rd century BC. Apart from the intrinsic merit of these pieces, they are interesting in... Another article concerns Eudoxus of Cyzicus. ...

Roman Age

The transition from one period to the next did not reflect a corresponding shift in literature. Foreign conquest deprived Greeks of autonomy but Roman society was largely identical to Greek society, which in the long term may have been advantageous for the Greeks.


The significant historians in the period after Alexander were Timaeus, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Appian of Alexandria, Arrian, and Plutarch. The period of time they cover extended from late in the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD. Timaeus (c. ... Polybius (c. ... Diodorus Siculus (c. ... Dionysius Halicarnassensis (of Halicarnassus), Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, flourished during the reign of Augustus. ... Appian of Alexandria (Gr. ... Alexander the Great Lucius Flavius Arrianus Xenophon (c. ... Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; 46 - 127), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. ...

Timaeus was born in Sicily but spent most of his life in Athens. His 'History', though lost, is significant because of its influence on Polybius. In 38 books it covered the history of Sicily and Italy to the year 264 BC, which is where Polybius began his work. Timaeus also wrote the 'Olympionikai', a valuable chronological study of the Olympic Games. Polybius was born about 200 BC. He was brought to Rome as a hostage in 168. At Rome he became a friend of the general Scipio Aemilianus. He probably accompanied the general to Spain and North Africa in the wars against Carthage. He was with Scipio at the destruction of Carthage in 146. The history on which his reputation rests consisted of 40 books, five of which have been preserved along with various excerpts. They are a vivid recreation of Rome's rise to world power. A lost book, 'Tactics', was on military matters.

Diodorus Siculus lived in the 1st century BC, the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus. He wrote a universal history, 'Bibliotheca historica', in 40 books. Of these, the first five and the 11th through the 20th remain. The first two parts covered history through the early Hellenistic era. The third part takes the story to the beginning of Caesar's wars in Gaul, now France. Dionysius of Halicarnassus lived late in the 1st century BC. His history of Rome from its origins to the First Punic War (264 to 241 BC) is written from a Roman point of view, but it is carefully researched. He also wrote a number of other treatises, including 'On Imitation', 'Commentaries on the Ancient Orators', and 'On the Arrangement of Words'. Universal history is basic to the Western tradition of historiography, especially the Judeo-Christian wellspring of that tradition. ...

Appian and Arrian both lived in the 2nd century AD. Appian wrote on Rome and its conquests, while Arrian is remembered for his work on the campaigns of Alexander the Great. Arrian served in the Roman army. His book therefore concentrates heavily on the military aspects of Alexander's life. Arrian also wrote a philosophical treatise, the 'Diatribai', based on the teachings of his mentor Epictetus . Best known of the late Greek historians to modern readers is Plutarch, who died about AD 119. His 'Parallel Lives' of great Greek and Roman leaders has been read by every generation since the work was first published. His other surviving work is the 'Moralia', a collection of essays on ethical, religious, political, physical, and literary topics.

Science and mathematics

See also: Greek mathematics, Greek astronomy, Medicine in ancient Greece Greek mathematics, as that term is used in this article, is the mathematics written in Greek, developed from the 6th century BC to the 5th century AD around the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. ... A recreation of the famous Library of Alexandria Greek astronomy is the astronomy of those who spoke Greek in classical antiquity. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...

Eratosthenes of Alexandria, who died about 194 BC, wrote on astronomy and geography, but his work is known mainly from later summaries. He is credited with being the first person to measure the Earth's circumference. Much that was written by the mathematicians Euclid and Archimedes has been preserved. Euclid is known for his Elements, much of which was drawn from his predecessor Eudoxus of Cnidus. The Elements is a treatise on geometry, and it has exerted a continuing influence on mathematics. From Archimedes several treatises have come down to the present. Among them are Measurement of the Circle, in which he worked out the value of pi; Method Concerning Mechanical Theorems, on his work in mechanics; The Sand Reckoner; and On Floating Bodies. A manuscript of his works is currently being studied. Eratosthenes (Ἐρατοσθένης) Eratosthenes (Greek ) (276 BC - 194 BC) was a Hellenistic mathematician, geographer and astronomer. ... Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC 200s BC - 190s BC - 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC Years: 199 BC 198 BC 197 BC 196 BC 195 BC - 194 BC - 193 BC 192 BC... For other uses, see Euclid (disambiguation). ... Archimedes of Syracuse (Greek: c. ... The frontispiece of Sir Henry Billingsleys first English version of Euclids Elements, 1570 Euclids Elements (Greek: ) is a mathematical and geometric treatise, consisting of 13 books, written by the Hellenistic mathematician Euclid in Alexandria circa 300 BC. It comprises a collection of definitions, postulates (axioms), propositions (theorems... Another article concerns Eudoxus of Cyzicus. ... The Sand Reckoner (Greek: Ψαμμίτης, Psammites) is a work by Archimedes in which he set out to determine an upper bound for the number of grains of sand that fit into the universe. ... The Archimedes Palimpsest is a palimpsest on parchment in the form of a codex which originally was a copy of an otherwise unknown work of the ancient mathematician, physicist, and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse and other authors. ...

The physician Galen, in the history of ancient science, is the most significant person in medicine after Hippocrates, who laid the foundation of medicine in the 5th century BC. Galen lived during the 2nd century AD. He was a careful student of anatomy, and his works exerted a powerful influence on medicine for the next 1,400 years . Strabo, who died about AD 23, was a geographer and historian. His 'Historical Sketches' in 47 volumes has nearly all been lost. His Geographical Sketches remain as the only existing ancient book covering the whole range of people and countries known to the Greeks and Romans through the time of Augustus. Pausanias, who lived in the 2nd century AD, was also a geographer. His Description of Greece is an invaluable guide to what are now ancient ruins. His book takes the form of a tour of Greece, starting in Athens. The accuracy of his descriptions has been proved by archaeological excavations. The scientist of the Roman period who had the greatest influence on later generations was undoubtedly the astronomer Ptolemy. He lived during the 2nd century AD, though little is known of his life. His masterpiece, originally entitled The Mathematical Collection, has come to the present under the title Almagest, as it was translated by Arab astronomers with that title. It was Ptolemy who devised a detailed description of an Earth-centered universe, a notion that dominated astronomical thinking for more than 1,300 years. The Ptolemaic view of the universe endured until Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and other early modern astronomers replaced it with heliocentrism. For other uses, see Galen (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Hippocrates (disambiguation). ... The Greek geographer Strabo in a 16th century engraving. ... The Geographika is an extensive work by Strabo, spanning 17 volumes, and can be regarded as an encyclopedia of the geographical knowledge of his time; except for parts of Book 7, it has come down to us complete. ... For other persons named Octavian, see Octavian (disambiguation). ... Pausanias (Greek: ) was a Greek traveller and geographer of the 2nd century A.D., who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... This article is about the geographer, mathematician and astronomer Ptolemy. ... Almagest is the Latin form of the Arabic name (al-kitabu-l-mijisti, i. ... This article is about the historical term. ... Nicolaus Copernicus (in Latin; Polish Mikołaj Kopernik, German Nikolaus Kopernikus - February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was a Polish astronomer, mathematician and economist who developed a heliocentric (Sun-centered) theory of the solar system in a form detailed enough to make it scientifically useful. ... Galileo can refer to: Galileo Galilei, astronomer, philosopher, and physicist (1564 - 1642) the Galileo spacecraft, a NASA space probe that visited Jupiter and its moons the Galileo positioning system Life of Galileo, a play by Bertolt Brecht Galileo (1975) - screen adaptation of the play Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht... Johannes Kepler (December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, and a key figure in the 17th century astronomical revolution. ... Heliocentric Solar System Heliocentrism (lower panel) in comparison to the geocentric model (upper panel) In astronomy, heliocentrism is the theory that the sun is at the centre of the Universe and/or the Solar System. ...


Later philosophical works were no match for Plato and Aristotle. Epictetus, who died about AD 135, was associated with the moral philosophy of the Stoics. His teachings were collected by his pupil Arrian in the 'Discourses' and the 'Encheiridion' (Manual of Study). Diogenes Laertius, who lived in the 3rd century, wrote 'Lives, Teachings, and Sayings of Famous Philosophers', a useful sourcebook. Another major philosopher was Plotinus. He, too, lived in the 3rd century. He transformed Plato's philosophy into a school called Neoplatonism. His 'Enneads' had a wide-ranging influence on European thought until at least the 17th century. Epictetus (Greek: Επίκτητος; ca. ... Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. ... Diogenes Laërtius, the biographer of the Greek philosophers, is supposed by some to have received his surname from the town of Laerte in Cilicia, and by others from the Roman family of the Laërtii. ... Plotinus Plotinus (ancient Greek: ) (ca. ... Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. ...

External links

Further reading

  • Michael Schmidt: The first poets: lives of the ancient Greek poets. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004 ISBN 0-297-64394-0; New York: Knopf, 2005 ISBN 0-375-41120-8

  Results from FactBites:
Greek & Roman Literature Essay Example: The Role of Greek and Roman Literature :: EssayAcademy.com (0 words)
Roman literature such as epic and lyric poetry, rhetoric, history, comic drama and satire (the last genre being the only literary form that the Romans invented) serve as today’s backbone for a basic understanding of expression and artistic creativity, as well as history.
Greek comedies such as those of Naevius and Andronicus, as well as historical writings in epic poems (First Punic War), tell the story of Rome and its conquests and served as prototypes for Aroman epics.
Epic Greek poetry was exclusively in verse, but evolved from the folk ballads of early people of Greece who had an oral literature composed of songs about the actions of their heroes.
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