Ancient Greek Literature and Poetry
Thousands of years have been passed by but the influence of ancient Greek Literature and poetry has never surpassed. Alfred North Whitehead the famous British philosopher cum mathematician said that “Philosophy is nothing but a footnote of Pluto”. In the period of last ten centuries, the ancient Greek Literature has attained such a height of glory which could hardly be achieved by other nations. Comedy, Tragedy, Poetry, Philosophy, and political history are the masterpieces of Greek writers. Someone has rightly said that Greek Writers are the “epitome of inspiration and perspiration” and they still influence the minds of people. Actually, the Greek literature exists from 14th century BC to present and it was merely expressed in Greek language.
The Greek literature is comprised on four major periods like classical, pre-classical, Byzantine and Hellenistic-Roman.
The Classical Period
The most famous works of classic period were works of Homer, the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”. The former is the tragedy based on Trojan War story and the later is based on one of the warriors of Troy. Odyssey is an amalgamation of comedy and tragedy and it was supposed to be one of the best works of Homer.
It goes without saying that Iliad and Odyssey were based on ancient legends and they were expressed in simple, direct and eloquent language. Though centuries have been passed yet both of these works of Homer are still being read today.
Another famous poet of this period was Hesiod. He was hailing from Boeotia and he worked and lived in 800 BC. His famous works which are still remembers today are “Works and Days” and “Theogony”.
Lastly, works of Homer and Hesiod are supposed to be bible for Greeks and they are widely read across the globe.
The biggest achievement of Prose in 4th Century was in Philosophy. Greek Philosophers are considered to be torch bearers of philosophy and they are highly applauded for their outstanding works in the fields of Philosophy. The most famous philosophers of Greeks were Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. All of these philosophers were related to each other in one way or other.
Besides, all of these philosophers had grossly contributed to real philosophy of life. Aristotle was student of Plato’s academy and he was known as “Fathers of intellectuals”. His contribution in Politics is still read throughout the world. The famous contributions of Socrates were Protagoras, Gorgias, and Apology.
It is said that in 338 BC all the states of Greece except Sparta had been subjugated by the father (Philip II of Macedon) of Alexander the great. Historians hold the opinion that it was Alexander who invented the Age of Hellenism. Actually, Greece was called in Greek language as a Hellas therefore Hellenism means spread of literature, culture, and Greek language across the Mediterranean world.
The one the best works of Hellenistic period was translation of Bible from Hebrew to Greek. This work was done by Alexandria and it was completed in 2nd B.C century. Besides, there were 72 other writers who translated a bunch of Hebrew Books apart from recording the history of Greece.
The most famous historians of this period were Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Timaeus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plutarch, Appian of Alexandria, and Arrian. And, the most famous work of this period was “Moralia” a collection of essays on literary topics, religious, ethical, political, and physical.
Byzantine Literature is supposed to be known for its great works in the spheres of theology. This period was the beginning of New Testament of Christian Bible and the most famous contributions of era were hymns, sermons, descriptions of the lives of the martyrs and saints and other theological works.
Besides, the writers who had greatly contributed to spread of Christianity were Eusebius, St. Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus. And, the writings of the geographers, historians, philosophers, rhetoricians and scientists of this period are still read today.
The poetry was usually sung by the individuals and the instrument used while reading the poetry was Lyre. It is assumed that the first poet of Greek history was supposed be from 700 B.C and his name was Archilochus of Paros. And the poets who altered the course of history were Pindar and Sappho. Sappho was famous for her style of writing and most of the themes of her works were personal. It is said that it was the evolutionary period for the Greek history.
Greek poetry had begun to flourish in the 3rd Century B.C and the best poets of this period were Callimachus, Apollonius of Rhodes and Theocritus.
Theocritus was the producers of Pastoral Poetry and he wrote poetic plays, lyrics poetry and minor epics. His work in this era was Aetia (Causes).
On the other hand, Callimachus worked throughout his adult age as a cataloger of library at Alexandria. He had also written a bunch of poetry pieces and he was supposed to be occasional poet. Last but not the least, Apollonius of Rhodes and Theocritus was born in 295 B.C and his famous work was his epic the Argonautica about Jason and his shipmates.
The British Museum: Ancient Greece
The website of British Museum is made highly interactive and tour friendly for those students who wish to deeply understand the Ancient Greece. You can study the topics like Athens, the Acropolis, Daily Life, Festivals and Games, Geography, War, Sparta, Time, Gods and Goddesses, and Knowledge and Learning on this web portal.
The most important feature of this website is that you can take virtual tour of Olympics, Greek festivals and Greek theatre. It also includes an interactive tour of household items, a God and Goddesses symbol game, a farming challenge and a Spartan education challenge.
Perseus Project is a digital library of classical resources of ancient Greeks. It is a project of classics Department of Tufts University and it contains collections of texts books, digital images, maps and site plans. To find your required document, you just need to use the search box provided in the web site. In nutshell, it keeps preservation of all the historical and classical documents which can be used for academic and scholarly purposes.
BBC Ancient History: Greece
The historic section of BBC offers you an array of photo galleries, activities, games, exhibitions, and other resources. This platform is supposed to be best for those people who wish t focus Egyptians, Anglo-Saxons, Greeks, Vikings and Romans. Besides, the given Greek section focuses primarily on five important areas such as Athens and Democracy, Olympics, Legends and Other Greek Cultures. If you are looking for plenty of information about Greece, must visit this web site.
Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Greece
This web portal contains an impressive and wonderful collection of internet history source books. All the books available on the site are copy permitted and can be used for educational purposes. Besides, the Greek portion covers complete source of Thucydides, Aristotle, Herodotus, Persian and Pelopponesian wars, religion, Athenian Democracy, Sparta, , and plenty of other topics.
This web portal is laden with a wide range of images and other topics like politics, Olympics, architecture, geography, mythology, history, peoples, and war. The content of this web site also includes informative links, multimedia, maps, Greek art images and biographies. It must be noted that this site was last updated in 2008 and there are few links which do not work properly.
This is supposed to be hub of Ancient Greek. It contains everything related to glorious history of Greece and its eight categories are primarily based on History, Archaeology, Photographs, Culture, Maps, Art, Architecture, and Museums. Apart from this, to give you simple and easy understand, it contains a timeline of Greek history with specific focus on Delphi, Minoan Crete and Acropolis. It is considered to be epicenter of classical knowledge.
The Life and Work of Homer
>Homer was one of the best and eloquent writers of Greeks and Romans. People say that we do not reckon ourselves educated unless we do not read his poems. He influence was not confined to literature only. Rather, he had also influenced the hearts and minds of people through his impressive lessons on morality. It is said that he is the primary source for those who wish to learn about Greek history. It is said that he had two daughters (the symbolic ones Iliadand the Odyssey) and did not have a son.
Quote of Homer
“In youth and beauty, Wisdom is very rare”
The name of his birth place is not clearly cited in the books. There are many historians who claim that Homer was born in Smyrna but claims given by T. W. Allen in The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 33, (1913), pp. 19-26 should not be neglected. Hence, cities like Cyme, Ios, Argos, Athens and Chios should not be overruled.
First of all, there is ambiguity that whether Homer lived or not. Besides, we do not know exactly where he had born however we could not confirm you the confirmed date of birth of Homer.
Major Theme – The Trojan War:
Homer’s name will always be remembered for his great work on Trojan War. He wrote about a conflict between Trojan and Greeks and described the partial story of Trojan War. It is worth mentioning that the whole story of Trojan War was written by a bunch of writers called “epic cycle”.
Homer and Epic:
It is assumed that the contribution of Homer in epic is supposed to be finest of all. It is the reason that most of the people look for his epic to gain some knowledge. No doubt, the poetic style of Homer was outstanding and worth reading.
Major Works Credited to Homer:
The major works credited to Homer are as follow:
The Voice of the World:
The famous Greek poet of 2nd century Antipater of Sidon praises Homer in poem “The Voice of the World”.
The herald of the prowess of heroes and the interpreter of the immortals, a second sun on the life of Greece, Homer, the light of the Muses, the ageless mouth of all the world, lies hid, O stranger, under the sea-washed sand.“
Oedipus the King unfolds as a murder mystery, a political thriller, and a psychological whodunit. Throughout this mythic story of patricide and incest, Sophocles emphasizes the irony of a man determined to track down, expose, and punish an assassin, who turns out to be himself.
As the play opens, the citizens of Thebes beg their king, Oedipus, to lift the plague that threatens to destroy the city. Oedipus has already sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the oracle to learn what to do.
On his return, Creon announces that the oracle instructs them to find the murderer of Laius, the king who ruled Thebes before Oedipus. The discovery and punishment of the murderer will end the plague. At once, Oedipus sets about to solve the murder.
Summoned by the king, the blind prophet Tiresias at first refuses to speak, but finally accuses Oedipus himself of killing Laius. Oedipus mocks and rejects the prophet angrily, ordering him to leave, but not before Tiresias hints darkly of an incestuous marriage and a future of blindness, infamy, and wandering.
Oedipus attempts to gain advice from Jocasta, the queen; she encourages him to ignore prophecies, explaining that a prophet once told her that Laius, her husband, would die at the hands of their son. According to Jocasta, the prophecy did not come true because the baby died, abandoned, and Laius himself was killed by a band of robbers at a crossroads.
Oedipus becomes distressed by Jocasta’s remarks because just before he came to Thebes he killed a man who resembled Laius at a crossroads. To learn the truth, Oedipus sends for the only living witness to the murder, a shepherd.
Another worry haunts Oedipus. As a young man, he learned from an oracle that he was fated to kill his father and marry his mother. Fear of the prophecy drove him from his home in Corinth and brought him ultimately to Thebes. Again, Jocasta advises him not to worry about prophecies.
Oedipus finds out from a messenger that Polybus, king of Corinth, Oedipus’ father, has died of old age. Jocasta rejoices — surely this is proof that the prophecy Oedipus heard is worthless. Still, Oedipus worries about fulfilling the prophecy with his mother, Merope, a concern Jocasta dismisses.
Overhearing, the messenger offers what he believes will be cheering news. Polybus and Merope are not Oedipus’ real parents. In fact, the messenger himself gave Oedipus to the royal couple when a shepherd offered him an abandoned baby from the house of Laius.
Oedipus becomes determined to track down the shepherd and learn the truth of his birth. Suddenly terrified, Jocasta begs him to stop, and then runs off to the palace, wild with grief.
Confident that the worst he can hear is a tale of his lowly birth, Oedipus eagerly awaits the shepherd. At first the shepherd refuses to speak, but under threat of death he tells what he knows — Oedipus is actually the son of Laius and Jocasta.
And so, despite his precautions, the prophecy that Oedipus dreaded has actually come true. Realizing that he has killed his father and married his mother, Oedipus is agonized by his fate.
Rushing into the palace, Oedipus finds that the queen has killed herself. Tortured, frenzied, Oedipus takes the pins from her gown and rakes out his eyes, so that he can no longer look upon the misery he has caused. Now blinded and disgraced, Oedipus begs Creon to kill him, but as the play concludes, he quietly submits to Creon’s leadership, and humbly awaits the oracle that will determine whether he will stay in Thebes or be cast out forever.
Copyright ©2017 classicgreektheatre.org