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Home > History of Literature > Greek Literature
Greek Literature
Ancient Greek literature is the literature written in Ancient Greek from the oldest surviving written works in the Greek language until 4th century and the riseof Byzantine Empire. At the onset of the Greek literature stand the two monumental classics by Homer - Illiad and Odyssey. Heriod, another poet of the pre-classical age wrote Work and Days and The Agony.

Sappho and Pindar were the two main lyrical poets who popularized the genre of Ode. It was a golden period for drama as the number of tragedies were written and performed during this period. However only a limited number of plays survived. Some of the noteworthy works are Aeschyus Sophocles (Oedepus) Euripides (Medea).

The celebration of the ritual of Dionysus gave birth to the genre of comedy. However these plays were rather obscene and abusive in language. Aristophanes was a well known comic writer of this age and Meander is considered to be the best writer of the New Comedy.

The greatest achievement of the 4th century was in the sphere of prose. Three philosophies of this Age which tower above the rest are, by Socrates Plato and Aristoles.

Socrates is customarily regarded as the father of political philosophy and ethics and as a fountainhead of all the main themes in Western philosophy. His main contribution to Western thought is his dialectic method of enquiry which applied to the examination of key moral concepts such as Good and Justice.

Plato, a student of Socrates was the founder of the Academy in Athens where Aristotle studied this famous work Republic contains some of his famous doctrine on state and government.

Aristotle, the most famous student of Plato and teacher to Alexander the Great who wrote on myriad subjects including physics, poetry, zoology, logic rhetoric, government and biography. None of his works survive in entirety. Poetics and Rhetoric remain one of his most noted contributions. His combined works practically constitute an encyclopedia of general knowledge.

Hellenism: Philip Macedon had conquered most of the Greek city states by 338 B.C. except for Sparta and his son Alexander took his legacy further. Alexander was the seat of Greek culture and learning around 3rd B.C. The chief poets of this age were Theocritus, Callimachus and Apollonius of Rhodes. Theocritus (310 - 250 B.C.) was the creator of pastoral poetry a genre later mastered by Roman Vigil in his Eclogues.

Roman Age

One of the main contributions of the Hellenistic period was the translation of O Jesinto Greek. There were 72 scholars who did the work; it was completed by the end of 2nd century B.C.

Other eminent authors include Eratashthenes of Alexandria who wrote on astronomy and geography. The physician Galon in the history of ancient science is the most significant in medicine after Hippocrates who laid the foundation of medicine in the 5th century B.C. Medieval Greek literature is better known as the Byzantine literature. It partakes of 4 different cultural elements, the Greek, the Christian, the Roman and the Oriental. The characteristics of one co- mingle with the other. The Hellenistic intellectual culture and the Roman government organization are added the emotional life of Christianity and the world of oriental imagination the last envelops all the other three.

Modern Greek Literature (post 1453)

Literature written from the 15th century onwards is the reference to as Modern Greek literature. Erotokritos is a landmark of modern Greek literature and undoubtably a masterpiece. It is a verse romance written around 1600 by Vitsentzos Kornaros 1553 - 1613. The emergence of general knowledge, enlightenment and nationalism in the Korakistika (1819) a lampoon written by Neroulos and directed against general knowledge and intellect of Adamatio`s Korais.
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