Literature Around the World: Greece

The idea of literature was formed from the oral works of Greek people, their form of relaying stories through different genres and forms created the basis of what we now call literature.

The first historical period was called The Greek Dark Age, which started the formation of literature, beginning back in c. 1200 -800 BCE. This time period had a gradual decline of material culture in Greece, creating a severe problem within the survival rate of Greece. According to  “International trade, monumental building, and the size of the Greek population declined considerably from Mycenaean times.”

Much of the information we have regarding Greek society and culture came from the legends of the Dark Age, all preserved in the epic poems of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

With the collapse of the Dark Age, the Archaic Period rose in c. 800 -479 BCE, starting from the uncertainty that the Dark Age left Greek society in, but growing until the battle of Plateau and Mykale.

 a writer for the Ancient History Encyclopedia, focused his writing on the changes that the Archaic Period made for history.

“In the Archaic Period there were vast changes in Greek language, society, art, architecture, and politics. These changes occurred due to the increasing population of Greece and its increasing amount trade, which in turn led to colonization and a new age of intellectual ideas, the most important of which (at least to the modern Western World) was Democracy” said Lloyd.

With the increase of colonization and intellectual ideas, the first Greek alphabet was created. Formed from the Phoenician alphabet, the idea of literature was enhanced but it still preserved the tradition of oral poetic composition.

Towards the end of the Archaic period and the beginning of the Classical era, the first dramatic festival in Athens began. Aeschylus, a tragedian, won the dramatic competition, titling him as the father of tragedy.

The Classical era or otherwise known as Classical Greece began in c. 510- 323 BCE with the enhancement of the epic and lyric form of poetry and the introduction of the genres drama, tragedy and comedy.

, a writer for the Ancient History Encyclopedia, brought readers through the history of Greek culture and the creation of Ancient Greek Literature.

Greek writers are responsible for the introduction of such genres as poetry, tragedy, comedy, and western philosophy to the world” said Wasson.

Based upon Greek history with war and peace, they were able to leave an impression on people about their culture. One of the most influential Greek philosopher’s, Plato, was a student of Socrates, attributing his early work’s to the life and death of his teacher. Creating the concept of empiricism, which is the idea that a person could rely on his/her senses for information.

Aristotle, another one of Greek’s most famous philosophers, who had been taught by Plato, learning for himself the aspects of government he preferred. Aristotle did not agree with the way that Plato focused on empiricism, he wanted something different. He created the syllogism, which is deductive reasoning. Aristotle later grew to teach Alexander the Great, setting the basis for Greek history.


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