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Ancient Greek Literature

  • Greek Literature, Ancient
    Greek literature, ancient, the writings of the ancient Greeks. The Greek Isles are recognized as the birthplace of Western intellectual life. The earliest extant European literary works are the Iliad and the Odyssey, both written in ancient Greek probably before 700 BCE, and attributed to Homer. Among other early epic poems, most of which have perished, those of Hesiod, the first didactic poet, remain.

Greek Classical and Pre-Classical Antiquity

  • Homer (ca. 8th cent. BCE): Topic Page
    Greek poet. Homer is considered to be the author of the the Iliad and the Odyssey, the great early epics of Greek literature.
  • Aristophanes (ca. 448-ca. 388 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek playwright, Athenian comic poet, greatest of the ancient writers of comedy.
  • Aeschylus (525-456 BCE): Topic Page
    Athenian tragic dramatist, b. Eleusis. The first of the three great Greek writers of tragedy.
  • Sophocles (496-406 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek tragic dramatist, younger contemporary of Aeschylus and older contemporary of Euripides, b. Colonus, near Athens.
  • Euripides (ca. 480-406 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek tragic dramatist, ranking with Aeschylus and Sophocles. Born in Attica, he lived in Athens most of his life.
  • Sappho
    From Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia
    (late 7th-early 6th cent. BCE) Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Little reliable information about her life survives: She was from a prominent family, had brothers and probably a daughter, and may have spent time in exile. Her work was edited by Alexandrian critics in the Hellenistic period and came to nine book-rolls, including one book of wedding poetry.
  • Pindar (ca. 518-ca. 438 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek poet, generally regarded as the greatest Greek lyric poet.
  • Herodotus (ca. 484-ca. 425 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek historian, called the Father of History, b. Halicarnassus, Asia Minor. Only scant knowledge of his life can be gleaned from his writings and from references to him by later writings, notably the Suda.
  • Thucydides (ca. 460-ca. 400 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek historian of Athens, one of the greatest of ancient historians. His family was partly Thracian. As a general in the Peloponnesian War he failed (424 BCE) to prevent the surrender of the city of Amphipolis to the Spartan commander Brasidas and was exiled until the end of the war.
  • Xenophon (ca. 430-ca. 355 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek historian, b. Athens. He was one of the well-to-do young disciples of Socrates before leaving Athens to join the Greek force (the Ten Thousand) that was in the service of Cyrus the Younger of Persia.
  • Plato (ca. 427-347 BCE) Topic Page
    Greek philosopher. Plato's teachings have been among the most influential in the history of Western civilization.
  • Aristotle (384-322 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek philosopher, b. Stagira. He is sometimes called the Stagirite.

Hellenistic Age

  • Callimachus
    From Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia
    (ca. 280–45 BCE) Hellenistic Greek poet and critic.
  • Theocritus
    From Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, Routledge
    (ca. 3rd cent. BCE) Theocritus's poems (written for the most part in the poet's native western, or Doric, form of Greek) came to be known as ‘idylls’. They cover various styles and genres, the largest single group comprising the ‘bucolic’ idylls, which (through Virgil) originated the European pastoral tradition.
  • Apollonius of Rhodes
    From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide
    (ca. 3rd cent. BCE) Greek poet. He was the author of the epic Argonautica, which tells the story of Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. A pupil of Callimachus, he was for a time head of the library at Alexandria.

Hellenistic and Roman Period

  • Timaeus
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    (ca. 356–ca. 260 BCE) Greek historian of Tauromenium (now Taormina), Sicily. Son of the tyrant of the city, he was banished by Agathocles either in 317 or 312 BCE and lived for 50 years in Athens, where he wrote a history of his native land. This history, now lost except for fragments which have survived as quotations in other works, covered the period from earliest times to the events of his own lifetime.
  • Polybius (ca. 203-ca. 120 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek historian, b. Megalopolis. As one of the leaders of the Achaean League and a friend of Philopoemen, he was influential in Greek politics.
  • Diodorus Siculus
    From Who's Who in Ancient Egypt, Routledge
    (ca. 1st cent. BCE) A native of Sicily, Diodorus was an assiduous writer and produced a monumental history of the world, Bibliotheke Historica, the first book of which includes information about Egypt which Diodorus seems to have visited, if only briefly.
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus
    From Who's Who in The Roman World, Routledge
    (ca. 1st cent. BCE) Dionysius of Halicarnassus was a Greek historian and literary critic from Halicarnassus in southwestern Asia Minor who moved to Rome in about 30 BCE where he taught rhetoric and became a great enthusiast for all things Roman. Much of his work survives: his Roman Antiquities, of whose twenty books we have the first ten, began publication in 7 BCE.
  • Appian
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    (ca. 100 CE) Roman historian. He was a Greek, born in Alexandria. He held various offices in Alexandria, was an advocate in Rome, and then imperial procurator in Egypt. His history of the Roman conquests, from the founding of Rome to the reign of Trajan, is more a collection of monographs on specific events than a continuous history.
  • Arrian
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    (89–180 CE) Flavius Arrianus Xenophon, Arrian, is important to the history of science as a compiler and commentator on the works of others. Arrian wrote the Anabasis, one of the most important sources for the study of the reign of Alexander the Great, in which Alexander’s scientific interests are discussed at length.
  • Plutarch (ca. 46-ca. 120): Topic Page
    Greek essayist and biographer, b. Chaeronea, Boeotia. He traveled in Egypt and Italy, visited Rome (where he lectured on philosophy) and Athens, and finally returned to his native Boeotia, where he became a priest of the temple of Delphi.
  • Eratosthenes
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    (276–195 BCE) Eratosthenes of Cyrene was the Librarian at Alexandria and a geographer of note. Author of the Geographica, Eratosthenes mapped the world and estimated the earth’s circumference, providing one of the most accurate assessments of the ancient world.
  • Euclid (ca. 300 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek mathematician whose works, and the style in which they were presented, formed the basis for all mathematical thought and expression for the following 2,000 years (although they were not entirely without fault).
  • Archimedes (287-212 BCE): Topic Page
    Greek mathematician, physicist, and inventor. He is famous for his work in geometry (on the circle, sphere, cylinder, and parabola), physics, mechanics, and hydrostatics.
  • Galen
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    (130–200 CE) Galen was a Greek physician from Asia Minor who was a master of medical science and physician to the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
  • Strabo
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    (63 BCE–21 CE) Strabo was the Greek writer of Geography, an influential treatise on history and geography. Strabo was a Stoic philosopher influenced by Athenodorus, a contemporary Stoic philosopher, Xenarchus, a notable Peripatetic philosopher, and the geographer Tyrannion.
  • Ptolemy (ca. 100 CE): Topic Page
    (Claudius Ptolemaeus) Celebrated Greco-Egyptian mathematician, astronomer, and geographer. He made his observations in Alexandria and was the last great astronomer of ancient times.
  • Epictetus
    From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
    (55–135 CE) Epictetus was a Greek slave who became a leading voice of Stoicism during the Roman Principate. He was a student of Musonius Rufus, a Roman Stoic philosopher. After being freed by his master Epaphroditus and then banished from Rome by the emperor Domitian, Epictetus set up a school in western Greece on the Adriatic, at Nicopolis.
  • Diogenes Laertius
    From Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy
    (ca. 200 CE) Author of the only preserved example of an ancient “History of Philosophy.” From the Renaissance until ca. 1800, Diogenes Laertius was the main model for historiography of philosophy.
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