Greece – Literature
Ancient Greek Literature
The ancient Greek Literature is divided in 3 distinct eras:
– The Archaic period: the literature of this period is mostly focused on myths – part history and part folklore. The most significant examples of this period include Homer’s epics the Iliad and the Odyssey and Hesiod’s Theogony.
Much of what was developed during this time was shared verbally, only to be written down years later.
– The Classical period: the literature of this period (4th – 5th century BC) centered on drama. Drama was used to not only entertain but also to educate the Greek citizen, to explore a problem. It was the time that the forms of tragedy and comedy were introduced and became popular and influential.
The most known Greek tragedians are Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and Aristophanes was famous for his comedies.
– The Hellenistic period: Poets, prose authors, and historians flourished during the Hellenistic period. Among them were Callimachus, Apollonius Rhodius, and the well-known historian Plutarch.
Unfortunately, with only a few exceptions, much of what was created during the Archaic and Classical period remains only in fragments or quoted in the works of others.
(photo: © The Egypt Exploration Society)
Modern Greek literature
All Greek literary works written in Modern Greek are referred to as Modern Greek literature that started to emerge during the 11th century AD. The epic of Digenis Akritas was the first literary work composed in demotic Greek during the Byzantine times.
Other notable works that followed were Erofili by Georgios Chortatsis (1585) and Erotokritos by Vitsentzos Kornaros (beginning of 17th century).
A new phase started in 18th century with the use of ‘katharevousa’ idiom of Greek language, which was a compromise between Ancient Greek and the contemporary vernacular, Demotic Greek. This form of Greek Language was first used in literature by Adamantios Korais and eventually became the official language of the newly born state of Greece (1832). Literature masterpieces followed where a mix of this new official language and the demotic language (everyday language of the people) was used.
Other important writers and works that followed:
- Hymn to Liberty (1823), by Dionysios Solomos – the national anthem of Greece
- The Murderess (1903), a short crime novel written by Alexandros Papadiamantis
- Twelve Lays of the Gypsy (1907), poetry collection by Kostis Palamas
- Elegies and Satires (1927), poetry collection by Kostas Karyotakis
- Epitafios (1936), poetry collection by Yiannis Ritsos (melodized by Mikis Theodorakis)
- Zorba the Greek (1946), novel by Nikos Kazantzakis
- Romiosini (1954), poem by Yiannis Ritsos (melodized by Mikis Theodorakis)
- To Axion Esti (1959), poetry collection by Odysseas Elytis (melodized by Mikis Theodorakis)
- Bloody Earth (1962), novel by Dido Sotiriou
Two Greek poets, George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis, were awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963 and 1979 respectively. To find out important contemporary Greek Poets and writers check here: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/greece/articles/contemporary-greek-authors-and-poets-to-read-now/