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What famous writers were in ancient greece?

It was the Greeks who discovered countless sciences and literary genres: their works in more or less complete form have survived to this day. There is something that unites them – it is about the impact on modern culture and society that they have had. Today we will get acquainted with the great people of ancient Greece and their literary works.

Homer

Homer is the ancient Greek storyteller, creator of the epic poems “Iliad” and “Odyssey.” About half of the found ancient Greek literary papyri are fragments of the works of Homer. Little is known about his biography and life in general. All the knowledge that we have now is based on the guesses of ancient Greek philosophers and historians. Some believed that Homer was a contemporary of the Trojan War and described in the Iliad the events he personally experienced.

Roman bust of Homer from the second century AD, portrayed with traditional iconography, based on a Greek original dating to the Hellenistic period

Roman bust of Homer from the second century AD, portrayed with traditional iconography, based on a Greek original dating to the Hellenistic period

Herodotus, however, attributed the life of Homer to the 9th century BC. Many modern scholars believe that Homer lived in the 8th century BC, indicating Chios or any other region of Ionia on the coast of Asia Minor as the main place of his residence. Popular belief holds that the famous epic poems “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” were composed there.

The study of the Odyssey is included in the school curriculum. Students are often asked to write papers on it. If you were asked to write “The Odyssey” essay on any topic, then you first need to familiarize yourself with the topics, then with examples of papers on similar topics, and have the original source.

But in truth, even if you weren’t asked to write an essay, we still recommend that everyone read this masterpiece poem.

 

Sophocles

Sophocles was a tragedian and wrote 123 plays in his entire life. Aristotle, in his key work “Poetics,” recognized Sophocles’ play “Oedipus Rex” as the standard of dramatic form. And nowadays, they look up to it. It is the story of the curse that struck ancient Thebes, and the price Oedipus had to pay to save his city: to blind himself. Amazingly, the audience of “Oedipus Rex” is well aware of the plot about the accursed ruler, but they perceive the play with unflagging interest.

Sophocles bust

Sophocles bust

 The play was twice presented in Athens. The tragedy has firmly entered the world theatrical repertoire as one of the most profound works on the theme of “man and fate.” In the modern world, Oedipus became a household name thanks to the Oedipus complex, which was described by Sigmund Freud in his psychological theory, but it has little to do with the play. It can be considered one of the first detective stories in world literature, in which every next step in the search for the truth actually only brings catastrophe and tragic denouement closer.

 Herodotus

Herodotus, the author of the first surviving treatise “The History,” was born into a noble and wealthy Greco-Carian family in 484 BC in the city of Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum) and glorified this city.

A Roman copy (2nd century AD) of a Greek bust of Herodotus from the first half of the 4th century BC

A Roman copy (2nd century AD) of a Greek bust of Herodotus from the first half of the 4th century BC

The family of Herodotus was opposed to the tyrannical ruler of Halicarnassus, for which the future historian was exiled and spent some time on the island of Samos. Then Herodotus went on long journeys, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, visited Egypt, and traveled to Palestine, Syria, and Babylon. Having gone to Macedonia, he visited numerous islands of the Greek archipelago. During his many wanderings, Herodotus collected and wrote down information about everything that he saw and heard, calling these records his research. He listened to myths and legends of different peoples, wrote down folk tales and epics, and described the life and customs of residents of other countries.

Euripides

Bust of Euripides: Roman marble copy of a fourth-century BC Greek original (Museo Pio-Clementino, Rome)

Bust of Euripides:
Roman marble copy of a fourth-century BC Greek original (Museo Pio-Clementino, Rome)

Euripides was the poet of the decay of the Athenian slave-owning democracy. In all the tragedies of Euripides, a completely new and unusual theme developed for the traditional Greek theater. Euripides was the first to introduce into his tragedy the conflict of one hero, that is, the confrontation of two feelings in the soul of this hero, otherwise called a psychological conflict. In “Medea,” it is a confrontation between the hatred of Jason and a sense of maternal love. The influence of sophistic philosophy on the work of Euripides manifested itself in the poet’s attitude to slavery. In many of his tragedies, he brought to the stage a slave, which was a novelty (“Helen,” “Hecuba,” and “The Trojan Women”). In a number of tragedies, Euripides develops the idea that slavery is an injustice and violence (“Hecuba” and “The Trojan Women”).

 We can say that, in the work of Euripides, there are two ways for the subsequent development of drama:

  1. From the tragedies “Medea” and “Hippolytus,” among others, into a pathetic tragedy, a tragedy of great and strong people, sometimes pathological passions.

  2. From the tragedies of “Ion” and “Helen,” where for the first time there are motives of a lost and found child, into domestic drama, such as plays with a domestic plot and everyday characters.



Hippocrates

Hippocrates’ place of birth was the island of Kos around 460 BC. The father and grandfather of the future great physician were doctors and became the first teachers for the young Hippocrates. The grandfather’s name was also Hippocrates. There is no information about the mother, except that she, allegedly, was a descendant of Hercules.

A conventionalized image in a Roman "portrait" bust (19th-century engraving)

A conventionalized image in a Roman "portrait" bust (19th-century engraving)

Hippocrates received his initial medical skills in the temple of the god of medicine – “Asklepion” on the island of Kos. He continued his studies, working under the guidance of the greatest doctors of the time, conducting his own research, practicing healing throughout Greece.

One of the greatest scientific works of antiquity is called the Hippocratic Corpus. It contains 60 treatises by various doctors. Historians claim that up to 18 treatises belong to Hippocrates. One of these treatises is the Hippocratic Oath, which reflects the ethical standards of a doctor’s work. The modern oaths of doctors, which they take upon graduation from the university, are based on the Hippocratic Oath.

 Perhaps not all of these great people can fully be called writers, but nevertheless, they made a huge contribution to culture and history. And indeed, they all had literary works that will be of interest to you to study. Choose any of them, and perhaps you will discover something new from the times of ancient Greece.

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