1200-750 BC), when they produced their greatest poet, Homer. Most modern scholars think that Homer’s two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, were composed around 750 BC. It was almost certainly first composed in oral form before being written perhaps a hundred years later. These poems have been studied by western scholars ever since.
Later poets included Hesiod (7th century BC), whose “Works and Days” portrays the tough life of an ordinary farmer; Sappho (6th century BC), whose love poetry uses beauty of language to explore intense personal feelings; and Pindar (late 6th century – early 5th century BC), who expressed emotion in lyrical poems praising famous athletes or gods, and mourning the dead.
The Greeks were the first to pioneer the art form of drama. This had its origins in the dances and songs of sacred rites, and was always associated with religious festivals. A chorus chanting words or singing songs replaced the dancers, and originally only one solo actor stood out from the rest. Actors wore different masks to depict various standard moods or characters.
Actors wore masks such as this 3304 – Athens – of Attalus Museum – Theatre mask – Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto, by Giovanni Dall’Orto
Greek drama included both tragedy and comedy. It reached maturity in 5th century Athens. Aeschylus (525-456 BC) reduced the importance of the chorus, and increased the role of individual actors and dialogue. Continue reading