Even while the Greeks were emerging from their Dark Ages after the fall of Mycenae (c
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 https://tennesseepaydayloans.org/cities/winchester/ 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. Sophocles (496-406 BC) took these innovations further, while Euripides (484-406 BC) used dialogue to portray deep human emotions.
The Greeks also pioneered the writing of history as not merely the chronicling of events, but in striving for accuracy, objectivity and meaning in their accounts. Herodotus (c. 485-425 BC) is known the “father of history” (in the West), and was the first to develop a coherent historical narrative (in his case, of the Persian Wars); but it was his successor, Thucydides (c.460-396 BC), who was the one to first write what we today would call proper history.
Art and Architecture
Greek architecture is known for its grace and simplicity. The finest buildings the Greeks erected were their temples; and the most famous of these is the Parthenon, in Athens.
The center of each temple was space known as the “cella”. Here was located the statue if the god. In front of the cella was the porch, and both porch and cella were surrounded by a colonnade of columns. Each column was topped by a “capitals”, a carved block of stone. On top of these rested the “entablature”, a band of carved stone on which, in turn, rested the roof. These elements went together to form a simple yet gracious building.
Sculpture and Painting
Greek sculpture – usually in stone and bronze; sometimes in gold and ivory – was solid and formal, much like that of the ancient Middle East. In the Classical period, sculptures strove for realism, and their work became more graceful and elegant. They applied mathematical ratios to achieve aesthetic beauty. As time went by, and their skills improved still more, they sought to represent movement and emotion. In their best works they achieved a fluidity in stone which has seldom been matched.
In ancient times, statues would have been painted with vibrant, lifelike colors. Virtually no trace of this survives. The only paintings that have come down to us are on vases, where the images are of necessity simple and economic. We know of other painting as well from literary sources, for example on walls of palaces; and some painters achieved wide fame. However, none of their work has come down to us.