Greek literature has influenced the world, from the works of Homer, called the world's first novelist, through its great poets and dramatists to modern authors.
The influence of Greece on the literature of the world has been profound and the country's literary past resonates down through the centuries. Modern literature has its roots in Homer, and those roots still nourish Greece's - and the world's - literary tree. Arguably the greatest novel of the 20th century was Ulysses, by the Irish writer James Joyce, who based the plan for his complex and experimental book on Homer's The Odyssey.
It could be said that the Greeks invented travel writing, too, as the first such book was Hellados Periegesis (Description of Greece) by the historian and traveller Pausanias, who lived in the 2nd century AD and provided this guide for Roman visitors to Greece's classical sites. Yes, tourism goes back that far! Pausanias's book is as useful today as it was back then, as indeed are several books by historians that give us literary accounts of life in ancient Greece, notably the Histories by Herodotus (circa 484-425 BC) and The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (circa 460-400 BC).
Herodotus has been called the Father of History, and his book is regarded as the first major work of nonfiction, just as Homer produced the first major works of fiction. Herodotus's book slightly predates Thucydides's The History of the Peloponnesian War. It includes sections on the Persian Wars (490 and 481-479 BC) but also illuminates life in those days with accounts of legends, customs, beliefs, traditions, and everyday events that bring the period vividly alive once again.
The value of Thucydides's book is immense for several reasons, not least because of the chronicle it gives of the war itself. Though Thucydides participated in the war as an Athenian commander, he also saw the value of recording events, and of trying to give an objective rather than partisan account. He interviewed combatants and quotes the speeches of the leaders in a manner that serves as a template to this day.
The great Greek poets, from Homer to Elytis, are described on our Great Greek Poets page. We also have a page on Greek Drama, covering writers such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Another page covers Cretan writers and artists, including the towering Greek literary figure of Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek and many other fine works.
Greece has many other fine writers that are perhaps less well-known to the outside world, simply because of the language they write in. The enterprising Athenian publisher Kedros has published a superb series called Modern Greek Writers, translating some contemporary works into English for the first time.
Greek writers still battle with the big themes, as shown by Dido Sotiriou (1909-2004) in her novel Farewell Anatolia. A best-seller in Greece since it was published in 1962, the book recounts the forced exchange of Greek and Turkish populations in 1923. Its publication in a Turkish translation in 1970 was welcomed as providing a greater understanding of the suffering on both sides, and in 1990 the author was awarded the highest literary award in Greece, the prize of the Academy of Athens.
Eugenia Fakinou (born 1945) is another female writer whose books deal with what it means to be Greek. Her first novel, Astradeni, has remained in print in Greece since it was published in 1982, and has also been translated into English. It tells a tale familiar to many Greeks, of a family forced by circumstance to leave its island home to move to Athens in search of a better life. The young girl who tells the story, Astradeni, depicts the changes with the bold and simple gaze of a child.
Petros Abatzoglou (1931-2004) wrote several novels and collections of stories, but for an outsider perhaps the most interesting would be What Does Mrs Freeman Want? It gives the Greek perspective on a pair of English tourists who come to soak up the sun, while the book's narrator observes them and soaks up the ouzo.
Mike Gerrard wasn’t sure what to expect from a holiday on Symi, in the Greek islands, but what he found was lots of local feasting, dancing, and music.
Greece Travel Secrets helps celebrate a feast day on Astipalia in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece, for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven.
During Easter on Rhodes Greece Travel Secrets publisher Mike Gerrard travels from Lindos to Kattavia to visit a monastery and spend Easter with a Greek family.
Walking on Paxos is the best way to discover this tiny island south of Corfu in the Ionian Islands, with its wooded hills and terraces of olive trees.
Easter on Symi is a wonderful Greek celebration and one of the best times to visit the little gem of an island a short ferry-ride from Rhodes in the Dodecanese.
The best time to visit Mykonos depends on if you want crowds or quiet, heat or cooler temperatures, all of which affect when is the best time to visit Mykonos.
The rules that all international passengers must follow to travel to Greece have been extended until October 8, the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) said on Friday. The rules are part of the H…
Delta Air Lines on Sunday announced that it will launch a new service from Boston in the United States to Athens, Greece, in the summer of 2022. Launching on May 27 next year, the new nonstop service…
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is urging the British Museum to reconsider repatriating the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and to enter talks on the issue, Greek…
The epicenter of an entire religion and of the ancient Greek world, and a spectacular place of natural beauty, Mount Olympus is finally, officially, a National Park.