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Greek Literature. Homer, Aeschylus, and Euripides. Homer: Early Life. Son of Epikaste and Telemachus Born: around 800 BC (8 th -9 th century BC) Got an education Was a court singer Lived either in Chios or Ionia Blind: G reeks thought that being blind gave you insight

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greek literature

Greek Literature

Homer, Aeschylus, and Euripides

homer early life
Homer: Early Life
  • Son of Epikaste and Telemachus
  • Born: around 800 BC (8th-9th century


  • Got an education
  • Was a court singer
  • Lived either in Chios or Ionia
  • Blind: Greeks thought that being blind gave you insight
  • Questions of whether he even existed or not
homer literature
Homer: Literature
  • Heroes were usually womanizers, got help from the gods, and went on great journeys
  • Wrote primarily epics (The Iliad, Odyssey)
  • A great story teller
  • Many literary terms are devised from Homer’s works:
            • Homeric simile- a comparison between two things, using like or as, developed over multiple lines of verse
            • Homeric hero-creation of a character that overcomes feats and does heroic deeds in epics
            • Homeric style- stock epithets and reiteration

Just to name a few.

the iliad
The Iliad
  • Written in dactylic hexameter: form of meter in poetry
  • Originally thought of as poetry, but in the 1920s, was thought of as an oral tradition
  • Was in fact told by Greeks to young men to prepare them for war
  • Set during Trojan War
  • Tells of the battles and events that took place during the Trojan War
  • Themes:
          • The Glory of War
          • Military Success Over Family Values
          • Temporariness of Human Creations
the odyssey
The Odyssey
  • Homeric epics
  • Tells of Odysseus’ adventure home after the Trojan War to Ithaca, and the multiple challenges he and his crew must overcome. Also speaks about what is happening with Odysseus’ wife and child at Ithaca while he is away. Help from gods and goddesses, deceit, extreme hubris, and monsters and creatures are seen to add to the action
  • Thought to be written somewhere between 750 and 650 BC
  • An example of a Homeric hero: Odysseus
the odyssey1
The Odyssey
  • Consists of 24 books
  • Motifs:
          • Story telling
          • Disguises
          • Cunning Women
  • Themes:
          • Smarts Vs. Strength
          • Temptation
homer death
Homer: Death
  • Died around 701 BC in Ios, Greece
  • Many different stories of his death:
          • Drowned in a tide pool
          • Old age
          • Committed suicide
          • Shot by a brother who was
          • mad at him
aeschylus early life
Aeschylus: Early Life
  • Born in 525 BC in Eleusis, Greece
  • Father: Euphorion (mother is un-known)
  • Family was well-off, wealthy
  • Worked at a vineyard
  • Got an education
  • Wrote his first play at the age of twenty-six
  • Won his first festival when he was 41
  • Wrote mainly tragedies
aeschylus plays
Aeschylus: Plays
  • Trojan War was a large part in his works
  • Second of the three major tragedy writers (other two being Sophocles and Euripides
  • Wrote between seventy and ninety plays
  • Only seven surviving works
  • All seven surviving plays won first place in drama festivals
  • Often writes connected trilogies
aeschylus plays1
Aeschylus: Plays
  • Highly influential
  • Made costumes very elaborate to add to the plays
  • Written in verse
  • No violence was performed on stage
  • Strong religious values set in plays
  • Plays were often set in far away lands or about gods
aeschylus surviving plays
Aeschylus: Surviving Plays
  • The Persians
  • Seven against Thebes
  • The Suppliants
  • Agamemnon
  • The Libation Bearers
  • The Eumenides
  • Prometheus Bound

Trilogy known as The Oresteia

aeschylus death
  • Died in 456 BC
  • Italy
  • Has a quite interesting death: An eagle was flying above with a tortoise in his mouth, mistook Aeschylus’ bald spot for a rock, and dropped the tortoise on top of his head.
euripides early life
Euripides: Early Life
  • Born: 484 BC in Athens, Greece or on the island of Salamis
  • Mother was Cleito and father was Mnesarchus or Mnesarchides
  • Father provided an education for Euripides
  • Was at first going to be an athlete
  • Had a wife, Melito, and three sons
  • Women- hater
  • Didn’t believe in the Greek gods and goddesses of mythology
  • Wrote first play at twenty-five: The Peliodes
  • From then on was a tragic poet
euripides plays
Euripides: Plays
  • Euripides was one of the three masters of tragedy (following Sophocles and Aeschylus)
  • Often reflected Euripides’ questioning of Greek religion and society itself
  • Wrote 92 plays overall, but only eighteen plays survive today
  • Won first prize at four drama festivals
  • Was chosen twenty times to be one of three recognized writers (laureates) each year
euripides plays1
Euripides: Plays
  • Plays often called tragicomedies (comedic tragedy)
  • Characters were often ordinary people in extraordinary situations
  • Many women were shown as angry, or fierce, heroines
  • Large use of prologues: almost all plays started with a monologue explaining the situation
  • Not much use for chorus
  • Most known for his skill of expressing pathos
euripides plays2
Euripides: Plays
  • Often time was taken in the middle of scenes for characters to debate philosophy and social issues
  • Had beautiful songs and lyrics
  • Characters’ usually tragic fates were because of their own flaws and mistakes
  • Mocked the gods
  • A god was usually revealed at the end and had a long epilogue about the future
euripides the tragedies
Euripides: The Tragedies
  • Alcestis
  • Medea
  • Children of Hercules
  • Hippolytus
  • Andromache
  • Hecuba
  • Suppliants
  • Electra
  • Trojan Women
  • Iphigenia Among the Taurians
  • Helen
  • Phoenician Women
  • Orestes
  • Iphigenia at Aulis
  • Bacchants (The Bacchae)
  • Cyclops
  • Madness of Heracles
  • Ion
euripides late life
Euripides: Late Life
  • Re-married: Choirile and possibly had a daughter
  • Left Athens: possibly because of his disappointment in the reaction to his plays or because of the Peloponnesian War
  • Wrote The Bacchae, one of his most widely known works
  • Went into a self-imposed exile
  • Died in 406 BC in Macedonia: unknown how, most say it was of old age