You are on page 1of 2

Greek Literary

Works The most important Greek literary works are the epics Iliad and Odyssey, poetry of Hesiod, Sappho and Archilochus, the Greek tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, the historical accounts by Herodotus and Thucydides and the philosophical treatise by Aristotle. Other literary works worth mention are the comedies by Menander and the historical accounts by Polybius. Greece Literature, with its immense resources and tremendous affluence, has influenced the history of World Literature to a considerable extent. English and European literature often derives sources and influence from the Greek works.

THE TROJAN WAR "Sing, goddess, of the anger of Achilleus, son of Peleus, the accursed anger which brought uncounted anguish on the Achaians" Homer *

Trojan War Trojan War, in Greek mythology, war between the Greeks and the people of Troy. The strife began after the Trojan prince Paris abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. When Menelaus demanded her return, the Trojans refused. Menelaus then persuaded his brother Agamemnon to lead an army against Troy. At Aulis, troopships gathered, led by the greatest Greek heroesAchilles, Patroclus, Diomed, Odysseus, Nestor, and the two warriors named Ajax. In order to win favorable winds for the journey, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to Artemis. The winds came and the fleet set sail for Troy. For nine years the Greeks ravaged Troy's surrounding cities and countryside, but the city itself, well fortified and commanded by Hector and other sons of the royal household, held out. Finally the Greeks built a large hollow wooden horse in which a small group of warriors were concealed. The other Greeks appeared to sail for home, leaving behind only the horse and Sinon, who deceitfully persuaded the Trojans, despite the warnings of Cassandra and Laocon, to take the horse within the city walls. At night the Greeks returned; their companions crept out of the horse and opened the city gates, and Troy was destroyed. The gods took great interest in the war. Poseidon, Hera, and Athena aided the Greeks, while Aphrodite and Ares favored the Trojans. Zeus and Apollo, although frequently involved in the action of the war, remained impartial. The events of the final year of the war constitute the main part of the Iliad of Homer. The Trojan War probably reflected a real war (c.1200 B.C.) between the invading Greeks and the people of Troas, possibly over control of trade through the Dardanelles. The earliest extant European literary works are the Iliad and the Odyssey, both written in ancient Greek probably before 700 B.C., and attributed to Homer. Homer is said to be the first teller of adventures of all times. He was not the first author because in his day stories were passed down---they were told. He was a blind man whose date of birth is unknown

The Iliad
Divided into 24 books, the Iliad tells of the wrath of Achilles and its tragic consequences, an episode in the Trojan War. The action is in several sections. Achilles quarrels with Agamemnon over possession of the captive woman Briseis, and Achilles retires from the war to sulk in his tent. The Greek position gradually weakens until Agamemnon offers amendment to Achilles (Books IIX). Book X tells of an expedition by Odysseus and Diomedes leading to Greek reverses in the war. Thereupon Patroclus, Achilles' friend, is inspired to go into battle wearing Achilles' armor. He is killed byHector (Books XIXVII). Book XVIII tells of the visit of Thetis, mother of Achilles, to comfort her grieving son and of the forging of new armor by Hephaestus for Achilles. Achilles then determines to avenge his friend, kills Hector, buries Patroclus, and finally, at the entreaty of Priam, gives Hector's body to the Trojan hero's aged father (Books XIXXXIV). The Iliad is a highly unified work, splendid in its dramatic action. Written in a simple yet lofty style, it contains many perceptive characterizations that make exalted personages like Hector and Achilles believable as human beings.

The Odyssey
The Odyssey is written in 24 books and begins nearly ten years after the fall of Troy. In the first part, Telemachus, Odysseus' son, visits Nestor at Pylos and Menelaus at Sparta, seeking news of his absent father. He tells them of the troubles of his mother, Penelope, who is beset by mercenary suitors. Menelaus informs him that his father is with the nymph Calypso (Books IIV). The scene then shifts to Mt. Olympus with an account of Zeus' order to Calypso to release Odysseus, who then builds a raft and sails to Phaeacia. There he is entertained by King Alcinos and his daughter Nausica; he relates to them the story of his wanderings in which he has encountered Polyphemus, Aeolus, Circe, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, the Laestrygones, and the lotus-eaters (Books VXII). Dramatic tension mounts with the return of Odysseus and Telemachus to Ithaca; together they plan and execute the death of the suitors. Afterward Odysseus makes himself known to his wife and his father, with whose aid he repulses the suitors' angry kinsmen. Athena intervenes, peace is restored, and Odysseus once again rules his country (Books XIIIXXIV). The atmosphere of adventure and fate in the Odyssey contrasts with the heavier tone and tragic grandeur of the Iliad. "Sing, goddess, of the anger of Achilleus, son of Peleus, the accursed anger which brought uncounted anguish on the Achaians"

Troy | Homer | The Iliad The Greeks (Achaeans) The Trojans Hector Paris Priam Hecuba Cassandra

Achilles Patroclus Odysseus Agamemnon Menelaus Ajax Nestor Helen