Ancient Greek Society and Literature

Ancient Greek, Classical and Hellenistic Period.

Although ancient Greek society was dominated by the male citizen, with his full legal status, right to vote, hold public office and own property, the social groups which made up the population of a typical Greek city-state were remarkably diverse. Women, children, immigrants(both Greek and foreign), laborers, and slaves all had defined roles. The society of ancient Greece was largely composed of the following groups:

-Male citizens, three groups: Landed aristocrats(arristoi), poorer farmers(periokoi) and the middle class(artisans and traders), and Semi-free laborers (e.g the helots of Sparta), Woman belonging to all of the above male groups but without citizen rights. Children were categorized as below 18 years generally and foreigners non-residents(xenoi)or foreign residents(metokoi)who were below male citizens in status.

Greek literature has influenced not only it is Roman neighbors to the west but also countless generations across the European continent. Greek writers are the fathers of such genres as poetry, tragedy, comedy, and western philosophy of the world. These Greeks authors were born not only on the soil of their native Greece but also in Asia Minor(lonia), the islands of the Aegeon, Sicily, and southern Italy.

The classical era(4th and 5th centuries BC) centered on the tragedies of such writers as Sophocles and his Oedipus Rex, Euripides's Medea, and the comedies of Aristophanes. The purpose of drama was not only to entertain but also to educate the Greek citizen, to explore a problem. Plays were performed in outdoor theaters and were usually part of religious festivals. Along with singers to explain the action, there were actors, often three, who wore masks. Of the known Greek tragedians, there are only three whom are complete plays: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides...

The Hellenistic era, saw Greek poetry, prose, and culture expand across the 'Mediterranean' influencing such Roman writers as Horace, Ovid, and Virgil. Unfortunately, with only a few expectations much of what was created during the Archaic and Classical periods remains only in fragments.