Sophocles was an ancient Greek writer. He is one among three tragedians from his era whose plays have survived. Sophocles was the most decorated and celebrated playwright for almost five decades, during which he won 24 out of 30 dramatic competitions, which took place in the city-state of Athens during the religious festivals of the Dionysia and the Lenaea.
One of the three ancient Greek tragedians, together with Sophocles and Aeschylus, Euripides wrote around 92 plays, out of which 18 or 19 have survived intact. He is known for theatrical innovations that influenced modern drama as well. This particularly includes his representation of mythical heroes as common people in exceptional circumstances. His notable works include Hippolytus, Alcestis and Medea.
Hesiod was an ancient Greek poet who was credited by ancient authors with establishing Greek religious customs. Modern scholars often cite his work as an important source for early economic thought, Greek mythology, archaic Greek astronomy, farming techniques, and ancient time-keeping.
Empedocles of Acragas was the man behind the proposition that there are four elements, or roots, that make up all structures of the world: air, water, earth, and fire. He also introduced the concepts of Love and Strife. His work has been summarized in the poems Purifications and On Nature.
Widely regarded as one of the most distinguished Greek poets of the 20th century, Constantine Peter Cavafy became known for his own individual style. During his lifetime, he preferred to share his work through local newspapers and magazines only. His first book was published two years after his death. He also worked as a journalist and a civil servant.
Greek poet Thespis is not just believed to be the first actor of Greek drama but also the inventor of tragedy. He is also said to have introduced dialogues into choral tragedies and was the first to stage a Greek tragedy at the City Dionysia.
Archaic Greek poet Archilochus is remembered for his elegiac and lyric poetry. Fragments of his poetry that are still available offer significant descriptions of the solar eclipse of 648 BCE, the events leading to the Trojan war, and Lydian king Gyges’s riches. Some even compare him to Homer and Hesiod.
Known for his lyric poems, Simonides of Ceos is also known as the Greek Voltaire. Often compared to legends such as Pindar, Simonides served in the court of Peisistratids and was also later patronized by Scopas and other significant figures. His poetry often described battles, such as the Persian Wars.
Turkish poet and author Nâzım Hikmet was chiefly known as a Romantic Communist. After being jailed in Turkey for his political activities, he spent the rest of his life in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. He redefined Turkish literature with his free verse and poems such as Şeyh Bedreddin destanı.
Best known for his idylls such as Thyrsis and Thalysia, Greek poet Theocritus hailed from Sicily. Remembered as the pioneer of pastoral poetry, he described realistic rural ways of life and inspired later pastoral poems and elegies by legends such as John Milton, P. B. Shelley, and Matthew Arnold.
George Seferis was a Greek diplomat and poet. A Nobel laureate, Seferis is widely regarded as one of the most prominent Greek poets of the 20th century. A well-known and respected diplomat, George Seferis served as the Ambassador to the UK from 1957 to 1962.
Critias was an ancient Athenian author and political figure. He is best remembered as one of the leading members of the infamous pro-Spartan oligarchy, The Thirty Tyrants. As an author, Critias is remembered for his prose works, elegies, and tragedies.
Epimenides of Cnossos was a 7th-6th century BC semi-mythical Greek seer, a philosopher and an author of various religious and poetical work including a Theogony and Cretica. It is said that he fell asleep for 57 years and also lived up to an advanced age of 300. He is also given the credit for the invention of the Epimenides paradox.
Alcaeus, also known as Alcaeus of Mytilene, was an important lyric poet from the island of Lesbos in Greece. Alcaeus is remembered for his invention of the Alcaic stanza, a lyrical meter. Alcaeus was named among nine lyric poets included in the canonical list by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. Alcaeus' work has influenced the works of poets like Horace.
Odysseas Elytis was a Greek poet, translator, and essayist. He is widely regarded as one of the most popular and important exponents of romantic modernism of his generation. He is also one of the most celebrated poets of the latter half of the 20th century. Odysseas Elytis was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1979.
Often considered a mythical figure, Arion was a Greek poet and musician from Lesbos, and is considered to be the inventor of the dithyrambic form of poetry. Mythical versions state he was the son of Cyclon, or of Poseidon, and was saved from drowning by dolphins who were mesmerized by his music.
Aratus was a Greek didactic poet whose major works have not survived, although some remain like his impressive hexameter poem Phenomena. Aratus, who described constellations and celestial phenomena in his work, was hugely popular in the Roman and Greek world. His works attracted younger writers, who in turn produced a large number of translations and commentaries based on Aratus' work.
Rigas Feraios was a Greek writer, revolutionary, and political thinker. A front runner of the Greek War of Independence, Feraios is revered as one of the most important national heroes in Greece. Rigas Feraios is also credited with kindling the Greeks' love of freedom.
Tyrtaeus was a Greek elegiac poet best remembered for his works written during a time of crises in the city of Sparta: a civic unrest—which he later mentioned in his poem Eunomia—and the Second Messenian War, which saw him play a crucial role in successfully egging on Spartans to fight for their city until their death.
Corinna was a Greek lyric poet whose work has led scholars like Herbert Weir Smyth to praise her by calling her the second-most popular ancient Greek woman poet in history after Sappho. Corinna seems to have enjoyed a lot of attention and popularity among the people of ancient Tanagra and ancient Rome. Corinna's poetry has also fascinated feminist literary historians.
Apollodorus of Athens was a Greek scholar from the 2nd century B.C. Best remembered for his chronicle of Greek history, titled Chronika, he also penned a 24-volume prose work known as On the Gods, which was later lost. He also wrote volumes on mythology, philology, and geography.
Theognis of Megara was a Greek lyric poet best remembered for his gnomic poetry featuring practical advice about life and ethical maxims. He was the first known Greek poet to worry about the eventual fate and existence of his own work. Theognis of Megara's work has attracted and influenced several modern-day scientists and scholars like Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Greco-Roman writer, playwright and epic poet of the Old Latin Livius Andronicus is considered as the father of Roman drama as also of Latin literature. The tragedies and comedies he wrote for the stage are regarded as the first dramatic works written in the Latin language. One of his notable works includes the Latin translation of Homer’s Greek epic-poem Odyssey.
Bacchylides was a Greek lyric poet whose elegant and polished lyrics led scholars of future generations to characterize them as superficial charm. Bacchylides is widely regarded as one of the last major poets to represent the more ancient tradition of lyric poetry.
Nonnus, also known as Nonnus of Panopolis, was a Greek epic poet considered the most important of them all from the Imperial Roman era. Nonnus is credited with composing the epic poem Dionysiaca, which is one of the longest surviving works from Greco-Roman antiquity. His works seems to have greatly influenced the poets of Late Antiquity like Musaeus and Colluthus.
Erinna was an ancient Greek poet who is most recognised for her poem The Distaff, a 300-line hexameter poem of lament for her childhood friend Baucis. Other than this, Erinna is also known for three epigrams which are preserved in the Greek Anthology. She is believed to have lived in the fourth century BC, most likely, on the Greek Island of Telos.
An ancient Greek poet, Ibycus figures in the canonical list of nine lyric poets drawn by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. He became known for pederastic verses and for lyrical narratives around mythological themes. Much of his extant work are either recorded on fragments of papyrus recovered from Egyptian archaeological sites or are there as quotations by ancient scholars.
Yannis Ritsos was a Greek poet best remembered for his association with politics. A communist, Ritsos played an active role during World War II as part of the Greek Resistance. Consequentially, he was often referred to as "the great poet of the Greek left." However, today, Yannis Ritsos is often counted among the greatest Greek poets of the 20th century.
One of the greatest Greek poets of the 20th century, Angelos Sikelianós is remembered for his poems such as The Light-Shadowed and Mother of God. His tragedies, such as Sibylla and Daedalus in Crete, are know for their lyrics and drama. He and his wife, Eva, also started the Delphic Festival.
Philitas of Cos didn’t just establish the Hellenistic school of poetry but was also the first major Greek poet who was also a scholar. He also tutored Ptolemy II and Theocritus. The elegy Demeter is one of his best-known works, while he also wrote love poems and compiled a dictionary.
Cynic Greek philosopher and satirist Menippus established the genre known as the Menippean satire. Some sources state he was a slave in Pontus but settled in Thebes after being freed. Though hardly any of his writings remain, their references can be found in the works of Seneca, Varro, and Lucian.
Part of the Demotic movement of the late 1800s, Greek poet Kostís Palamás later pioneered the new school of Athens, also known as the Palamian School, which rejected the traditional literary styles and introduced a significant restraint. He is remembered for his works such as Trisevgene and Asalefte Zoe.
A Greek tragic poet, grammarian, sophist and commentator on comedy, Lycophron is most recognised for the traditional attribution to him of the extant poem Alexandra. He wrote a treatise on comedy and several tragedies which got him a place in the Pleiad of Alexandrian tragedians, a group of seven Alexandrian poets and tragedians in the court of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.
Greek epic poet Panyassis was the uncle of historian Herodotus. He was eventually executed by Lygdamis ΙΙ for his political activities. Some compare Panyassis with Homer. Only his 14-part Heracleia, and Ionica, remain as fragments, while the rest of his work is said to be lost.
A significant part of the French Symbolist movement, Jean Moréas was a Greek-born poet who wrote both in Greek and French. It is believed his French governess inspired him to write in French. He co-founded Le Symboliste and is best remembered for his works such as Iphigénie à Aulide.
Born into poverty, Timon of Phlius initially earned a living as a dancer. He then worked as a lecturer, before focusing on writing. Apart from prose, poetry, and plays, he also penned silloi, or a form of sarcastic writings in mock-heroic hexameters. He was also one of the pioneers of Pyrrhonism.
One of the greatest Greek modern poets, Kostas Karyotakis was a qualified lawyer but chose to write instead of practicing law. He was known for pioneering iconoclastic themes in Greek poems. Depressed over his diagnosis of syphilis, he unsuccessfully tried killing himself by drowning and then shot himself to death.
Though very few of his works survive, Moschus remains known as a great Greek bucolic poet and grammarian. Poems such as Bucolica and Europa have been attributed to him, but all his grammatical works have been lost. He hailed from Syracuse in Italy and was tutored by Aristarchus of Samothrace.
Greek musician and lyrical poet Timotheus of Miletus was known for his dithyrambic poetry. He served the court of Archelaus I, the king of Macedon. He was criticized by the Lacedaemonians for adding strings to the lute and by the Spartans and Athenians for adding strings to the lyre.
One of the most popular Albanian poets, Aleksander Stavre Drenova was known by his pseudonym Asdreni. Born in the Ottoman empire, he moved to Romania after his father’s death and got acquainted with Albanian intellectuals. The Albanian national anthem, Hymni i Flamurit, was penned by him.
One of the best-known Athenian poets, Eupolis belonged to the Old Comedy tradition. It is believed Eupolis and Aristophanes were initially friends but they later turned rivals. He rose to fame during the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens. The Demes remains one of his most significant works.
Known as the pioneer of Sicilian, or Dorian, Comedy, Greek poet and dramatist Epicharmus of Kos finds mention in the works of authors such as Athenaeus and Suda. Known for his broad range of subjects, he didn’t just stick to poetry or plays but also wrote on medicine, philosophy, and linguistics.
Ancient Greek poet Telesilla went down in history for protecting her city Argos from the Spartan army of Cleomenes, and finds mention in the works of Pausanias. Most of her works were about Greek gods and goddesses, though hardly any remain. The Telesillean meter was named in her honor.
Greek poet and musician from Lesbos, Terpander was best known for his songs accompanied by his music on the kithara, or cithara, a forerunner of the modern guitar. He also won a music competition at the Sparta Olympiad. He is also regarded as the pioneer of Greek classical music and lyric poetry.