Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written than or contemporary with those of Aeschylus, earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra and Oedipus at Colonus. For 50 years, Sophocles was the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia, he competed in 30 competitions, won 24, was never judged lower than second place. Aeschylus won 13 competitions, was sometimes defeated by Sophocles, while Euripides won four competitions; the most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus and Antigone: they are known as the Theban plays, although each play was a part of a different tetralogy, the other members of which are now lost. Sophocles influenced the development of drama, most by adding a third actor, thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot.
He developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus. Sophocles, the son of Sophilus, was a wealthy member of the rural deme of Hippeios Colonus in Attica, to become a setting for one of his plays, he was born there. Sophocles was born a few years before the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC: the exact year is unclear, although 497/6 is the most likely. Sophocles was born into a wealthy family and was educated. Sophocles' first artistic triumph was in 468 BC, when he took first prize in the Dionysia theatre competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus. According to Plutarch, the victory came under unusual circumstances. Instead of following the usual custom of choosing judges by lot, the archon asked Cimon and the other strategoi present to decide the victor of the contest. Plutarch further contends that following this loss Aeschylus soon left for Sicily. Although Plutarch says that this was Sophocles' first production, it is now thought that his first production was in 470 BC.
Triptolemus was one of the plays that Sophocles presented at this festival. In 480 BC Sophocles was chosen to lead the paean, celebrating the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. Early in his career, the politician Cimon might have been one of his patrons, although if he was, there was no ill will borne by Pericles, Cimon's rival, when Cimon was ostracized in 461 BC. In 443/2 he served as one of the Hellenotamiai, or treasurers of Athena, helping to manage the finances of the city during the political ascendancy of Pericles. According to the Vita Sophoclis, in 441 BC he was elected one of the ten generals, executive officials at Athens, as a junior colleague of Pericles, he served in the Athenian campaign against Samos. In 420 BC, he welcomed and set up an altar for the image of Asclepius at his house, when the deity was introduced to Athens. For this, he was given the posthumous epithet Dexion by the Athenians, he was elected, in 413 BC, one of the commissioners who responded to the catastrophic destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War.
Sophocles died at the age of ninety or ninety-one in the winter of 406/5 BC, having seen within his lifetime both the Greek triumph in the Persian Wars and the bloodletting of the Peloponnesian War. As with many famous men in classical antiquity, his death inspired a number of apocryphal stories; the most famous is the suggestion that he died from the strain of trying to recite a long sentence from his Antigone without pausing to take a breath. Another account suggests. A third holds. A few months a comic poet, in a play titled The Muses, wrote this eulogy: "Blessed is Sophocles, who had a long life, was a man both happy and talented, the writer of many good tragedies. According to some accounts, his own sons tried to have him declared incompetent near the end of his life. One of his sons, a grandson called Sophocles became playwrights. An ancient source, Athenaeus’s work Sophists at Dinner, contains references to Sophocles' homosexuality or bisexuality. In that work, a character named Myrtilus, in a lengthy banquet speech claims that Ion of Chios writes in his book Encounters, that Sophocles loved boys as much as Euripides loved women.
Myrtilus repeats an anecdote told by Ion of Chios that involves Sophocles flirting with a serving boy at a symposium. Myrtilus claims that in a work by Hieronymus of Rhodes entitled Historical Notes it is said that Sophocles once lured a boy outside to have sex, afterwards the boy left with Sophocles' cape, while the boy's own cape was left with Sophocles Among Sophocles' earliest innovations was the addition of a third actor, which further reduced the role of the chorus and created greater opportunity for character development and conflict between characters. Aeschylus, who dominated Athenian playwriting during Sophocles' early career, followed suit and adopted the third character into his own work towards the end of h
In Greek mythology, Amphiaraus was the king of Argos along with Adrastus and Iphis. Amphiaraus was the son of Hypermnestra, he was, according to the son of Apollo and Hypermnestra. By Eriphyle, sister of Adrastus, Amphiaraus became the father of Amphilochus. In certain traditions, Amphiaraus was said to have had several daughters, Eurydice and Alcmena, or according to another source a daughter, Alexida. Amphiaraus was a seer, honored in his time. Both Zeus and Apollo favored him, Zeus gave him his oracular talent. In the generation before the Trojan War, Amphiaraos was one of the heroes present at the Calydonian Boar Hunt; the material of the tragic war of the Seven Against Thebes was taken up from several points of view by each of the three great Greek tragic poets. Eriphyle persuaded Amphiaraus to take part in the raiding venture, against his better judgment, for he knew he would die, she had been persuaded by Polynices, who offered her the necklace of Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite, once part of the bride-price of Cadmus, as a bribe for her advocacy.
Amphiaraus reluctantly agreed to join the doomed undertaking, but aware of his wife's corruption, asked his sons and Amphilochus, to avenge his inevitable death by killing her, should he not return. On the way to the battle, Amphiaraus warned the other warriors that the expedition would fail, blamed Tydeus for starting it, he would prevent Tydeus from being immortalized by Athena because of this. Despite this, he was the greatest leader in the attack. During the battle, Amphiaraus killed Melanippus. In the battle, Amphiaraus sought to flee from Periclymenus, the "very famous" son of Poseidon, who wanted to kill him, but Zeus threw his thunderbolt, the earth opened to swallow Amphiaraus together with his chariot, thus chthonic hero Amphiaraus was consulted at his sanctuary. Alcmaeon killed his mother, he was pursued by the Erinyes as he fled across Greece landing at the court of King Phegeus, who gave him his daughter Alphesiboea in marriage. Exhausted, Alcmaeon asked an oracle how to avoid the Erinyes and was told that he needed to stop where the sun was not shining when he killed his mother.
That was the mouth of the river Achelous, silted up. Achelous himself, god of that river, promised him his daughter, Callirrhoe in marriage if Alcmaeon would retrieve the necklace and clothes which Eriphyle wore when she persuaded Amphiaraus to take part in the battle. Alcmaeon had given these jewels to Phegeus who had his sons kill Alcmaeon when he discovered Alcmaeon's plan. In a sanctuary at the Amphiareion of Oropos, northwest of Attica, Amphiaraus was worshipped with a hero cult, he was associated with Asclepius. The healing and fortune-telling aspect of Amphiaraus came from his ancestry: he descended from the great seer Melampus. After making a sacrifice of a few coins, or sometimes a ram, at the temple, a petitioner slept inside and received a dream detailing the solution to the problem. Etruscan tradition inherited by the Romans is doubtless the origin of a son for Amphiaraus named Catillus who escaped from the slaughter at Thebes and led an expedition to Italy, where he founded a colony where appeared the city of Tibur, named after his eldest son Tiburtus.
In March 1815 Franz Schubert set "Amphiaraos," a poem by Theodor Körner, as a lied for voice and piano, D 166. It was first published in the Franz Schubert's Works edition in 1894; the New Schubert Edition included the song in Series IV, Volume 8. In Dante Alighieri's Inferno, King Amphiaraus was seen in the Sorcerers' section of Hell's Circle of Fraud where his action of foreseeing his death is mentioned. Amphiarus appears in Hercules portrayed by Ian McShane. Pausanias, Description of Greece with an English Translation by W. H. S. Jones, Litt. D. and H. A. Ormerod, M. A. in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio. 3 vols. Leipzig, Teubner. 1903. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library. Pindar, Odes translated by Diane Arnson Svarlien. 1990. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Pindar, The Odes of Pindar including the Principal Fragments with an Introduction and an English Translation by Sir John Sandys, Litt.
D. FBA. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library. Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F. B. A. F. R. S. in 2 Volumes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website. "Amphiaraos" by Franz Schubert: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
Delphi also called Pytho, is famous as the ancient sanctuary that grew rich as the seat of Pythia, the oracle, consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. The ancient Greeks considered the centre of the world to be in Delphi, marked by the stone monument known as the omphalos, it occupies an impressive site on the south-western slope of Mount Parnassus, overlooking the coastal plain to the south and the valley of Phocis. It is now an extensive archaeological site with a small modern town of the same name nearby, it is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in having had a phenomenal influence in the ancient world, as evidenced by the rich monuments built there by most of the important ancient Greek city-states, demonstrating their fundamental Hellenic unity. Delphi is located in upper central Greece, on multiple plateaux along the slope of Mount Parnassus, includes the Sanctuary of Apollo, the site of the ancient Oracle; this semicircular spur is known as Phaedriades, overlooks the Pleistos Valley.
In myths dating to the classical period of Ancient Greece, Zeus determined the site of Delphi when he sought to find the centre of his "Grandmother Earth". He sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western extremities, the path of the eagles crossed over Delphi where the omphalos, or navel of Gaia was found. Earlier myths include traditions that Pythia, or the Delphic oracle was the site of an important oracle in the pre-classical Greek world and, rededicated from about 800 BC, when it served as the major site during classical times for the worship of the god Apollo. Apollo was said to have slain Python, a "drako" a serpent or a dragon who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth. "Python" is claimed by some to be the original name of the site in recognition of Python which Apollo defeated. The Homeric Hymn to Delphic Apollo recalled. Others relate that it was named Pytho and that Pythia, the priestess serving as the oracle, was chosen from their ranks by a group of priestesses who officiated at the temple.
Excavation at Delphi, a post-Mycenaean settlement of the late 9th century, has uncovered artifacts increasing in volume beginning with the last quarter of the 8th century BC. Pottery and bronze as well as tripod dedications continue in a steady stream, in contrast to Olympia. Neither the range of objects nor the presence of prestigious dedications proves that Delphi was a focus of attention for a wide range of worshippers, but the large quantity of valuable goods, found in no other mainland sanctuary, encourages that view. Apollo's sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 586 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four Panhellenic Games, precursors of the Modern Olympics; the victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown, ceremonially cut from a tree by a boy who re-enacted the slaying of the Python. Delphi was set apart from the other games sites because it hosted the mousikos agon, musical competitions.
These Pythian Games rank second among the four stephanitic games chronologically and in importance. These games, were different from the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast importance to the city of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the area surrounding Olympia. Delphi would have been a renowned city. In the inner hestia of the Temple of Apollo, an eternal flame burned. After the battle of Plataea, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the hearth of Greece, at Delphi; the name Delphi comes from the same root as δελφύς delphys, "womb" and may indicate archaic veneration of Gaia at the site. Apollo is connected with the site by his epithet Δελφίνιος Delphinios, "the Delphinian"; the epithet is connected with dolphins in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, recounting the legend of how Apollo first came to Delphi in the shape of a dolphin, carrying Cretan priests on his back. The Homeric name of the oracle is Pytho. Another legend held that Apollo walked to Delphi from the north and stopped at Tempe, a city in Thessaly, to pick laurel which he considered to be a sacred plant.
In commemoration of this legend, the winners at the Pythian Games received a wreath of laurel picked in the temple. Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo, as well as the Pythian Games and the prehistoric oracle. In Roman times, hundreds of votive statues remained, described by Pliny the Younger and seen by Pausanias. Carved into the temple were three phrases: γνῶθι σεαυτόν and μηδὲν ἄγαν, Ἑγγύα πάρα δ'ἄτη, In antiquity, the origin of these phrases was attributed to one or more of the Seven Sages of Greece by authors such as Plato and Pausanias. Additionally, according to Plutarch's essay on the meaning of the "E at Delphi"—the only literary source for the inscription—there was inscribed at the temple a large letter E. Among other things epsilon signifies the number 5. However, ancient as well as modern scholars have doubted the legitimacy of such i
In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Apollo in Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. He was the son of the nymph Chariclo. Tiresias participated in seven generations in Thebes, beginning as advisor to Cadmus himself. Eighteen allusions to mythic Tiresias, noted by Luc Brisson, fall into three groups: one, in two episodes, recounts Tiresias' sex-change and his encounter with Zeus and Hera. Like other oracles, how Tiresias obtained his information varied: sometimes, he would receive visions. Pliny the Elder credits Tiresias with the invention of augury. On Mount Cyllene in the Peloponnese, as Tiresias came upon a pair of copulating snakes, he hit the pair with his stick. Hera was displeased, she punished Tiresias by transforming him into a woman; as a woman, Tiresias became a priestess of Hera and had children, including Manto, who possessed the gift of prophecy. After seven years as a woman, Tiresias again found mating snakes; as a result, Tiresias was permitted to regain his masculinity.
This ancient story was recorded in lost lines of Hesiod. In Hellenistic and Roman times Tiresias' sex-change was embellished and expanded into seven episodes, with appropriate amours in each written by the Alexandrian Ptolemaeus Chennus, but attributed by Eustathius to Sostratus of Phanagoria's lost elegiac Tiresias. Tiresias is presented as a complexly liminal figure, mediating between humankind and the gods and female, blind and seeing and future, this world and the Underworld. According to the mythographic compendium Bibliotheke, different stories were told of the cause of his blindness, the most direct being that he was blinded by the gods for revealing their secrets. An alternative story told by the poet Pherecydes was followed in Callimachus' poem "The Bathing of Pallas", his mother, Chariclo, a nymph of Athena, begged Athena to undo her curse. In a separate episode, Tiresias was drawn into an argument between Hera and her husband Zeus, on the theme of who has more pleasure in sex: the man, as Hera claimed.
Tiresias replied, "Of ten parts a man enjoys one only." Hera struck him blind for his impiety. Zeus could do nothing to stop her or reverse her curse, but in recompense he did give Tiresias the gift of foresight and a lifespan of seven lives, he is said to have understood the language of birds and could divine the future from indications in a fire, or smoke. However, it was the communications of the dead he relied on the most, menacing them when they were late to attend him. Tiresias makes a dramatic appearance in the Odyssey, book XI, in which Odysseus calls up the spirits of the dead. "So sentient is Tiresias in death," observes Marina Warner "that he comes up to Odysseus and recognizes him and calls him by name before he has drunk the black blood of the sacrifice. In Greek literature, Tiresias' pronouncements are always given in short maxims which are cryptic, but never wrong; when his name is attached to a mythic prophecy, it is introduced to supply a personality to the generic example of a seer, not by any inherent connection of Tiresias with the myth: thus it is Tiresias who tells Amphytrion of Zeus and Alcmena and warns the mother of Narcissus that the boy will thrive as long as he never knows himself.
This is his emblematic role in tragedy. Like most oracles, he is extremely reluctant to offer the whole of what he sees in his visions. Tiresias appears as the name of a recurring character in several stories and Greek tragedies concerning the legendary history of Thebes. In The Bacchae, by Euripides, Tiresias appears with Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes, to warn the current king Pentheus against denouncing Dionysus as a god. Along with Cadmus, he dresses as a worshiper of Dionysus to go up the mountain to honor the new god with the Theban women in their Bacchic revels. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, the king of Thebes, calls upon Tiresias to aid in the investigation of the killing of the previous king Laius. At first, Tiresias refuses to give a direct answer and instead hints that the killer is someone Oedipus does not wish to find. However, after being provoked to anger by Oedipus' accusation first that he has no foresight and that Tiresias had a hand in the murder, he reveals that in fact it was Oedipus himself who had committed the crime.
Outraged, Oedipus throws him out of the palace, but afterwards realizes the truth. Tiresias appears in Sophocles' Antigone. Creon, now king of Thebes, refuses to allow Polynices to be buried, his niece, defies the order and is caught. The gods express their disapproval of Creon's decision through Tiresias, who tells Creon'the city is sick thr
In Greek mythology, Tydeus was an Aeolian hero of the generation before the Trojan War. He was one of the Seven Against Thebes, the father of Diomedes, known by the patronymic Tydides. Tydeus was either Periboea, Oeneus's second wife, or Gorge, Oeneus's daughter, he was the husband of the mother of Diomedes. Tydeus was banished from Calydon by his uncle Agrius, because he killed either his brother or a different uncle or six of his cousins, he travelled to Argos, where he married daughter of king Adrastus. While housing Tydeus, King Adrastus of Argos lodged Polynices, the exiled son of Oedipus who had shared the rule of Thebes with his brother Eteocles before he was expelled by the latter. Late one night, the two young exiles got into a fierce dispute over the guest room in Adrastus's palace. Awakened by the clamor, Adrastus rushed to the hall to find the two men locked in a brawl, it was that Adrastus recalled a prophecy that had instructed him to “yoke his daughters to a boar and a lion”. Adrastus recognized Tydeus as the boar and Polynices as the lion and wed his daughters to them, keeping them as his sons-in-law in Argos.
Through marriage into Adrastus's family and Tydeus became princes of Argos, had children, lived well. Adrastus promised that he would help restore their kingdoms to them ) and he orchestrated the construction of the seven armies that became known as Seven Against Thebes; the armies were raised from Argolis, the largest army that had appeared in Greece till that time. Shortly after the expedition arrived in Nemea, the young son of King Lycourgos was killed by a snake. In turn, Adrastus's men killed the serpent, buried the boy and held the first Nemean Games in his honor. Tydeus won the boxing event at these games; when the expedition reached Cithaeron, Tydeus was sent ahead to demand that the Thebans reinstate Polynices. Frustrated with being ignored by Eteocles, Tydeus issued one-on-one challenges to multiple men and vanquished each one with power granted to him by Athena. While Tydeus returned to his allies, the Thebans amassed a force of fifty men, led by Maeon and Polyphontes, ambushed him.
Tydeus killed every man with the exception of Maeon, whom he allowed to live due to signs from the gods. Tydeus is mentioned multiple times in the Iliad. One of the most notable mentions is in Book IV where Agamemnon reminds Diomedes of the deeds of his father Tydeus. In Agamemnon's story, when Tydeus entered Thebes with an embassy from the Argive camp, he challenged and defeated all the Theban leaders in single combats. Eteocles sent Polyphontes and Maion with fifty men to ambush Tydeus on his way back to his army, but Tydeus killed all of them except Maion. Tydeus appears in Aeschylus's play Seven against Thebes, as one of the "Seven", in the same guise in Euripides' play The Phoenician Women, he was mortally wounded himself. In other versions of the myth, the detail is added that the goddess Athena had planned to make him immortal but refused after Tydeus in a hubristic fit devoured the brains of the defeated Melanippus; the 7th century poet Mimnermus attributes the murder of the sister of Antigone, to Tydeus.
No other Classical writer mentions the story, but the scene is represented on a 6th-century Corinthian black-figure amphora now housed in the Louvre. Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 377-394 Homer, Iliad 4.396–435, 5.853–861 Mimnermus, fr. 21 Pseudo-Apollodorus 1.8.5, 3.6.1–8
Thebes is a city in Boeotia, central Greece. It played an important role in Greek myths, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus and others. Archaeological excavations in and around Thebes have revealed a Mycenaean settlement and clay tablets written in the Linear B script, indicating the importance of the site in the Bronze Age. Thebes was the largest city of the ancient region of Boeotia and was the leader of the Boeotian confederacy, it was a major rival of ancient Athens, sided with the Persians during the 480 BC invasion under Xerxes. Theban forces under the command of Epaminondas ended the power of Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC; the Sacred Band of Thebes famously fell at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC against Philip II and Alexander the Great. Prior to its destruction by Alexander in 335 BC, Thebes was a major force in Greek history, was the most dominant city-state at the time of the Macedonian conquest of Greece. During the Byzantine period, the city was famous for its silks.
The modern city contains an Archaeological Museum, the remains of the Cadmea, scattered ancient remains. Modern Thebes is the largest town of the regional unit of Boeotia. Thebes is situated in a plain, between Lake Yliki to the north, the Cithaeron mountains, which divide Boeotia from Attica, to the south, its elevation is 215 metres above mean sea level. It is about 50 kilometres northwest of Athens, 100 kilometres southeast of Lamia. Motorway 1 and the Athens–Thessaloniki railway connect Thebes with Athens and northern Greece; the municipality of Thebes covers an area of 830.112 square kilometres, the municipal unit of Thebes 321.015 square kilometres and the community 143.889 square kilometres. In 2011, as a consequence of the Kallikratis reform, Thebes was merged with Plataies and Vagia to form a larger municipality, which retained the name Thebes; the other three become units of the larger municipality. The record of the earliest days of Thebes was preserved among the Greeks in an abundant mass of legends that rival the myths of Troy in their wide ramification and the influence that they exerted on the literature of the classical age.
Five main cycles of story may be distinguished: The foundation of the citadel Cadmea by Cadmus, the growth of the Spartoi or "Sown Men". The immolation of Semele and the advent of Dionysus; the building of a "seven-gated" wall by Amphion, the cognate stories of Zethus and Dirce. The tale of Laius, whose misdeeds culminated in the tragedy of Oedipus and the wars of the "Seven Against Thebes", the Epigoni, the downfall of his house. See Theban pederasty and Pederasty in ancient Greece for detailed discussion and background; the exploits of Heracles. The Greeks attributed the foundation of Thebes to Cadmus, a Phoenician king from Tyre and the brother of Queen Europa. Cadmus was famous for teaching the Phoenician alphabet and building the Acropolis, named the Cadmeia in his honor and was an intellectual and cultural center. Archaeological excavations in and around Thebes have revealed cist graves dated to Mycenaean times containing weapons and tablets written in Linear B, its attested name forms and relevant terms on tablets found locally or elsewhere include, te-qa-i, understood to be read as *Tʰēgʷai̮s, te-qa-de, for *Tʰēgʷasde, and, te-qa-ja, for *Tʰēgʷaja.
It seems safe to infer that *Tʰēgʷai was one of the first Greek communities to be drawn together within a fortified city, that it owed its importance in prehistoric days — as — to its military strength. Deger-Jalkotzy claimed that the statue base from Kom el-Hetan in Amenhotep III's kingdom mentions a name similar to Thebes, spelled out quasi-syllabically in hieroglyphs as d-q-e-i-s, considered to be one of four tj-n3-jj kingdoms worthy of note. *Tʰēgʷai in LHIIIB lost contact with Egypt but gained it with "Miletus" and "Cyprus". In the late LHIIIB, according to Palaima, *Tʰēgʷai was able to pull resources from Lamos near Mount Helicon, from Karystos and Amarynthos on the Greek side of the isle of Euboia; as a fortified community, it attracted attention from the invading Dorians, the fact of their eventual conquest of Thebes lies behind the stories of the successive legendary attacks on that city. The central position and military security of the city tended to raise it to a commanding position among the Boeotians, from early days its inhabitants endeavoured to establish a complete supremacy over their kinsmen in the outlying towns.
This centralizing policy is as much the cardinal fact of Theban history as the counteracting effort of the smaller towns to resist absorption forms the main chapter of the story of Boeotia. No details of the earlier history of Thebes have been preserved, except that it was governed by a land-holding aristocracy who safeguarded their integrity by rigid statutes about the ownership of property and its transmission over time; as attested in Homer's Iliad, Thebes was o
Greek mythology is the body of myths told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities and mythological creatures, the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself; the Greek myths were propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic and Hellenistic periods and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Greek mythology is known today from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900 BC to c. 800 BC onward. In fact and archaeological sources integrate, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict.
Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. The only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus; this work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends. Apollodorus of Athens wrote on many of these topics, his writings may have formed the basis for the collection. Among the earliest literary sources are the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these and lesser poems now are lost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer, they are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod, a possible contemporary with Homer, offers in his Theogony the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world. Hesiod's Works and Days, a didactic poem about farming life includes the myths of Prometheus and the Five Ages.
The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods. Lyrical poets took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including Pindar and Simonides, bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bion, relate individual mythological incidents. Additionally, myth was central to classical Athenian drama; the tragic playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Many of the great tragic stories took on their classic form in these tragedies; the comic playwright Aristophanes used myths, in The Birds and The Frogs. Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, geographers Pausanias and Strabo, who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends giving little-known alternative versions. Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East.
Herodotus attempted to reconcile the blending of differing cultural concepts. The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of: The Roman poets Ovid, Valerius Flaccus and Virgil with Servius's commentary; the Greek poets of the Late Antique period: Nonnus, Antoninus Liberalis, Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period: Apollonius of Rhodes, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Parthenius. Prose writers from the same periods who make reference to myths includ