Calydon or Kalydon was a Greek city in ancient Aetolia, situated on the west bank of the river Evenus, 7.5 Roman miles from the sea. Its name is most famous today for the Calydonian Boar that had to be overcome by heroes of the Olympian age. According to Greek mythology, Calydon was founded by Aetolus in the land of the Curetes, was called Calydon, after the name of his son, Calydon. Calydon and the neighbouring town of Pleuron are said by Strabo to have been once the "ornament" of Greece, but by his time had sunk into insignificance, it is mentioned in the Iliad by Homer, who celebrates the fertility of the plain of "lovely" Calydon. In the earliest times the inhabitants of Calydon appear to have been engaged in incessant hostilities with the Curetes, who continued to reside in their ancient capital Pleuron, who endeavoured to expel the invaders from their country. A vivid account of one of the battles between the Curetes and Calydonians is given in an episode of the Iliad; the heroes of Calydon are among the most celebrated of the heroic age.
It was the residence of Oeneus, father of Tydeus and Meleager, grandfather of Diomedes. In the time of Oeneus Artemis sent a monstrous boar to lay waste the fields of Calydon, hunted by Meleager and numerous other heroes; the Calydonians took part in the Trojan War under the son of Oeneus. Calydon is not mentioned in the historical period. In 391 BC we find it in the possession of the Achaeans, but we are not told how it came into their hands. In the above-mentioned year the Achaeans at Calydon, were so hard pressed by the Acarnanians that they applied to the Lacedaemonians for help. Calydon remained in the hands of the Achaeans till the overthrow of the Spartan supremacy by the Battle of Leuctra, when Epaminondas restored the town to the Aetolians. In the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey it still appears as a considerable place, it continues however to be mentioned by the geographers. Calydon was the headquarters of the worship of Artemis Laphria, when the inhabitants of the town were removed to Nicopolis, Augustus gave to Patrae in Achaea the statue of this goddess which had belonged to Calydon.
There was a statue of Dionysus at Patrae, removed from Calydon. Near Calydon there was a temple of Apollo Laphrius, its site is located north of the modern Evinochori. One of the four tunnels Motorway 5 consists of crosses near the ruins of Calydon and is named the Calydon Tunnel after it. Previous and more recent excavations have revealed many buildings including: the Hellenistic theatre of an unusual square plan the Hellenistic Heroon with a rich tomb underneath the Heroon the Artemis Laphria sanctuary with the temple of Artemis, smaller temple of Apollo, remains of other buildings spanning the Geometric to the Hellenistic period the Lower Acropolis where excavations were carried out uncovering a house from the 2nd cent BC the Lower Town where a peristyle house and kilns were found Many finds from the site including ancient terracottas from the temple of Artemis are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Agrinion and in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Calydonian Boar Oeneus Meleagros This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed..
"Calydon". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray
Tantalus was a Greek mythological figure, most famous for his eternal punishment in Tartarus. He was called Atys, he was made to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, with the fruit eluding his grasp, the water always receding before he could take a drink. He was the father of Pelops and Broteas, was a son of Zeus and the nymph Plouto. Thus, like other heroes in Greek mythology such as Theseus and the Dioskouroi, Tantalus had both a hidden, divine parent and a mortal one. According to other sources, his father was an early king of Lydia. Plato in the Cratylus interprets Tantalos as ταλάντατος talantatos, "who has to bear much" from τάλας talas "wretched". R. S. P. Beekes has rejected an Indo-European interpretation. There may have been an historical Tantalus – the ruler of an Anatolian city named "Tantalís", "the city of Tantalus", or of a city named "Sipylus". Pausanias reports that there was a port under his name and a sepulcher of him "by no means obscure", in the same region.
Tantalus is referred to as "Phrygian", sometimes as "King of Phrygia", although his city was located in the western extremity of Anatolia, where Lydia was to emerge as a state before the beginning of the first millennium BC, not in the traditional heartland of Phrygia, situated more inland. References to his son as "Pelops the Lydian" led some scholars to the conclusion that there would be good grounds for believing that he belonged to a primordial house of Lydia. Other versions name his father as Tmolus, the name of a king of Lydia and, like Sipylus, of another mountain in ancient Lydia; the location of Tantalus' mortal mountain-fathers placed him in Lydia. The identity of his wife is variously given: as Dione the daughter of Atlas. Tantalus was called the father of Dascylus. Tantalus, through Pelops, was the progenitor of the House of Atreus, named after his grandson Atreus. Tantalus was the great-grandfather of Agamemnon and Menelaus; the geographer Strabo, quoting earlier sources, states that the wealth of Tantalus was derived from the mines of Phrygia and Mount Sipylus.
Near Mount Sipylus are archaeological features that have been associated with Tantalus and his house since Antiquity. Near Mount Yamanlar in İzmir, where the Lake Karagöl associated with the accounts surrounding him is found, is a monument mentioned by Pausanias: the tholos "tomb of Tantalus" and another one in Mount Sipylus, where a "throne of Pelops", an altar or bench carved in rock and conjecturally associated with his son is found. A more famous monument, a full-faced statue carved in rock, mentioned by Pausanias, is a statue of Cybele, said by Pausanias to have been carved by Broteas, but it is in fact Hittite. Further afield, based on a similarity between the names Tantalus and Hantili, it has been suggested that the name Tantalus may have derived from that of these two Hittite kings. Tantalus became one of the inhabitants of Tartarus, the deepest portion of the Underworld, reserved for the punishment of evildoers; the association of Tantalus with the underworld is underscored by the names of his mother Plouto, grandmother, Chthonia.
Tantalus was known for having been welcomed to Zeus' table in Olympus, like Ixion. There, he is said to have misbehaved and stolen ambrosia and nectar to bring it back to his people, revealed the secrets of the gods. Most famously, Tantalus offered up Pelops, as a sacrifice, he cut Pelops up, boiled him, served him up in a banquet for the gods. The gods became aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, so they did not touch the offering. Clotho, one of the three Fates, was ordered by Zeus to bring the boy to life again, she collected the parts of the body and boiled them in a sacred cauldron, rebuilding his shoulder with one wrought of ivory made by Hephaestus and presented by Demeter. The revived Pelops grew to be an extraordinarily handsome youth; the god Poseidon took him to Mount Olympus to teach him to use chariots. Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus due to his anger at Tantalus; the Greeks of classical times claimed to be horrified by Tantalus's doings. Tantalus's punishment for his act, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction, was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches.
Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded. Over his head towers a threatening stone like the one; this fate has cursed him with eternal deprivation of nourishment. In a different story, Tantalus was blamed for indirectly having stolen the dog made of gold created by Hephaestus for Rhea to watch over infant Zeus. Tantalus's friend Pandareus gave it to Tantalus for safekeeping; when asked by Pandareus to return the dog, Tantalus denied that he had i
Hesiod was a Greek poet thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is regarded as the first written poet in the Western tradition to regard himself as an individual persona with an active role to play in his subject. Ancient authors credited Homer with establishing Greek religious customs. Modern scholars refer to him as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques, early economic thought, archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping; the dating of Hesiod's life is a contested issue in scholarly circles. Epic narrative allowed poets like Homer no opportunity for personal revelations. However, Hesiod's extant work comprises several didactic poems in which he went out of his way to let his audience in on a few details of his life. There are three explicit references in Works and Days, as well as some passages in his Theogony that support inferences made by scholars; the former poem says that his father came from Cyme in Aeolis and crossed the sea to settle at a hamlet, near Thespiae in Boeotia, named Ascra, "a cursed place, cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant".
Hesiod's patrimony there, a small piece of ground at the foot of Mount Helicon, occasioned lawsuits with his brother Perses, who seems, at first, to have cheated him of his rightful share thanks to corrupt authorities or "kings" but became impoverished and ended up scrounging from the thrifty poet. Unlike his father, Hesiod was averse to sea travel, but he once crossed the narrow strait between the Greek mainland and Euboea to participate in funeral celebrations for one Athamas of Chalcis, there won a tripod in a singing competition, he describes a meeting between himself and the Muses on Mount Helicon, where he had been pasturing sheep when the goddesses presented him with a laurel staff, a symbol of poetic authority. Fanciful though the story might seem, the account has led ancient and modern scholars to infer that he was not a professionally trained rhapsode, or he would have been presented with a lyre instead; some scholars have seen Perses as a literary creation, a foil for the moralizing that Hesiod develops in Works and Days, but there are arguments against that theory.
For example, it is quite common for works of moral instruction to have an imaginative setting, as a means of getting the audience's attention, but it could be difficult to see how Hesiod could have travelled around the countryside entertaining people with a narrative about himself if the account was known to be fictitious. Gregory Nagy, on the other hand, sees both Pérsēs and Hēsíodos as fictitious names for poetical personae, it might seem unusual that Hesiod's father migrated from Asia Minor westwards to mainland Greece, the opposite direction to most colonial movements at the time, Hesiod himself gives no explanation for it. However around 750 BC or a little there was a migration of seagoing merchants from his original home in Cyme in Asia Minor to Cumae in Campania, his move west had something to do with that, since Euboea is not far from Boeotia, where he established himself and his family; the family association with Aeolian Cyme might explain his familiarity with eastern myths, evident in his poems, though the Greek world might have developed its own versions of them.
In spite of Hesiod's complaints about poverty, life on his father's farm could not have been too uncomfortable if Works and Days is anything to judge by, since he describes the routines of prosperous yeomanry rather than peasants. His farmer employs a friend as well as servants, an energetic and responsible ploughman of mature years, a slave boy to cover the seed, a female servant to keep house and working teams of oxen and mules. One modern scholar surmises that Hesiod may have learned about world geography the catalogue of rivers in Theogony, listening to his father's accounts of his own sea voyages as a merchant; the father spoke in the Aeolian dialect of Cyme but Hesiod grew up speaking the local Boeotian, belonging to the same dialect group. However, while his poetry features some Aeolisms there are no words that are Boeotian, his basic language was the main literary dialect of Homer's Ionian. It is probable that Hesiod wrote his poems down, or dictated them, rather than passed them on orally, as rhapsodes did—otherwise the pronounced personality that now emerges from the poems would have been diluted through oral transmission from one rhapsode to another.
Pausanias asserted that Boeotians showed him an old tablet made of lead on which the Works were engraved. If he did write or dictate, it was as an aid to memory or because he lacked confidence in his ability to produce poems extempore, as trained rhapsodes could do, it wasn't in a quest for immortal fame since poets in his era had no such notions for themselves. However, some scholars suspect the presence of large-scale changes in the text and attribute this to oral transmission, he composed his verses during idle times on the farm, in the spring before the May harvest or the dead of winter. The personality behind the poems is unsuited to the kind of "aristocratic withdrawal" typical of a rhapsode but is instead "argumentative, suspicious humorous, fond of proverbs, wary of women." He was in fact a misogynist of t
In Greek mythology, was king of Pisa in the Peloponnesus. His father, was the founder of the House of Atreus through Pelops's son of that name, he was venerated at Olympia, where his cult developed into the founding myth of the Olympic Games, the most important expression of unity, not only for the Peloponnesus, "island of Pelops", but for all Hellenes. At the sanctuary at Olympia, chthonic night-time libations were offered each time to "dark-faced" Pelops in his sacrificial pit before they were offered in the following daylight to the sky-god Zeus. Pelops was a son of Tantalus and either Euryanassa or Eurythemista. In some accounts, he was called a bastard son of Tantalus while others named his parents as Atlas and the nymph Linos. Of Phrygian or Lydian birth, he departed his homeland for Greece, won the crown of Pisa or Olympia from King Oenomaus in a chariot race married Oenomaus's daughter, Hippodameia. Pelops and Hippodameia had at least sixteen children, their sons include Pittheus, Alcathous, Pleisthenes, Thyestes, Hippalcimus, Sciron and Letreus.
Four of their daughters married into the House of Perseus: Astydameia, Nicippe and Eurydice. By the nymph Axioche or Danais or Astyoche, Pelops was father of Chrysippus. Pelops' father was king at Mount Sipylus in Anatolia. Wanting to make an offering to the Olympians, Tantalus cut Pelops into pieces and made his flesh into a stew served it to the gods. Demeter, deep in grief after the abduction of her daughter Persephone by Hades, absentmindedly accepted the offering and ate the left shoulder; the other gods sensed the plot and held off from eating of the boy's body. While Tantalus was banished to Tartarus, Pelops was ritually reassembled and brought back to life, his shoulder replaced with one of ivory made for him by Hephaestus. Pindar mentioned this tradition in his First Olympian Ode, only to reject it as a malicious invention: his patron claimed descent from Tantalus. After Pelops' resurrection, Poseidon took him to Olympus, made him the youth apprentice, teaching him to drive the divine chariot.
Zeus found out about the gods' stolen food and their now revealed secrets, threw Pelops out of Olympus, angry at his father, Tantalus. Having grown to manhood, Pelops wanted to marry Hippodamia, her father, King Oenomaus, fearful of a prophecy that claimed he would be killed by his son-in-law, had killed eighteen suitors of Hippodamia after defeating them in a chariot race and affixed their heads to the wooden columns of his palace. Pausanias was shown what was the last standing column in the late second century CE. Worried about losing, Pelops went to his former lover. Reminding Poseidon of their love, he asked Poseidon for help. Smiling, Poseidon caused a chariot drawn by untamed winged horses to appear. Two episodes involving charioteers were added into the plain account of the heroic chariot race. In the first related by Theopompus, having received the horses, Pelops hastens to Pisa to defeat Oenomaus. On the way, his charioteer Cillus dies and stands in a dream over Pelops, distressed about him, to make requests for a funeral.
Pelops complies by burying his ashes magnificently, raises a mound to erect a temple dedicated to Apollo which he names Apollo Cillaeus and he founds a city besides the mound and the temple which he names Cilla after his charioteer and friend. Both the temple and the city are mentioned in the first book of Homer's Iliad and suggestions regarding their exact location have been made. Furthermore, Cillus after his death, appears to have helped Pelops' cause in order for him to win the race. In the second, still unsure of himself and of the winged horses and chariot of divine providence he had secured, convinced Oenomaus' charioteer, Myrtilus, a son of Hermes, to help him win. Pelops or Hippodamia herself convinced Myrtilus by promising him half of Oenomaus' kingdom and the first night in bed with Hippodamia; the night before the race, while Myrtilus was putting together Oenomaus' chariot, he replaced the bronze linchpins attaching the wheels to the chariot axle with fake ones made of beeswax. The race started, went on for a long time.
But just as Oenomaus was catching up to Pelops and readying to kill him, the wheels flew off and the chariot broke apart. Myrtilus survived. Pelops killed Myrtilus after the latter attempted to rape Hippodamia. After his victory, Pelops organized chariot races as thanksgiving to the gods and as funeral games in honor of King Oinomaos, in order to be purified of his death, it was from this funeral race held at Olympia. Pelops became a great king, a local hero, gave his name to the Peloponnese. Walter Burkert notes that though the story of Hippodamia's abduction figures in the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women and on the chest of Cypselus, conserved at Olympia, though preparations for the chariot-race figured in the east pediment of the great temple of Zeus at Olympia, the myth of the chariot race only became important at Olympia with the introduction of chariot racing in the twenty-fifth Olympiad. G. Devereux connected the abduction of Hippodamia with animal husbandry taboos of Elis, the
Catalogue of Women
The Catalogue of Women — known as the Ehoiai — is a fragmentary Greek epic poem, attributed to Hesiod during antiquity. The "women" of the title were in fact heroines, many of whom lay with gods, bearing the heroes of Greek mythology to both divine and mortal paramours. In contrast with the focus upon narrative in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, the Catalogue was structured around a vast system of genealogies stemming from these unions and, in M. L. West's appraisal, covered "the whole of the heroic age." Through the course of the poem's five books, these family trees were embellished with stories involving many of their members, so the poem amounted to a compendium of heroic mythology in much the same way that the Hesiodic Theogony presents a systematic account of the Greek pantheon built upon divine genealogies. Most scholars do not believe that the Catalogue should be considered the work of Hesiod, but questions about the poem's authenticity have not lessened its interest for the study of literary and historical topics.
As a Hesiodic work that treats in depth the Homeric world of the heroes, the Catalogue offers a transition between the divine sphere of the Theogony and the terrestrial focus of the Works and Days by virtue of its subjects' status as demigods. Given the poem's concentration upon heroines in addition to heroes, it provides evidence for the roles and perceptions of women in Greek literature and society during the period of its composition and popularity. Greek aristocratic communities, the ruling elite, traced their lineages back to the heroes of epic poetry. Many of the myths in the Catalogue are otherwise unattested, either so or in the form narrated therein, held a special fascination for poets and scholars from the late Archaic period through the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Despite its popularity among the Hellenistic literati and reading public of Roman Egypt, the poem went out of circulation before it could pass into a medieval manuscript tradition and is preserved today by papyrus fragments and quotations in ancient authors.
Still, the Catalogue is much better attested than most "lost" works, with some 1,300 whole or partial lines surviving: "between a third and a quarter of the original poem", by one estimate. The evidence for the poem's reconstruction—not only elements of its content, but the distribution of that content within the Catalogue—is indeed extensive, but the fragmentary nature of this evidence leaves many unresolved complexities and has over the course of the past century led to several scholarly missteps. Ancient authors most referred to the poem as the Catalogue of Women, or the Catalogue, but several alternate titles were employed; the tenth-century encyclopedia known as the Suda gives an expanded version, the Catalogue of Heroic Women, another late source, the twelfth-century Byzantine poet and grammarian Tzetzes, prefers to call the poem the Heroic Genealogy. But the earliest and most popular alternate title was Ehoiai, after the feminine formula ē' hoiē, "or such as", which introduces new sections within the poem via the introduction of a heroine or heroines.
This nickname provided the standard title for a similar Hesiodic work, the Megalai Ehoiai or Great Ehoiai. As is reflected by its use as an alternate title, the ē' hoiē-formula was one of the poem's most recognizable features, it may have belonged to a genre of poetry that listed notable heroines, but in the Catalogue the formula is used as a structuring tool that allows the poet to resume a broken branch of a family tree, or to jump horizontally across genealogies to a new figure and line of descent. A characteristic example is found in the introduction of the daughters of Porthaon at Cat. fr. 26.5–9: The preceding section of the poem had dealt at some length with the extended family of Porthaon's sister Demodice, tracing her line down to the generation following the Trojan War. Here ē' hoiai is used to jump backwards in order to complete the account of the descendants of Porthaon and Demodice's father Agenor by covering the son's family. Elsewhere the formula is used in transitions to more distant branches.
The Ehoie of Mestra, for example serves to reintroduce the family of Sisyphus, Mestra's great-granduncle who hoped to win her as bride for his son Glaucus. Although that marriage does not take place, the descendants of Sisyphus are soon presented. According to the Suda, the Catalogue was five books long; the length of each is unknown, but it is that the entire poem consisted of anywhere from 4000 to over 5000 lines. The majority of the content was structured around major genealogical units: the descendants of Aeolus were found in book 1 and at least part of book 2, followed by those of Inachus, Pelasgus and Pelops in the books, it is believed that a rough guide to this structure can be found in the Bibliotheca, a Roman-era mythological handbook transmitted under the name of Apollodorus of Athens which used the Catalogue as a primary source for many genealogical details and appears to have followed the poem's overall arrangement. The first is by far the best-attested book of the poem, with several extensive papyri overlapping ancient quotations or coinciding with paraphrases: at least 420 verses of dactylic hexameter survive in part or entire.
One papyrus includes line numbers which, taken together with the system of overl
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
The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, Hellenistic period, it is succeeded by medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earliest form it resembled Attic Greek and in its latest form it approaches Medieval Greek. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classic and earlier periods included several regional dialects. Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of fifth-century Athenian historians and philosophers, it has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in educational institutions of the Western world since the Renaissance. This article contains information about the Epic and Classical periods of the language. Ancient Greek was a pluricentric language, divided into many dialects; the main dialect groups are Attic and Ionic, Aeolic and Doric, many of them with several subdivisions.
Some dialects are found in standardized literary forms used in literature, while others are attested only in inscriptions. There are several historical forms. Homeric Greek is a literary form of Archaic Greek used in the epic poems, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey", in poems by other authors. Homeric Greek had significant differences in grammar and pronunciation from Classical Attic and other Classical-era dialects; the origins, early form and development of the Hellenic language family are not well understood because of a lack of contemporaneous evidence. Several theories exist about what Hellenic dialect groups may have existed between the divergence of early Greek-like speech from the common Proto-Indo-European language and the Classical period, they differ in some of the detail. The only attested dialect from this period is Mycenaean Greek, but its relationship to the historical dialects and the historical circumstances of the times imply that the overall groups existed in some form. Scholars assume that major Ancient Greek period dialect groups developed not than 1120 BCE, at the time of the Dorian invasion—and that their first appearances as precise alphabetic writing began in the 8th century BCE.
The invasion would not be "Dorian" unless the invaders had some cultural relationship to the historical Dorians. The invasion is known to have displaced population to the Attic-Ionic regions, who regarded themselves as descendants of the population displaced by or contending with the Dorians; the Greeks of this period believed there were three major divisions of all Greek people—Dorians and Ionians, each with their own defining and distinctive dialects. Allowing for their oversight of Arcadian, an obscure mountain dialect, Cypriot, far from the center of Greek scholarship, this division of people and language is quite similar to the results of modern archaeological-linguistic investigation. One standard formulation for the dialects is: West vs. non-west Greek is the strongest marked and earliest division, with non-west in subsets of Ionic-Attic and Aeolic vs. Arcadocypriot, or Aeolic and Arcado-Cypriot vs. Ionic-Attic. Non-west is called East Greek. Arcadocypriot descended more from the Mycenaean Greek of the Bronze Age.
Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Greek influence, can in some respects be considered a transitional dialect. Thessalian had come under Northwest Greek influence, though to a lesser degree. Pamphylian Greek, spoken in a small area on the southwestern coast of Anatolia and little preserved in inscriptions, may be either a fifth major dialect group, or it is Mycenaean Greek overlaid by Doric, with a non-Greek native influence. Most of the dialect sub-groups listed above had further subdivisions equivalent to a city-state and its surrounding territory, or to an island. Doric notably had several intermediate divisions as well, into Island Doric, Southern Peloponnesus Doric, Northern Peloponnesus Doric; the Lesbian dialect was Aeolic Greek. All the groups were represented by colonies beyond Greece proper as well, these colonies developed local characteristics under the influence of settlers or neighbors speaking different Greek dialects; the dialects outside the Ionic group are known from inscriptions, notable exceptions being: fragments of the works of the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, in Aeolian, the poems of the Boeotian poet Pindar and other lyric poets in Doric.
After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE, a new international dialect known as Koine or Common Greek developed based on Attic Greek, but with influence from other dialects. This dialect replaced most of the older dialects, although Doric dialect has survived in the Tsakonian language, spoken in the region of modern Sparta. Doric has passed down its aorist terminations into most verbs of Demotic Greek. By about the 6th century CE, the Koine had metamorphosized into Medieval Greek. Ancient Macedonian was an Indo-European language at least related to Greek, but its exact relationship is unclear because of insufficient data: a dialect of Greek; the Macedonian dialect (or l