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Ancient Greek literature is literature written in the Ancient Greek language from the earliest texts until the time of the Byzantine Empire. The earliest surviving works of ancient Greek literature, dating back to the early Archaic period, are the two epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, set in an idealized archaic past today identified as having some relation to the Mycenaean era. These two epics, along with the Homeric Hymns and the two poems of Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days, constituted the major foundations of the Greek literary tradition that would continue into the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.
The lyric poets Sappho, Alcaeus, and Pindar were highly influential during the early development of the Greek poetic tradition. Aeschylus is the earliest Greek tragic playwright for whom any plays have survived complete. Sophocles is famous for his tragedies about Oedipus, particularly Oedipus the King and Antigone. Euripides is known for his plays which often pushed the boundaries of the tragic genre. The comedic playwright Aristophanes wrote in the genre of Old Comedy, while the later playwright Menander was an early pioneer of New Comedy. The historians Herodotus of Halicarnassus and Thucydides, who both lived during the fifth century BC, wrote accounts of events that happened shortly before and during their own lifetimes. The philosopher Plato wrote dialogues, usually centered around his teacher Socrates, dealing with various philosophical subjects, whereas his student Aristotle wrote numerous treatises, which later became highly influential.
Important later writers included Apollonius of Rhodes, who wrote The Argonautica, an epic poem about the voyage of the Argonauts; Archimedes, who wrote groundbreaking mathematical treatises; and Plutarch, who wrote mainly biographies and essays. The second-century AD writer Lucian of Samosata was a Greek, who wrote primarily works of satire. Ancient Greek literature has had a profound impact on later Greek literature and also western literature at large. In particular, many ancient Roman authors drew inspiration from their Greek predecessors. Ever since the Renaissance, European authors in general, including Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, John Milton, and James Joyce, have all drawn heavily on classical themes and motifs.