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Greek art and literature

Agios Nikolas

The Arts

Greek art spans a wide variety of disciplines, from painting, ceramics, dance and music to literature.

Paintings: The earliest paintings identified to originate in Greece are the decorations on earthenware pots. Frescoes discovered on Santorini, depict men and women often in profile, along with plants and animals. These frescoes date from the Minion period, and are now one of the star attractions in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens . During the Byzantine period, art in Greece became more widespread, mainly in churches. Frescoes depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints adorned the central areas of the churches. In later years, they became more communicative, relating to the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. In the 19 th century, artists began to paint portraits and naval themes, recounting the War of Independence. Prominent artists in the early 20 th century, Parthenis, Kaleas and later George Bouzianis studied these early works of art and progressed and developed it into the contemporary art of Greece today, many of these artists works are on exhibition in the National Art Gallery in Athens.

Greek mosaic

Sculptures: Sculptures from ancient Greece are major attractions in many museums around the world. Sculptors were fortunate to have a supply of good quality marble to work with, they became adept at carving the human body, usually naked young men, and the most famous of Greek statues is the 4 th century BC statue of Venus de Milo, discovered on the island of Milos in 1820, now on display in Paris .



When one thinks of Greek literature, one thinks of Homer, the author of the Iliad and Odyssey. The life of Homer remains a mystery, no one is sure where he was born or where he lived, thought to have lived in the 9 th century BC, but no proof as of yet can confirm this.

Other great writers include, Pindar (c. 518-438 BC) one of the most well renown poets of ancient Greece . Sappho (6 th century BC), from the island of Lesvos ( Lesbos ), whose poems told of the love and affection between women.

Dionysos Solomos (1798-1857), from the island of Zakynthos regarded as one of the first modern day poets, his poem “Hymn to Freedom” became the national anthem of Greece . The recipient of the 1963 Nobel Prize for literature, George Serferis (1900-1971), along with the 1979 recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature, Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996), are well known for their poetry.

Nikos Kazantzakis

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), perhaps the most well known of modern day writers in Greece , he was very controversial, and still is, with his views on the clergy of the Greek Orthodox faith. Two of Kazantzakis greatest works are Zorba the Greek and Christ Recrucified. Another Greek writer also controversial is, Nikos Dimou with his book “The Misery of Being Greek”, which relates to the observations of Greek society.


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