Skip to main content
The Cambridge History of Classical Literature
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 3
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Konstan, David 2015. Laughter, Humor, and the (Un)Making of Gender.

    Solbakk, Jan Helge 2006. ‘Catharsis and moral therapy II: An Aristotelian account’. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, Vol. 9, Issue. 2, p. 141.

    Voultsiadou, Eleni and Tatolas, Apostolos 2005. The fauna of Greece and adjacent areas in the Age of Homer: evidence from the first written documents of Greek literature. Journal of Biogeography, Vol. 32, Issue. 11, p. 1875.

  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Recommend this book

    Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

    The Cambridge History of Classical Literature
    • Online ISBN: 9781139054874
    • Book DOI:
    Please enter your name
    Please enter a valid email address
    Who would you like to send this to? *
  • Buy the print book

Book description

This series provides individual textbooks on early Greek poetry, on Greek drama, on philosophy, history and oratory, and on the literature of the Hellenistic period and of the Empire. A chapter on books and readers in the Greek world concludes Part 4. Each part has its own appendix of authors and works, a list of works cited, and an index.

    • Aa
    • Aa
Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send:

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.
  • 3 - Hesiod
    pp 92-105
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Hesiod is the first European poet who introduces himself into his work as an individual with a distinctive role to play. Three poems, namely the Shield of Heracles, the Works and days, and the Theogony, survive in Hesiod's name, together with a host of fragments of other works attributed to him in antiquity. All are composed in dactylic hexameters and in the conventional language of epic. Hesiod begins his account of creation and of the succession of divinities who have presided over it since the beginning. Partly a narrative of development, partly an account of the theological status quo, it is constructed loosely, with passages in which some three hundred gods are classified according to genealogy, interspersed with a number of more leisurely stories. Herodotus regarded Homer and Hesiod as the founders of Greek theology, and the Theogony is the only coherent account of it to have survived from this early period.
  • 4 - The epic tradition after Homer and Hesiod
    pp 106-116
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Homer and Hesiod, as the sole survivors of the earliest age of Greek literature, have conveyed such an impression of uniqueness that it requires some effort to recall that they were by no means without rivals and imitators. Among the minor works often ascribed to Homer in antiquity were certain hymns, hexameter poems addressed to various deities. In later antiquity all the hexameter hymns not associated with other famous hymnodists were gathered with those specifically attributed to Homer to form the corpus of 'Homeric Hymns' that has survived from the end of the medieval period. The corpus includes four long hymns, to Demeter, Apollo, Hermes and Aphrodite, of between 293 and 580 hexameter verses, and twenty-nine short ones, varying from three verses to fifty-nine in the case of Hymn 7, to Dionysus, which is probably truncated as it stands and looks relatively early on stylistic grounds.
  • 5 - Elegy and iambus
    pp 117-164
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Most poets of the archaic period, no matter what their provenance or the genre in which they worked, were strongly influenced by the Ionian epic tradition and particularly by its main representative, Homer. The dependence is most clearly marked in the poems of Hesiod the Boeotian, and in the closely related elegiac couplets of poets whose origins are as diverse as Ionia, (Mimnermus and Callinus), the Aegean islands (Semonides of Amorgos and Archilochus of Paros) and the Greek mainland (Tyrtaeus of Sparta, Theognis of Megara and Solon of Athens). Semonides of Amorgos is one of our earliest representatives of a perennial literary mode, which manifests itself now in lampoon or parody, now in comedy, now in satire. There is a remarkable, and rather suspect, parallel between the biographies and poetic activity of the two most famous writers of iambics, Hipponax and Archilochus.
  • 6 - Archaic choral lyric
    pp 165-201
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    From Alcman in the seventh century to Timotheus at the beginning of the fourth, choral lyric remains an important literary form. Like much of early Greek poetry, choral lyric is public rather than personal in outlook, expression and orientation. Choral lyric also played an important part at the great cosmopolitan celebrations. The poets of early choral lyric are shadowy figures. They are more closely associated with the history of music than with literature. Only with Alcman does early choral lyric have a literary reality. He is the first choral poet of whom anything substantial is preserved. Stesichorus of Himera, regarded in antiquity as the successor to Alcman in lyric, is best known for his retelling of epic themes in lyric metres. The sands of Egypt and the patient skill of papyrologists have spectacularly enhanced our knowledge of Stesichorus' poetry.
  • 7 - Monody
    pp 202-221
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Monody or solo song was the product of sixth-century poets living in the Aegean islands. The most remarkable were Sappho and Alcaeus of Lesbos and Anacreon and Ibycus at the court of Polycrates in Samos. The poetry of Sappho and Alcaeus is the oldest monody to survive, but it had its antecedents in the earlier music and poetry of Lesbos and in the compositions of Archilochus. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, commenting on the style of Alcaeus, says that often if one removed the metre one would find political rhetoric, and Horace, looking for a single epithet for Alcaeus' songs. Some of the drinking-songs of the monodists were current in fifth-century Athens under the title 'skolia'. Athenaeus preserves a collection of twenty-five 'Attic skolia', most of which must have been composed in Athens in the late sixth or early fifth century. The majority are in four-line stanzas in aeolic rhythm, and they were presumably sung to one or two standard tunes.
  • 8 - Choral lyric in the fifth century
    pp 222-244
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    More than almost any other literary form, choral lyric is bound up with the values of city and clan in a world where things changed slowly. By 450 the tyrants and aristocratic families which had commissioned the odes of Pindar and Bacchylides were gone or endangered, their values threatened by the fast-rising power of Athenian democracy. By the last quarter of the century the festivals which provided the occasion for choral song were losing their religious basis. Simonides of Ceos is a good example of how the humanistic spirit of late sixth- and early fifth-century choral lyric operates within its religious frame. This chapter explains fragments of four Boeotian or Peloponnesian poetesses: Corinna of Tanagra, Myrtis of Anthedon, Telesilla of Argos, Praxilla of Sicyon. Of these the most important and the most puzzling is Corinna, whose work is represented by significant portions of three poems surviving in papyrus fragments.
  • 9 - Early Greek philosophy
    pp 245-257
    • By A. A. Long, University of California, Berkeley
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Three early Greek philosophers were poets, Xenophanes, Parmenides and Empedocles. Heraclitus, who lived at about the same time, was a philosopher whose prose is stylistically unique in Greek literature. He was familiar with the work of Xenophanes whom he names after Hesiod and Pythagoras as someone whom 'much learning has not taught intelligence'. The Ionian prose of Anaxagoras is more representative of early Greek philosophical writing than are the aphorisms of Heraclitus. Though much of his adult life was spent in Athens, Anaxagoras belongs to the Ionian tradition of philosophy initiated by Anaximander of Miletus. Democritus, in spite of the loss of his writings, must certainly be regarded as the most versatile and constructive philosopher of the later fifth century BC Democritus admired Homer and claimed that divine inspiration is the source of the 'finest' poetry.
  • 10 - Tragedy
    pp 258-345
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The documented history of Greek tragedy begins in 472 BC with Aeschylus' Persae. The surviving plays of Aeschylus tell us what needs to be explained. For the earlier plays two actors are required. The first thing one has to take account of in trying to assess the impact of Greek tragedy as it was experienced in performance is the context of that experience, the place of tragic drama in the life of the Athenian community. For Aristotle, whose work lies behind most of the ancient critical tradition, Sophocles plainly exemplified what was most to be admired in tragedy. It is no doubt the overwhelming influence of the Poetics as much as Sophocles' midway historical position that has led critics to treat him almost as the norm of Greek tragedy, by comparison with whom Aeschylus has often been judged primitive and Euripides decadent.
  • 11 - The satyr play
    pp 346-354
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The humour of satyr plays consists of poking fun at tragedy, in order of course to provide comic relief. Many satyr plays deal with subtle plots for overcoming ogres, monsters, and other villains, and wily schemes for theft and deception, and there is every reason to think that these were presented as tolerable, or even admirable. It is possible that the writing of satyr plays parodying accompanying tragedies persisted after the time of Aeschylus. The theme of hospitality and its abuse also figured in satyr plays with other types of subject. A notable feature of the satyr play is marked dependence on a limited repertoire of stereotyped themes, situations, narrative elements, and characterizations. Two common characteristics of satyr plays may be noticed. The first is that many satyr plays are set either in the countryside or in exotically alien locales: Asia Minor, Egypt and Libya. Second, almost by definition a satyr play must have a happy ending.
  • 13 - Historiography
    pp 426-471
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    With Herodotus and Thucydides, the fifth century saw the creation of historiography as a separate form of intellectual and artistic activity which could hold its own against poetry on the one hand and philosophy on the other. To be sure, a sense of history had existed in Greece since the time of Homer, and poetry, philosophy and science contributed decisively to the formation of the new genre. One feature of history is its monumentality: history was to deal with great subjects and each subject would have its own historian. The close association of history and literature produced a distinctive manner of presentation which creates difficulties for anyone who tries to use the ancient historical works as source materials. The emphasis on Thucydides would seem a productive way to approach the historians of the fourth century and the Hellenistic period. Xenophon and Polybius, the two historians from these periods whose work is most fully preserved, are each in some sense 'Thucydidean'.
  • 15 - Plato and the Socratic work of Xenophon
    pp 478-497
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The striking and unusual personality of Socrates attracted much attention among the Athenians of the later fifth century, and brought him many admirers. Xenophon's Socratic writing is of interest because it provides much evidence about views and assumptions common in his time. He attempted to be critical of them, but he was a superficial thinker, whose criticisms did not cut deep. To treat of Plato as a writer without mentioning his philosophy would be as helpful as to describe a lion by an account of its skin. The main evidence for Plato's early formative years is given by the seventh of a collection of thirteen Letters ascribed to him. Gorgias, probably written about the time of Plato's original visit to Syracuse, is the first dialogue that is predominantly positive; it is contrived to contrast rhetoric and philosophy, the pursuit of political power and that of knowledge, wrong-doing and morality.
  • 16 - Oratory
    pp 498-526
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Discourse appears in Greek literature from the very beginning as a characteristic feature of Greek life. In order to understand literary oratory it is necessary first to review the developing role of public speaking in fifth-century political and intellectual life. Fifth-century deliberative oratory is less well known than either epideictic or judicial. As a literary genre oratory is chiefly a phenomenon of the fourth and of Athens. Although the Athenians themselves realized this, the concept of 'Attic' oratory was more extensively developed by rhetoricians, grammarians and lexicographers of the first century BC and later in an attempt to rescue Hellenistic Greek prose from the pretensions associated with the orators of Asia Minor and from die banality of the marketplace. Two of the Attic orators have already been discussed: Antiphon and Andocides. The others worked chiefly or entirely in the fourth century: Lysias, Isaeus and Isocrates; Demosthenes and Aeschines; Hyperides, Lycurgus and Dinarchus.
  • 19 - Post-Aristotelian philosophy
    pp 622-641
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The scepticism of the Academy and the decline of the Peripatos were counterbalanced by the development of the two new philosophical schools at Athens, the Garden of Epicurus and the Stoa. The situation of Greece at the end of the fourth century can help to explain certain features of Stoicism and Epicureanism. The history of Greek philosophy has more to teach us about Stoicism and Epicureanism than one can learn from speculating about the troubles of the Hellenistic world. Lucretius, the greatest Epicurean writer, is conspicuously well read in Greek literature, and Philodemus, besides writing on rhetoric and poetry, was a graceful epigrammatist. Like Stoicism and Epicureanism, Scepticism was a development of the Hellenistic world. The Platonic Academy adopted Scepticism from the time of Arcesilaus in the third century BC and it continued in this way for the next two hundred years. Pyrrho's Scepticism was a means to the attainment of tranquillity than a theoretical criticism of positivist philosophy.
  • 20 - The literature of the Empire
    pp 642-713
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The bulk of the surviving Greek literature of the Imperial age is in prose and implies limited interest in traditional verse forms. The legacy of Callimachus and the epigrammatists who succeeded him determined the fate of Greek poetry under the Roman Empire. Among the Greek poems of the Roman Imperial age are two large works, related in character and ascribed to the same author. One, a work in five books, concerns the art of fishing and displays much learning about fish; the other, in four books and clearly composed under the influence of the poem on fishing, concerns hunting as well as the animals that are hunted. Of the Greek historians of the third century AD only two are represented today by anything more than fragments. These are Cassius Dio and Herodian. Herodian, for all his carelessness, was deeply imbued with the traditions of Greek historical writing.
  • 21 - Epilogue
    pp 714-718
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    This epilogue provides an overview of concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The middle years of the third century were a critical period in which many must have doubted that Graeco-Roman civilization could long survive. By the second half of the second century, the Christian apologists had made significant advances in their attempt to prove the superiority of Christian doctrine not only to pagan mythology but also to Greek philosophy. They also clothed their presentation of the Christian message in a literary style most calculated to appeal to educated pagan Greeks. Clement of Alexandria and his successor Origenes were active propagandists and teachers of the Christian faith in the late second and early third century. The force and vitality of their writing is a sharp contrast to the tired artifice of style and the emptiness of content which are all too common in the work of their pagan contemporaries.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. D. Momigliano (1975). Alien wisdom.Cambridge.

C. H. Roberts (1970). ‘Books in the Graeco-Roman world and in the New Testament’, Cambridge History of the BibleI, 48–66. Cambridge.

E. G. Turner (1968). Greek papyri.Oxford.

F. Jacoby (1941). ‘The date of Archilochus’, C.Q. 35.

M. L. West (1975). ‘Cynaethus' Hymn to Apollo’, C.Q. n.s. 25: 161ff.

F. R. Adrados (1978). ‘Propuestas para una nueva edición et interpretación de Estesí-coro’, Emerita 46: 251–99.

A. F. Garvie (1965). ‘A note on the deity of Alcman's Partheneion’, C.Q. n.s. 15: 185–7.

J. L. Penwill (1974). ‘Alcman's Cosmogony’, Apeiron 8: 13–39.

M. Robertson (1969). ‘Geryoneis: Stesichorus and the vase-painters’, C.Q. n.s. 19: 207–21.

M. L. West (1963). ‘Three Presocratic cosmologies’, C.Q. n.s. 13: (154–60n Alcman).

L. E. Woodbury (1967). ‘Helen and the Palinode’, Phoenix 21: 157–76.

A. L. Boegehold (1963). ‘Toward a study of Greek voting procedure’, Hesperia 32: 366–74.

G. F. Else (1965). The origin and early form of Greek tragedy.Cambridge, Mass.

M. R. Lefkowitz (1978). ‘The poet as hero: fifth-century autobiography and subsequent biographical fiction’, C.Q. n.s. 28: 459–69.

M. L. West (1970b). ‘Corinna’, C.Q. n.s. 20: 277–87.

M. L. West (1967). ‘Alcman and Pythagoras’, C.Q. n.s. 17.

T. B. L. Webster (1952).‘Chronological notes on Middle Comedy’, C.Q. n.s. 2: 13–26.

A. Andrewes (1959). ‘Thucydides on the causes of war’, C.Q. n.s. 9: 223–39.

A. W. Gomme (1954a). ‘Who was “Kratippos”?’, C.Q. n.s. 4: 53–5.

K. J. Dover (1950). ‘The chronology of Antiphon's speeches’, C.Q. 44: 44–60.

H. D. P. Lee (1948). ‘Place-names and the date of Aristotle's biological works’, C.Q. 42: 61–7.

A. B. Bosworth (1972). ‘Arrian's literary development’, C.Q. n.s. 22: 163–85.

M. D. Reeve (1971). ‘Hiatus in the Greek novelists’, C.Q. n.s. 21: 514–39.

K. Weitzmann (1959). Ancient book illumination.Cambridge, Mass.

C. D. Adams (1917). ‘Demosthenes' avoidance of breves’, C.Ph. 12: 271–94.

E. Badian (1958). ‘The eunuch Bagoas’, C.Q. n.s. 8: 144–57.

J. J. Bateman (1962). ‘Some aspects of Lysias' argumentation’, Phoenix 16.

A. P. Burnett (1964). ‘The race with the Pleiades’, C.Ph. 59: 30–4.

R. M. Cook (1937). ‘The date of the Hesiodic Shield’, C.Q. 31: 204–14.

L. Edmunds (1975). Chance and intelligence in Thucydides.Cambridge, Mass.

D. Fehling (1971). Die Quellenangaben bei Herodot.Berlin.

J. H. jr. Finley (1942). Thucydides.Cambridge, Mass.

D. Hagedorn (1964). Zur Ideenlehre des Hermogenes. Göttingen.

E. W. Handley (1953). ‘XOPOY in the Plums’, C.Q. n.s. 3.

J. M. Jacques (1960). ‘Sur un acrostiche d'Aratos (Phén. 783–7)’, Revue des Études Anciennes 62.

A. Köhnken (1971). Die Funktion des Mythos bei Pindar. Berlin & New York.

M. R. Lefkowitz (1975a). ‘The influential fictions in the scholia to Pindar's Pythian 8’, C.Ph. 70: 173–85.

P. Moraux (1973). Der Aristotelismus bei den GriechenI. Berlin, New York.

D. L. Page (1953). ‘Thucydides' description of the great plague at Adiens’, C.Q. n.s. 3: 97–115.

L. Pearson (1964).‘The development of Demosthenes as a political orator’, Phoenix 18.

H. R. Rawlings (1981). The structure of Thucydides' history. Princeton, N.J..

B. P. Reardon (1969). ‘The Greek novel’, Phoenix 23.

H. J. Rose (1932). ‘Stesichorus and the Rhadine-Fragment’, C.Q. 26.

P. Salmon (1961). ‘Chariton d'Aphrodisas et la révoke égyptienne de 360 avant J.-C,Chronique d'Égypte 36: 365–76.

H. T. Wade-Gery (1945). ‘Kritias and Herodes’, C.Q. 39: 19–33.

H. T. Wade-Gery (1952). The poet of the Iliad.Cambridge.

M. L. West (1965). ‘Alcmanica’, C.Q. n.s. 15.

M. L. West (1970a). ‘Melica’, C.Q. n.s. 20.

M. L. West (1971a). ‘Stesichorus’, C.Q. n.s. 21: 302–14.

M. L. West (1974). Studies in early Greek elegy and iambus. Berlin & New York.

S. West (1967). The Ptolemaic papyri of Homer. (Papyrologica Coloniensia III). Cologne & Opladen.

S. West (1974). ‘Joseph and Asenath: a neglected Greek romance’, C.Q. s. 24: 70–81.

A. M. Wilson (1974). ‘A Eupolidean parallel for the rowing scene in AristophanesFrogs', C.Q. n.s. 24: 250–2.

L. E. Woodbury (1979b). ‘Neoptolemus at Delphi: Pindar, Nemean 7.30ff.’, Phoenix 33.