Greek Poetry and Fables
1. Greek poems and stories are the oldest of the Western world. Many people throughout time have used the early Greek literature as a model for their own work. Shakespeare even borrowed and used plots and settings from Greek literature.
2. Earliest Greek stories were called epics. Epics are long poems about heroic deeds.
3. The 1st great epics of Greek literature were written my Homer. Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer wrote these epics during the 700s B.C. These epic poems were about a war between Greece and the city of Troy.
4. The Iliad: the prince of Troy kidnaps the wife of the Spartan king. Many Greeks are angered with this act. Some of the Greeks got together to fight. The battle of Troy lasts for approximately 10 years. Greeks come up with the idea to build a large, hollow, wooden horse and they place soldiers inside the horse. They place the horse outside the city of Troy. The Trojans perceived this as a gift from the Greeks and they bring the horse inside the city to celebrate. During the night the Greek soldiers get out of the horse and are able to capture the city.
5. The Odyssey: this epic poem describes the adventures of Odysseus back home after the Trojan War. It took Odysseus 10 years to return home from the war because he faced storms, witches and giants on his adventure. Today the odyssey means a long journey with many adventures because of the Greek epic poem the Odyssey.
6. The Greeks looked at these epic poems as more than just stories, but as real history that they could indentify with. The stories of Homer gave the Greeks heroes to be like. It taught them courage, honor, to be loyal to friends, and the value of the relationship between husband and wife. The heroes of Homer's epic poems became role models for young Greek boys.
7. Fables: a short tale that teaches a lesson. The writer of many Greek fables was Aesop. Aesop was a Greek slave. He wrote his famous fables around 550 B.C. Most of the fables animals talk and they act like people.
The stories can sometimes be funny and they point out human flaws/weaknesses as well as strengths. Each fable would end with a moral message.
One popular example of Aesop's fables is "The Tortoise and the Hare". Some common saying we here today that came from Aesop's fables are: "sour grapes,” "a wolf in sheep's clothing,” and “appearances often are deceiving".
8. Aesop's fables were a part of Greece's oral traditions for about 200 years. These stories were passes from person to person by word of mouth long before they were ever written down. Ever since then though, many writers have retold these same stories in many different languages.