12 Best Greek Authors Of All Time

Here, we’ll explore the top Greek authors of short stories, epic poems, tragedies, and more.

From Aristotle to Socrates, modern and ancient Greek literature offer life lessons, history, and an incredible entertainment value.

Columns and pillars, the original Olympics, Pompeii—the thought of ancient Greece conjure up images of beauty and tragedy. The authors did a timeless job of preserving the nation’s history through storytelling. Modern and ancient Greek authors are revered for their descriptive, deeply moving narratives.

Researchers and laypeople alike have been fascinated with Greek history for centuries. The societal norms of ancient Greece are still prevalent in many ways today. Often, scholars turn to ancient Greek text to gain insight into human nature and storytelling and can use the work of ancient Greek writers to understand more about the shape our world has taken over time.

Popular Greek Authors

Best Greek Authors

It’s time for a deep dive into the world of Greek literature and Greek poetry.

The Best Greek Authors Of All Time

1. Homer

Timeless Greek poet Homer is known for his epic poems that continue to be studied by literature students and enthusiasts alike. His most well-known works are the Odyssey and the Iliad. Referred to as the king of all poets, Homer is known for creating the foundational works of Greek literature.

Many other works have been attributed to Homer throughout history, including Contest of Homer and Hesiod, Phocais, and Homeric Hymns. While much information is debated about Homer’s life, there are some likely facts that have remained consistent over time. Many historians believe that Homer was blind and wandered from place to place rather than establishing a permanent home. He died after failing to correctly answer a riddle posed by a group of fishermen.

The influence of Homer’s poems can be seen in today’s literature. The Iliad and the Odyssey both were written in epic hexameter style. Historians debate whether the events in Homer’s epic poems were historical accounts or fictional tales designed to further his storylines.

The Iliad & The Odyssey
  • Homer (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 756 Pages - 08/07/2021 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

2. Euripides

Best Greek authors: Euripides
User:Búzás Ernő at hu.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Euripides is an Ancient Greek playwright who many scholars attribute up to 95 plays. Approximately 18 have fully or nearly fully survived to the present day, while the rest have survived in small fragments. Surviving plays include Andromeda and Hippolytus.

Know as the most tragic of Ancient Greek poets, the influence of Euripides can still be seen in modern theater. The poet tended to create ordinary characters who could triumph under challenging circumstances, making the trope of the underdog overcoming all odds. He opened his characters’ inner lives to the audience, allowing them to identify with what they saw on stage in a way that had never been done before.

Historians debate precisely what happened to Euripides at the end of his life. Some believe that he chose to exile himself to Macedonia, while other historians believe this is false.

The Trojan Women: A Comic
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Euripides (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 05/25/2021 (Publication Date) - New Directions (Publisher)

3. Aeschylus

Best Greek authors: Aeschylus
Raymond Ellis, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Often referred to as the father of tragedy, Aeschylus was one of the first playwrights to allow conflict between characters on stage, creating a lifelike storyline that enticed audiences. It’s estimated that the author wrote up to 90 plays, but only seven have survived today.

Born just north of Athens, Aeschylus was from a wealthy, noble family. The author played an integral role in defending Athens against invading armies with his brothers Cynegerius and Ameinias.

The Persians was the author’s oldest surviving play. In addition to his claim to fame as a playwright, Aeschylus was also initiated as a member of the Eleusinian Mysteries, an ancient cult in which members were said to gain secret knowledge of the afterlife.

Aeschylus I: The Persians, The Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliant Maidens, Prometheus Bound (The Complete Greek Tragedies)
  • Aeschylus, . (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 243 Pages - 04/19/2013 (Publication Date) - University of Chicago Press (Publisher)

4. Aristophanes

Best Greek authors: Aristophanes
Alexander Mayatsky, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Playwright and poet Aristophanes is known for many notable works, including The Women at the Thesmophoria Festival, The Frogs, and The Clouds. Known as the father of comedy, just eleven of his forty plays have survived.

Many historians feel that Aristophanes more accurately portrayed what life was like in Ancient Greece than other writers. The author had a knack for comedy, and others feared being the butt of his jokes. His penchant for satire may have contributed to the execution of Socrates. Aristophanes’ play, The Clouds, was labeled as slander and contributed to negative public opinions of the great author and philosopher.

Aristophanes: Four Plays: Clouds, Birds, Lysistrata, Women of the Assembly
  • Hardcover Book
  • Aristophanes (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 02/16/2021 (Publication Date) - Liveright (Publisher)

5. Plato

Best Greek authors: Plato
© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Philosopher, writer, and founder of the first institution of higher learning, Plato’s legacy has lived for more than a millennia. Taught by Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, Plato’s work has been preserved for more than 2,000 years and studied by countless scholars and historians throughout the world.

Few surviving accounts tell the tale of Plato’s early life. It’s known that Plato was born to a royal family, with his father tracing his history back to the king of Athens and the king of Messenia. Plato was known as a bright, quiet boy who excelled in wrestling.

Plato was known for his contributions to mathematics, physics, and philosophy. Many of Plato’s dialogues work to share ideas of reality, inviting readers and learners to grapple with the idea of what makes an object or idea tangible. Heavily influenced by his teacher, Socrates, Plato internalized the idea that a true grasp of reality stretches far beyond what’s available from the five senses, requiring people to consider a variety of forms to see beyond the literal world.

Today, Plato’s most recognized works include The Symposium, The Allegory of the Cave, and The Republic.

Republic
  • Plato (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 248 Pages - 03/05/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

6. Aristotle

Best Greek authors: Aristotle
After Lysippos, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Synonymous with wisdom, Aristotle’s works have been well-preserved over time and are revered as some of the most influential mathematical and philosophical ideas ever developed. Following his study with Plato, Aristotle’s writings covered many subjects, including zoology, rhetoric, psychology, geology, and politics.

Aristotle developed three principles believed to bolster any argument: pathos, ethos, and logos. Pathos was designed to appeal to the listener emotionally, drawing them into the argument and appealing to their human nature. Ethos created an ethical argument for the listener, appealing to their sense of a greater good and making them consider the different facets of morality involved in the argument. Finally, Aristotle believed that arguments should also include a sense of logos, or logic, consisting of facts that prove the argument.

Today, public speakers and debaters include Aristotle’s principles in arguments, as persuasion is more easily achieved when an argument contains three principles. While all of Aristotle’s works are still highly regarded by scholars and historians today, his most-read works include De Anima and Nicomachean Ethics.

The Basic Works of Aristotle (Modern Library Classics)
  • Aristotle (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1520 Pages - 09/11/2001 (Publication Date) - Modern Library (Publisher)

7. Nikos Kazantzakis

Best Greek authors: Nikos Kazantzakis
Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1883 in Crete, Nikos Kazantzakis was known for his poems, essays, novels, and translations. Kazantzakis was a nine-time Nobel Prize nominee. The author is considered one of the most prominent modern authors of Greek literature.

The University of Athens educated author wrote several well-known works, including The Last Temptation of Christ (1955), Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas (1946), Christ Recrucified (1948), and Captain Michalis (1950).

Kazantzakis was outspoken politically and often said that democracy should achieve socialism. He believed that socialism was the right fit for the entire world. Around World War II, Greek and Russian communists believed Kazantzakis to be a traitor, but Chinese communists revered him as an excellent writer dedicated to world peace. At one time, Kazantzakis was profoundly religious and struggled when the Greek Orthodox church excommunicated him due to his public beliefs.

In addition to his novels, he’s also known for his translation work. Kazantzakis translated On the Origin of Species, the Odyssey, the Divine Comedy, and other timeless works into modern Greek, making it easier for literature to be enjoyed by people worldwide.

Alexander The Great: A Novel
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Kazantzakis, Nikos (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages - 01/15/1982 (Publication Date) - Ohio University Press (Publisher)

8. Sappho

Best Greek authors: Sappho
G41rn8, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A lyrical poet, Sappho is well-known for her poetry that was meant to be sung and accompanied by music. Some of her most famous works include Anactoria and The Poetess. While much of Sappho’s poetry was lost over time, her famed poem Ode to Aphrodite remains complete.

Sappho came from a wealthy family on the island of Lesbos, Greece. Sappho is well-known in today’s culture, as many of her poems described desires between women. The words lesbian and sapphic are derived from Sappho’s home and name.

There are many stories surrounding the death of Sappho. Some say that she was forced to leave Lesbos due to exile near the end of her life. Others say that Sappho died by suicide, jumping off of the Leucadian cliffs due to an issue with her relationship with a male ferryman.

Some historians believe that this story was created to paint a picture of Sappho as a heterosexual woman, despite her poetry painting a different picture. Many literary enthusiasts lament that Sappho is more well-known for her probable sexual preference than her literary prowess.

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If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho
  • Vintage
  • Sappho (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 08/12/2003 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

9. Giorgos Seferis

Best Greek authors: Giorgos Seferis
Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Modern Greek poet Giorgos Seferis is also known by his pen name of Georgios Seferiades. Born in 1900, Seferis is widely regarded as one of the strongest influences on modern Greek poetry.

In addition to his literary works, Serferis was a Nobel laureate and was the first Greek person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1963). He also had a five-year career with the Greek Foreign Service, serving as the Greek ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Seferis was largely inspired by the beauty of the Island of Cyprus, which he first visited in 1953. The author wrote Imerologio Katastromatos III during his time on the island.

Today, Sefaris is widely recognized and celebrated in Greece. His home in Athens has a plaque recognizing his accomplishments, and his work was featured during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens.

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George Seferis: Collected Poems
  • Seferis, George (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 299 Pages - 07/03/1995 (Publication Date) - Princeton University Press (Publisher)

10. Sophocles

Best Greek authors: Sophocles
Yair Haklai, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tragedian Sophocles is one of the few playwrights from Ancient Greece whose work has survived in its entirety today. The author wrote more than 120 plays; seven remain, including Electra, Oedipus Rex, and Antigone.

The author was born into a wealthy family and began participating in literary competitions early. He competed in Dionysia and won over famous author Aeschylus. Today, the work of Sophocles has been translated into more than 130 languages, allowing his plays to be read by people around the world.

Alongside other famed playwrights of his time, Sophocles moved drama forward, and his influence can still be seen in the present-day theater. The author wrote plays with more characters on stage interacting simultaneously, reducing the need for actors to use the chorus to move the plot forward. Sophocles is also known for developing his characters previously unseen in the theatre world.

The Three Theban Plays: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
  • Sophocles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 180 Pages - 01/19/2022 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

11. Herodotus

Best Greek authors: Herodotus
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Herodotus was a geographer, author, and orator in Ancient Greece. He was from Halicarnassus, now a part of Turkey. The author came from an influential family in Greece and was related to Panyassis, another famous poet. Herodotus wrote detailed accounts of historical events and was dubbed “The Father of History” by Roman rhetoric phenom Cicero.

While many historians take the accounts of Herodotus as fact, others argue that he may have made up some of the events in his work, known as Histories, for entertainment value. Many archeologists have proven that at least some of the information in Histories was falsified.

Herodotus enjoyed sharing his writing with others and would often use parts of his works as performance pieces, orating his stories to an audience. This usually took place at large festivals. Legend has it that Herodotus once read the entirety of the Histories to an audience in one sitting, to much applause at the end of his oration.

The Histories
  • Herodotus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 294 Pages - 02/14/2017 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

12. Alexandros Papadiamantis

Best Greek authors: Alexandros Papadiamantis
G. Chatzopoulos (1859-1935) // Γ. Χατζόπουλος (1859-1935), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Born on the island of Skiathos, Alexandros Papadiamantis was known for his novels, short stories, and poetry. He was educated at the University of Athens in Philosophy and later returned to Skiathos. He worked as a journalist and short-story writer. Papadiamantis prioritized storytelling over earning money and often asked buyers to take their money back if he felt that they were paying too much for his work.

Papadiamantis is known for several works, including The Merchants of Nations, The Emigrant, and The Gypsy Girl. His novels centered around pirates in the Mediterranean sea. Papadiamantis provides deep insights into the human mind and often discussed the differences between rural and urban life.

The Merchants of Nations specifically has largely gained critical acclaim from literary experts and reading enthusiasts alike. The novel is regarded as a modern Greek tragedy, and many feel that it offers many appropriate critiques of Greek economics and politics in recent years.

The Merchants of Nations
  • Papadiamantis, Alexandros (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 268 Pages - 06/24/2016 (Publication Date) - Sunstep Publishing (Publisher)

The Final Word On The Best Greek Authors Of All Time

There’s no doubt about it: Greek authors shaped much of today’s world’s view. Ancient Greek writers preserved the history of days past from philosophy to math to theatre and provided a unique view of how the world should be run.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed learning about the best Greek authors, you might be interested in reading our guide on the best Japanese authors

You might also enjoy our post on the best American authors

FAQs On The Best Greek Authors Of All Time

How Was Literature Preserved In Ancient Greece?

Greek literature was preserved on wax tablets, papyrus, and parchment. Over time, the Greek language changed, and translators updated manuscripts to keep up with linguistic advances.

Who Is The Most-Read Greek Author Of All Time?

Sophocles is generally regarded as the most widely-read author from Ancient Greece.

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