The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Greek Writers of all time. This list of famous Greek Writers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Greek Writers.
With an HPI of 88.52, Sophocles is the most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 132 different languages on wikipedia.
Sophocles (; Greek: Σοφοκλῆς, pronounced [so.pʰo.klɛ̂ːs]; c. 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC) is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than, or contemporary with, those of Aeschylus; and earlier than, or contemporary with, those of Euripides. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. For almost fifty years, Sophocles was the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens which took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. He competed in thirty competitions, won twenty-four, and was never judged lower than second place. Aeschylus won thirteen competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles; Euripides won four.The most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus and Antigone: they are generally known as the Theban plays, though each was part of a different tetralogy (the other members of which are now lost). Sophocles influenced the development of drama, most importantly by adding a third actor (attributed to Sophocles by Aristotle; to Aeschylus by Themistius), thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights.
With an HPI of 85.44, Aristophanes is the 2nd most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 90 different languages.
Aristophanes (; Ancient Greek: Ἀριστοφάνης, pronounced [aristopʰánɛːs]; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Kydathenaion (Latin: Cydathenaeum), was a comic playwright or comedy-writer of ancient Athens and a poet of Old Attic Comedy. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete. These provide the most valuable examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy and are used to define it, along with fragments from dozens of lost plays by Aristophanes and his contemporaries.Also known as "The Father of Comedy" and "the Prince of Ancient Comedy", Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author. His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; Plato singled out Aristophanes' play The Clouds as slander that contributed to the trial and subsequent condemning to death of Socrates, although other satirical playwrights had also caricatured the philosopher. Aristophanes' second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court, but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. "In my opinion," he says through that play's Chorus, "the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all."
With an HPI of 85.18, Euripides is the 3rd most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 84 different languages.
Euripides (; Greek: Εὐριπίδης Eurīpídēs, pronounced [eu̯.riː.pí.dɛːs]; c. 480 – c. 406 BC) was a tragedian of classical Athens. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, he is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians for whom any plays have survived in full. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him, but the Suda says it was ninety-two at most. Of these, eighteen or nineteen have survived more or less complete (Rhesus is suspect). There are many fragments (some substantial) of most of his other plays. More of his plays have survived intact than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because his popularity grew as theirs declined—he became, in the Hellenistic Age, a cornerstone of ancient literary education, along with Homer, Demosthenes, and Menander.Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. He also became "the most tragic of poets", focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown. He was "the creator of...that cage which is the theatre of Shakespeare's Othello, Racine's Phèdre, of Ibsen and Strindberg," in which "imprisoned men and women destroy each other by the intensity of their loves and hates". But he was also the literary ancestor of comic dramatists as diverse as Menander and George Bernard Shaw.His contemporaries associated him with Socrates as a leader of a decadent intellectualism. Both were frequently lampooned by comic poets such as Aristophanes. Socrates was eventually put on trial and executed as a corrupting influence. Euripides chose a voluntary exile in old age, dying in Macedonia. But recent scholarship casts doubt on ancient biographies of Euripides. For example, it is possible that he never visited Macedonia at all, or, if he did, he might have been drawn there by King Archelaus with incentives that were also offered to other artists.
With an HPI of 84.53, Sappho is the 4th most famous Greek Writer. Her biography has been translated into 104 different languages.
Sappho (; Greek: Σαπφώ Sapphō [sap.pʰɔ̌ː]; Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω Psápphō; c. 630 – c. 570 BCE) was an Archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Sappho is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung while accompanied by a lyre. In ancient times, Sappho was widely regarded as one of the greatest lyric poets and was given names such as the "Tenth Muse" and "The Poetess". Most of Sappho's poetry is now lost, and what is extant has mostly survived in fragmentary form; two notable exceptions are the "Ode to Aphrodite" and the Tithonus poem. As well as lyric poetry, ancient commentators claimed that Sappho wrote elegiac and iambic poetry. Three epigrams attributed to Sappho are extant, but these are actually Hellenistic imitations of Sappho's style. Little is known of Sappho's life. She was from a wealthy family from Lesbos, though her parents' names are uncertain. Ancient sources say that she had three brothers; Charaxos (Χάραξος), Larichos (Λάριχος) and Eurygios (Εὐρύγιος). The Suda mentions the names of all three brothers. Two of them, Charaxos and Larichos, are also mentioned in the Brothers Poem discovered in 2014. She was exiled to Sicily around 600 BCE, and may have continued to work until around 570 BCE. Later legends surrounding Sappho's love for the ferryman Phaon and her death are unreliable.Sappho was a prolific poet, probably composing around 10,000 lines. Her poetry was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, and she was among the canon of Nine Lyric Poets most highly esteemed by scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. Sappho's poetry is still considered extraordinary and her works continue to influence other writers. Beyond her poetry, she is well known as a symbol of love and desire between women, with the English words sapphic and lesbian being derived from her own name and the name of her home island respectively. Whilst her importance as a poet is confirmed from the earliest times, all interpretations of her work have been coloured and influenced by discussions of her sexuality.
With an HPI of 84.43, Aeschylus is the 5th most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 91 different languages.
Aeschylus (UK: , US: ; Greek: Αἰσχύλος Aiskhylos, pronounced [ai̯s.kʰý.los]; c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greek author of Greek tragedy, and is often described as the father of tragedy. Academics' knowledge of the genre begins with his work, and understanding of earlier Greek tragedy is largely based on inferences made from reading his surviving plays. According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in the theatre and allowed conflict among them. Before this, characters interacted only with the chorus.Only seven of his estimated seventy to ninety plays have survived. There is a long-standing debate regarding the authorship of one of these plays, Prometheus Bound. Some believe that his son Euphorion wrote it. Fragments from other of Aeschylus' plays have survived in quotations, and more continue to be discovered on Egyptian papyrus. These fragments often give further insights into Aeschylus' work. He was probably the first dramatist to present plays as a trilogy. His Oresteia is the only extant and ancient example. At least one of his plays was influenced by the Persians' second invasion of Greece (480–479 BC). This work, The Persians, is one of very few classical Greek tragedies concerned with contemporary events, and the only one extant. The significance of the war against Persia was so great to Aeschylus and the Greeks that Aeschylus' epitaph commemorates his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon while making no mention of his success as a playwright. Despite this, Aeschylus's work – particularly the Oresteia – is generally acclaimed by modern critics and scholars.
With an HPI of 80.45, Pindar is the 6th most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.
Pindar (; Greek: Πίνδαρος Pindaros, [píndaros]; Latin: Pindarus; c. 518 – 438 BC) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian wrote, "Of the nine lyric poets, Pindar is by far the greatest, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence, characteristics which, as Horace rightly held, make him inimitable." His poems can also, however, seem difficult and even peculiar. The Athenian comic playwright Eupolis once remarked that they "are already reduced to silence by the disinclination of the multitude for elegant learning". Some scholars in the modern age also found his poetry perplexing, at least until the 1896 discovery of some poems by his rival Bacchylides; comparisons of their work showed that many of Pindar's idiosyncrasies are typical of archaic genres rather than of only the poet himself. His poetry, while admired by critics, still challenges the casual reader and his work is largely unread among the general public.Pindar was the first Greek poet to reflect on the nature of poetry and on the poet's role. Like other poets of the Archaic Age, he has a profound sense of the vicissitudes of life, but he also articulates a passionate faith in what men can achieve by the grace of the gods, most famously expressed in the conclusion to one of his Victory Odes: His poetry illustrates the beliefs and values of Archaic Greece at the dawn of the classical period.
With an HPI of 79.97, Menander is the 7th most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.
Menander (; Greek: Μένανδρος Menandros; c. 342/41 – c. 290 BC) was a Greek dramatist and the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy. He wrote 108 comedies and took the prize at the Lenaia festival eight times. His record at the City Dionysia is unknown but may well have been similarly spectacular. One of the most popular writers of antiquity, his work was lost during the Middle Ages and is known in modernity in highly fragmentary form, much of which was discovered in the 20th century. Only one play, Dyskolos, has survived almost entirely.
With an HPI of 78.31, Nikos Kazantzakis is the 8th most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.
Nikos Kazantzakis (Greek: Νίκος Καζαντζάκης [ˈnikos kazanˈd͡zacis]; 18 February 1883 – 26 October 1957) was a Greek writer. Widely considered a giant of modern Greek literature, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in nine different years.Kazantzakis' novels included Zorba the Greek (published 1946 as Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas), Christ Recrucified (1948), Captain Michalis (1950, translated Freedom or Death), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1955). He also wrote plays, travel books, memoirs and philosophical essays such as The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. His fame spread in the English-speaking world due to cinematic adaptations of Zorba the Greek (1964) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). He translated also a number of notable works into Modern Greek, such as the Divine Comedy, Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the Iliad.
With an HPI of 76.79, Nâzım Hikmet is the 9th most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.
Nâzım Hikmet Ran (15 January 1902 – 3 June 1963), commonly known as Nâzım Hikmet (Turkish: [naːˈzɯm hicˈmet] (listen)), was a Turkish poet, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director and memoirist. He was acclaimed for the "lyrical flow of his statements". Described as a "romantic communist" and "romantic revolutionary", he was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs and spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile. His poetry has been translated into more than fifty languages.
With an HPI of 76.73, Simonides of Ceos is the 10th most famous Greek Writer. His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.
Simonides of Ceos (; Greek: Σιμωνίδης ὁ Κεῖος; c. 556–468 BC) was a Greek lyric poet, born at Ioulis on Ceos. The scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria included him in the canonical list of the nine lyric poets esteemed by them as worthy of critical study. Included on this list was Bacchylides, his nephew, and Pindar, reputedly a bitter rival, both of whom benefited from his innovative approach to lyric poetry. Simonides, however, was more involved than either in the major events and with the personalities of their times.Lessing, writing in the Enlightenment era, referred to him as "the Greek Voltaire." His general renown owes much to traditional accounts of his colourful life, as one of the wisest of men; as a greedy miser; as an inventor of a system of mnemonics; and also the inventor of some letters of the Greek alphabet (ω, η, ξ, ψ). Such accounts include fanciful elements, yet he had a real influence on the sophistic enlightenment of the classical era. His fame as a poet rests largely on his ability to present basic human situations with affecting simplicity. In the words of the Roman rhetorician Quintilian (55–100 AD): Simonides has a simple style, but he can be commended for the aptness of his language and for a certain charm; his chief merit, however, lies in the power to excite pity, so much so that some prefer him in this respect to all other writers of the genre. He is popularly associated with epitaphs commemorating fallen warriors, as for example the Lacedaemonians at The Battle of Thermopylae: Today only glimpses of his poetry remain, either in the form of papyrus fragments or quotations by ancient literary figures, yet new fragments continue to be unearthed by archaeologists at Oxyrhynchus, a city and archaeological site in Egypt that has yielded papyrus fragments over a century of excavations. He is included in narratives as diverse as Mary Renault's modern historical novel The Praise Singer (where he is the narrator and main character), Plato's Protagoras (where he is a topic of conversation), and some verses in Callimachus' Aetia (where he is portrayed as a ghost complaining about the desecration of his own tomb in Acragas).
Pantheon has 83 people classified as writers born between 800 BC and 1966. Of these 83, 1 (1.20%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Dimitris Lyacos. The most famous deceased writers include Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Euripides. As of October 2020, 8 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Phylarchus, Pherecrates, and Lesches.
497 BC - 406 BC
448 BC - 386 BC
480 BC - 406 BC
630 BC - 570 BC
525 BC - 456 BC
517 BC - 437 BC
342 BC - 291 BC
1883 - 1957
1902 - 1963
556 BC - 468 BC
680 BC - 645 BC
20 BC - 50
Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 22 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.