Greek Storytelling Tradition October 13, 2014 00:00

The history of humanity is best traced through the history of its fiction, and as with technology, philosophy and so much more, the Greeks were pioneers in this department. Their stories revolutionized the craft defining tropes and techniques that would be used for millennia to come. With their complex religious system, the Greeks valued stories in a way few cultures before them had, and their diverse and unique mythology opened them up to a wealth of incredible tales to inspire and instruct each new generation. The Greeks were the first culture to truly treat storytelling as an art form. Be it a poem, a play or a recitation, the act of weaving a complex narrative was paramount to creating a sculpture, or painting a picture. This is an idea that persists to this very day, writing is respected as a major art form.

Storytelling was so important in Greece that even their religion is a narrative, with a plot, character developments and status quo changes. This was utterly unique among cultures that generally had a religion that was still, unchanging and ever present. The Greeks were inspired to weave tales of great and powerful gods and heroes unmatched in their bravery and peril. These tales were the jumping off point for the poets that would come to define the entirety of storytelling with their techniques. The poet Homer revolutionized the war epic with his poem The Iliad and then redefined the heroes’ journey with his Odyssey. Sophocles penned the play Oedipus Rex, the epic tragedy that introduced and forever defined the term dramatic irony as it is used in literature.

In a culture so dedicated to learning and understanding the ways of the world, it is no wonder that storytelling became such a popular form of expression in Ancient Greece. It is an inseparable part of the culture that remains to this day in writers like Dimitris Lyacos and Jenny Mastoraki, Alexis Stamatis and Nina Rapi. These new writers come from a culture that defined what story telling would be and how it would be used to better humanity, and they carry on that legacy to this very day.