Did Books Exist in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece is known for its remarkable contributions to literature, philosophy, and science. With the likes of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates, it is no wonder that many people wonder if books existed in this era.

What is a Book

Before we delve into the topic of whether books existed in ancient Greece, it’s important to define what a book is. The definition of a book has evolved over time, but at its core, it is a collection of written or printed pages that are bound together.

Ancient Greek Literature

Ancient Greek literature was primarily composed of epic poems such as The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer. These were not books in the traditional sense but rather oral traditions passed down through generations. Other works such as Aesop’s Fables were also popular during this time.

Writing Materials

The ancient Greeks did have access to materials for writing such as papyrus and parchment. Papyrus was made from the pith of the papyrus plant and was used to create scrolls. Parchment was made from animal skins and was used to create codices which were similar to modern-day books.

The Codex

The codex was invented by the Romans around the first century AD but did not become widespread until later. The codex consisted of sheets of parchment or paper that were folded in half and bound together on one side creating a spine. This format made it easier to access specific sections of a work compared to scrolls.

Ancient Greek Works Today

Many ancient Greek works have been preserved through copies made during the Byzantine Empire (4th-15th centuries AD). These copies were often made on parchment and were bound in codex form.


While books in the traditional sense may not have existed during ancient Greece, the Greeks did have access to writing materials and the codex format. The works of ancient Greek literature have been preserved through copies made during the Byzantine Empire which were bound in a codex format similar to modern-day books.