What Are Some Primary Sources From Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece is a civilization that has left a significant impact on the world. Their culture, philosophy, and art have inspired generations of people throughout history. As we try to understand their way of life and the world they lived in, primary sources are an essential tool.

Primary sources are materials created at the time of the event or period being studied. These materials can give us a glimpse into the past and help us understand how people lived their lives. In this article, we will explore some primary sources from ancient Greece.

The Iliad and The Odyssey

The Iliad and The Odyssey are two epic poems written by the Greek poet Homer in the eighth century BC. These poems tell stories about gods, heroes, and battles that took place during the Trojan War. They are essential sources for understanding ancient Greek mythology, religion, and society.

The Iliad is a story about Achilles, one of the greatest Greek warriors, and his anger towards Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek army. The poem explores themes such as honor, pride, and revenge. It also gives us insight into ancient Greek warfare tactics.

The Odyssey, on the other hand, tells the story of Odysseus’ ten-year journey home after fighting in the Trojan War. This epic poem explores themes such as hospitality, loyalty, cunningness, and temptation.

The Histories by Herodotus

Herodotus was a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC. He is considered to be one of the first historians in Western civilization.

His book The Histories tells us about different cultures he encountered during his travels around Egypt, Persia, and Greece. It also covers significant historical events such as the Persian Wars between Greece and Persia.

Herodotus’ work is vital because it provides us with a detailed account of the world as it was known at that time. It also gives us insight into the way ancient Greeks perceived other cultures.

The Plays of Sophocles

Sophocles was an ancient Greek playwright who lived in the fifth century BC. He wrote over 120 plays, but only seven have survived to this day. His plays are essential sources for understanding ancient Greek society, politics, and religion.

Oedipus Rex is one of Sophocles’ most famous plays. It tells the story of Oedipus, a king who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother. The play explores themes such as fate, free will, and the consequences of one’s actions.

Antigone is another play by Sophocles that explores themes such as loyalty to family and law, civil disobedience, and gender roles.

The Artwork of Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek art is renowned for its beauty, creativity, and attention to detail. Ancient Greek pottery, sculptures, and mosaics are essential primary sources that help us understand their culture and beliefs.

Greek pottery provides us with insight into daily life in ancient Greece. The designs on pottery often depict scenes from mythology or everyday life.

Greek sculptures are also significant primary sources. They were often created to honor gods or famous individuals. They provide us with insight into how ancient Greeks viewed their gods and heroes.


Primary sources are essential tools for understanding ancient Greece and its impact on the world. The Iliad and The Odyssey provide insight into Greek mythology; The Histories by Herodotus tells us about different cultures; The plays of Sophocles explore important themes such as fate and free will; while artwork like pottery and sculptures give us a glimpse into their daily lives. By studying these primary sources, we can gain a deeper understanding of ancient Greece and its legacy.