Country Dreams: Greece

By Briana Seftel

From the early days of Greek tragedies to present day pop, Greece's influence on literature, music, and film has had no bounds. Whether you're traveling to Greece or simply want to mentally transport there, we have a list of the absolutely essential cultural imports from the birthplace of civilization!

Music of Greece

Dancing around in a circle and yelling “Opa!” is as Greek as it gets, and none of that would be possible without Greek music. The folk music (or dhimotika) of Greece represents a unique fusion of Eastern and Western styles and influences. One of the most common instruments in Greek music is the bouzouki.

In addition to folk, Rebetiko is another popular genre. It is an Urban popular song of the Greeks, especially the poorest, from the late 19th century to the 1950s.

Among the more popular Greek music is artists like Nikos Vertis, a Dutch-Greek singer of pop and modern laika.

Get schooled on Greece with a few good books

Ancient Greek literature like The Odyssey, Antigone, and The Republic are absolute staples in and outside of Greece. If you’re not up for a challenging read, we’ve included two modern novels to get you in the Greek state of mind.

The Odyssey

As one of the most celebrated stories ever told, The Odyssey is a staple of ancient Greek literature. It is one of two epic poems believed to be written by the blind poet, Homer.


Antigone is one of the first heroines in literature, a woman who fights against a male power structure, exhibiting greater bravery than any of the men who scorn her.

The Republic

Plato’s best-known work is one of the most influential works of philosophy and political history.

Freedom and Death

Published in 1953, Nikos Kazantzakis's novel is about the rebellion of the Cretans against the Ottoman Empire in 1889.

Zorba the Greek

A tale of a young Greek intellectual who escapes his bookish life with the help of an adventurous woman named Alexis Zorba.

Movies to whet your appetite

Classic Greek films include “Electra” “The Red Lanterns” “Blood on the Land” “Iphigenia” and “Stella.” In recent years, Greek film has seen a growth with provocative films “Little England” and “Dogtooth,” which was nominated for best foreign language film at the 2010 Academy Awards.

American cinema has long been influenced by Greece, most notably in movies like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Mamma Mia,” “300” and the childrens classic animated film “Hercules.”

The Greek-French director Costa-Gavras is one of the most prominent directors in Greece, most notable for his political thrillers “Z” and “State of Siege.”

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