While there are many wonderful movies that depict the ancient world, most of these films cannot be recommended. A movie such as Troy, while entertaining, is inappropriate as a teaching tool for students, since the creators of the film chose to deviate in important ways from The Iliad of Homer, the source of the story depicted in the film. Troy is one of the better movies, another being the 2004 film Alexander of Oliver Stone. At least these two films are serious in content and bear some semblance to the ancient stories. Unlike these two movies, the vast majority of films and television programs about the ancient world (with the exception of the documentaries) were created purely as entertainment by individuals who have no commitment to the history, philosophy, and religion of ancient Greece. Such films are a source of tremendous misunderstanding and have created unfortunate preconceptions that must be un-learned by the student. It has been argued that many people who come to Hellenismos, the ancient Greek religion, were first inspired by such movies, but this author is not impressed, because, in fact, when some of these ideas have taken root, many such students become almost unteachable because they would rather have the fantasy-world of the cinema than the actual religion.

Although they are few, there are films which are excellent and can be used to help a greater understanding of the ancient world and the religion. These fall into two general categories:

1.) cinema based on plays, mythology, and history which directly depict the ancient world.

2.) cinema which has nothing to do with the ancient world at all but which demonstrates the heart and philosophy which is critical for an understanding of the ancient religion. We are talking here about films which demonstrate character and the development of virtue.


Each of the movies listed below is superb and it is obvious that an effort was made to be more true to the original plays and present ancient Greece honestly.

Antigone (Ἀντιγόνη) by Sophocles. This was directed by George Tzavellas, released in 1961, with a score by Arghyris Kounadis. The play from which this film derives its story is one of the first examples from history used to demonstrate natural law theory.

Antigone (Sophocles) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Antigone

Electra ( Ἠλέκτρα) by Euripides. 1962.The film was directed by Michael Cacoyannis (of Zorba the Greek fame), with musical score by Mikis Theodorakis. This was the first of his Greek-tragedy trilogy, followed by The Trojan Women in 1971 and Iphigenia in 1977.

Electra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Electra

Iphigenia based on Ἰφιγένεια ἐν Αὐλίδι (Iphigenia in Aulis) of Euripides, directed by Michael Cacoyannis, 1977. The music for the movie was by Mikis Theodorakis. This film is my personal favorite of the Greek mythological movies. The cast includes Irene Pappas, Costas Kazakos, and the lovely Tatiana Papamoskou as Iphigenia.

Iphigenia (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Iphigenia

The Trojan Women after Τρῳάδες of Euripides, another Michael Cacoyannis film, 1971. Music by Mikis Theodorakis. Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave and Genevieve Bujold in addition to Irene Pappas.

The Trojan Women (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Trojan Women

Young Aphrodites (Μικρές Αφροδίτες) directed by Nikos Koundouros, 1963. The music for the film was created by Giannis Markopoulos. Unusual movie telling the tale of Daphnis and Chloe as children in ancient village:

Young Aphrodites - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Young Aphrodites


AGORA directed by Alejandro Amenábar, released in 2009, and with a score by Dario Marianelli. Agora is the story of the Neoplatonic philosopher, Ipatía (Hypatia; Gr. Ὑπατία, ὙΠΑΤΊΑ) of Alexandria, a woman who was murdered in 415 CE by a Christian mob. While this is a fictionalized account of these events, the outline of the story is based on historical record. Agora caused considerable controversy when released in Europe, arousing, reputedly, the anger of the Roman Catholic church, which endeavored to have it banned. I recommend the film, particularly to give as gifts to people who have open minds. While there are difficulties in the movie, it is a very important film: the first time that our story, the story of the suppression of our tradition, has been told in a popular way in this medium.

As a piece of art the film is imperfect, yet it moved me. There is one scene when Orestes, prefect of Rome, friend and former student of Ipatía, begs her to be publicly baptized, as required by a recently-enacted law. Orestes implores her that should she refuse, he would be unable to speak with her or even acknowledge her when they passed on the street. At this point Orestes weeps and expresses his unwillingness to go on living without being able to be near her, and, I must say that I wept the memories that this scene recalled to mind, of the endless misery of intolerance, the ugly cruelty of our human race. At the end of the movie, there is text that describes what became of the historical people represented in the film, and that after the murder of Ipatía, the prefect Orestes disappeared, never to be seen again.

Agora (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia AGORA

Zorba the Greek (Greek title: Αλέξης Ζορμπάς) 1964, directed by Michael Cacoyannis, with a score by Mikis Theodorkis, with Anthony Quinn in the title role and Alan Bates as Basil, the British/Greek writer who inherits a lignite mine from his father. Basil employs Zorba, an amazing character who has an enormous lust for life and the ability to live completely in the moment. Irene Papas also appears as a beautiful widow who desires Basil. The film caused quite a sensation in the United States, winning several Academy Awards and nominations, and it was an amazing debut for Greek cinema to the American theater-going audience.

While the movie is superb, the book upon which it is based, is even better, a clear testament of the author's philosophy, which is woven throughout the entire novel. The The Life and Adventures of Alexis Zorbas (Greek title: Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη Ζορμπά) was written by the philosopher and writer Nikos Kazantzakis and published in English with the same title as the movie. There are relatively minor differences between the book and the film; for instance, in the book, the narrator is never named and is from Crete, not half British. But of the character of Zorba...the book and the movie are remarkably alike, a genuine strike of genius in the casting for the film; Anthony Quinn captures the essence of Zorba perfectly, almost as if by magic, for it is as though he were born to play this role, so much so in fact, that most people actually think that the Mexican-born actor was a Greek...the quintessential Greek. And he is loved for his portrayal of Zorba in this film.

The character of Zorba was based on an actual person, George Zorbas (Yióryis Zorvás; Gr. Γιώργης Ζορμπάς, 1867–1942), who was a close friend of Kazantzakis.

Zorba the Greek (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Zorba the Greek


I bambini ci guardano (The Children are Watching us) 1942, directed by Vittorio de Sica, with a score by Renzo Rossellini. Amazing and beautiful performance by Luciano De Ambrosis as the boy Pricò in this heartfelt story of the suffering caused by infidelity on a young boy, his father, and family.

The Children Are Watching Us - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Children Are Watching Us (The Criterion Collection)

City Lights, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, 1931. The music for the film was composed almost entirely by Chaplin himself, an unschooled musician, and orchestrated by Arthur Johnson and Alfred Newman. This is a very special film and it is this author's favorite. City Lights is not the possession of any country or place, but belongs to the world. City Lights is thought to be the last great film of the silent era and many film historians view it as one of the greatest films ever made. It is a comedy, but it is much more than that.

Chaplin was a little boy in Charles Dickens’ England. His mother went insane and his father abandoned the family; therefore, Charlie and his brother were taken by the state and put into the notorious orphanage system. When they became old enough, they were put in the workhouses....just like in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Because of the enormous suffering he went through as a child, Chaplin never forgot the plight of the poor and the "little guy." You can see a beautiful compassion in all of his films.

The final scene of City Lights is one of the great moments of cinema...unforgettable. Charlie wanted that scene so perfect that it is on record as having more "takes" than any other film in history.

"After all the superb comic sequences, the film culminates with one of the most moving scenes in the history of cinema, a luminous and heartbreaking fade-out that lifts the picture onto another plane." --Robert Horton

City Lights - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia City Lights

Kes, a film directed by Ken Loach, produced by Tony Garnett, 1969, with a score by John Cameron. This is the story of a boy, Billy Casper (played by David Bradley), from a mining family of the Yorkshire area of England. Billy steals a kestrel from its nest and learns falconry from a book, developing a great love for the bird. Deeper in this story is the reality of the lives of the local people and subtle commentary on social waste as children are led only into menial employment, while pushing aside their potential. Also of interest is the Yorkshire dialect. The director used locals for almost all the acting roles and you can hear them using words such as "thee" and "thou" in ordinary secular speech. Kes is a very beautiful and warm film which demonstrates how cinema can bring attention to social injustice and be an instrument to bring benefit to our world.

"I personally ask the question, 'How does he do it? How does he get at such reality, such truth, such honesty?' And Ken always says that it's nothing to do with the 'how' it's to do with the 'why.' " Alan Parker, film director speaking of Ken Loach on the South Bank Show, 1993.

Kes (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Kes (The Criterion Collection)

The Kid directed and starring Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp and child actor Jackie Coogan as the Kid, 1921, with a musical score by Chaplin himself. The Kid is not quite at the elevated level of City Lights (please see above), but extraordinary nonetheless.

"The gags are flawless, but for Chaplin the huge advance (other than a running time longer than his two-reelers) was the exploration of a rich vein of sentiment; the emotionally wrenching separation of the Tramp and the Kid is probably the most Dickensian sequence ever captured on film. Chaplin drew on his own rough childhood for the material (and may have been inspired by the death of an infant son immediately before beginning the project). Jackie Coogan's gift for mimicry allowed him to replicate Chaplin's exacting direction, making him the perfect Chaplin co-star." --Robert Horton

The Kid (1921 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Kid

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this Glossary, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

PHOTO COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: The many pages of this website incorporate images, some created by the author, but many obtained from outside sources. To find out more information about these images and why this website can use them, visit this link: Photo Copyright Information

DISCLAIMER: The inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) with the views of by the external sources from which they were obtained.

Further, the inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) by of the contents or views of any external sources from which they were obtained.

For more information:

For answers to many questions: HELLENISMOS FAQ

© 2010 by All Rights Reserved.


Web Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter
free hit counters