Greek literature in the archaic period was predominantly poetry, though the earliest prose dates to the sixth century BC. archaic poetry was primarily intended to be performed rather than read, and can be broadly divided into three categories: lyric, rhapsodic, and citharodic. The performance of the poetry could either be private (most commonly in the symposium) or public.
Though there would certainly have been a pre-existing literary tradition in Greece, the earliest surviving works are by Homer. Homer’s poetry, though it dates to around the time that the Greeks developed writing, would have been composed orally – the earliest surviving poetry to have certainly been composed in writing is that of Archilochus, from the mid-seventh century BC. In contrast with the Classical period, in which the literary culture of Athens dominated the Greek world, the archaic poetic tradition was geographically spread out. Sappho and Alcaeus, for instance, were from Lesbos, while Pindar came from Thebes, and Alcman from Sparta.
The beginnings of Greek tragedy also have their roots in the archaic period, though the exact history is obscure. The competition in tragedy at the Great Dionysia began in the 530s BC. Aristotle believed that early tragedy developed from the dithyramb, a choral hymn to Dionysius; by ancient tradition the development from dithyramb to tragedy was ascribed to Thespis.