Greece has a rich and vibrant culture of ancient mythology and history. The appeal of these stories full of legendary monsters, brave heroes, and dangerous quests is alive and well to this day – an appeal that can be found in stories about other ancient civilizations, as well.

This list will focus on Ancient Greece and the way its legends and histories have been realized through the medium of film. From Disney to Zack Snyder and Franc Miller to Stanley Kubrick, these masterpieces bring to life some epic tales from long ago.

10 Hercules (1997)

Disney’s Hercules was definitely enjoyable and entertaining, even though it tried being everything under the sun and to appeal to every kid imaginable, whether they liked superheroes, celebrity athletes, “The One” narratives, or ancient myths.

The young son of Zeus and Hera is kidnapped and turned mortal to grow up on earth. Years later, and at last aware of his godly origins, he embarks on a journey to become a true hero and earn his place on Olympus. Meanwhile, his evil uncle, Hades, is planning the demise of all the other Gods and only one man can stand on his way.

9 Alexander (2004)

Beginning in 283 BC, this epic tale of kingship, conquest, betrayal, and passion follows Alexander, King of Macedonia (Colin Farrell), and the general who conquered Persia. From his childhood to his death, Alexander never wavered in his will, becoming beloved to some and hated by many.

He was undefeated in battle from his 20th year to his untimely death at 32 and his life influenced many peoples and civilizations. The film combines historical evidence with original ideas and certain non-confirmed legends and rumors from the depths of history to create the portrait of a fascinating and tumultuous life.


8 Troy (2004)

Brad Pitt stars as Achilles, the legendary warrior, son of Goddess Thetis and mortal king Peleus, in his toils as the best warrior of the Greeks, but a man knowingly destined to die in battle and achieve eternal fame.

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He and his Myrmidon warriors are part of Agamemnon’s expedition to conquer Troy, the City of the Sun. Achilles’s love for Briseis, a Trojan noblewoman, along with his own ego, will clash against his (already frail) loyalty to Agamemnon, in this film where worlds collide.

7 Agora (2009)

Rachel Weisz stars as Hypatia, the famous female Greek philosopher, mathematician, and prominent member of the Neoplatonic school who teaches in the Platonic Academy in Alexandria during the 4th century AD. She is deeply devoted to science and rejects the advances of many a man that falls for her.

Meanwhile, she finds herself in the middle of civil unrest in the city and the violent clashes between Pagans and Christians, as the old and the new religion collide in moments that will define the rest of history.

6 300 (2006)

Based on the gritty graphic novel by Frank Miller, this film, by Zack Snyder, follows Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his 300 warriors as they march against all odds to fight off the Persian invaders and their King, Xerxes.

Leonidas has to lead his brave warriors in a battle that might as well be lost already in front of the vast numbers of the Persian armies, while back home in Sparta, betrayal and conspiracies are brewing. The film captures the ancient Spartan philosophy of unison and hardness, and their battle-oriented culture, while the noir and gory aesthetic elevate it to a whole new level.

5 Spartacus (1960)

The legendary actors Kirk Douglas and Lawrence Olivier star in Stanley Kubrick’s epic tale of hardship, enslavement, and rebellion. Spartacus, a Greek (Thracian) slave to the Roman Republic, is sentenced to death due to insubordination, but spared because Lentulus Batiatus buys him, seeing a potential gladiator in him.

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Spartacus falls in love with Varinia, a slave woman, and leads a rebellion that takes Rome and its prefectures by storm, freeing people and trying to find a way to lead them all to their homes. Unfortunately, in the midst of panic from the ever-growing army of freed slaves, Rome falls under tyranny and Spartacus’s rebellion is short-lived, however, on a hopeful note, he leaves a son behind: a free boy that will grow to tell his father’s story.

4 Iphigenia (1977)

This film was part of Michael Cacoyannis’s “Greek Tragedy” trilogy, along with The Trojan Women (next on our list) and Electra. Agamemnon, King of Argos, had gathered a vast Greek expeditionary army on the coasts of Aulis that he intended to take to Troy in order to retrieve his brother’s wife, but the opposing winds prevent the ships from sailing for a long time.

Agamemnon lets the restless men slay and eat sheep that belong to Artemis’s temple. In the subsequent havoc, Artemis’ sacred deer is unintentionally killed. Calchas, the high priest of Artemis’ temple, is enraged by the blasphemy and says that furious Artemis will calm the winds (letting the Greeks sail) on one condition: they must sacrifice the young daughter of Agamemnon, Iphigenia.

3 The Trojan Women (1971)

Legends of cinema Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave star in this film by Cacoyannis that is based on the homonymous ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides.

The film follows the various noblewomen of Troy (Hecuba, Andromache, Cassandra, and Helen) after its sack, each one with her own personal tragedies and fears, all of them collectively worried about their future and the ultimate fate of Troy, as they are surrounded by death and ruins. This was the second in Cacoyannis’s “Greek Tragedy” trilogy.

2 Jason And The Argonauts (1963)

The fabled Greek hero Jason guides a team of courageous voyagers in a dangerous search for the legendary Golden Fleece. Jason has been foretold to seize back the throne of Thessaly, as he is (unbeknownst to himself) the true heir.

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When he keeps Pelias from dying, but does not identify him as the usurper of his father’s throne, Pelias rushes Jason to go to Colchis to find the Golden Fleece. Jason gathers a maritime crew of the best men in Greece (including Hercules) and they depart under the guard of Hera, queen of the Gods, as their expedition abounds with fights against harpies, the bronze giant Talos, a hydra, and many more obstacles.

1 Ulysses (1954)

This Italian swords-and-sandals epic stars Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn and follows the adventures of Ulysses, king of Ithaca and one of the Greek generals at the Trojan War, as he desperately tries to return to his homeland (following the Odyssey quite faithfully).

During the sack of Troy, he and his men desecrated the temple of Poseidon and as punishment, he threw many obstacles on the path of their return. After many a tribulation, Ulysses finds himself an amnesiac on the island of Phaeacia and falls for princess Nausicaa. However, when his memory is stirred, he must find the courage to return home and face a wife and son he hasn’t seen in 20 years.

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