Schiller’s second period witnessed a number of fine poems, of which “The Gods of Greece” is typical. It was first published in the March, 1788, issue of Der Teutsche Merkur. Schiller at this time was still full of rebellious spirit. He looked back to ancient Greece, idealizing the past. He contrasted its attempt to help humanity find peace with itself to the soulless concept of Christianity. Schiller later revised the poem in 1793, after its critical reception, by eliminating the passages on Christianity.
Schiller’s poetry usually coalesced around a central tenet or idea. His aim was to appeal to the ear and the mind. Like the ancient Greek thinkers whom he admired, Schiller posed philosophical questions in his poetry about what is good, beautiful, and true in life and proceeded to answer them. The poet believed fully in humanity and anticipated a better future. Schiller grew as a poet, and his style changed from passionate and lyrical exultations to a classical mastery of simplicity and clarity.