The Mystery of Homer

  • Some scholars believe him to be one man.

  • Others think these iconic stories were created by a group.

  • A variation on the group idea stems from the fact that storytelling was an oral tradition and Homer compiled the stories, then recited them to memory.

  • The stories have repetitive elements, almost like a chorus or refrain, which suggests a musical element.

  • Homer’s works are designated as epic rather than lyric poetry, which was originally recited with lyre in hand.

 

When He Was Born

  • Guesses at his birth date range from 750 BC all the way back to 1200 BC.

  • The Iliad encompasses the story of the Trojan War, so some scholars have thought it fit to put the poet and chronicler nearer to the time of that actual event.

  • Greek historian Herodotus c. 484–425 BC, often called the father of history, placed Homer several centuries before himself, around 850 BC.

  • Homer lived before a chronological dating system was in place.

  • The Olympic Games of classical Greece marked an epoch, with 776 BC as a starting point by which to measure out four-year periods for the event.

Illustration by Frank A. Masciale 

the author, HOMER

Where He Was Born

  • The exact location of Homer’s birth cannot be pinpointed.

  • It has been identified as Ionia, Smyrna or, at any rate, on the coast of Asia Minor or the island of Chois. But seven cities lay claim to Homer as their native son.

  • He dialect that The Iliad and The Odyssey are written in is considered Asiatic Greek, specifically Ionic.

  • Local phenomena such as strong winds blowing from the northwest from the direction of Thrace, suggests, scholars feel, a familiarity with that region that could only mean Homer came from there.

 

What He Was Like

  • Homer is thought to have been blind, based solely on a character in The Odyssey, a blind poet/minstrel called Demodokos.

  • A long disquisition on how Demodokos was welcomed into a gathering and regaled the audience with music and epic tales of conflict and heroes to much praise has been interpreted as Homer’s hint as to what his own life was like.

 

 

Homer Biography by CloudBiography

The Iliad and the Odyssey

  • The stories provide an important insight into early human society, and illustrate, in some aspects, how little has changed.

  • Some scholars insist that Homer was personally familiar with the plain of Troy, due to the geographical accuracy in the poem.

 

Legacy

  • The first printed editions of Homer were in 1488 CE in Florence by Chalcondyles of Athens. Homer's work was hugely influential on Greek culture, and scenes from his works appeared in Greek sculpture, on Greek pottery, and in Greek tragedy and comedy.

  • Perhaps the greatest of all epic poets and his legendary status was well established by the time of Classical Athens. He composed not wrote, since the poems were created and transmitted orally.

  • People memorized big chunks of Homer's writings in school, and they repeated bits of it in order to convince other people to do something or think something. 

© 2015 by The Sacred Heart University Thomas More Honors Program