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Homer And His Writings Essay, Research Paper

Homer and His Writings

“A hero is one who is born illegitimately, out of the fear of the prophecy of his future greatness, is abandoned by his father, is save by animals or others and raised by a lowly couple, fights wars, returns home triumphant, defeats his persecutors, frees his mother, becomes king, founds a city, and dies young (In Quest of the Hero vii).” Homer took this theory to heart in his writing the Odyssey.

Homer was constantly using each one of these components and many of them can be seen in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. As you can see in his writings, Homer was way ahead of his time in his use of the power of words. He began a spark in the area of epic poems that will never be replaced. In fact, some believe that that spark was definitely started by Homer as he created the Iliad and the Odyssey, but he was not the one that put in onto paper. “The Ionic script, in which the Iliad and the Odyssey were handed down, came into official use only in the fifth century B.C. We know scarcely anything of its previous history (Homer 6)”. Due to this fact, many could conclude

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that his epic manuscripts could date as late as the second half of the eighth century, where it is speculated was the actual time of Homer and when these epics were written (by his hand or the hands of someone else) (Homer 6).

Another theory on the Iliad and the Odyssey is that they are a result of a long evolution in oral tradition. This is a valid point when you take into effect the association of Homer with oral tradition because it becomes clearer in the relation between the two as ancient singers expressed in lament the fame of the dead and praise of the living, which are chief ends of heroic literature. These men that were sung and written about were what Homer saw as the heroes the Greeks of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. honored as their ancestors. They were regarded as a generation of superior beings that sought and deserved great honor (From Achilles to Christ 11).

“The prominent civilized nations, including the Greeks, all began at an early stage to glorify their heroes, mythical princes and kings, founders of religions, dynasties, empires or cities, in brief their national heroes, in a number of poetic tales and legends (The Myth of the Birth of the Hero 1).” As far as war heroes are concerned, Homer is considered by many to have lived around

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850 B.C. and the Trojan War that he wrote about in the Iliad and the Odyssey to have taken place some 350 years earlier around 1200 B.C. (From Achilles to Christ 11). The Iliad uses war as a basis to describe the events of a few weeks in the ten-year siege of Troy, while the Odyssey was concerned with the peace that followed the war and in particular with the return of the heroes who survived (The Norton Anthology 96-97).

Homer was a writer who was far ahead of his time. He took into view the possibility of overcoming death (immortality), the triumph of life over death, order over chaos, gods versus man, and man’s ability to defeat the gods. Homer was constantly aware of the thought of change, how the ancient cities must fall, how the conquerors would prevailed over the fallen cities, and heroes interaction with all of these aspects.

What you never saw in Homeric writings was comfort in the death of his fallen warriors. In the Odyssey, Homer gives you a geographical picture of the under world and how Achilles would rather be a slave on earth than king in the other world (XI). In the Iliad, it is seen that the phantom of Patroclus is seeking burial in order that he may find rest in a nebulous Hades (XXIII).

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Homer was a genius who covered every aspect of human desires, interests, and imperfections. He was the spark of the flame in Epic poems and his writings were far ahead of his time. Just as he was. . .

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Guida M Jackson. “Hero”. Encyclopedia of Traditional

Epics. 1994ed

Jepsen, Laura. From Achilles to Christ. 1978

Mack, Maynard. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces.

New York: Norton, 1997.

Rank, Raglan, et al. In Quest of a Hero. Princeton, N.J.:

Princeton Universtiy Press, 1990.

Rank, Otto. The Myth of the Birth of the Hero: A

Pscyhological Interpretation of Mythology. New York: Robert Brunner, 1952.

Steiner, George, Robert Fagles. Homer. Englewood Cliffs,


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