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HOMER

There is no question that the writer of the Iliad and the Odyssey was one of the greatest poets in the history of Western Europe, but aside from this, very little can be said about him. Ancient Greek tradition, as well as a study of language and the style of the poems indicates that he probably lived and wrote sometime in the eighth or ninth centuries B.C., but no more definite date can be determined. In ancient times, seven different cities claimed the honor of having been his birthplace. None of these assertions can be validated, but more than likely, he came from the island of Chios, on the western coast of Asia Minor, for in historical times, a family of the same name lived there and claimed him as an ancestor and devoted themselves to the recitation of his works. Whether or not he actually came form Chios, however, it is highly probable that he was a native and a resident of some section of Asia Minor, for the dialect in which he composed his works is that of the Asian (Ionian) Greeks. *Skill*

Homer is the oldest name inn European literary history. The facts about Homer’s life have been argued over for many years. Some scholars have even questioned whether or not he really lived. They have said that the poems called Homer’s were really just a collection of poems by many people, lumped together under Homer’s name. But it is now generally agreed that he was a real person who wrote the poems called his. *World Book*

Legends about Homer were numerous in ancient times. He was said to be blind. His birthplace has always been disputed, but Chios or Smyrna seems most likely. *Columbia*

The early Greeks unhesitatingly insisted that there had been a single individual named Homer to whom they credited the Homeric Hymns. *Milch*

The Greeks loved his works and made them the center of their literary education. *World Book* The study of Homer was required of all Greek students in antiquity, and his heroes were worshipped in the many parts of Greece. “The Iliad and the Odyssey make together the epic prototype; they are written in dactylic hexameter and are of nearly the same length. *Columbia*

It is known that Homer’s poems were recited in the Greek state of Sparta in the 500’s B.C., and that from that time on their fame grew. Powerful rulers took time out of their warmaking to see that his works were properly edited and arranged. Each Greek city had its own treasure copy of the poems. Later, Roman poets copied Homer’s style, and such works as Virgil’s Aeneid show Homer’s influence.

*World Book*

Homer’s poems were hailed as the greatest poetical masterpieces of all time. His works were set up as the standard toward which all poets should strive.

The reading of the Iliad and the Odyssey came to be one of the major parts of the school curriculum. Today, the study of the Greek language has become a minor section of the curriculums, but many students (including some who attend Henry Hudson) read the Iliad and the Odyssey in English.

The charm of Homer’s poems lies in the rapid movement and the stately music of the long lines. Their style is simple but noble, and their character stand out as real people.

“While little if anything is known of Homer’s life, his works are an ever-lasting tribute to him. Progress is an ideal in most fields of human activity, but in epic poetry it is the two earliest examples which are the best. The Iliad and the Odyssey have for thousands of years been the standards by which poets of all languages have measured themselves. Homer is magnificent for an understanding of human nature in all its aspects, for keen observation of the whole world in which men live, for essential sanity and good taste, and for superb control of all the technical devices of his medium, Homer has never been surpassed.” *Skill*

WORK CITED

Columbia Encyclopedia. “Homer.” Rockville House Publishers. New York & London: 1969 ed. volume 10.

Milch, Robert J. Cliffs Notes on Homer’s The Odyssey. Cliffs Notes, Inc. Lincoln, Nebraska: 1966.

Skill, Elaine Strong. Cliffs Notes on Homer’s The Iliad. Cliffs Notes, Inc. Lincoln, Nebraska: 1986.

World Book Encyclopedia. “Homer.” Field Enterprises Educational Corporation. Chicago: 1959 ed. volume 8.

Bibliography

WORK CITED

Columbia Encyclopedia. “Homer.” Rockville House Publishers. New York & London: 1969 ed. volume 10.

Milch, Robert J. Cliffs Notes on Homer’s The Odyssey. Cliffs Notes, Inc. Lincoln, Nebraska: 1966.

Skill, Elaine Strong. Cliffs Notes on Homer’s The Iliad. Cliffs Notes, Inc. Lincoln, Nebraska: 1986.

World Book Encyclopedia. “Homer.” Field Enterprises


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