Homer – The foundation of all civilization

“Homer British Museum” by Originally from en.wikipedia; Original uploader was JW1805 at en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Homer_British_Museum.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Homer_British_Museum.jpg

We are all familiarized with the great name Homer. Even we have never read the Iliad or the Odyssey, which are considered to be created by Homer, we still know his name and who he was, or at least we think we know. Homer is believed to be the “inventor” of literature as he actually influenced the literature in a great point. The Iliad and the Odyssey are called epic poems and the ancient Greeks had placed them, amongst other poems of that kind in order to educate their children. It is easy though to conclude that Homer and his epic poems were really famous in the ancient years, until today of course. But can we actually be certain about Homer and his great within the century creations? Let us have a quick look.

“Homeric Greece el” από τον commons:User:Pinpin, modified by: Alexikoua – File:Homeric Greece.svgTransferred from el.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:MARKELLOS using CommonsHelper. Υπό την άδεια Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 μέσω Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Homeric_Greece_el.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Homeric_Greece_el.jpg

It is not yet defined when Homer lived. Many people claim that he lived in the 12 century BC close to the era that the Trojan War was held. Others claim that he lived between the 9th and the 8th century BC. The second opinion seems to be the most acceptable one, as Herodotus himself claimed the exact same thing. About Homer’s origin, things are getting a bit complicated. Chios island is one of the estimated places that Homer lived, the other place that claims the title of Homer’s birthplace is Ionia, more specifically, Smyrna. It is more likely though to have an Ionian origin, as firstly his name Homer which is a Greek name attested in the Aeolic speaking areas, which Ionia was a part of it. That is why in the islands of the eastern Aegean sea (which were close to Ionia), were residing people with Aeolic origin. It is normal though through the sea trading a good relationship to exist. That happened in the 8th century BC with the first colonization. Another fact, which is leading us to that conclusion is that Homer is more familiarized with the topography of Asia Minor, and its natural environment. Homer, is also using the Ionic dialect in his epic poems. Shouldn’t that ring a bell?

William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) -Homer and his Guide (1874)
“William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) – Homer and his Guide (1874)” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Homer_and_his_Guide_(1874).jpg#mediaviewer/File:William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Homer_and_his_Guide_(1874).jpg

Homer was also believed to be a blind man. In this claiming we do not have much evidence. We also have to mention that Homer never wrote neither the Iliad nor the Odyssey. Homer was actually a storyteller and a singer, who used to visit palaces in order to entertain the king and the royal family. In that era, it was a very common phenomenon. Such people were called rapsods (storytellers/poets/singers combined, usually playing the lyre or the harp) from the Greek word ραψωδός (rapsodos). There is a contrary, though about Homer composing these poems, as many think that it is almost impossible for a man to be able remembering such long stanzas. Others, though tend to believe that Homer was not just a single person, but a group of storytellers that composed that poems together. That claiming though, is not considered strong enough.
Another thing that is also leading to a great contrary about Homer and his epic poems, is the differences in the language, the style and the mature of thought in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The differences we must say, are many and of course noticeable. But we tend to accept the theory of Loginus an ancient Greek literature critic. He claimed that the differences that can be found in both of the epic poems, are a result of Homer’s aging. He claims that the Iliad is written while Homer was at a younger age. That is why, in our opinion, there are adventurous elements as well as battlefield scenes. The ideal romantic, war for love, is also a clue that we have to prove that Homer was at a young age when he created the Iliad. In the Odyssey, it is easy to find more mature minded thoughts and beliefs. It is the wisdom that is all over the poem, and the will of a man to return finally home and to spend the rest of his life there. It is obvious that Odysseus is tired of the 10 year war and wants some quiet and peace for the years that fate has defined for him. The adventure though is not missing. The two epic poems were commanded to be written down by the tyrant Peisistratos. Until his era, they survived by one telling the story to another.

“Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Apotheosis of Homer, 1827” από τον Ζαν Ωγκύστ Ντομινίκ Ενγκρ – wartburg.edu. Υπό την άδεια Public domain μέσω Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres,_Apotheosis_of_Homer,_1827.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres,_Apotheosis_of_Homer,_1827.jpg

It is for sure difficult to be able to know, what exactly happened back then. The only thing that we have for sure is that the Iliad and the Odyssey are both magnificent creations that have survived through all those centuries. Nothing else can be compared to these two epic poems, in which I think the word epic fully describes them. The only thing that matters is that the name of Homer is totally connected with these two epic poems, and of course he is considered to be their creator. That has remained stained to the passage of so many eras, and will continue to be for sure.

Nikoleta Vemvetsou

Nikoleta Vemvetsou
Nikoleta Vemvetsou is 19 years old and she is currently studying History & Archaeology in the University of Ioannina, which was a childhood’s dream as she recalls. She writes articles on various topics including history, arcaeology, literature, poetry and more, in many blogs, newspapers and magazines as well as her own poetry. She is the co-founder of Literatology and also a co-chief editor of the Literatology team.











Read More about Homer: 

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer
  2. http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/People/Homer/
  3. http://www.biography.com/people/homer-9342775
  4. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270219/Homer
  5. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6130/6130-pdf.pdf
  6. http://www.ahshistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Homer-Odyssey.pdf

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