Homer was one of many legendary Greek poets. According to legend, Homer was blind and often recited his poetry as he traveled from place to place. Some people refer to him more as a bard or singer, rather than a writer, but his writings are what has stood the ultimate test of time. After his inevitable death, it is believed that other bards kept his poetry alive, and eventually scribes recorded it.
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The Story of the Epic Greek Poet
Homer was known to create marvelous poetry, which held a unique scope into the complexity of human emotion. Within Greek culture, his writings are held to a high standard and many Greeks proclaim him to the most Authentic representation of Greek poetry. His most famous books would be the Illiad and the Odyssey, a fantasy epic, with each separate story comprising of twenty-four books.
The Illiad is written in twenty-four books and discusses the wrath of Achilles, – the Greek god of war – and tales of the Trojan War.
The poems are considered by Greeks to symbolize unity and act as more of an anti-war poem than anything.
The Oddysey was also written in a series of twenty-four books and dealt primarily with Odysseus’s return to his homeland. The poem drew inspiration from a unique blend of history and real life scenarios and has managed to entrap many minds throughout history. Morality and wisdom were key components in many of Homer’s stories as they revolved around the endeavors of the protagonist.
In antiquity, it is widely believed that the majority of Homer’s works were collected in Athens by the tyrant Pesistratos and it is believed around 150 B.C. the texts could regarded as widely established. After the Library of Alexandria was founded, Homeric scholars such as Aristarchus, Aristophanes, and Zenodotus began to establish a canonical version of the text. The Library of Alexandria was later burned down multiple times.
The Life of Homer
Unfortunately not a lot is actually known about his life. It is not certain which century he even lived but due to historical and geographical data, experts are relatively certain it must have been before 776 B.C. Two ancient biographies were written about Homer, including the Contest of Homer and Hesiod, and the Life of Homer written by Pseudo-Herodotus.
Herodotus places his age about 400 years prior to his own, which would be around 850 B.C. and most scholars accept this date as our most accurate assumption. Evidence also suggests the was born a Greek, in Asia Minor, which would equate to the modern country of Turkey.
So little is known about the life of his that some scholars debate whether he even existed. Some believe it is a pen-name, and others even believe it to be a name used to release material written by a collective. Since the epic fantasies, the Illiad and the Odyssey are so large in volume, some scholars simply don’t believe they could have been written by a single man, although it is noted by many that the writing style seems similar throughout the entirety of the book.
The Death of Homer
Homer is believed to have died on the island of Ios. His grave now acts as a a popular tourist attraction in Plakoto. According to legend, his mother Clymene lived there, which is why he chose to return there during his final days. Although many believe he died due to illness, there is folklore which states he was killed by the local villagers.
Hopefully one day we will be able to answer the quandary surrounding the tales of Homer and shed light upon the veil of his mystery, but until then, what we have are the relics attributed to the supposed author, and it is likely he will remain heralded as one of greatest writers of human history.
The concept and style of his poetry formed the bedrock upon which Greek education was formed during the age of Socrates. Homer’s work served as a foundation for later Greek writers, including notable Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle.