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Homer (900 B.C. - 800 B.C.)

Homer

Very little is known about Homer, including his birth and death dates. However, it is generally accepted that he lived during the period 900-800 B.C. His birthplace is in question – some say Smyrna, others say Ionia. Too, in question, is whether or not he actually wrote the two major works that are traditionally ascribed to his name: The Iliad and The Odyssey.

The Iliad and The Odyssey are both epics: long, narrative poems that detail the deeds of a hero. The Iliad, based on oral traditions, is written about the Trojan War, specifically focusing on two soldiers: Akhilleus, representing the Greeks, and Hector, the hero of the Trojans. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus, King of Ithaka, who, while on his way home from the Trojan War, offends the sea god, Poseidon, and is doomed to another ten years of wandering before being able to return to his home and family. The Homeric Hymns, a series of short poems that honor the Greek gods, is also attributed to Homer.

Prolegomena ad Homerum (The Homeric Problem), published in 1795 and written by F. A. Wolf, began the debate that continues today. The book questions whether Homer ever existed and if the two epic poems could have been written by one person.

Famous quotations by Homer:

  • I detest that man who hides one thing in the depths of his heart, and speaks for another.

  • A multitude of rulers is not a good thing. Let there be one ruler, one king.

  • Even when someone battles hard, there is an equal portion for one who lingers behind, and in the same honor are held both the coward and the brave man; the idle man and he who has done much meet death alike.

  • I too shall lie in the dust when I am dead, but now let me win noble renown.

  • It is not unseemly for a man to die fighting in defense of his country.

  • Of men who have a sense of honor, more come through alive than are slain, but from those who flee comes neither glory nor any help.

  • Suggested sites for Homer:

    Encyclopedia article about Homer
    Texts by Homer
    Collection Of Hesiod, Homer and Homerica
    Collection of works attributed to Homer.
    The Iliad
    Written about the Trojan War, the story focuses on two soldiers: Akhilleus, representing the Greeks, and Hector, the hero of the Trojans.
    The Odyssey
    The story of Odysseus, King of Ithaka, who, while on his way home from the Trojan War, offends the sea god, Poseidon, and is doomed to another ten years of wandering before being able to return to his home and family.

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