Homer

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Homer, lauded as the poet of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” the two great epics that established Greek literature, has unhappily been reduced to a name. In fact, many current historians are skeptical that a man named Homer ever existed. These two epics, according to them, were written by a group of poet-singers known as Homer. Another group, on the other hand, believes that there was a poet named Homer, but that he was only responsible for refining the stories and compiling them into the two epics. On the contrary, according to ancient Greek legend, a man named Homer wrote the two great epics, as well as a collection of verses known as the ‘Homeric Hymns.’ More crucially, residents of various places in Asia Minor referred to as the “Homeridae” claimed to be direct descendants of the bard. Modern researchers have built his life story as much from ancient traditions as from specific parts in his works, and we know very little about him because of their efforts.

Table of Contents

Date of Birth

It’s difficult to establish Homer’s birth year because he was born before the contemporary dating system was developed. Homer lived between the twelfth and eighth centuries BC, according to historians.

It should be noted that the people of Ancient Greece were without a script at this time, having lost the Mycenaean scripts but not yet gaining the Phoenician alphabet.

Experts believe Homer lived around this time period since both of the epics attributed to him were created through oral tradition.

Although no hard evidence exists to determine the actual year of his birth, various experts have proposed various ideas. Herodotus, an ancient historian who lived between 484 and 425 BC, dated Homer’s birth to roughly 850 BC, four centuries before his own.

However, some current academics assume that Homer lived during the War of Troy, which occurred in the twelfth century B.C. They claim that he could not have described the topography of the location in such detail unless he had been present at the time.

For example, Homer claims that the sea-god Poseidon, who sat atop the island of Samothrace’s tallest hill, watched “Priam’s city and the Achaeans’ ships.”

Homer would not have been able to write it simply by following the maps since the view would have been obstructed by the island of Imbros.

Only in modern times have we discovered that the plain could be viewed from the 5000-foot-high peak of Samothrace, which was seen through a notched shoulder of Imbros.

They argue that he must have climbed the peak and observed the ships and city before placing Poseidon there.

Furthermore, Homer had no means of knowing that a prehistoric walled citadel existed at what is now known as Hissarlik before Heinrich Schliemann found it in the nineteenth century AD. To write in such great detail about Troy, he must have lived in the twelfth century BC.

Other academics, on the other hand, have concluded that he lived around the eighth or ninth centuries B.C. based on the style and language of the poetry. Many of them believe Homer was born about the year 750 BC.

Location of Birth

Homer’s birthplace is also a source of controversy, much like the year. Residents of seven different cities claimed that he was born in their city in ancient times. Such assertions, however, have never been verified, and no archeological relics have ever been discovered.

Homer is thought to have lived in Eastern Greece or Asia Minor, according to scholars. They have named three cities as his birthplace: Ionia, an Aeolian hamlet called Smyrna, both in Asia Minor and the Island of Chios, which is located in the Aegean Sea near the Anatolian coast.

Such assumptions can be made for a variety of reasons. For example, the dialect he spoke was mostly Ionic, with a little Aeolic thrown in for good measure.

This Ionic-Aeolic combination was mostly utilized in the border districts between Ionia and Aeolis, as well as on Chios Island.

Apart from that, his works frequently reference strong winds coming from the direction of Thrace in the northwest. As a result, it was assumed that he came from one of these three cities.

At the same time, he was frequently referred to as Mele’s son, Melesigenes. Mele is now a river in Smyrna, which has prompted many to believe that he was born there.

Furthermore, a family believed to be Homer’s ancestors was discovered in Chios in the 6th century BC. Some, however, identify with it as the Homeridae, or the sons of Homer, an eponymous guild of bards.

Whoever they were, the members not only claimed that the bard was their ancestor, but also that they had helped to preserve and propagate his works by memorizing and repeating them regularly. As a result, the people of Chios claimed that Homer was from their town.

Lucian, a Roman satirist, gave this already complicated subject a new twist by portraying Homer as Tigranes, a Babylonian. He goes on to state that Tigranes was the one who adopted the name Homer after being kidnapped by the Greeks.

Homer’s story

What little we know about him has been passed down to us through his writings. Despite successfully concealing himself in both epics, he mentions a blind bard in ‘The Odyssey,’ which many historians believe is Homer himself.

Demodocus, a bard, tells the narrative of Troy to the shipwrecked Odysseus at the court of the Phaeacian monarch in ‘the Odyssey.’ If the notion that Demodocus is Homer is correct, we must believe that he is the son of Telemachus and Epikaste.

However, someone known as Pseudo Herodotus wrote ‘The Life of Homer’ in the 3rd or 4th century AD, and it relates a different account. Homer, whose original name was Melesigenes, is said to have been conceived out of a liaison between Cretheis of Argos and his ward, Melanopus of Cyme in Aeolis.

Nonetheless, one may infer from Homer’s works that he came from a noble background. This is based on the fact that none of his heroes come from a typical family. Episodes like the thrashing of a commoner named Thersites support these claims.

Although he was a court singer, several biographers believe that he used to hang out with regular people in port towns. If he did visit such locations, it was most likely to gather material for his writings.

It’s unclear how or when Homer becomes blind. Many people also question that he was blind because he painted landscapes and events with far too much precision to have done so without the use of his eyesight. He may have had eye ailments later in life, according to some reports.

Every biographer, however, agrees on one fact: he was a wandering minstrel who traveled from place to place singing stories from ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey.’ During his travels, he is supposed to have encountered Hesiod, another ancient Greek poet, at Amphidamas’ funeral games, which were organized by his son, Ganyctor.

They eventually agreed to compete in the wit contest. The judge, unable to make a decision, asked them to perform poems. Hesiod recited from his ‘Works and Days,’ while Homer quoted from ‘The Iliad.’

According to legend, the judge proclaimed Hesiod the winner since his poem focused on peace whereas Homer’s poem focused on conflict.

Homer’s death is the subject of an intriguing, though unsubstantiated, narrative. Some youths asked Homer a riddle about contracting lice, according to traditions cited by Heracleitus of Ephesus, a 5th century BC biographer, and Pre-Socratic philosopher. He died of desperation after failing to address the problem.

Homer Major Projects

Homer is most known for his two major epics, the ‘Iliad’ and the ‘Odyssey.’ Many people assumed they were written by two distinct people because of the disparities in their writing styles. However, following additional investigation, it was discovered that the two epics were written by the same person.

It was later considered that Homer wrote the ‘Iliad’ when still young, and the ‘Odyssey’ when he was older. Most scholars also agree that both epics, which were originally composed orally, had undergone alterations and polishing by later bards, resulting in the variances.

Estimated net worth

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Trivia

The argument about Homer’s identity and the authorship of the two epics “Iliad” and “Odyssey” is today known as the “Homeric Question” among scholars.

The dispute dates back to the early fourth century BC during the Hellenistic period, although it reached its pinnacle in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries AD.