When it comes to finding out about Greek poets it is amazing to discover that there is at least some information available. Homer is well-known for being the poet who wrote the epic stories of The Iliad and The Odyssey much to the delight of people who appreciated this kind of writing and love to read poetry and to the dismay of all the students who had to analyze these two stories.
“Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”
Birth of Homer
It is supposed that Greek poet Homer came into this world between the 12th and 8th centuries BC on the coast of Asia Minor. He is famous for his epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey both of which had a great effect on Western culture.
Mystery Behind the Poet
There are those who look upon these epic poems as not having been written by one man but having been written by a group all of whom each told their own tales. At that time storytelling was an oral tradition and Homer could have compiled the various stories and then memorized them. This poet’s style seems to have been of a minstrel poet or balladeer, similar to later poets like Virgil or Shakespeare. The repetitive parts in his stories are like a chorus or refrain, suggesting that they were written to be musically recited. However the works of Homer are looked upon as epic rather than lyric poetry, which originally was recited with holding a lyre in hand. With all of this controversy the greatest mystery remains as to whether there really was a Homer or not.
Looking At the Poet’s Life
There have always been guesswork done when it came to Homer’s birth and if he was a real person his birth date could be anywhere from 750 B.C. all the way back to 1200 B.C. Since The Iliad tells the story of the Trojan War then many think that Homer would have lived around that time. Some guess that he must have lived in Ionia, Smyrna or elsewhere along the Asia Minor coast or perhaps the island of Chios.
The dialect in which The Iliad and The Odyssey was written is considered Asiatic Greek, especially Ionic. Afterwards this particular dialect became the norm when it came to writing Greek literature.
The Poet Himself
Practically everything that is said about or referred to Homer has come from his poems. It is thought that the poet was blind because in The Odyssey there was a character named Demodokos, who was a blind poet/minstrel. In the epic tale Demodokos was always welcomed into a gathering and amazed the audience with his epic tales and music. Due to this a great many busts and statues that have been created showing Homer as having curly hair, a beard and sightless eyes. For centuries many writers have tried to come up with a complete profile of the poet.
The two epic poems by Homer have become like archetypal road maps in the world of mythology. They also let people take a look into early human society and let them see what life was like those days. People have long fascinated with The Iliad as it tells the tale of the siege of Troy, the Trojan War and Paris’ kidnapping of Helen, the woman with the lovely face that launched a thousand ships. The Odyssey begins after the fall of Troy and it is thought that Homer wrote The Iliad while still youthful but The Odyssey when he was already elderly. There are quite a few modern literary works that make use of both of these epic poems.
Homer might remain a mystery and his life virtually unknown but to the Greeks he was the godfather of their national culture offering people the chance to read about mythology and look into ancient Greek life portrayed in these rhythmic tales that have endured the centuries.