HOMER THE POET

          There is almost no concrete evidence concerning Homer, who is arguably the most influential writer in history.  His two epic poems are the Iliad, the story of the Greek war against the Trojans, and the Odyssey, the tale of Odysseus' ten year voyage home to Greece.  Homer lived in the dark age of Greece (c. 750 B.C.), a time when kings ruled the people and the written word was a new invention.  Because this was a time without written history, the only information we have about Homer comes from his poems themselves.  At one point of the Odyssey, Odysseus hears a blind harpist sing about the war at Troy.  The man's song is so beautiful it causes Odysseus to weep.  Some have thought that scene was Homer inserting himself into his story.  From this episode grew the rumor that Homer was a blind poet, wandering the countryside singing for his supper.  During the time Homer was writing, it was also common for a group of writers to sign only one name to their work; therefore, some assume that "Homer" is actually more than one author working in unison.  The third, and strangest, theory about Homer is that he might have been a woman.  In the Odyssey, one critic argues that Homer knows almost nothing about sailing, naming parts of the ship incorrectly and placing them in the wrong locations.  To this critic's mind, this means that Homer must have been a woman, writing about a subject she had never seen.  Whether Homer was a blind man, a group of men, or a woman, he (or she) gave Greece the Iliad and Odyssey, the first two epics of western civilization.

READ ABOUT THE ILIAD

READ ABOUT THE ODYSSEY

READ ABOUT OTHER FAMOUS GREEKS

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ABOVE:  An Orator Reads Aloud from Homer