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Facts About Homer Odessay

Homer, hailed as the poet of ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’, the two great epics which laid the foundation of Greek literature, has unfortunately come down to us just as a name. In fact, many modern scholars are not convinced that there was actually a man named Homer. According them, these two epics were the works of a group of poet-singers, collectively known as Homer. Another group however, recognizes that there was indeed a poet named Homer, but he had only refined the stories and compiled them into the two epics. Contrarily, if we go by ancient Greek traditions, there was indeed a man called Homer, who composed the two great epics along with a number of verses collectively known as ‘Homeric Hymns.’ More importantly, inhabitants of several cities in the Asia Minor region, known as the “Homeridae” claimed that they were the direct descendents of the bard. Modern scholars have woven his life story as much from such ancient traditions as from certain elements in his works, and the little that we know about him is from their research.


Year of Birth

  • As Homer was born before the modern dating system was evolved, it is very hard to pinpoint his birth year. However, it is certain that Homer lived sometime between the twelfth and eighth century BC.
  • It is to be remembered that this was the period when the people of Ancient Greece did not have any script, having lost the Mycenaean scripts, but not yet acquiring the Phoenician alphabets. Since both the epics ascribed to Homer had been created in oral tradition, experts believe Homer must have lived sometime in this period.
  • Although there is no hard evidence to determine the exact year of his birth, different scholars have offered different theories. Herodotus, the ancient historian, who lived from 484 BC to 425 BC, placed Homer’s year of birth four centuries before his own, making it around 850 BC.
  • Then again, some modern scholars believe that Homer lived in the twelfth century B.C. when the War of Troy actually took place. The reason they site is that he could not have described the topography of the region in such details unless he himself had been there at that time.
  • For example, Homer writes that the sea-god Poseidon sitting on the highest peak of the island of Samothrace watched “the city of Priam and the ships of the Achaeans." Homer could not have written that just by following the maps because he would have found the view blocked by the island of Imbros.
  • It is only in the modern day that we find that indeed, the plain could be seen from the 5000 feet high peak of Samothrace over a notched shoulder of Imbros. Therefore, they argue, he must have climbed the peak and watched the ships and the city before he put Poseidon on it.
  • Moreover, there was no way Homer could have known that a prehistoric fortified citadel did exist at a site today known as Hissarlik before it was discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in the nineteenth century AD. Therefore, he must have lived in the twelfth century BC, to write in such great details about Troy.
  • Contrarily, by studying the style as well as the language of the poems, some other scholars have come to conclusion that he might have lived sometime in the eighth or ninth centuries B.C. Among them, many believe that Homer was born sometime around 750 BC.