Homer

Works, Life, and Legends

Two epic poems are attributed to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. They are composed in a literary type of Greek, Ionic in basis with Aeolic admixtures. Ranked among the great works of Western literature, these two poems together constitute the prototype for all subsequent Western epic poetry.

The "Homeric question" was the great dispute of scholarship in the 19th cent. Scholars tried to analyze the two works by various tests, usually to show that they were strung together from older narrative poems. Recent evidence strongly suggests that the Iliad is the work of a single poet. Modern scholars are generally agreed that there was a poet named Homer who lived before 700 B.C., probably in Asia Minor, and that the Iliad and the Odyssey are each the product of one poet's work, developed out of older legendary matter. Some assign the Odyssey to a poet who lived slightly after the author of the Iliad.

Legends about Homer were numerous in ancient times. He was said to be blind. His birthplace has always been disputed, but Chios or Smyrna seem most likely. The study of Homer was required of all Greek students in antiquity, and his heroes were worshiped in many parts of Greece. The Iliad and the Odyssey are composed in dactylic hexameter and are of nearly the same length. The Homeric Hymns were falsely attributed to Homer.

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Homer from Fact Monster:

  • Homeric Hymns - Homeric Hymns Homeric Hymns , name applied to a body of 34 hexameter poems falsely attributed to ...
  • Homer - Homer Homer, principal figure of ancient Greek literature; the first European poet. Sections in ...
  • Homer - Biography of Homer, The author of the Iliad and the Odyssey
  • Charles Homer Haskins - Haskins, Charles Homer Haskins, Charles Homer, 1870–1937, American historian, an authority on ...
  • February 24 Birthdays: Winslow Homer - February 24 birthdays: Winslow Homer, Honus Wagner, Steve Jobs, Joseph Lieberman, Paula Zahn, Billy Zane, Chester William Nimitz

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Classical Literature: Biographies