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All rights reserved. Dating to about B. The Iliad and The Odyssey are two of the key works of Western civilization. But almost nothing is known about their author and the date and manner of their creation. In Why Homer Matters , historian and award-winning author Adam Nicolson suggests that Homer be thought of not as a person but as a tradition and that the works attributed to him go back a thousand years earlier than generally believed. Speaking from his home in England, Nicolson describes how being caught in a storm at sea inspired his passion for Homer, how the oral bards of the Scottish Hebrides may hold the key to understanding Homer’s works, and why smartphones are connecting us to ancient oral traditions in new and surprising ways. About ten years ago, I set off sailing with a friend of mine.

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An eighth-century date for Homer is, I think, the most widely held. In M. West championed the priority of Hesiod, on whom he had written a commentary, and since then he has continued to publish arguments for putting Homer in the first half of the seventh century BC. In W. Burkert supported such a dating from the mention of Egyptian Thebes in Iliad Book 9 in an article which proved influential for instance, on R. Osborne, Greece in the Making , but is no longer convincing my Chapter 19 n.

Not every Homerist or historian of Homeric society has been very interested in engaging in the debate concerning the dating of Homer. The great German.

Assembling a new book of ancient stories translated by great writers, Of Gods and Men , I was surprised to discover how prevalent the tale of the Trojan War has been down the ages. Authors as diverse as John Dryden, Alexander Pope and Louis MacNeice have been moved to translate various versions of the classical myth. One reason the Trojan War has struck such a chord is that, besides being an excellent story, it has long been suspected to have actually happened. For most ancient Greeks, indeed, the Trojan War was much more than a myth.

It was an epoch-defining moment in their distant past. As the historical sources — Herodotus and Eratosthenes — show, it was generally assumed to have been a real event. Determined to get Helen back and punish the Trojans, Agamemnon and his brother marched a mighty army against Troy, and eventually succeeded in bringing its people to their knees.

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Portrait Bust of Homer Mid-2nd C. Nothing is recorded of him as a historical person; ancient biographical accounts contain nothing reliable, being compilations from apocryphal stories, competing local claims, and imaginative inferences from the poems. In any case it is clear that in the early Archaic Age epic poems were not attributed authorship in the modern sense; they were regarded as traditional tales retold by living bards. Scholarly opinions on the dating of Homer’s epics have long diverged widely.

Scholars today consider the two Homeric epics in some way to represent the culmination of an oral tradition that extended back many centuries, with its origins in the Mycenaean period c. Beyond that, there is little agreement, and many questions are fiercely debated: how did an oral tradition become a written tradition, producing the manuscripts that come down to us? If there was a “Homer,” was he literate?

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Considered to be one of the all-time greatest works of literature, the engraved clay slab contains 13 verses from the 12,line poem, with preliminary estimates dating it to Roman times, likely before the third century. It seems fitting then that the engraved terracotta slab was discovered near the ancient remains of the Temple of Zeus in Olympia. The Hellenic Institute of Political Science, the German Archaeological Institute, and other research agencies, were conducting a three-year dig at the Sanctuary of Olympia home of the original Olympic games when they found this new treasure.

Archaeologist Erophili Kollia, who directed the excavation, tells LiveScience the discovery cannot yet be connected to the sanctuary directly, as similar finds were not unearthed. The Odyssey is widely believed to date back to the Eighth Century B.

An up-to-date survey of the theory proposed in “The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic. Tales” is presented here. The real setting of the Iliad and.

He is considered by many to be the earliest and most important of all the Greek writers , and the progenitor of the whole Western literary tradition. He was a poetic pioneer who stood at a pivotal point in the evolution of Greek society from pre-literate to literate , from a centuries old bardic tradition of oral verse to the then new technique of alphabetic writing.

Nothing definite is known of Homer the historical man, and indeed we do not know for sure that such a man ever existed. However, of the many conflicting traditions and legends that have grown up around him, the most common and most convincing version suggests that Homer was born at Smyrna in the Ionian region of Asia Minor or possibly on the island of Chios , and that he died on the Cycladic island of Ios.

Some ancient accounts depict Homer as a wandering minstrel, and a common portayal is of a blind, begging singer who travelled around the harbour towns of Greece, associating with shoemakers, fisherman, potters, sailors and elderly men in the town gathering places. Exactly what Homer was responsible for writing is likewise largely unsubstantiated. Some maintain that the Homeric poems are dependent on an oral tradition , a generations-old technique that was the collective inheritance of many singer-poets.

The language used by Homer is an archaic version of Ionic Greek , with admixtures from certain other dialects such as Aeolic Greek. It later served as the basis of Epic Greek, the language of epic poetry, typically written in dactylic hexameter verse. Back to Top of Page. Biography — Who is Homer.

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Fortunately, Memiyawanzi had a rant about it that expressed what was in my soul:. She had never heard this expression before, and supposed that he must have been caught doing something like cutting down trees in a state park. How can you be so sure of this dating?

At one extreme, Richard Janko has proposed a date for both poems to the eighth century BC based on linguistic analysis and statistics. Barry B. Powell dates the.

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Now we play the waiting game…Ahh, the waiting game sucks. Unshrink you? Well that would require some sort of a Rebigulator, which is a concept so ridiculous it makes me want to laugh out loud and chortle… -Professor Frink. Homer a minute. This classic a thousand monkeys working at a thousand typewriters.

Homer, history and archaeology: some remarks on the date of the Homeric World (1995)

Toggle navigation. A Preclassical Homer from the Dark Age 1. Homer and the Athenian Empire 2. Homer outside his Poetry 3.

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As these men were not sent to war because their loyalty on the battlefield was suspect, they would not be killed in conflicts, so they were entrusted with remembering the area’s stock of epic poetry, to remember past events, from the dating before literacy came to the area. It has also been suggested by Pseudo-Plutarch that the name comes from a word meaning “to follow” and another meaning “blind”.

Other sources are Homer’s name with Smyrna for several etymological reasons. Exactly when these dishes would have taken on a fixed written form is subject to debate. The traditional solution is the “transcription hypothesis”, wherein a non-literate singer dictates the poem to a literate scribe in the 6th century BC or earlier. Sources from antiquity are unanimous in declaring that Peisistratus , the tyrant of Athens , first committed the poems of Homer to writing and placed them in the order in which we now read them.

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