A wise man once said, “Like that star of the waning summer who beyond all stars rises bathed in the ocean stream to glitter with brilliance” (Homer 22). This is a beautiful line from Homer’s The Iliad. It is a comparison to the stars describing someone or something that stands out amongst an ordinary crowd and proves himself. This seems to fit Homer’s description perfectly. Despite the fact that his life was a mystery, Homer, “The teacher of Greece”, is legendary due to the multiple theories about his existence, his poems, and his beliefs.
To begin, Homer had a very incomprehensible life that scholars have been researching for many years. One historian stated, “In the absence of documented evidence, beginning in the Renaissance, disputes arose over exactly when Homer had lived and how he had composed these works. Some scholars even suggest that a historical Homer had never existed and that The Iliad and The Odyssey had evolved over time with input from many unidentified poets” (Zanker 15). Although the time range of Homer’s life remains unknown, some place Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries B.C, or at a time contemporary to The Iliad. It is most commonly said that he was born in Asia Minor, but specifically Ionia or the Island of Chios. The dialect of The Iliad is considered to be Ionic. Homer’s unknown past led to many inquiries about his life and his true identity.Order now
Next, because of Homer’s puzzling background, there are many theories as to who Homer really was. One classicist mentioned, “Beyond a few fragments of information, historians and classicists can only speculate about the life of a man who composed The Iliad and The Odyssey” (Gregory 88). Some people assume that Homer was a Babylonian who was held hostage by the Greeks. They infer this because in some dialects of Greek, the name “Homer” translates to “hostage”. Others believe that he was a blind man from Ithaca; however some scholars have suggested that he was only a transmitter and never actually existed. Although it is not known which theory of existence is correct, Homer produced life changing works of literature.
Above all, Homer’s poetry has influenced not only Greece, but the whole world. Alfred Heubeck informs, “The formative influence of the works of Homer in shaping and influencing the whole development of Greek culture was recognized by many Greeks themselves, who considered him to be their instructor” (Heubeck 17). Homer wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey. The Iliad, being a prequel to The Odyssey, describes the events that took place leading up to and during the Trojan War. The Odyssey is about Odysseus and his journey back to Ithaca. Homer also had many beliefs in his life.
Finally, although Homer did not share a biased opinion in his record of events, he did have many views on life. One man claimed, “Unlike modern authors, Homer is not quick to reveal his personal beliefs; rather, they come about subtly through the dialogue of two characters or through implications of epic similes” (Silk 5). Homer’s work communicates that man is a being of the mind as well as of the body. Specifically, he believed that man must have inner and outer strength.
In conclusion, although not much is known about Homer, the Grecian poet, he has influenced modern literature and beliefs. Homer’s records of the Trojan War and Odysseus have been passed down orally and survived for centuries. Even if the events did not take place exactly as noted, they still have a basis. Homer’s stories also have moral values, and these values are often based upon his beliefs. Everybody can learn something from Homer, after all, he once said “Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth” (Homer 84)
Gregory, Nagy. The Best of The Achaeans: Concepts of The Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry. Baltimore: John Hopkin’s University Press, 1999. Print. P.88
Heubeck, Alfred. A Commentary on Homer’s The Odyssey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. Print. P.17
Homer. The Iliad. P.22
Homer The Odyssey. P.84
Silk, Michael. Homer: The Iliad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. P.5
Zanker, Paul. The Mask of Socrates: The Image of the Intellectual in Antiquity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. P.15