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The Odyssey of Homer: (Forgotten Books) Paperback – December 17, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

About the Author:

"Homer, the greatest name in this history of epic poetry. There is now almost unanimous verdict in favor of the historical reality of the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Not that any reliance is to be placed on the details of the old Greek lives of Homer, which are manifestly fictitious; but the internal evidence of the epics themselves leads to the belief in an authorship. The central fact in which all these very ancient legendary traditions agree is, that the author of these poems was an Asiatic Greek; and though other places are named, the greatest amount of legendary evidence clearly points to Smyrna as the city of Homer's birth. The dialect in which the Iliad and Odyssey are written -- the Ionic -- is the very variety of Greek which was afterwards used in the same region by Herodotus, the father of history, and Hippocrates, the first and greatest of Greek physicians; and the allusions to natural phenomena, especially the frequent mention of the strong nortwest wind blowing from Thrace, plainly indicate the west coast of Asia Minor as the familiar residence of the poet. The chronology of the Homeric poems, both as respects the great central event which they celebrate -- the Trojan War -- and the age of the poet himself, is much more doubtful; but it is quite certain that Homer lived considerably before the recognition of a regularly received record of dates among the Greeks -- that is, before the year 776 BC, the commencement of the calculation by Olympiads. The date given by Herodotus for the age of Homer -- 400 years before his own time, that is, about 850 BC -- is probable enough; but considering the entire want of any reliable foundation for chronology in those early times, we must allow a free margin of at least 200 years from the time of Solomon (1000 BC) downwards. To throw him further back than the earliest of these dates would be inconsistent at once with the historical elements in the midst of which his poems move; for his epics exhibit characteristics not in keeping with languages at the earliest stages of their literary development. The Ionic dialect used by Homer is, in fact, a highly cultivated shoot of the old Hellenic stock, and which was in the poet's hands so perfect for the highest poetical purposes as to have remained the model for the epic style during the whole period of the literature of the Greeks." (Quote from

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The Odyssey of Homer: (Forgotten Books)
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