Biography of Homer | Greek poet.

(8th century B.c.) Greek poet that is attributed to the authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the two great epic poems of the ancient Greece. In the words of Hegel, Homer is 'the component in which you live the Greek world as the man lives in the air'. Admired, imitated and quoted by Greek all the poets, philosophers and artists who followed him, it is the poet par excellence of classical literature, despite which the biography of Homer appears surrounded by the deepest mystery, to the point that his own historical existence has been put into question.

The oldest news about Homer placed his birth in Chios, although since antiquity were seven cities that competed to be their homeland: Colophon, Cumae, Pilos, Ithaca, Argos, Athens, Izmir and the aforementioned Chios. To Simonides of Amorgos and Pindar, only the last two could claim the honor of being his birthplace.
Although there are several lives of Homer which have come down to us, its content, including the famous poet blindness, is legendary and romantic. The oldest, attributed without foundation to Herodotus, dating back to the 5th century BC In it, Homer is presented as the son of a seduced orphan, name Creteidas, who bore him in Izmir. Known as Melesigenes, soon he highlighted for their artistic qualities, initiating a bohemian life. An illness left him blind, and since then became known as Homer. Death, always according to the pseudo Herodotus, Homer in Ios, surprised in the course of a trip to Athens.
Problems posed by Homer crystallized from the 17TH century in the so-called "Homeric question", initiated by François Hédelin, Abbot of Aubignac, who held that the two great poems he attributed, the Iliad and the Odyssey, was fruit of Assembly works of different origin, which would explain the numerous inconsistencies that contain. His theses were followed by philologists such as Friedrich August Wolf. The debate between supporters of the current analytical and the Unitarian, who defend the Homeric poems paternity, is still currently open.
The work of Homer
The Greco-Roman iconography has consecrated the noble bearded face of an elderly blind man as the Homer. This is the image that the tradition has attributed to the poet who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, the two epic poems that opens the Greek literature and the West and whose lyrical and narrative force stays fresh from thousands of years ago. His name and his works have achieved glory and fed myths, stories and legends through the centuries, without that they have lost their original strength.
Most of the Greek literature drew on the immense flow of legends and traditions since ancient times was transmitted orally from generation to generation. Epic poetry was also orally transmitted in its origins: a Bard or a Rhapsody sing it or recite from memory before an audience that was unaware of the writing. The aedos were travelling musicians who sang poems epic accompanied with stringed instruments; the rhapsodists recited without singing, leading the pace with the strokes of a cane.
Perfection and the quality of the Iliad and the Odyssey, considered masterpieces of Western literature, is only explained by the existence of a prior tradition of the Trojan war that aedos and Rhapsodies were developed and refined over the centuries, culminating in the great Homeric poems. While Homer is served of the procedures of the oral tradition, undoubtedly in both poems there is a poetic purpose, a plan and a structure that reveals a poet aware of his art activity.

Troy (2004), one of the most recent frames
based on the Homeric poems productions
Undoubtedly, the oral nature of the style of the Iliad and the Odyssey . This certainty is because recurrence time of a specific formulas ("the dawn of pink fingers", "Achilles, the light feet"), always in the same metric conditions. After a long period of oral transmission, the text is would have set in its final form in Athens during the 6th century BC, on the initiative of the tyrant Pisistratus.
In his poems, Homero not drew up a complete history of the Trojan war (which we know from other sources), but it chose two episodes of the Trojan legend to recreate them. Thus, in the Iliad tells the last year of the Trojan war, although the central episode is the dispute between two Greek heroes: Achilles and Agamemnon. The Odyssey, which seems to be the more modern of the two compositions attributed to Homer, recounts the adventures and hardships of Ulysses (hero who plays a secondary role in the Iliad) on the journey back from Troy to his homeland, Ithaca, and the punishment that inflicts on the suitors of his wife, Penelope, believed him dead.
Homer was the most admired poet of antiquity. His works transmitting knowledge and teachings relating to various aspects (strategic and military; the stars and the sky; moral issues and behaviors of human beings; relations of the gods with men) and gave the form considered canonical in the genealogy of the Greek gods and heroes. Therefore served as cultural and religious reference for later generations.
The Iliad
The Iliad tells the tenth year of the Trojan war (or Ilion, Greek name of the city, from where comes the title of Iliad). His core argument is the famous Wrath of Achilles. The Greek hero Achilles has been stripped of his slave Briseis by Agamemnon, head of the Allied Greek army that has besieged the city of Troy to rescue Helena. Because of this unjust decision, Achilles alienates with Agamemnon and resolves not to participate more in combat.
Thanks to his absence and other events, the Trojans, led by Hector, achieved important victories, and although the same Agamemnon humbles himself and asks him to return to the fight, Achilles refuses. The death of Patroclus, his best friend, at the hands of the Trojan hero Hector (son of Priam, King of Troy), will be accurate so Achilles put his attitude. Achilles swears to avenge patroclus, fiercely throws the fight and beat Hector. Their fury seems unstoppable: binds to your car by feet Hector's corpse and drag it with the head in the dust around the tomb of Patroclus.

Hector bids farewell to Andromache
(oil on canvas by Luca Ferrari)
Then, against the pleas of the father of Hector, Priam, wakes up his compassion and access give back the body of his son. The work ends with funerals celebrated in honor of Patroclus and Hector. This argument human, let's say, we need to add the intervention of anthropomorphic Greek gods, who, driven by passions and interests similar to those of the men, participating in action, favouring or hurting one and other side characters.
The Iliad consists of 15.693 verses grouped in 24 cantos. Canto I starts with the anger of Achilles. It is possible that the Cantos II-XI are interpolations of other poets, because they deviate from the core narrative. Today it is believed that own Homero sandwiched them deliberately to create an effect of a slowdown, a technique also used in the Odyssey. In the cantos XII - XXIV is again the main subject and stock plunges rapidly toward the outcome. Third person narration is combined with the dialogues between the characters. The antecedents and consequences of the war and the origin and destination of the characters are given by known; because, effectively, the public which addressed the poem knew the story full of the Trojan war.
As pointed out already Aristotle in his poetics, one of the great successes of Homer in the Iliad was actually not counting all the Trojan war, but the focus of the story about a particular item: the anger of Achilles. The succession of violent emotions through which passes the spirit of the hero (cholera, friendship, hate, thirst for vengeance, compassion) constitutes the engine of the action. In reality the Iliad, even being a heroic poem, is also and above all a drama. What dominates in it, above the heroism and violence, is the humanity that comes through. In the two last songs (funeral of Patroclus and Hector), prevalent in piety and compassion. There are no winners or losers: there is a mourning for the dead.
The Odyssey
Front of the Iliad, always described as Warrior epic, is considered to the Odyssey (Ulysses, Ulysses Greek name) as a marine adventure narrative. A little shorter (12.110 verses in 24 cantos), recounts the difficult return of Ulysses from Troy to his homeland, Ithaca.
The Iliad is a linear narrative; the Odyssey, on the other hand, presents a complex and original temporary organization, that would be very imitated. Three parts can be seen clearly. The songs I-IV are known as The Telemachy and relate investigations that Telemachus on the whereabouts of his father, Ulysses. Also presents the situation of Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, besieged by suitors seeking to marry her to seize the Kingdom.
From canto V to XII (second part) are the latest adventures of Ulysses. He was retained on the island of Ogygia by the nymph Calypso, which, by order of the god Hermes, allows you to leave. Ulises builds a boat and reach the country of the Phaeacians, where it is picked up by Nausica, daughter of the King, who leads him to the Palace. King Alcinous hospitably welcomes it and gives you a boat that Ulysses will be able to reach Ithaca.
Within this section, in the cantos IX - XII Ulises relates to the phaeacians, over the course of a dinner, all his adventures since she left Troy until you reach the island of Ogygia. These songs are therefore a flashback, or in modern terminology taken from the film, a flashback. It is said that temporary management of the work is in media res, i.e., starts in the Middle, then tells the history (thus creating a slowdown effect) and continues until the end.

The voyage of Ulysses
These first two parts come together in the third, chronicling the vengeance. Ulysses landed in Ithaca and meets with his son Telemachus. Both plotted a plan to kill the suitors. Ulysses, disguised as a beggar, wins a contest of archery that Penelope had convened to choose husband, and then unveiled and kills the suitors. And finally, happy recognition of Penelope and Ulysses (cantos XIII-XXIV) takes place.
In the Iliad are heroic characters, which are guided by their military value and his sense of honor, without its being possible to opt for any of them, nor establish guilty or innocent. In the Odyssey, on the other hand, we see clearly a protagonist, Ulysses, who faces other characters characterized negatively: the pretenders.
The qualities of Ulysses are basically two: intelligence, which allows you to overcome the dangers and out winner in all situations, and humanity, which is perceived in his love to his family and nostalgia for his homeland. But it is no longer a military hero, but a man fighting for his life and his family. And you can use deception and tricks to achieve its goals, which distance it from the heroic and military ethics of the Iliad. Penelope stands already proverbial loyalty, and Telemaco warns how the location of Ithaca curries it and a man is doing. The pretenders, on the other hand, are a compendium of defects. Proud and selfish, they only seek to seize the riches of the Kingdom of Odysseus.
The style of both poems are characterized by the use of epic formulas and comparisons. EPIC formulas are repetitions of expressions, verses, or groups of verses. Heroes and gods, for example, tend to be always described with the same expression: one speaks then of epic epithets. And similarly, the poet often used the same expressions or even the same groups of verses to describe the dawn, preparing a feast, the death of a fighter, the launch of the arrows or the Pikes, etc.
For a long time it was thought that this was a failure of the poem, and for this reason were considered superior epic poems such as Virgil's Aeneid . However, the use of epic formulas is characteristic of oral epic poetry of all periods and countries: facilitates memorization to the reciter and serves as a resource to fill verse in keeping its metric (formulas always meet the rhythmic requirements of the hexametro) or cover forgetfulness. Comparisons are also abundant and often extensive. On the other hand, the differences between the Iliad and the Odyssey in terms of language and style are notable. The Odyssey, for example, shows greater sensitivity towards the landscape, which materializes in common descriptions.
The Homeric question
The conception of the Odyssey by Aristotle as a work of the old age of Homer is not impossible according to the current criticism; and if the Iliad is the earliest of both poems (as seems likely due to its simpler structure and greater frequency in the Odyssey of linguistic forms relatively late), Odyssey may have been created following the same model of monumental composition which established the Iliad. As both epics differ not only in construction but in various other details, it is not implausible to consider them work one of the maturity and the other of the old age of the poet, as pointed out some scholars in antiquity.
But it is also acceptable, say others, the proposal of certain Alexandrian grammarians, the so-called corizontes (separatists) that attributed the Odyssey to another poet, which, following the Homeric Iliadmodel, would have made this work around 700 B.c. The so-called "Homeric question" acquired great importance with the German school, in the analytical work of Fiedrich August Wolf (1795), Karl Lachmann (1837), Gotfried Hermann and numerous followers who refused, for various reasons, the historical existence of the figure of Homer, or recognized him, at most, a modest intervention such as compiler. The historico-filologica perspective everything appeared to be anonymous and Homer was only a name. Modern criticism rectified this perspective back to consider the likely existence of a unique and extraordinary poet, without that why you can speak of unanimity in the innumerable questions that raises the problem of authorship.
The historical background
It is not common to find in the history of the civilizations that one of them starts, in the literary field, so brilliantly as the Greek civilization. Today day we know the reason for this: two poems attributed to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, sink their roots in the Mycenaean world, in that Greek culture of the 2nd millennium BC. The poems of Homer do not reflect any real civilisation, but there is undoubted vestiges of a society and events which, although idealized, contain a core of historical truth. Thus, rather than the start of the Greek literary culture, Homer was the culmination of the Greek world of the II Millennium BC It is evident that the achaean or Mycenaean civilization produced, among other forms of artistic expression, epics, transmitted by oral tradition, they were the nucleus from which the Ionic poets created the Iliad and the Odyssey.
The city of Troy or Ilion was located on the Asian side of the Hellespont and controlled all trade of the area to be path on the passage of the Dardanelles. The armed conflict known as the war of Troy, light commercial, may have been the last effort of the Mycenaean world, Frank declining against a foreign power. However, in the Homeric story, the war was brought by the achaeans, led by the King of Mycenae, Agamemnon, with the intention of rescuing of Helena, wife of his brother Menelaus and the most beautiful woman in the world, who had been abducted by the Trojan Prince Paris. The site lasted for ten years; the Iliad tells only a part of the tenth year.
After the death of Achilles, wounded in the heel by Paris, the war concluded thanks to the ploy devised by Ulises, who built a wooden horse into the city of Troy with the bravest among the Greeks in her womb. The city was sacked, burned and reduced to ashes. The Odyssey is the story of the return of Ulysses, and his world is different from the Iliad; the poem appears later and idealizes the experience of Greek colonization along the Mediterranean.

Ruins of Troy
For a long time believed that the stories of the Trojan war were nothing more than myths and legends created or transmitted by Homer. But in the 19th century, the young German Heinrich Schliemann was so fascinated by the reading of the Iliad and the Odyssey , convinced that they had a real base, proposed to discover the ancient Troy.
He devoted himself to business and worked hard to get the money for the excavations, while he studied archeology and ancient languages to acquire the necessary knowledge. Finally, with forty-eight years and owner of a fortune, Schliemann settled in a village in Turkey near which meant that they had to find the remains of the city. He began excavations on the Hill of Hissarlik and shortly afterwards discovered not one, but six cities superimposed. He had to surrender to the evidence: an amateur archaeologist had discovered Troy.
Among the many treasures found, the most famous is a gold mask, that Schliemann called the mask of Agamemnon (without any basis, obviously). Not content with this, he traveled the continental Greece and discovered no less than the ancient Mycenae. Death ensued him before to establish which of the levels found in Troy corresponded to the city of the Homeric story. Some of his aides suggested that the Homeric Troy coincided with VI or VIIa levels. The latter offered evidence of having been destroyed by a fire at a date close to the year 1250 B.c.

The mask of Agamemnon
Thanks to the discoveries of Schliemann we know today of the existence of the so-called Mycenaean civilization. This took place between 18th and 11th before Christ, and spread throughout the continental Greece, Islands and Crete. It was an advanced civilization, who knew writing (inscriptions were found with names of some gods and heroes of the Iliad), and powerful enough to be measured with the Egyptians and the Hittites.
It is almost certain that towards the year 1200 BC, Mycenaean expansionist eagerness ran into Troy. Troy, by its power and its strategic location, controlling the rich trade routes between the Mediterranean and Black Sea. By dominating the Straits between two seas, the Trojans could trade freely and impose high tolls to foreign vessels, which ensured its prosperity. Commercial interests would therefore cause numerous clashes between Troy and Mycenae.
In all probability, the Iliad tells us about civilizations and some conflicts that truly existed, and that, after several centuries, were even known by oral transmission. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey epic tone reflect the glorious exploits of a past populated with heroes, but at the same time, but without referring to a clearly identifiable historical period, contain a core of historical truth: the Mycenaean expansion East and Greek colonization.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

Recommended Contents