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Who's Who Ancient Greece: The Arts

Homer (roughly 9thth to 8th centuries BC)

Homer mayu have been blind The exact dates of the birth and death of Homer are uncertain, as is his birthplace, nor is it certain that he was blind, though legend has it so.

He is best known for his two great epics, the Odyssey and the Iliad, though they may have been written down by others.

The considerable intellectual controversy as to whether or not Homer actually existed or not has ended, though his birth place is still uncertain, with the island of Hios (Chios) and the city of Smyrni/Smyrna (now Turkish Izmir) major contenders.

The reason that he was believed to have been blind had to due with a reference to a blind poet in a hymn to Apollo (certainly flimsy evidence, since Homer may not have been that poet).

In any case, the two epics constitute major works of world literature, and undisputed masterpieces of literary art. The peak of Homer's fame was perhaps more in the 7th century BC, and from the 6th century BC onwards, his entire corpus was recited during the Panathenian Games, held every four years.

Later, after the 5th century BC, his work was studied widely in schools; his aphorism were known all over Greece.

The Iliad is an epic poem of 15,537 verses, comprising 24 books. It deals with the Trojan War, from which it takes its name (Ilion the ancient name of Troy), and covers a period of 54 days. This city on the Asian coast of the Hellespont, was burned by Greek tribes during the 12th century BC, which event then became the stuff of many legends, with the epic focusing on Achilles' rage against Agamemnon and its consequences.

The Odyssey, a very different type of tale, deals with Odysseus' long journey home to Ithaki (Ithaca) after the Trojan War, and though, also consisting of 14 books, contains 12,080 verses.hence quite a bit shorter than the Iliad.

Translators of the Odyssey vary - some write in verse - which I find hard to read and some write in prose - much more enjoyable IMHO. So shop around before buying. If you are hard core; buy verse - if you want to relax and enjoy the story in your own language buy the prose. Public library a good place to start.