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Homer (8th c. B.C.)

Biographical Information

Main Works

Featured Work: Odyssey

Selected Quotations


Biographical Information

  • ancient Greek epic poet

  • legends of Homer as blind, wandering poet/minstrel

  • possible location of Homer's homeland in Ionia, western coasts of Asia Minor (now Turkey)

  • author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, epic poems dealing with figures and events of the Trojan War (c. 1200 B.C.)

  • one of the most influential authors of all time

  • his works constituted the basis of education in Greek classical antiquity and also influenced Roman and Christian values and educational ideals

  • also influential in Byzantine culture from the 8th c. A.D. and on European Renaissance culture

  • perhaps used oral-formulaic techniques of poetic composition

Main Works

  • Iliad. An account of various episodes surrounding the Greek siege of the city of Troy, including the quarrel between the Greek leader Agamemnon and the hero Achilles and Achilles's killing of the Trojan hero Hector.

  • Odyssey. An account of the adventures of the Greek hero Odysseus during his return trip home after the Trojan War; includes episodes such as his visit to the Underworld, and confrontations with the one-eyed giant Cyclops, the singing Sirens, the serpent Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis.
Selected Quotations
  •                                       ... Great Captain,
    a fair wind and the honey lights of home
    are all you seek. But anguish lies ahead;
    the god who thunders on the land prepares it,
    not to be shaken from your track, implacable,
    in rancor for the son whose eye you blinded.
    One narrow strait may take you through his blows: denial of yourself, restraint of shipmates
    (Odyssey, XI: 112-119, R. Fitzgerald translation)

  • Let me hear no smooth talk
    of death from you, Odysseus, light of councils.
    Better, I say, to break sod as a farm hand
    for some poor country man, on iron rations,
    than lord it over all the exhausted dead
    (Odyssey, XI: 577-581, R. Fitzgerald translation)

last updated: 08/24/2009

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