Article

Homer

R.B. Rutherford

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online December 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0026
Homer

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“Homer” is the name given to the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the greatest and probably earliest surviving Greek epic poems. Nothing whatsoever is known about his life and career: even his date is uncertain. Currently the general consensus is that he composed some time in the period 750–650 bce. Even in ancient times there was wide disagreement as to his place and date. The question whether the Iliad and the Odyssey were by the same poet was also already aired in Antiquity; in general, modern scholars have answered in the negative. Many other poems were sometimes ascribed to Homer in ancient literature, but these are now considered later and inferior; many of them do not survive. The question of authorship cannot be separated from the debate as to the nature of the poems’ composition and the processes of transmission, and much of the evidence derives from detailed study of the language, especially the so-called formulae (repeated phrases and lines that are usually taken as indications of oral composition). Several features of the poems are noteworthy in stylistic terms, especially the speeches and the similes.

Article.  9464 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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