Biography of Homero (s. XII a.C.)

Greek poet, the most famous of the authors of the classical Greece, author of two long epic poems: the Iliad and the Odyssey. The first sings the effects of the anger of Achilles, the misfortunes of the Greeks in the Trojan website, during the absence of the hero and the terrible revenge, which took the death of Patroclus; the second describes the voyages of Ulysses of province province and the return of the Prince to his Kingdom of Ithaca.



There are very few details of his life that have survived to this day. In addition, almost all of these data belong more to legend than to history.

So much so, that even there are scholars of literature who believe that Homer never came into existence: according to them, would be a mythical or legendary, name invented by other writers to encompass a series of anonymous authors who, little by little, those two immortal epic poems (the Iliad and the Odyssey) were built.

To begin with, it is not known even approximately when was born. It was, in any case, before the 7th century BC, since at that time the Iliad and the Odyssey were already well known and admired by other writers poems.

Some say that it might have lived in the 12th century, which is when took place the Trojan war that narrated in the Iliad. But other researchers believe that the poems of Homer, this fact relates as an old event, making it believe that Homer could live between the 9th and 7th B.c., when the Trojan war was view as a historical episode too distant in time.

In the Iliad, there are descriptions of objects (like a shield) that began to be used in the 8th century BC could, therefore, think that Homer, be certain your existence, lived during this period. But it is also possible that these descriptions belong to pieces of the poem writings by other authors (which there are), and that Homer was then of previous centuries.

To complicate further research on his life, it is not known where he was born. His fame became so large in the ancient Greece that many cities boasted of being their homeland (as Chios and Smyrna).

For the descriptions of actual places appearing in his works, it seems obvious that I knew well the area of Asia minor, facing the Aegean Sea (territory now belonging to Turkey). HIOS was an island located in the sea, and Izmir coastal town in Asia minor, bathed in the same waters.

Among the legendary data (i.e. not verified historically) run about his life, it is said that he was blind. Also said that he was so famous in life, like the great poet Hesiod, that arrived to keep poetic competitions. If this fact is true, Homer would have lived among the centuries VIII and VII century BC, period in which it is showed the existence of Hesiod.

Further details about his life can be inferred when reading their works: era of lowly, because he knew the customs of the common people; and, like many other poets, he had to live in the Court of a powerful ruler who admired his work, kept him and gave him protection.


Both the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed to be heard rather than to be read, hence is arrived to think that they were collections of verses from different sources. Both works have a unitary structure.

In the Iliad, the central theme is the anger of Achilles, in the Odyssey, begins describing how was Ithaca before the return of Ulysses, and concludes with the recovery of the King's takeover. Both one and the other, the characters are made of coherent and organic, there are differences in the language; He used wind and micénicas forms in both poems. However, there are numerous differences; Some are due to the issue: while the Iliad is the war and its vicissitudes, the Odyssey, long pilgrimages in times of peace. The stylistic solutions are also different in part: the Iliad is rich in comparisons, the Odyssey has a fantastic rich dimension. They are poems different, but not contradictory. The Odyssey is like a continuation of the Iliad; the characters present in the two works only change over the years. There is no doubt that both poems are by the same author. Surely Homer wrote the Odyssey in old age, thus explains the different role of the gods in the works. From the technical point of view, it should be noted that the episodic nature of the Homeric narrative represents a survival of ancient, short stories, and that the language, rich in archaisms, and synonyms, they differ from spoken language. With regard to the formal procedure, the use of fixed phrases comes from the archaic techniques of improvisation of the poets, perhaps some of them were invented by Homer.

For more information see Iliad and Odyssey.

Alterations to his works

Of course the epic poems have not survived to this day as Homer wrote them. Are recognized tweens; the language also suffered alterations, since were introduced: Dormer shapes, and some words that did not understand, changed them by other more modern. When the Homeric rhapsodists began airing the poems, it was the time of major changes. The reconstruction of the original text is not possible. After the Alexandrian period, Zenodoto returned to insist on was only the Iliad of Homer; from the 18th century, d'Aubignac defended that the poem was a conglomerate of popular songs, and Vico stated that Homer was not so much a real character as the symbol of the Greek poetry of the heroic era. In 1795, the Homeric question is restated from a scientific point of view in the Prolegomena ad Homerum, Wolf. According to this author, the poems back to Pisistratus and had attributed them to a Commission of learned, who prepared them from short old songs about companies of Achilles and Ulysses. Today prevail 1938 Schadewaldt theses and it has made mature the Homeric question in the historicist culture in recent decades.

Greatness of Homer

His poems were admired and its texts were based on the school education, only had a detractor, Antipolis Zoilo. It also exerted influence on the birth of Latin poetry, started this with the translation of the Odyssey of Livio Andronico, which continued with Ennio and had its maximum expression with Virgil. The pre-romanticism showed renewed interest in Homer. Wide and solemn harmony of his verses and the multiplicity of tones make Homer the first interpreter of the Greek spirituality, the epic poet par excellence.