- "Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter."
- "For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother."
Not a lot is known about Homer, the man. A lot is known about Homer, the great poet. His works 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey' have become the archetypal roadmaps for civilization’s literature. Literary historians have concluded that the formal structure and rigid plot of 'The Iliad' can be attributed to an author at the height of his abilities, while the colloquial, novelistic approach of 'The Odyssey' is likely that of an elderly Homer. Regardless of the differing styles of the two lengthy narrative poems, scholars are (mostly) agreed that these were likely the work of one person.
Assuming Homer existed at all (there is even debate on this), the date of his birth has been placed anywhere from 1200 BC to around 750 BC, based on the style of his poetry. Herodotus claimed Homer lived around 850 BC (but then Herodotus also claimed the existence of centaurs). Likewise, there is debate over where Homer lived, with seven cities claiming him as a native son. Historians have narrowed the possibilities, based on the dialect of his writings, to Ionia, Smyrna, Chios … or, at least, somewhere along the Aegean coast of Asia Minor.
Whatever the details of his life and death, Homer laid the foundation for Western literature, established some of its iconic forms and tropes, and served as godfather of ancient Greece’s collective memory.