THE LIFE OF HOMER,
COLLECTED AND WRITTEN BY J. WALLIM.
Homer, whose proper name was Melesigenes, was born in the country of Æolia, about 160 years after the siege of Troy, which was about the year of the world 3665, of Critheis, daughter of Melanopus and Omyris, who, after her father and mother’s death, was left to a friend of her father’s at Cuma, who, when he found she was with child, in displeasure he sent her away to a friend’s at a place nigh the River Meles; where, at a feast among other young women, she was delivered of a son, whose name she called Melesigenes, from the place where he was born. Critheis went with her son to Ismenias, and after to Smyrna, where she dressed wool to get a livelihood for herself and son. Phemius, the schoolmaster, taking a fancy to her, married her, and took her son into the school, who by his sharpness of wit outwent all the school in wisdom and learning. In a short time after, his master dying, he taught the same school, and gained great reputation by his learning, not only at Smyrna, but all the countries round about; for the merchants that did frequent Smyrna, with corn, &c. did spread his fame about; amongst which merchants, one Mentes, master of a ship of Leucadia, took that kindness for him, that he persuaded him to leave his school and travel with him, which he did, by whom he was maintained well and plentifully in his travels.
They went to Spain, from thence to Italy, and from Italy through several countries, and at last came to Ithaca, where a violent rheum fell into the eyes of Homer, that he could not travel any further, so that Mentes left him with a friend of his called Mentor, a person of great riches and honour in Ithaca, where Homer learned the principal matters relating to Ulysses’ life; but Mentes the next year came back the same way, and finding Homer recovered in his eyes, took him in his travels. They went through many countries till they came to Colophen, where he fell into his old distemper of his eyes, and there grew quite blind; after which he addicted himself to poetry; but being poor, he went to Smyrna, expecting to get better encouragement there; but being disappointed of his expectation, he went to Cuma, and as he went he rested at a town called New-wall, where he repeated some of his verses; and one Tichio, a leather-seller, took such delight to hear them, that he entertained him kindly for a long time. After, he proceeded on his journey to Cuma, and when he came there he was well received, and he had some friends in the senate that did propose to have had a maintenance settled on him for life, but it could not be carried. At this place he first received the name of Homer, from his blindness.
From Cuma he went to Phocæa, where lived one Thestorides, a schoolmaster, who invited Homer to live with him, and by that means he got some of his verses, and after went to Chios, where he taught them as his own verses, and got great reputation by them. When Homer heard that Thestorides had thus abused him, he followed him to Chios, and by the way, at a place called Bollisus, was taken up by a shepherd, as he was keeping his master’s sheep; the shepherd did relieve him, and carried him to his master, where he lived some time, and taught his children; yet he could not rest till he had been at Chios to discover the cheat of Thestorides, who when he heard of Homer’s coming, he left Chios, where Homer tarried some time, and taught a school, grew rich, married, and had two daughters, one of which died young, the other he married to the shepherd’s master that took him in at Bollisus. When he grew old he left Chios, and went to Samos, where he staid some time singing of verses at feasts and at new moons, at the chiefest men’s houses in all places where he was. From Samos he was going to Athens, but fell sick at Ios, and there died, and was buried on the sea-shore. Long after, when his poems had gotten an universal applause, the people of Ios built him a sepulchre.