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Homer is credited with authoring the two great epic poems of ancient Greece:
the Iliad and the Odyssey. Little is known of Homer beyond
the fact that his was the name attached in antiquity to the epics by the Greeks
themselves. In fact, differences between the two poems in style and subject
matter have often led both Greeks of the classical age and modern scholars to
suggest that the compositions are actually the work of two men. Some argue that
Homer authored the first (the Iliad) but only inspired the second (the
Odyssey). Others suggest that the Odyssey is a product of
Homer's mature years, while the earlier poem reflects a youthful zeal for drama.
In either case, Homer's influence has been profound and long lasting. From the
internal evidence of the poems, it has generally been accepted that Homer composed
them between the ninth and eighth centuries B.C.
Aside from their enduring popularity as literature, it is quite likely that
the most important influence of the Iliad and the Odyssey
on Western standards and ideas came about through their impact on classical
Greek culture. The Greeks regarded the poems as more than just good literature;
their children read and memorized verses from the texts as part of their schooling.
The texts both symbolized Greek unity and served as a source of practical and
Works by the Author
Homer. The Illiad. Translated by Alexander Pope. New York: Heritage
Homer. The Illiad. Translated by Samuel Butler. New York: Walter
J. Black, 1942.
Homer. Odyssey. Translated by Alexander Pope. New York: Heritage
Homer. The Illiad. 2 vols. Translated by A.T. Murray. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1924-25.
Homer. The Odyssey of Homer. Translated by S.H. Butcher and Andrew
Lang. London: The Medici Society, 1949.
Homer. The Complete Works of Homer. New York: Modern Library, 1950.
Homer. Odyssey. Translated by Samuel Butler. New York: Walter J.
Homer. Odyssey. 2 vols. Translated by A.T. Murray. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1919.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.