Sunday, March 6, 2016

Searching High and Low for Homer



Thank you for reading my blog in the past month. Thank you also to the people who liked and featured my poems on their web pages. Your efforts are much appreciated. Sorry for my absence on this blog.

I write my poems with the purpose to mean something different to each person who reads them. These poems also have their own meanings to me, of course. These are the dates of creation and the personal meanings of each of the poems from last month:

  • “The Daughter”
    September 23, 2014
    about a father whose beautiful daughter died
  • “Lettuce”
    September 24, 2014
    about having nothing else to eat except lettuce
  • “Works of the Night”
    September 25, 2014
    about some of the things that a homeless person sees at night
  • “Danger Waters”
    September 25, 2014
    about poetry being passed down from generation to generation
  • “Provocation”
    September 28, 2014
    about fighting for the logic of revenge

From ages 14 to 22, my poems were influenced only by my life and songs. After taking The Ancient Greek Hero in 2013, my poems changed a bit. They began to feature Classical conventions. My primary influence is currently Homer.

Homer is commonly known as the Greek poet who wrote the “Illiad” and the “Odyssey.” There have been lots of discussions on who Homer really was and how he created those two famous epic poems. Some say Homer was only one – and the most recent – of a group of poets who actually wrote the “Illiad” and the “Odyssey.” There are theories that Homer was blind. They say he himself had appeared in his own poetry as the blind bard named Demodocus. In Philostratus’ “On Heroes,” the vinedresser argues that Homer was Odysseus’ son and that Homer created those poems to honor his own father. The vinedresser said this partly because Homer put Odysseus in the best possible light. The cunning liar and trickster from the Achean army had a bad reputation in works by other authors.

Archaeologists and scholars have been researching for traces of Homer’s real identity. Unfortunately, they are unable to associate a single place and name to him and his past. Details about him and his background are found in a wide variety of places and in different versions. Findings only make it seem like a group of Homers lived in different locations across Greece. Some people have given up and simply say that Homer might have never existed at all. Then who wrote the “Illiad” and the “Odyssey”?

The "Illiad" and the "Odyssey" have been part of Greek tradition. They were sung in relay by poets during Greek events. These events included athletics that were the earlier versions of the Olympics. Poetry and athletics were part of the ancient Greeks’ religious practices. The poems were sung and performed again and again as a way of both celebration and worship of their heroes’ glory. With almost each repeat performance, the poems were improved and some parts were added. The “Illiad” and the “Odyssey” that we read today are the latest “updates.” They are not the really original versions.

So, did Homer really write the “Illiad” and the “Odyssey”? It is not surprising for someone who was capable of writing epic poetry of such proportions to have come from many different places and have met many different people. Maybe he did write them first, and other poets just developed them further into the ones we read today. Still, it remains an open question on whether or not Homer wrote those poems.

Sources:
“The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours” by Gregory Nagy
Wikipedia

Photo credit: me
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