Homer

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Homer (Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος, Hómēros) in classical tradition is the ancient Greek epic poet, author of the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Homeric Hymns and other works. Homer's epics stand at the beginning of the western canon of literature, exerting enormous influence on the history of fiction and literature in general.

The date of Homer's existence was controversial in antiquity and is no less so today. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 BC;[1] but other ancient sources gave dates much closer to the supposed time of the Trojan War, perhaps from 1194 to 1184 BC.[2]

For modern scholarship, "the date of Homer" refers to the date of the poems' conception as much as to the lifetime of an individual. The scholarly consensus is that "the Iliad and the Odyssey date from the extreme end of the 9th century BC or from the 8th, the Iliad being anterior to the Odyssey, perhaps by some decades,"[3] i.e. somewhat earlier than Hesiod,[4] and that the Iliad is the oldest work of Western literature. Over the past few decades, some scholars have argued for a 7th-century date. Those who believe that the Homeric poems developed gradually over a long period of time, however, generally give a later date for the poems: according to Gregory Nagy, they became fixed texts in only the 6th century.[5] The question of the historicity of Homer himself is known as the "Homeric question": no reliable biographical information has been handed down from classical antiquity,[6] and the poems themselves seem to represent the culmination of many centuries of oral story-telling and a well-developed formulaic system of poetic composition. According to Martin West, "Homer" is "not the name of a historical poet, but a fictitious or constructed name."[7]

Alfred Heubeck states that the formative influence of the works of Homer in shaping and influencing the whole development of Greek culture was recognized by many Greeks themselves, who considered him to be their instructor.[8]

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