Classic Authors

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There are several "Lives of Homer" that have survived from antiquity. Their date is uncertain, but the Homer that appears in these pages is a figure of romance and adventure. It is now thought he came from Ionia [now in Turkey] in the 9th or 8th century BC. Homer is the presumed author of the Iliad and Odyssey, the two greatest epic poems of ancient Greece.

Virtually nothing is known about the life of Homer. However, most modern scholars agree he composed, (but probably did not literally write) the Iliad, most likely relying on oral stories he had heard for many years. Scholars also feel he at least inspired the story of the Odyssey. Ancient Greeks loved these epics as symbols of Greek unity and heroism. Since this time the Iliad and Odyssey have been translated many times and they continue to have a profound influence on Western literature.

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A new look at Homer and his work

Over the centuries there have been many translations of Homer's work and the structure of the poems does not always make it easy to appreciate the work. We have editions of work by author's who have provided what can be an easier entry into Homer's work. 'The Odyssey' as we have it is an epic of over twelve thousand lines. It has been divided, like the 'Iliad' and probably at the same time, into twenty-four books. Book number and line number are the standard terms of references'

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Did the city of Troy really exist? Is the Trojan War myth or military reality? And what about that giant horse? The poet Homer probably wrote the epic in the eighth or ninth century, B.C., several hundred years after the war is supposed to have taken place. Much of it is no doubt fantasy. There is, for example, no evidence that Achilles or even Helen existed. But most scholars agree that Troy itself was no imaginary Shangri-la but a real city and that the Trojan War indeed happened.

Stefan Lovgren in Los Angeles for National Geographic News, May 14, 2004

In the 19th century, Heinrich Schliemann (1822-90) became one of the most dominant personalities of the age. An often unscrupulous man, he used his vast wealth, and his belief in the truth of Homer's Iliad and The Odyssey to search for the lost and ancient city of Troy. His quest stirred controversy and his approach and what he eventually found still stirs debate today.

The Golden Treasures of Troy: the Dream of Heinrich Schliemann by Herve Duchene

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