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Homer's riddle: who was the ancient Greek poet
Homer's riddle: who was the ancient Greek poet

We know little about the life of the legendary poet of Ancient Greece. The nine biographies known to us, compiled by various ancient authors, including Plutarch, Herodotus and Plato, are contradictory and in many ways implausible. The ancestors of Homer are called the mythological heroes - the singers Mussey and Orpheus.

Apollo, the river god Melet, or Telemachus (the son of King Odysseus and Penelope) acts as a father. Homer's mother is considered either Calliope, the muse of philosophy, science and epic poetry, or Metis (the goddess of wisdom). However, there is a version that ascribes motherhood to the spinner of wool.

The birthplace of the poet remains unknown. Most researchers are sure that Homer was born in Asia Minor - in Ionia, but the exact place remains a mystery. "Seven cities, arguing are called the homeland of Homer: Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Pylos, Argos, Ithaca, Athens," - said in the epigram of an unknown ancient Greek author. When the author of the poems "Iliad" and "Odyssey" was born, it is also not established, however, many researchers are inclined to believe that the period of Homer's life and work fell on the 8th century BC. e.

It is believed that Homer was an Aedom - an itinerant singer and keeper of ancient beliefs. Wandering around Hellas, he played the four-stringed lyre and sang to people about famous heroes and majestic gods, earning this for a living. Homer did not learn to read and write, but he had a good memory: he knew tens of thousands of lines of poetry by heart and owned a set of traditional poetic techniques that were not used in colloquial speech. Competing in Chalcis with the author of the works "Works and Days" and "Theogony" Hesiod, the poet gave answers in verse to the most difficult riddles of his opponent. In addition, it was believed that Homer used poetic language in everyday life.

Homer's bust at the Museum of Classical Sculpture, Germany

Biographers of Antiquity noticed that Homer is not a proper name, but a nickname, meaning, depending on the dialect, "guide", "hostage" or "blind man". Traditionally, we imagine the poet as a blind old man, but analyzing the images of the heroes of the main poems of Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey, it is difficult to imagine that a blind man can notice such a number of flowers. The poet depicts Achilles' light brown curls and the blonde hair of Tsar Menelaus, "black beans" and "green peas". This confirms that visual images prevail in the description, and for blind singers (for example, the poet Demodoc from the Odyssey), the image of sounds, sensations, smells and feelings is characteristic. And yet - why does Homer appear to us in the form of a blind man?

It turns out that Homer was portrayed as sighted until the 4th century BC. e. But, according to the historian Plutarch, once Alexander the Great, under whose pillow a dagger and a copy of the Iliad were always kept, had a dream. In it, the poet pointed out to Alexander the territory for the foundation of the great city. “On the noisy sea there is an island lying opposite Egypt; the inhabitants of Pharos call him there ": it was on this place that the Macedonian founded Alexandria, where he erected a temple in honor of Homer.

But the philosophers of Alexandria believed that the deified poet could not have the image of a mortal man with his "blindness of sight." To emphasize the chosenness of Homer and his "seeing blindness", the poet was portrayed as blind.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Homer - the founder of European literature

Homer created two great ancient Greek poems - The Iliad and The Odyssey. Contemporaries believed that Calliope herself inspired him to write songs. Homer's greatest innovation, which identified him as the founder of European culture, is the introduction of the principle of synecdoche (artistic path in which the meaning of a word is transferred according to the principle: part instead of whole or vice versa). While developing the plot of the work, the poet focuses his attention around one episode.

Thus, in the Iliad, Homer shows only 51 days of the Trojan War, which lasted 10 years, and in the Odyssey, he describes only 40 days from the hero's ten-year return to his homeland.By concentrating on one episode, the poet achieves an “optimal” volume that allows him to emphasize the scale of the epic action on the one hand and correspond to the size of the average European novel on the other. It can be said that it was Homer who anticipated the limited time of a number of large novels (a writer's device, when the action of a work fits into several days or even hours).

Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Another major merit of the legendary ancient Greek poet is that his poems were written with a hexameter (six-foot dactyl). In Hellas, hexameter was considered the language of the gods, created in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. This meter was always chanted and was calculated so that the poems were perceived by ear. The hexameter gave the rhythm a solemnity, unhurriedness and melodiousness, while admitting various combinations of intonations and accents, which contained the “divine” beauty of this verse.

But no matter how the work of Homer reflected on the subsequent development of literature, the personality of the poet himself remains a mystery, the answer to which we most likely will not be able to find out.

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