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Download e-book Homer: A Brief Guide to His Life and Epic Poetry

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Achilles is youthful and headstrong, and has a goddess for a mother, but even he has to die. We learn that he had been given a choice — a long life without heroic glory, or a short and glorious life in war.

How to Read Epic Poetry without Losing Your Mind

His choice of the latter marks him out as heroic, and gives him a kind of immortality. But the other warriors too, including the Trojan hero Hector, are prepared to die young. But they can be affected by death. After his death, she will lead an existence of perpetual mourning for him. Immortality in Greek mythology can be a mixed blessing.

The Iliad also has much to say about war. The atrocities in the war at Troy are committed by Greeks on Trojans. Achilles commits human sacrifice within the Iliad itself and mutilates the body of Hector, and there are other atrocities told in other poems. The Trojan saga in the early Greek sources tells of the genocide of the Trojans, and the Greek poets explored some of the darkest impulses of human conduct in war. In the final book of the Iliad, Achilles and Priam, in the most poignant of settings, reflect upon the fate of human beings and the things they do to one another.

A knowledge of Homer became a standard part of Greek education, be it formal or informal. Ancient writers after Homer, even the rather austere Greek historian Thucydides in the 5th century BC, assume the historicity of much of the subject-matter of the Iliad. One can only imagine its value today had it survived. In the Roman world, the poet Virgil BC set out to write an epic poem about the origins of Rome from the ashes of Troy. My own view is that Virgil knew Homer off by heart, and he was probably criticised in his own life for the extent of his reliance on Homer.

The history of pets and family life — Egham, Surrey. Pets in Victorian paintings — Egham, Surrey.

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Available editions United Kingdom. Chris Mackie , La Trobe University. The language used by Homer is an archaic version of Ionic Greek, with admixtures from certain other dialects such as Aeolic Greek.

The many faces of Homer

It later served as the basis of Epic Greek, the language of epic poetry, typically written in dactylic hexameter verse. In the Hellenistic period, Homer appears to have been the subject of a hero cult in several cities, and there is evidence of a shrine devoted to him in Alexandria by Ptolemy IV Philopator in the late 3rd Century BCE.


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Back to Top of Page. She is eventually betrayed by one of the maids in the house, and forced by the suitors to complete it, although the ruse does last for three years. The Greeks had no illusion that the characteristic cleverness of Odysseus had a sinister aspect to it, not the least in the way that he deals with the Trojans after the war. Some of the atrocities at Troy, notably the killing of the young boy Astyanax son of Hector and Andromache , are sheeted home to Odysseus by the poets. Likewise, the Roman poet Vergil in his Aeneid Book 2 emphasises the dark trickery of Ulysses the Roman name for Odysseus in getting the Trojans to drag the Wooden Horse inside the city walls.

Even within the Odyssey there is a significant contrast between the careful and clever return of Odysseus, and that of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, who is murdered as soon as he gets home.


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  4. The gods are far less prominent in the Odyssey than the Iliad, although Athena in particular has her moments. In many ways Odysseus and Penelope are models of the sorts of things that Athena represents. The Odyssey also has a more elaborate structure and chronology than the Iliad. The first four books deal with the situation of the house invasion on Ithaca, and the travels of the young Telemachus to mainland Greece. Athena takes Telemachus from the female space of the house to the outside world of male politics.

    The folktale world through which he travels in Books 9 to 12 is told indirectly by Odysseus on his journey home to a Phaeacian audience, rather than directly by the poet. This notion of Odysseus as tale teller is central to the Odyssey. In many ways the Odyssey is the most renowned literary work from Greek antiquity, even though some people would say it lacks the radical brilliance of the Iliad.

    The Odyssey Reader’s Guide

    The story of the Odyssey is a quintessential quest that relates to the passage through life and the importance of love and family and home. The rich variety of mythical narratives in the Odyssey especially his wanderings through a world of wonder and mystery in Books 9 to 12 has meant that the cultural history of the poem is astonishingly large, whether in literature or art or film. Whole monographs have been written on the reception of Odysseus in later periods.

    Creative re-tellings of the Odyssey in a modern context include films such as Odysseus, moreover, probably influenced the early comic book superhero Batman in the late s and 40s, just as Greek demigods, such as Heracles and Achilles, help to inform the extra-terrestrial background of Superman.

    As a human bat, Batman uses disguise to good effect, as Odysseus does, and he thrives on conducting his challenges in the darkness of night. But the last word on the subject of Odysseus and his adventures should go to Bob Dylan, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in Dylan wrote a lecture in honour of his Nobel victory , focused on some of the literature that influenced and affected him.

    In a lot of ways, some of these same things have happened to you. You too have had drugs dropped into your wine.

    Homer - Ancient Greece - Classical Literature

    You too have shared a bed with the wrong woman. You too have been spellbound by magical voices, sweet voices with strange melodies.


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    7. You too have come so far and have been so far blown back.