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Word Count: 668
Biography of Homer Beyond a few fragments of information historians and classicists can only speculate about the life of the man who composed the Iliad and the Odyssey The details are few We do not even know the century in which he lived and it is difficult to say with absolute certainty that the same poet composed both works The Greeks attributed both of the epics to the same man and we have little hard evidence that would make us doubt the ancient authorities but uncertainty is a constant feature of scholarly work dealing with Homers era of Greek history The Greeks hailed him as their greatest poet as well as their first Although the Greeks recognized other poets who composed in Greek before Homer no texts from these earlier poets survived Perhaps they were lost or perhaps they were never written downHomer himself was probably on the cusp between the tradition of oral poetry and the new invention of written language Texts of the Iliad and the Odyssey exis ted from at least the sixth century BC and probably for a considerable span of time before that These two great epic poems also had a life in performance through the centuries professional artists made their living by reciting Homer performing the great epics for audiences that often know great parts of the poem by heart It is impossible to pin down with any certainty when Homer lived Eratosthenes gives the traditional date of 1184 BC for the end of the Trojan War the semi-mythical event which forms the basis for the Iliad The great Greek historian Herodotus put the date at 1250 BC These dates were arrived at in a very approximate manner Greek historians usually used genealogy and estimation when trying to find the dates for events in the distant past But Greek historians were far less certain about the dates for Homers life Some said he was a contemporary of the events
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