Notes on the dating of the homeric poems

The ancient Greeks generally believed that Homer was a historical individual, but some modern scholars are skeptical: G. Kirk's comment that "Antiquity knew nothing definite about the life and personality of Homer." represents the general consensus.

Some scholars believe that the poems themselves manifestly represent the culmination of many centuries of oral story-telling and a well-developed "formulaic" system of poetic composition, so according to Martin West, "Homer" is "not the name of a historical poet, but a fictitious or constructed name." The date of the Trojan War was given as 1194–1184 BC by Eratosthenes, who strove to establish a scientific chronology of events and this date is gaining support because of recent archaeological research.

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", and that the Iliad is the oldest work of western literature.

The poems themselves give evidence of singers at the courts of the nobility.

Scholars are divided as to which category, if any, the court singer or the wandering minstrel, the historic "Homer" belonged.

Internal evidence from the poems gives some support to this connection: familiarity with the topography of this area of Asia Minor's littoral obtrudes in place-names and details, and similes evocative of local scenery: the meadow birds at the mouth of the Caystros (Iliad 2.459ff.), a storm in the Icarian sea (Iliad 2.144ff.), and wind-lore (Iliad 2.394ff: 4.422ff: 9.5), The association with Chios dates back at least to Semonides of Amorgos who cited a famous line in the Iliad (6.146) as by "the man of Chios".

Some kind of eponymous bardic guild, known as the Homeridae (sons of Homer), or Homeristae ('Homerizers') or vaunting their special function as rhapsodes or "lay-stitchers" specialising in the recitation of Homeric poetry.

notes on the dating of the homeric poems-6notes on the dating of the homeric poems-11

Since nothing is known about the life of this Homer, the common joke, also recycled in disputes about the authorship of plays ascribed to Shakespeare, has it that the poems "were not written by Homer, but by another man of the same name," [1] [2].Many of them were purely fantastical: the satirist Lucian, in his fabulous True History, makes him out to be a Babylonian called Tigranes, who only assumed the name Homer when taken "hostage" (homeros) by the Greeks.A connection with Smyrna seems to be alluded to in a legend that his original name was "Melesigenes" ("born of Meles", a river which flowed by that city), and of the nymph Kretheis.The Batrachomyomachia, Homeric Hymns and cyclic epics are generally agreed to be later than the Iliad and the Odyssey.Most scholars agree that the Iliad and Odyssey underwent a process of standardisation and refinement out of older material beginning in the 8th century BC.

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