The Iliad of Homer (Paperback)
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Homer is best known as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author of the first known literature of Europe, he is central to the Western canon. When he lived, as well as whether he lived at all, is unknown. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived no more than 400 years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 BCE or later. Pseudo-Herodotus estimates that he was born 622 years before Xerxes I placed a pontoon bridge over the Hellespont in 480 BCE, which would place him at 1102 BCE, 168 years after the fall of Troy in 1270 BCE. These two end points are 252 years apart, representative of the differences in dates given by the other sources. The importance of Homer to the ancient Greeks is described in Plato's Republic, where he is referred to as the protos didaskalos, "first teacher", of tragedy, the hegemon paideias, "leader of learning", and the one who ten Hellada pepaideuken, "has taught Greece". Homer's works, which are about fifty percent speeches, provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient and medieval Greek worlds. Fragments of Homer account for nearly half of all identifiable Greek literary papyrus finds in Egypt. Various traditions have survived purporting to give details of Homer's birthplace and background. The satirist Lucian, in his True History, describes him as a Babylonian called Tigranes, who assumed the name Homer when taken "hostage" (homeros) by the Greeks. When the Emperor Hadrian asked the Oracle at Delphi about Homer, the Pythia proclaimed that he was Ithacan, the son of Epikaste and Telemachus, from the Odyssey. These stories were incorporated into the various "lives of Homer", "compiled from the Alexandrian period onwards". The "lives of Homer" refer to a set of longer fragments on the topic of the life and works of Homer written by authors who for the most part remain anonymous. Some were attributed to more famous authors. In the 20th century CE, all the vitae were gathered into a standard reference work by Thomas W. Allen and made a part of Homeri Opera, "the Works of Homer", first published in 1912 by Oxford University Press. This edition has been informally known as "the Oxford Homer" and the Vitae Homeri section as "the lives of Homer" or just "the lives". The relevant part of Volume V in scholarship on the vitae is often called just "Allen" with page numbers denoting the vita.