A background to Homer and The Odyssey

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Homer is the supposed author of the two great epics of Greek antiquity. Nothing is known of Homer as an individual and the question of whether a single person could have created the two epics is highly controversial. Linguistic and historical evidence however suggest that the origin of the poems were in Greek settlements on the west coast of Asia Minor sometime in the 9th century BC.

The Iliad

Both epics are about legendary events that occured many years before the poems composition. The Iliad is based on the final year of the Trojan war, where the Greeks lead by Agamemnon are trying to gain access to Troy which lies behind mighty walls which have never been breached. They want to gain access because Agamemnon's brother Menelaus' wife Helen ran off with Paris, prince of Troy. The central plot of the story is the Greek hero Achilles wrath. Insulted by his commander in chief Agamemnon, the young warrior Achilles withdraws from the war, leaving his fellow Greeks to suffer terrible defeats at the hands of the Trojans. Achilles rejects all attempts at reconciliation until he lets his companion Patroclus to lead the troops in his place. When Patroclus is however slain in battle by the Trojan prince Hector Achilles is filled with fury and remorse and turns his wrath against the Trojans. Achilles challenges Hector to single combat and slays him and drags his corpse around on the back of his chariot for…


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