Homer, the famous poet of antiquity: Homer was one of the greatest early Greek poets. Legend has it that he was blind and recited his poems as he traveled from one place to another. For this reason, people say that he called himself a singer, as opposed to a writer. It is said that after his death on the island of Ios, others kept his work alive by reciting them wherever they traveled and eventually scribes wrote them down.
Homer created excellent poetry expressing deep human emotions. The Greeks put him on a very high pedestal proclaiming him their greatest poet and almost worshipping him. His most acclaimed works include the epics Iliad and Odyssey. The plot of both epics consists of a series of exploits and adventures that help shape the protagonist and give the message of heroism, wisdom and other desirable qualities that set an example for laypeople to follow.
What must be applauded is that Homer had no literary work to guide him, for literature itself was in its infancy when he created his works. He is thought of as the world's first great writer and a model for others to imitate for centuries to come.
Herodotus places the age of Homer about 400 years before his own time which would be about 850 BC; that date has been accepted as the most probable by many scholars. Almost all the legendary evidence points out that he was Greek, born in Asia Minor, modern Turkey.
According to the testimonies of reliable ancient writers, such as Herodotus and Pausanias, Ios was the island where he died and where the tomb of Homer is located. Information about Homer's death and burial can be found in the writings of Strabo. The legend of how Homer died has various versions.
The most prevalent version (according to Pausanias) is that Homer visited the oracle of Delphi to ask Pythia who his parents and his origins really were. Pythia answered with the following oracle: "Your mother's home is the island of Ios, which will welcome you when you die, but beware of the riddle of young children." However, the poet disregarded the oracle and traveled to Ios to find his roots. When he arrived there, Homer saw some young children fishing on the shore. He asked them what they had caught and the children replied: "What we catch we leave, what we don't catch we carry it with us."
What the kids were talking about was lice. However, Homer was unable to find the answer to the riddle, and at that moment he remembered Pythia's warning. He was terrified as he remembered it and quickly walked away. Legend has it that the road was muddy and the poet, in his haste, slipped and fell. He then hit his head and died almost instantly. According to another version, Homer died of grief because he was not able to solve the riddle.
After all, what we should focus on that we must be thankful for is the fact that his great epics have been passed down intact. Both the Illiad and the Odyssey are considered landmarks in human literature. The content, ideas, and style of his epics formed the foundation of Greek education in the age of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and have influenced works of Western literature, including those of William Shakespeare while also inspiring multitudes of readers over the centuries. The sheer beauty and power of the imagery and the universality of the themes are commendable.