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HOMER: The Man, the Mystery

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HOMER: The Man, the Mystery. He Was Not: This Guy. He Was Not From: This Place. He Might Have Looked Like This:. Or This:. Or This:. And He May Have Inspired People Like This:. But…. Though he wrote a few of the most famous texts in our literary history, very little is know about:

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Though he wrote a few of the most famous texts in our literary history, very little is know about:

  • Who he was
  • Where he lived, and
  • How he came to write The Odyssey and The Iliad


scholars think that he
Scholars Think That He:
  • Was blind
  • Composed The Odyssey in the late eighth or early seventh century B.C.
  • He lived in Ionia, located in eastern Aegean.
  • Wrote the poems to be sung/performed, but that he did write them down.
so what is an epic poem
So, What is an Epic poem?
  • A long narrative poem in elevated style presenting characters of high position in adventures forming an organic whole through their relation to a central heroic figure and through their development of episodes important to the history of a nation or race.


  • The Divine Comedy
  • Beowulf
  • The Iliad
  • The Odyssey
  • Epic of Gilgamesh
  • The Aeneid
in an epic poem
In An epic poem…
  • A larger than life main character (demigods, heroes, etc.) that embodies the ideals of a particular culture or nation—epic struggle/goal
  • The Gods/Goddesses intervene in the events/mortal lives
  • Setting of upheaval/change. Ex. End of Trojan War.
  • “Epic” in length. Often it is broken down into books.
  • Wide setting—travel spans countries, the time can span decades
an epic poem contains
An Epic Poem Contains:
  • Long speeches in elevated/courtly language to recount events and stories in the fashion of bards—written for performance/song
  • In-medias-res opening (often)
  • Repetition: epithets—help in both meter form and establishing character “grey eyed Athena”
  • Epic similes—extended, ornate comparisons using like or as
  • The invocation of the muses at the start
the muses
  • Zeus and Mnemosyne (goddess of Memory)
  • 9 nights=9 muses
  • Sing of the gods and their deeds—”sing” of the past deeds of a culture
  • Uphold the arts and sciences
  • Inspire and summon the memory in the arts
  • Authors call for inspiration—epic poetry
  • Homer calls “the muse” and the “muses
the muses1
  • Calliope—epic poetry
  • Clio—history
  • Erato—love poetry
  • Euterpe—music
  • Melpomen—tragedy
  • Polyhymnia—hymns
  • Terpsichore—dance
  • Thaleia—comedy
  • Urania--astronomy
the muse calliope ka lye a pee
“THE MUSE”: Calliope (ka-lye-a-pee)
  • Favorite of Homer
  • Muse of Epic Poetry
  • Eldest
  • Calls to the muse to aid the author
  • Establishes plot
  • Establishes characters
  • Establishes theme
  • Calls to culture/history
  • Employs literary devices like: epithet and epic simile