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This story was originally published by Inside Science News Service. ISNS —Scientists who decode the genetic history of humans by tracking how genes mutate have applied the same technique to one of the Western world’s most ancient and celebrated texts to uncover the date it was first written. The text is Homer’s “Iliad,” and Homer — if there was such a person — probably wrote it in B. The “Iliad” tells the story of the Trojan War — if there was such a war — with Greeks battling Trojans. The researchers accept the received orthodoxy that a war happened and someone named Homer wrote about it, said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in England. They worked from the standard text of the epic poem. The study mostly affirms what they have been saying, that it was written around the eighth century B. We tried to document the regularities in linguistic evolution and study Homer’s vocabulary as a way of seeing if language evolves the way we think it does. If so, then we should be able to find a date for Homer. It is unlikely there ever was one individual man named Homer who wrote the “Iliad.


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Portrait Bust of Homer Mid-2nd C. Nothing is recorded of him as a historical person; ancient biographical accounts contain nothing reliable, being compilations from apocryphal stories, competing local claims, and imaginative inferences from the poems. In any case it is clear that in the early Archaic Age epic poems were not attributed authorship in the modern sense; they were regarded as traditional tales retold by living bards.

Scholarly opinions on the dating of Homer’s epics have long diverged widely.

The verses come from the ancient city of Olympia and date to the Roman era. Homer Text. (Greek Ministry of Culture).

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In fact, any glimpse into Homer before medieval times is rare, and any insight into the composition of the home is precious. Whether the stories were composed by a blind poet named Homer is a source of debate, though many researchers believe Homer was probably not a historical individual but a cultural tradition that developed the stories over many singles or centuries, with scribes writing them down sometime around the 8th century B.

Instead, bards would have written slightly different versions of the epics each time they recited them, using a technique known as composition-in-recitation.

Guesses at his birth date range from BC all the way back to BC, the latter because The Iliad encompasses the story of the Trojan War.

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The epics of the Greek poet Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey, have been recited around campfires and scrutinized by students for 2, years, if not longer. But now, reports the BBC , archeologists in Greece have found 13 verses from The Odyssey chiseled into a clay tablet dating to the third century A. The tablet was discovered near the ruins of the Temple of Zeus during three years of excavations in the ruins of the ancient city of Olympia on the Greek peninsula the Peloponnese.

In a press release , the Greek Culture Ministry says that the preliminary date of the text has been confirmed. If verified, it will be a priceless literary and historical artifact. In fact, any glimpse into Homer before medieval times is rare, and any insight into the composition of the epics is precious.

The Dating of Homer. An eighth-century date for Homer is, I think, the most widely held. In M. L. West championed the priority of Hesiod, on whom he had.

Toggle navigation. A Preclassical Homer from the Dark Age 1. Homer and the Athenian Empire 2. Homer outside his Poetry 3. Homer and his Genealogy 4. Homer in the Homeric Odyssey 5. Iliadic Multiformities Part II. A Preclassical Homer from the Bronze Age 6. Variations on a Theme of Homer 7. Conflicting Claims on Homer 8. Homeric Variations on a Theme of Empire 9.

Earliest Known Written Record of Homer’s Odyssey Found in Greece

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Assembling a new book of ancient stories translated by great writers, Of Gods and Men , I was surprised to discover how prevalent the tale of the Trojan War has been down the ages. Authors as diverse as John Dryden, Alexander Pope and Louis MacNeice have been moved to translate various versions of the classical myth. One reason the Trojan War has struck such a chord is that, besides being an excellent story, it has long been suspected to have actually happened.

For most ancient Greeks, indeed, the Trojan War was much more than a myth. It was an epoch-defining moment in their distant past. As the historical sources — Herodotus and Eratosthenes — show, it was generally assumed to have been a real event. Determined to get Helen back and punish the Trojans, Agamemnon and his brother marched a mighty army against Troy, and eventually succeeded in bringing its people to their knees.


An eighth-century date for Homer is, I think, the most widely held. In M. West championed the priority of Hesiod, on whom he had written a commentary, and since then he has continued to publish arguments for putting Homer in the first half of the seventh century BC. In W. Burkert supported such a dating from the mention of Egyptian Thebes in Iliad Book 9 in an article which proved influential for instance, on R.

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All rights reserved. Dating to about B. The Iliad and The Odyssey are two of the key works of Western civilization. But almost nothing is known about their author and the date and manner of their creation. In Why Homer Matters , historian and award-winning author Adam Nicolson suggests that Homer be thought of not as a person but as a tradition and that the works attributed to him go back a thousand years earlier than generally believed.

Speaking from his home in England, Nicolson describes how being caught in a storm at sea inspired his passion for Homer, how the oral bards of the Scottish Hebrides may hold the key to understanding Homer’s works, and why smartphones are connecting us to ancient oral traditions in new and surprising ways. About ten years ago, I set off sailing with a friend of mine. We wanted a big adventure, so we decided to sail up the west coast of the British Isles, the exposed Atlantic coast, visiting various remote islands along the way.

I had thrown into my luggage a copy of The Odyssey , translated by Robert Fagles , having never really looked at Homer for about 25 years. We had a rough time.

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