Notes on the dating of the homeric poems

Posted by / 24-Dec-2016 02:00

Notes on the dating of the homeric poems

The poems themselves give evidence of singers at the courts of the nobility.Scholars are divided as to which category, if any, the court singer or the wandering minstrel, the historic "Homer" belonged.An important role in this standardisation appears to have been played by the Athenian tyrant Hipparchus, who reformed the recitation of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaic festival.Many classicists hold that this reform must have involved the production of a canonical written text.Other works, such as the corpus of Homeric Hymns, the comic mini-epic Batrachomyomachia ("The Frog-Mouse War"), and the Margites were also attributed to him, but this is now believed to be unlikely.

Since nothing is known about the life of this Homer, the common joke, also recycled in disputes about the authorship of plays ascribed to Shakespeare, has it that the poems "were not written by Homer, but by another man of the same name," [1] [2].

While many find it unlikely that both epics were composed by the same person, others argue that the stylistic similarities are too consistent to support the theory of multiple authorship.

One view which attempts to bridge the differences holds that the Iliad was composed by "Homer" in his maturity, while the Odyssey was a work of his old age.

Many of them were purely fantastical: the satirist Lucian, in his fabulous True History, makes him out to be a Babylonian called Tigranes, who only assumed the name Homer when taken "hostage" (homeros) by the Greeks.

A connection with Smyrna seems to be alluded to in a legend that his original name was "Melesigenes" ("born of Meles", a river which flowed by that city), and of the nymph Kretheis.

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Over the past few decades, some scholars have argued for a 7th-century date.