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Homer c.750 BC wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, at a time when Greek colonies
from various city states (poleis) were spreading around the northern and eastern
Mediterranean. United by their common language, religion, culture – and now literature
– their united heritage was strengthened by Homer’s setting down the Olympian gods
and Hellenic values.
Homer’s poems show that the gods were seen as active in man’s suffering lives,
men were tossed about by them; men sought glory in war/in death in war, a glorious
homecoming (alive or for burial) and respect for one’s station in life (eg. it’s
fine to be bullied if you’re a common soldiers but don’t take what isn’t yours from
someone you should respect …).
All antiquity admired Homer’s works. Similes and metaphors were/are a valued
part of Homer’s epic poems. His conciseness, great ability to be an invisible but
all-knowing narrator, and skill with great themes and yet small tender moments were
Hesiod in c.700 BC wrote his Theogony (birth of the gods) and Works and Days (advice
on farming in epic poetry). From these followed all epic poetry … Greek, Roman (Lucretius’
de rerum natura, Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s metamorphoses and his spoof on epic the
ars Amatoria ‘art of love’ amongst others) and later.
Homer and his skill was used by all antiquity to teach every aspect of virtually