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The Stories Of Homer

Everyone’s heard of Homer. No, not the Simpsons guy, the ancient Greek writer guy. The one that wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey. It is said that he also wrote numerous other works that were lost when the Library of Alexandria was burned to the ground. But I don’t think they were lost, just his authorship of them.

When you read the various Greek mythological stories, no matter from which translation they descend, the personalities of the various gods, heroes, and characters remain amazingly consistent. Considering that Greece of the day was divided into a number of city-states, each of which would be favoring a different deity, they would each have their own slant in favor of their chosen hometown deity or hero. This would leave us with hundreds of variations for each of the same characters. Hercules for instance might be seen as a perfect hero in one city-state and scum in another. Then toss in the fact that these were also passed along in oral tradition, which gives us some more drift in story content. And yet, we see no such wide variations; each of the characters has the same given personality throughout.

This implies a single common source for the telling of each of these ancient stories.

Now, it was said that Homer collected his stories along his travels and transcribed them in his own poetic manner. I think he traveled quite widely, collecting all of the local stories that he came upon, combining various variations until he came up with a consistent set of traits for the characters and consistent plots for the stories. Then being as he was a rather popular storyteller of the day (what with the relatively low population density of the time, probably one of the very few, hence the most famous), everyone was soon repeating Homer’s variation of the old stories that had previously been oral tradition up until that time. Plus, Homer was probably the first to write any of them down, which would have had other scribes copying them and passing them along. Eventually these transcriptions would have ended up in the Library of Alexandria, and from there passed along throughout the local world.

Thus, Homer not only wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey, but all the other mythological Greek stories we all know and love. All that was lost was his name at the bottom of them.


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