Homer's mythological tales of war and homecoming, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are widely considered to be two of the most influential works in the history of western literature. Yet their author, 'the greatest poet that ever lived' is something of a mystery. By the 6th century BCE, Homer had already become a mythical figure, and today debate continues as to whether he ever existed.
In this Very Short Introduction Barbara Graziosi considers Homer's famous works and their impact on readers throughout the centuries. She shows how the Iliad and the Odyssey benefit from a tradition of reading that spans well over two millennia, stemming from ancient scholars at the library of Alexandria, in the third and second centuries BCE, who wrote some of the first commentaries on the Homeric epics. Summaries of these scholars' notes made their way into the margins of Byzantine manuscripts; from Byzantium the annotated manuscripts travelled to Italy; and the ancient notes finally appeared in the first printed editions of Homer, eventually influencing our interpretation of Homer's work today. Along the way, Homer's works have inspired artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, playwrights, and film-makers. Exploring the main literary, historical, cultural, and archaeological issues at the heart of Homer's narratives, Graziosi analyses the enduring appeal of Homer and his iconic works.
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This book was previously published in hardback as Homer.
The author has perfectly mastered the material under investigation and, even when speaking of allusions in the Homeric text to other myths, she does not generally force the interpretation in an attempt to establish improbable chronologies... it is easy to appreciate Graziosi's clarity of presentation and ability to offer precise and brief definitions... the book constitutes not only an accurate critical evaluation of Homeric studies for the benefit of scholars, but
also a valuable and accessible introduction to the subject for non-specialist readers. * Carmine Pisano, Bryn Mawr Classical Review *
An excellent, up-to-date, synthesis. * Lucia Marchini, Minerva *
Graziosi's stimulating account of that resonance in such a short, up-to-date and readable book makes this the perfect introduction to Homer. * Times Literary Supplement *
clear, beautifully written, enthusiasm-radiating volume * Times Higher Education *
1: Looking for Homer
2: Textual clues
3: Material clues
4: The poet in the poems
5: The wrath of Achilles
6: A poem about Troy
7: The tragedy of Hector
8: The man of many turns
9: Women and monsters
10: An infernal journey