The stories that take place in Homer’s poems deal with Greek culture and epic battles, within the framework of mythology and with the prominence of the Greek gods.
Homer was a Greek poet who came to life during the 8th century BC. There is no notion about his city of birth or the office he held; very little is actually known about him.
However, despite the ignorance of the details of his life, he is credited with the authorship of two emblematic works of universal literature: the Iliad and the Odyssey .
These poems compile part of the oral tradition of ancient Greece on mythology, and the cultural, social and political environment of the time.
In addition to the Iliad and the Odyssey , they also attribute less epic poems to Homer, such as Batracomiomachy, the Homeric Hymns, Margites, and the Epic Cycle.
However, due to the absence of information about the time, it is not certain that Homer is the author of the works mentioned previously.
Main stories in the poems of Homer
The Iliad details the history of the Trojan War, motivated by the abduction of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Prince Paris, of Troy, was the author of the kidnapping.
Consequently, Agamemnon, Menelaus’ brother, decides to avenge his brother’s honor and declare war on the Trojans.
The Iliad has more than 16,000 verses, predominantly focused on the narrative of Achilles’ revenge and anger against the Trojans.
For its part, the Odyssey narrates the adventures of Ulysses, king of the Island of Ithaca and one of the most ingenious combatants of the Spartan army, after the fall of Troy.
Ulysses took more than 20 years to return to his land. Of those 20 years, 10 were of constant struggle in the Trojan War; and for the remaining 10 years he was lost on the high seas for having disturbed Poseidon.
The stories of the Iliad are full of fantastic stories, of the presence of Greek gods (Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Aphrodite, etc.) and of demi-gods, like Achilles, at the foot of battle.
In the Odyssey , Ulysses had to face multiple dangers: attacks by cyclones, cyclops, strong waves, and even fight against the charms of the sorceress Circe, who held him captive for several years.
However, his cunning helped him through all those years of expertise and disagreements, until he was finally able to return to Ithaca to regain his home and honor.
The poems attributed to Homer are considered archetypes of Greek mythology, since they manage to collect all the oral traditions on this subject, and synthesize them precisely through prose.
Descriptive geographic accounts
Both works are characterized by the excessive use of literary resources such as metaphor and simile, coupled with the presence of highly descriptive stories in terms of geography and landscapes.
There is no doubt about the influence of Homer on classical literature, not only seen from antiquity, but also on later manifestations in Western literature.
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