The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Homagyrius – Homerus

500

HOMERUS.

founded the town of Holmones or Halmones, in the neighbourhood of Orchomenus. (Paus, ix. 24. § 3; Steph. Byz. s. v.} [L. S.]

HOMAGYRIUS ('Opar&pus), i. e. the god of the assembly or league, a surname of Zeus, under which he was worshipped at Aegium, on the north­western coast of Peloponnesus, where Agamemnon was believed to have assembled the Greek chiefs, to deliberate on the war against Troy. Under this name Zeus was also worshipped, as the protector of the Achaean league, (Paus. vii. 24. § 1.) [L. S.]

HOMERUS ('Owpos). The poems of Homer formed the basis of Greek literature. Every Greek who had received a liberal education was per­fectly well acquainted with them from his child­hood, and had learnt them by heart at school; but nobody could state any thing certain about their author. In fact, the several biographies of Homer which are now extant afford very little or nothing of an authentic history. The various dates as­signed to Homer's age offer no less a diversity than 500 years (from b. c. 1184-684). Crates and Eratosthenes state, that he lived within the first, century after the Trojan war; Aristotle and Aristarchus make him a contemporary of the Ionian migration, 140 years after the war; the chronologist, Apollodorus, gives the year 240, Por-phyrius 275, the Parian Marble 277, Herodotus 400 after that event; and Theopompus even makes him a contemporary of Gyges, king of Ly.dia. (Nitzsch, Melet. de Histor. Horn. fasc. ii. p. 2, de Hist. Horn. p. 78.) The most important point to be determined is, whether we are to place Homer lefore or after the Ionian migration. The latter is supported by the best authors, and by the general opinion of antiquity, according to which Homer was by birth an Ionian of Asia Minor. There were indeed more than seven cities which claimed Homer as their countryman ; for if we number all those that we find mentioned in different passages of ancient writers, we have seventeen or nineteen cities mentioned as the birth-places of Homer ; but the claims of most of these are so suspicious and feeble, that they easily vanish before a closer ex­amination, Athens, for instance, alleged that she was the metropolis of Smyrna, and could therefore number Homer amongst her citizens. (Bekker, Anecdot. vol. ii. p. 768.) Many other poems were attributed to Homer besides the Iliad and Odyssey. The real authors of these poems were forgotten, but their fellow-citizens pretended that Homer, the supposed author, had lived or been born among t]iera. The claims of Cyme and Colophon will not seem entitled to much consideration, because they are preferred by Ephorus and Nicander, who were citizens of those respective towns. After sifting the authorities for all the different statements, the claims of Smyrna and Chios remain the most plau­sible, and between these two we have to decide. Smyrna is supported by Pindar, Scylax, and Ste-simbrotus; Chios by Simonides, Acusilaus, Hel-lanicus, Thucydides, tfye tradition of a family of Homerids at Chios, and the local worship of a hero, Homeros. The preference is now generally given to Smyrna. (Welcker, Epische Cyclus, p. 153; Miiller, Hist, of Greek Lit. p. 41, &c.) Smyrna was first founded by lonians from Ephesus, who were followed, and afterwards expelled, by Aeolians from Cyme : the expelled lonians fled to Colophon, and Smyrna thus became Aeolic. Subsequently the Colophonians drove out the Aeolians from

HOMERUS.

Smyrna, which from henceforth was a purely Ionic city. The Aeolians were originally in possession of the traditions of the Trojan war, which their ancestors had waged, and in which no lonians had taken part. (Muller, Aeginet. p.25, Orchom. p. 367.) Homer therefore, himself an Ionian, who had come from Ephesus, received these traditions from the new Aeolian settlers, and when the lonians were driven out of Smyrna, either he himself fled to Chios, or his descendants or disciples settled there, and formed the famous family of Homerids. Thus we may unite the claims of Smyrna and Chios, and explain the peculiarities of the Homeric dialect, which is different from the pure Ionic, arid has a large mixture of Aeolic elements. According to this computation, Homer would have flourished shortly after the time of the Ionian migration, a time best attested, as we have seen, by the au­thorities of Aristotle and Aristarchus. But this, result seems not to be reconcilable with the follow­ing considerations : —1. Placing Homer more than a century and a half after the Trojan war, we have a long period which is apparently quite destitute of poetical exertions. Is it likely that the heroes should not have found a bard for their deeds till more than a hundred and fifty years after their death ? And how could the knowledge of these deeds be preserved without poetical traditions and epic songs, the only chronicles of an illiterate age? 2. In addition to this, there was a stirring active time between the Asiatic settlements of the Greeks and the war with Troy. Of the exploits of this time, certainly nowise inferior to the exploits of the heroic age itself, we should expect to find something mentioned or alluded to in the work of a poet who lived during or shortly after it, But of this there is not a trace to be found in Homer. 3. The mythology and the poems of Homer could not have originated in Asia. It is the growth of a long period, during which the ancient .-Thracian bards, who lived partly in Thessaly, round Mount Olympus, and partly in Boeotia, near Helicon, consolidated all the different and various local mythologies into one great my­thological system. If Homer had made the my­thology of the Greeks, as Herodotus (ii. 53) affirms, .he would not have represented the Thes-salian Olympus as the seat of his gods, but some mountain of Asia Minor ; his Muses would not have been those of Olympus, but they would have dwelt on Ida or Gargaros. . Homer, if his works had first originated in Asia, would not have com­pared Nausicaa to Artemis walking on Taygetus or Erymanihus (Od. vi. 102) ; and a great many other allusions to European countries, which show the poet's familiar acquaintance with them, could have found no place in the work of an Asiatic. It is evident that Homer was far better ac­quainted with European Greece than he was with Asia Minor, and even the country round Troy. (Comp. Spohn, de Agro Trojano, p. 27,) Sir W, Gell, and other modern travellers, were astonished at the accuracy with which Homer has described places in Peloponnesus, and particularly the island of Ithaca. It has been observed, that nobody could have given these descriptions, except one who had . seen the country himself. How shall we, with all this, maintain our proposition, that Homer was an Ionian of Asia Minor? It is indispensable, in order to clear up this point, to enter more at large into the discussion concerning the origin of the Homeric poems,.

Pages
About | First

499

500

501
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.