Who was Homer?

THE great song of the Siege of Troy that has come down to us was sung by Homer, the most celebrated of the poets of antiquity. Homer's song did much to cultivate a feeling of nationality among the Greeks. They felt that, since they had once all united to accomplish a great deed, they might unite again. Each city took pride in its place in the list of those which had sent ships to Troy, and chanted the praise of its own heroes in the war.

Of Homer himself we know little except that he thus sang of Troy about the year 860 B.C., some three centuries after the war itself. He was doubtless a professional singer who wandered with his harp from place to place. In those days the minstrel was not held in high repute, and though many cities have since claimed the honor of being Homer's birthplace, it is doubtful if any of them honored or even supported him when alive. On the whole, he seems most probably to have been born in Smyrna, a Greek colony in Asia Minor, and to have resided later on the island of Chios. He travelled much, and finally became blind, old, and poor.

Long after his death his poems were brought from Asia and introduced among the European Greeks. Tradition says this was done by the great Spartan law-giver Lycurgus, who wanted among other things to impress upon Greece that Sparta, as the originator of the Trojan expedition, was the legitimate leader of Greece.

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Read about Who was Homer? in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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