Homer is considered the composer of the most important ancient Greek epics, the "Ilias" and the "Odyssee", and therefore also the founder of the oldest literary genre.
He was long looked on as a fictional personality by philologists, though he is considered an historical figure today. Linguistic and historical analyses now support the theory that both epic poems were composed in the same place around the same time, on the west coast of Asia Minor, which had been colonized by the Greeks, in the 8th century before Christ.
The content which is handled in both epics come from the traditionally oral form of the short epic, which goes back to the time of the early Greek tribes in the second millenium before Christ and was most likely presented by traveling singers in the noble courts.
Both works are composed in hexameters which contain elements of both the Ionian and Aeolian languages. The language is formal and artificial, based on a long tradition of oral lore. This can be seen especially in the decorative elements and the stereotypical uses and turns of phrase which show up again and again.
Characteristic for these works are the liveliness of the figures, the naturalness of the descriptions as well as the choice of comparisons to nature and the contemporary world, which display an adroit talent for observation.
Homer and his epics have become our measure of the Greeks' images of the gods and humans, whereby Homer had an enormous impact on the tragedy, the writing of history, and philosophy. Besides the Ilias and the Odyssee, a collection of stylistically similar poems are attributed to Homer, though this claim is not undisputed.
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