“The ‘Iliad’ and the ‘Odyssey’ stand at the head of the epic poetry of the world. . . . Artistically, in spite of their early date, they are the product of a mature art, expressing with supreme nobility and grace permanent and varied yet simple types of human nature, in a language unsurpassed for its combination of directness, simplicity, and beauty.”
—William A. Neilson
More than 2,500 years ago, Homer composed the Iliad and The Odyssey. So complete was his success that, for the next 20 centuries at least, most Western writers aspired not to surpass him, not to invent some creative new form, but simply to rewrite him with new settings and new characters. (Think of Virgil’s Aeneid; think of Joyce’s Ulysses.)
Why was Homer so influential?
Homer’s fame isn’t the result of any one attribute—it’s the result of at least three:
- His themes are nearly universal: honor, dignity, battles, long journeys home. They helped cement Greek culture (which became the intellectual context for early Christianity), and they’re still powerful today.
- His prose is a delight, graceful and memorable. The Homeric adjectives are especially famous.
- He’s just plain fun to read, full of adventure and memorable characters.
The great translator Alexander Pope writes,
“[Homer’s] work is a wild paradise, where, if we cannot see all the beauties as distinctly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the seeds and first productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but selected some particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify.”
Get the best price before July 9
Noet’s 15-volume Bristol Classics Homer Bundle gives you the Iliad, The Odyssey, and a number of insightful commentaries. It’s a terrific window into Homer’s world.
The bundle is on Pre-Pub for 23% off, but that deal won’t last long—on July 9, the Pre-Pub price is going up by $20.