Greek European Culture

Greek history, Greek Poetry

Homer – The Blind Poet, The Grandest Poet the world has ever known
















Three or four centuries after the siege of Troy, there lived a poor old blind poet who wandered about from place to place, playing upon his lyre, and reciting wonderful verses which told about the adventures of the Greek heroes, and their great deeds during the Trojan War.

We are told that this old man, whose name was Homer, had not always been poor and blind, but that, having embarked by mistake upon a vessel manned by pirates, he not only had been robbed of all his wealth, and blinded, but had been left upon a lonely shore.

By some happy chance, poor blind Homer found his way to the inhabited parts of the country, where he soon won many friends. Instead of spending all his time in weeping over his troubles, Homer tried to think of some way in which he could earn his living, and at the same time give pleasure to others. He soon found such a way in telling the stories of the past to all who cared to listen to them.

As the people in those days had no books, no schools, and no theaters, these stories seemed very wonderful. Little by little Homer turned them into verses so grand and beautiful that we admire them still; and these he recited, accompanying himself on a lyre, which he handled with much skill. As he wandered thus from place to place, old and young crowded around him to listen to his tales; and some young men were so struck by them that they followed him everywhere, until they too could repeat them. This was quite easy to do, because Homer had put them into the most beautiful and harmonious language the world has ever known. As soon as these young men had learned a few of the tales, they too began to travel from place to place, telling them to all they met; and thus Homer’s verses became well known throughout all Greece.

The Greeks who could recite Homer’s poems went next to the islands and Asia Minor, stopping at every place where Greek was spoken, to tell about the wrath of Achilles, the death of Patroclus, Hector, or old Priam, the burning of Troy, the wanderings of Ulysses, and the return of the Greeks. Other youths learned the poems; and so, although they were not written down for many a year, they were constantly recited and sung, and thus kept alive in the memory of the people.

As for Homer, their author, we know but little about him. We are told that he lived to be very old, and that although he was poor as long as he lived, and forced to earn his living by reciting his songs, he was greatly honored after his death.

His two great heroic poems -the Iliad, telling all about the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, relating how Ulysses sailed about for ten years on his way home from Troy- were finally written down, and kept so carefully that they can still be read today. Such was the admiration felt for these poems, that some years after Homer’s death an attempt was made to find out more about him, and about the place where he was born.

4 Comments

  1. Jenna

    How do you know that homer was blind???

  2. No one can “prove” that Homer was blind. We just follow the ancient tradition according to which he was blind (even his name may mean “blind”).

  3. Bobby Joe

    Homer may have not been a real person so why are you assuming that he was a real person when you have no evidence on it. If you have evidence that he was real then put it on the site but don’t start saying things that may not be true.

  4. Dear Bobby, that Homer is a real person is evident by the fact of the existence of the poems: someone must have written them. The discussion is if the poems belong to just one person, or to more than one. Since there is a discussion on this, without end it seems, there is no reason we can’t refer to the poems as Homer’s, at least no better reason, than the one permitting the reference to Homer, which is convenient and also supported by a long tradition. The fact that there exists the Homer name meaning the author(s) of these poems, is significant by itself and should be estimated always each time we interpret the poems. In any case the “Homer” reference means above all the poems themselves independently of the name of their author(s).