Sunday Links: Homer the poet

The goal every Sunday is to find ten or more links that aren’t Wikipedia which do a reasonably good job of explaining a historical event.  Ideally, I try to find three images, three secondary sources, and three primary sources.  This week, we delve into Homer, the ancient Greek poet. This one is hard, because I have to maneuver around Homer Simpson, who is a much larger cultural hero on the Internet.


Homer, in a 5th century BC bust
Homer, in a 5th century BC bust

This is of course the classic image of Homer.  It comes from Ancient, which seems to be a reasonably reputable site.  Comapring what’s written here with what I know about Homer, I don’t see any glaring factual errors.  The one complaint that I have with the site is that it seems to have been written by someone with a less-than-perfect command of the English language.  So far, so good.

2.Behold, another excellent link, this time a painting of Homer being crowned as a divinity by the muse of poetry, while all the great poets of succeeding centuries look on in approval and wonder.  Will students get this — that by 1827 AD, Homer’s reputation was such that people wrote odes and created art celebrating the achievements of a poet who’d live more than 2000 years ago?

Apotheosis of Homer
Apotheosis of Homer

What else?

3. Since they’re copyrighted images, I don’t want to display their modern cartoons directly on my site, but has some moderately funny images associated with Homer.  Some of them are even available for sale on mugs, t-shirts and suchlike.

That does it for images. What about secondary sources?

4. Mythography has a pretty good bio of him, and the English writing is reasonably good.

5. has an education site with cliffs’ notes-style analyses of major works of literature; here’s the one for the Iliad, along with the information about the poet and his time.  Now even if my students don’t have time to read the whole poem, I can direct them to a summary… Hmmm.

6. Here’s a site that treats Homer as the nominal author of poems composed by the collective wisdom of Mycenaean Greece, and explains why that context is important.

Primary sources?

7. Here’s a gentleman on YouTube who has a fragment of ancient Greek music played on a lyre, attributed to Homer.

8. A sample of someone reading/singing the opening of the Iliad.

9. A translation into English of the Iliad by Walter Leaf, 1902.

10. Primary sources: Iliad, Odyssey and Homeric Hymns at Project Gutenberg.

Overall grade: A-.  Good access to primary and secondary sources about Homer, specifically, as well as to his texts.  I think that one would have a harder time convincing students that “homer” wasn’t a real person so much as the conflation of a thousand-year oral tradition in one person, but that’s not vital for eighth and ninth graders, anyway.

Consider checking out earlier blogs in this series on:

Addendum: Due to graduation, I didn’t post this until the Tuesday after, but I’ve backdated it to Sunday, so that it’s easy to find in the calendar view by clicking on Sundays.


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