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Please fix first paragraph[edit]

Incorrect grammar found, ... an historical ... should read a historical. I would of edited it, but alas, it is protected. --Jweinraub (talk) 14:13, 21 July 2010 (UTC)


I appreciate the industry that Botteville is putting into this article, which has been in horrible shape for a long time, but I'm a bit dismayed to see that the article is now written as if there were a real person named Homer. Take, for example, the infobox, which confidently states that the given name of "Homer" was unknown, that his birthplace was Smyrna, that his parents were Cleanax and Critheis, and that his debut work was "Epigram I". The body of the article, too, implies that we should think of Homer as a real person. Yet, if one looks at the academic literature of the last few decades, it's clear that classical scholars regard the ancient biographical tradition as fiction (see, e.g. Mary Lefkowitz's Lives of the Greek Poets), and that few, if any, classicists think that we can know anything about a person named "Homer". This article ought to concentrate on Homeric poetry, rather than biography.

Accordingly, I'm going to get rid of most of the stuff in the infobox. I don't know that we need an infobox to begin with; the picture is nice, but I don't think that the infobox adds anything useful, and when it gives misinformation ("Homer was born in Smyrna"), it's a detriment to the article. --Akhilleus (talk) 21:54, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes, please get rid of the infobox. We can't fill in biographical details for somebody for whose life no solid facts exist and whose very historicity has been called into question. At the moment the claim "Born in Smyrna, lived in Chios, died in Ios" is referenced to Kirk (page 190) but it's clear from the context that Kirk is simply relaying information he does not himself believe: "The horror vacui which was an endemic disease of ancient biographers caused a mass of spurious details to be invented, many of them palpably based on innocent passages in the poems themselves, others supplied by local interests or designed to reconcile divergent conjectures. The commonest version to be found in the various Lives of Homer, compiled from the Alexandrian period onward but sometimes incorporating stories from the classical age, is that Homer was born in Smyrna (which became Ionic early in its history), lived in Chios and died in the insignificant Cycladic island of Ios; his name was originally Melesigenes, his father being the river Meles and his mother the nymph Cretheis; he was also descended from Orpheus and coeval with, or even a cousin of, Hesiod, with whom he had a poetical contest on Euboea. Much of this information is recognizably fantastic and nearly all of it probably worthless. Even the association with Smyrna and Chios, the latter backed by the existence there from at least the late 6th century BC, of a rhapsodic guild called the Homeridae or 'descendants of Homer', cannot have been watertight - or there would not have been so many rival claimants, of which Kyme and Colophon were chief but to which several others had been added by the Roman period". The infobox merely puts us on the same level as unreliable ancient biographers trying to fill the vacuum with spurious information. --Folantin (talk) 14:33, 22 February 2008 (UTC)
I believe there is better evidence for the actual historicity of Homer than for some other persons treated as real on Wikipedia - but that's not the point. The historicity of Homer is still a matter of much debate, so I agree, the article should continue to reflect that. However, I am dismayed that better modern scholarship is not preferred and pointed out in the article. The paragraphs are becoming long, unwieldy and the most mythopoetic stories receive equal treatment with the more likely ones. The real problem, as I see it, is that whoever Homer was (whether one person or several, etc.), there were in fact bards in Ancient Greece who sang these epic poems. A great deal is known about how quickly (or slowly) these poems changed. Since it has been suggested (many times) that Homer was a kind of title (and not a name), there is a built in problem in the article. There should be two articles (one about the research on what the bards may have been called - Homer is a suggestion; another about the possible historic person who knew so much about the Trojan War). The Trojan War happened, someone knew a lot about it (it's doubtful that a bunch of bards got together immediately after the war and swapped stories, although possible). At some time after the war, probably within no more than two generations, someone began reciting the story and the story spread. That someone is the person we today call Homer - whatever his original name might be.--LeValley 19:56, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Raising some issues formally[edit]

Hello A. I note your changes and your point of view as well as your intended action of removing the box. As preliminary let me say that your changes have been made inconsistently. Now we are saying, Homer does not exist but some believe the Iliad and Odyssey have a single author! And so on for the rest of it. This reminds me of Page's summary of one of the arguments, that there was no Homer but someone of his name wrote the poems. Inconsistencies such as these lead me to think your editorial actions in this case are precipitous.

In any case I believe you are wrong. There is as good a chance that Homer was real as there is that he was not. By selecting one view and excluding all others you are rejecting a large part of Homeric scholarship as pointless. After all if Homer did not exist and we cannot say anything about him then why are all these books and articles being written about the topic? Apparently, in your view, like me (you imply) they are totally wasting their time. If what you say were true, there should not be an article here under the name of Homer. Maybe you would like to try moving it to "Poems formerly attributed to Homer."

I believe you are relying too heavily on Lefkowitz, who is Dalby's main source on Wikipedia. He attritbutes everything to her. I will leave aside for the moment the issue of an author promulgating himself in these articles but the Dalby/Lefkowitz view is not in fact the main view. A brief investigation on the Internet will reveal that. I strongly feel that this article cannot improve as long as you are acting on your current belief that Homer cannot be and certainly is not real. Your suggestion to remove the box would certainly be a detriment to the article. You need to leave room for other points of view. I urge you to investigate and change your mind as soon as possible so that we can get on with the improvement.

I am not interested in an edit war with you and Dalby so I would like you to revert your edits to my last version. Please do seriously consider it. Meanwhile you and I have raised some issues that need to be before the public as issues and not as an edit war. Since that is so we need to place some templates which according to Wikipedia policy should be done. The issues need to be discussed. That is the approach I am going to take. I have explained all this in the desire to follow policy and not be arbitrary. Best wishes and thank you for your well-meaning edit.Dave (talk) 22:22, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Dave, I don't mean to be rude, but if you don't want an edit war, why are you sticking tags all over the page? Such tactics have the appearance of a temper tantrum, and virtually cry out for a revert. Also, I have trouble understanding why you're setting up Andrew Dalby as some kind of bete noire; I don't think he's edited this article in ages, and he spends most of his wiki time on the Latin wikipedia.
Well, I'm sticking tags all over the article on items that need to be changed. I will go on trying to change them as best I can. There is some question now as to whether you are going to allow me to do that so the issues need to be marked. As for Dalby, he's the one who did much of the basic work on this set of articles and it's his view that is getting insisted upon. Moreover I did hear from him the last article I worked on.
I hadn't seen this till now, but I'll just insert a comment since my name's mentioned. I've done almost nothing on this page (a few edits in late 2006 and early 2007 is all I can trace) so, if the current page happens to reflect my point of view in any way, that can be scarcely more than coincidence :) It's true, as Akhilleus says, I usually work on Vicipaedia these days. Andrew Dalby 11:54, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
Believe it or not I'm seeing this for the first time four years later. Well, I appreciate your comment. I seem to have seen your name used in vain in a lot of discussion so I drew the wrong conclusion. I do apologize. I have since since seen your name in connection with a lot of books you are writing, which is a much more positive way to see it. I was looking at sections of your summary of languages. Nice work. Must have taken you quite a while. Anyway I'm here for a revisit. I think this is an indication that WP has changed. I note there is more control over the articles. The level of administration has changed. I'm seeing corrections by actual WP employees. Before I used to get overwhelmed by "big men on campus" sometimes fairly but usually unfairly. I since learned of the campaign to destroy WP. Anyway since I've been back I have had no trouble. Where have all the flowers gone .... All on their own and without me to attack I think they gradually began to see the topic is not so simple as they had thought. At some point they just abandoned it. I think we have got past certain erroneous ideas, such as that recent is necessarily better or old is bad. New better, old bad, new better, old bad, they used to chant, a la Animal Farm. Anyway good luck with your career.Botteville (talk) 04:55, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
As far as scholarly consensus, Page was writing four decades ago. Things might have changed since then. However, the joke you mention, that Homer's poems weren't written by him but by someone of the same name (which is at least as old as Mark Twain), is somewhat applicable: most of the scholars who believe that both poems were composed by a single author also believe that nothing can be known about this author, and they call him "Homer" for convenience's sake.
If Page is too old for you why is not Kirk, who is just as old? And the joke, someone used it in the article! But the age of the joke or the argument has nothing to do with it. It's the logic that counts. As for Homer, if nothing can be known, why not call him Joe Schmoe? Why Homer? They use Homer because that is the tradition and so is the tradition that he was named Melisigenes, was born in Smyrna and worked in Chios. Why not take the name of Homer off the article and put "Unknown author of the Iliad?" If that information were known to be wrong then I would say leave it all out except in a brief explanation of why all this information is wrong. But, it is not known with certainty to be wrong either. It is not "nothing can be known" but "nothing can be certainly known" and there is a world of difference. If I know something is wrong I don't use it at all but if there is a possibility of its being right, which there is, then I might use it qualifiedly, which is what most of the scholars actually do, such as Kirk and Page.
If you conduct a "brief investigation on the Internet", well, you get what you pay for. Try looking at something like Martin West, "*The Invention of Homer," The Classical Quarterly 49 (1999) 364-382 or Gregory Nagy's review of West's Iliad to get some idea of how Homerists are dealing with the "Homeric Question" these days, or get off the internet and read something like Barbara Graziosi's Inventing Homer or the introduction to Kirk's commentary on the Iliad (p. 1: "Antiquity knew nothing definitie about the life and personality of Homer.") --Akhilleus (talk) 04:57, 22 February 2008 (UTC)
That is not how Homerists are handling the Homeric question these days, only your interpretation of how they are handling it these days. I used that very same Kirk in the footnote and he is the very one who said Homer was born in Smyrna. Kirk did not say "Antiquity knew nothing", he said "Antiquity knew nothing definite." Now, antiquity knew nothing definite about most everything it knew. It didn't know much of anything at all for certain. It is possible to question just about everything antiquity said and that is how classicists make their living. But we don't get carried away by it. We present a view as just that, a view, and that is just what I do NOT see happening in this article. We need balance here. There is nothing wrong with putting traditions in the infobox - one might even label them as that - even though they are not definitely known knowledge. Not very much in this life is definitely known I fear and especially not from antiquity.
Now, I'm not actually sure of what your frame of mind is. The changes you made are problematic as far as logic and meaning is concerned. For example, if Pseudo-Herodotus is wrong enough not to contribute any information, why are we mentioning Melisigenes at all, since he comes from Pseudo-Herodotus? You present me with problems to which I cannot adjust! Its the mixture that bothers me. It ought to be one way or the other and if it is the no-Homer way then the whole article needs rewriting but if the possibly-Homer way then what I said is good and useful although I would qualify it now with a note saying it is traditional information but not necessarily accurate.
As far as your reverting all those templates is concerned you are inviting yourself to revert them. I'll just put them on again until I have some confidence that these logical problems are going to be solved. I could revert to the way I had it also. What you seem to be saying is if anyone disagrees with you they are in for an edit war. Those templates are not there because of my temper, they are there because those are problems I saw and still see and would solve if you were not going to interfere. I must say that article will take a lot of solution. Now, if you effectively stop me the article is not going to pass muster next time either. It will just hang around as one of those bad Wikipedia articles no one can do anything about until the attentions of an expert are called for some months or years in the future. Is that what you want? it will take long enough to fix it now as one has to fix the enture set!Dave (talk) 06:15, 22 February 2008 (UTC)
Dave, West and Nagy are two of the most prominent--if not the most prominent--Homerists now living. Neither believes that Homer was a real person. West believes that each poem had a different author, and uses "Homer" as a convenient way to designate the author of the Iliad, but he regards the character "Homer" as an invention of the 6th century, and the biographical tradition as a tissue of fictions. Nagy regards "Homer" as a mythological construct. Both men are prolific authors, and have spent plenty of time writing about Homer--no logical conflict there, because Homer is the name for a type of poetry, not a person.
You're reading a different Kirk than me, I guess, because in the 1985 commentary he says "Homer, then, was as much a remote figure to the ancient world as he is to us. Of all the speculations about him of which evidence survives, only Herodotus' calculation of his date and the general agreement that he came from somewhere in Ionia are of much value..." In other words, the rest of the biographical tradition is not of much value.
You seem to think that I like the state of the article. I don't (but I like it even less with these silly tags). But an article relies on the ancient biographical tradition as a source of facts, and confidently states that Homer came from Smyrna, is a worse article than the one that we've got now. --Akhilleus (talk) 06:36, 22 February 2008 (UTC)
I think you are making better sense now. Presenting information about Homer as biographical data is not a balanced view either. I never meant for that to be so. One of the problems is, the article is so long that the changes get evaluated piecemeal so the first changes you make are pounced on before you can get to the others. I can't edit the whole article simultaneously and you can't know what I have in mind for future edits. But if that is the way you think and you are not just some crank plugging a crank theory then I think we need to sit down and take a good look at it. I KNOW the people that you cite have the overall point of view that you related. At the same time, these people are known for their literary, not their archaeological or historical, contributions. Nagy got a prize in literature and Milman and Parry are the giants of the poems, and so is Lord. They are, however only the literary tradition. There's the historical and archaeological as well. I do not know why you would downgrade Page as he is a major historical figure. This is a pretty big field. It is notorious that these literary people don't much care for historical evaluations. In fact the real savants in the field have memorized the Iliad and can put it together themselves. If you cite a line they can usually tell you where it is.
Well. Where does that leave us. The bottom line is, none of these people whether literary or historical totally abandon the Homeric traditions, no matter what they say about their evaluation of those traditions. If there were such an abandonment the whole "Homeric Question" would just vanish! For example, no one bothers now to discuss or preserve the phlogiston theory of fire as it is well-established as a false theory. You probably never heard of it because it is false. What I am saying is, the Homeric Question still exists as the Homeric Question and to present it as solved by the opinions of a few literary giants is not accurate or balanced. They may say that is what they think but they go right ahead and work within the framework of the "Homeric Question" anyway! And we are not talking about different Kirks. Their writing suffers from the same difficulty as ours but when they talk about the life of Homer on the one hand they say it is all bunk but on the other they go ahead and present it anyway! And that is what I am trying to do. I figured the text would make sufficiently clear that these ideas are not to be taken as established fact but only as tradition. In my mind that is balance. This is the world of speculation and theory, not that of scientifically established fact.
So I would say, no, we don't want to present Homer as a biographical fact. But, we do want to present him as a tradition. If you agree with that, how best can that be done? I'm not sure now. The infobox looks good and is consistent with Wikipedia policy. Why can we not do something like what we did for the picture? That is NOT a picture of Homer. It is NOT info. But, Wikipedia often points out that such pictures are ideal portrayals and uses them for their artistic value. They present a tradition. Why can't we put the info in the infobox and qualify it with some statement that it is a tradition but may not be historically accurate? Your extreme view wants us to abandon the Homeric Question as irrelevant and solved beyond doubt totally in the negative. It isn't broad or balanced enough. It isn't solved yet or you would not be seeing any talk or "single- or multiple-author theories." Nagy is still alive you know and on-line. If you were to ask him if he had definitively solved the Homeric Question what do you think he would say? I think he would back down from definitive final solutions but would say he had an opinion or a theory. As far as I know he does not require his students to abandon Homer as totally unhistoric or insist there is no Homeric question. In his books he presents strong cases but he nowhere presents them as exclusively right. That is YOUR idea.
So why don't you think about it some and see if we can't come up with some way to present both the tradition and the qualification that it may not be historic. Now for the templates, I know they are irritating and I always found them so myself. I like beautiful articles and templates are decidedly unbeautiful. But then I saw some totally self-laudatory articles from which the templates had been suppressed and the authors were under the impression they had done something really great and deserved an award for it when what they had said was all wrong! Like citations, which I formerly resisted but now embrace, I embrace templates as indicators that the article needs work. If these indicators were not on there would you be discussing this with me? It's like doing a class paper, "aw gee prof, why did you give me an F? I thought it was a really good paper." The F on this article should stand until it meets minimum standards just so that we will be stimulated to do it! I repeat, the main problems are logical consistency, imbalance, generalities and weasel words without citations and misapprehension of the sources. I'm leaving the infobox problem for you to solve and following my customary method of starting with peripheral material that confuses the main issues tso that the issues can be seen in a clearer light. I wouldn't worry about the templates. The article is more important. it is worth more than 5 minutes of offhand student opinions I do believe. If I had thought I could improve the article without a fight I would have deferred putting them on but your aggressive and originally non-discussional approach scotched that. I'm not in any way saying you shouldn't be that way or else I would suggest you resign from Wikipedia, but I am saying, since you are, we need the mechanism of the templates to keep us going on this. Let's do the research, let's make the balanced presentations, let's put enough time in to earn some respect from the professors. Let's get a passing grade and be of some use to the public. I'm not interested in writing articles only for my own enjoyment. No pain no gain. Thanks for taking the time to present your view properly. I do now see what you mean. Now we need the best decisions.Dave (talk) 13:59, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Right, Dave, I think you can see that plenty of people feel the same way I do about the infobox. And that's because they agree with me that we can't write a biography of Homer. You want this article to discuss the ancient biographical tradition--well, no problem, but that has to be handled in the text rather than through an infobox. Of course, the main article for the ancient biographical tradition is ancient accounts of Homer. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:06, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

For both Dave and A. If either of you do not mind a third opinion, I have a sugggestion that could help. This infobox appears to be the central point of contention in this discussion, because having an infobox somehow signifies that, in fact, Homer is a real person and deserves to have a quick reference biography. Does this have to be the case? Could this not simply be an issue of word choice and placement? I am no expert in Wiki editing, surely, but why no simply say in the infobox that this is an assumed identity? why not have a footnote referencing the other part of the article describing this debate and what Homer's assumed name, birthplace, birth year, etc? If you absolutely must, just make two infoboxes, each detailing a different view oh this illusive "Homer" (though I am not sure how the of Collected Authors infobox would necessarily differ), and have a section explaining the reason for them. Don't continue to engage in this "métaphysico-théologo-cosmolo-nigologie" just for the sake of it.
With any analytical work, its integrity relies on the integrity of its authors. Authors gain integrity through a strong foundation in their reasoning and in their facts. Ideally, they would provide the names of other authors with whom they share their opinions to back up their statements (just a small hint). Because this is a Wiki, this works authors could be anyone with a computer and internet. It is all that much more important then for the authors to be consice but conclusive in their statements for it to work.
(Phew!) Thanks for letting me get on my soap-box there (not as though you had a choice in the matter but...); I'm done. Oh and please don't discredit the name. Thanks.--Loonybin0 (talk) 00:15, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

All the templates[edit]

Whew. I'm worn out with putting templates on this awful article. I cannot believe it was ever nominated for anything. But having said that I now need to give my critique.

The main problem is logic. Some of you want to adopt a narrow point of view, that there was no Homer and biographical information about him is false just because he did not exist. Well, you cannot do that and still talk about the possibility of a single author and the historicity of Homer. If there is no Homer then most of the article just goes away and the universities may as well just fire their Homer professors because now they don't have a job anymore, as pure fantasy is a business for Hollywood.

But apart from the main problem of adopting many stances as the one true stance, each individual section contains so many non-sequiturs I cannot tag them all. Nearly every argument is misstated. No one thinks that Schliemann demonstrated the Trojan War. He demonstrated there was most likely a city called Troy and it most likely was at Hissarlik. And the historicity problem has not much to do with internal inconsistencies. That is a textual problem. The historicity problem is whether or not any of the persons, places, things and events of the poems are historical and starting before Schliemann those questions have had primarily archaeological answers. Was there a settlement at such-and-such a place? Did the boar's tusk helmet exist? And that part about the linguistic continuity between Linear B and Homer is really too much. Let me state here and now that there is no Linear B in Homer and no Homer in Linear B. If you mean, was the Homeric dialect related in any way to Mycenaean Greek, that is not the same question at all.

So, first we have to get off on the right foot. As goes the foundation so goes the house. There are multiple points of view on Homer and multiple Homeric questions and any other stance is going to make logical presentation of the material impossible. You can at most speak of most popular views and the views put forward so far in this article as "most scholars today" and all those other weasel words are actually minority views and sometimes a very small minority.

So, we need some sources on all generalities and we need issues and problems correctly stated. If it did not sound incredibly paranoid I would suggest that certain cliques out there have a vested interest in making sure this article is a bad as possible. And when the views are stated the statements need to be consistent with what is elsewhere in the article.

Now, recently the box I extended was tampered with on the grounds there there is no Homer and therefore all this biographical information is wrong. Well, we don't know if it is right but we don't know if it is wrong either. The Smyrna theory is the most mainstream so I would suggest you put that right back! We need mainsteam here not wierdo off-the-wall theories that Homer was a woman or there was no Homer at all promulgated by Wikipedia editors with loyalties elsewhere than this article.

I want to see a good article and the narrow-viewists have thrown up an obstacle, their narrow view. Of course I care about the article. I would not spend time on it if I did not think it was worth spending time on! So that is why those templates are on there. If the article had passed inspection and had been rated as good you wouldn't be reading this now. So stretch and grow you obstructionists. I will be checking on this from time to time to make what improvements I can and see what its status is but I can't spend all my Wikipedia time on it. If the article has to go down to Hades leaving its words to the dogs and vultures because of the great wrath of Wikipedia editors then so be it.Dave (talk) 05:28, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Dave, I have just read your long post and I am not sure what issues you are actually raising. I really don't see a problem with stating there is no consensus on the historicity of Homer, or the century in which he would have lived. Why is there a "totally disputed" tag here? What are you disputing? You just littered the article with citation requests. That's not helpful. I frankly don't care if Homer was a blind chap from Smyrna. It's a tradition worth reporting, but for all practical purposes, the "Homer" article is on the authorship of the Homeric epics. dab (⁳) 17:07, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Hello Bachman. I am glad you stepped in as I did not really want this to be an individual confrontation. I accept you as a 3rd party. I thought I made the issues clear. Are we going to present Homer as someone totally fictional so that the Homeric Question is solved and closed or are we going to leave open the possibility that the traditional Homer is to some degree true? Is that unclear? Maybe the totally disputed is too strong. The article is after all on the authorship of the epics and not on the biography of Homer. I don't care either if Homer was a blind chap from Smyrna. I just thought that stating he definitely was not was not balanced and NPOV. Another tradition thinks he is a blind chap from Smyrna. So, since we are talking about authorship and the Homer authorship is a possibility, let's not contradict ourselves by asseting there is no Homer. We can say, such and such a school thinks there was no Homer. That's what I was disputing. That's true I did litter the article somewhat with cites and vagues. The things I did mark the article for are still true. It will take a while to change them all. I wanted to make the point that they needed to be changed. So I think the templates were helpful in that regard. I don't object to your taking them off now that the point has been made. The source and biographical-type data is being offloaded onto other articles anyway so those long sections probably will be reduced to introductions to other articles. The intro is still full of generalities but then intros usually are. What I thought was unhelpful and the thing that sparked all this was Achilleus' arbitrary action in making a major assertion without discussion and using only generalities for backup. The templates were the only way I could get him to discuss. I see you have tidied things up a bit. I will take another look possibly taking off the totally disputed tag. I don't mind an article favoring the no-Homer theory, but I do mind the idea that no other theory can be valid. I trust that this winds this up for the time. For the box- well, 8th century is fine and "classics" saves us a lot of trouble and the box does not imply there cannot have been a Homer so it seems OK. Thanks for solving that. Remember that solution in case someone else changes it. As far as my being long-winded is concerned, I only talk when these issues come up and they seem to require words to get the point across. I trust you have got the point now and we can get on to other things.Dave (talk) 18:06, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

obviously, we will observe WP:RS and WP:DUE. That's really all there is to say to it. I am not aware we ever favoured either position. Nor should we, unless academic mainstream clearly swings one way. I am not aware of it doing so. I don't think the question is so much "disputed" in the mainstream than, much rather, regarded as rather moot. dab (⁳) 19:35, 22 February 2008 (UTC)


A long time ago this outline for improving the article was posted on User:Petrouchka's userpage: [1]. Even though I've never done anything about implementing it, I think the outline is worth following; it has the virtue of concentrating on Homeric poetry, which is what this article is really about. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:34, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

indeed. when we discuss "the date of Homer", we are talking about the date of the poems. This may be obvious to insiders, but it may be worth pointing out to readers in general to avoid the appearance of a "dispute" or "contradiction" where there is none. dab (⁳) 19:36, 22 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree with that all right. The general readership are not educated in classics so you have to "hold their hand" to some degree. Other than that any consistent scheme looks good to me. Since I am working almost exclusively on Grade B articles I am mainly concerned about the correctness and clarity of what it says and how it looks; i.e., the format. I know after my bout with the templates it may not seem so right now but it is. I recognize that there are a lot of different ways to approach a subject. I wonder petrouchka is not working on this article. Maybe he gave up. So what I will be doing here is checking the accuracy and consistency and readability. The outline and new ideas or implementation of old ones I must bow out of. I notice we seem to have got some new interest going. Well the topic is worth it. See you around, minimally I hope.Dave (talk) 21:20, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

"chain of custody[edit]

what was the earliest known manuscript of Homer and where is it? I know that a genuine ROMAN manuscript of Virgil is in the Vatican, but what about the Illiad

A papyri dating to the 3rd cent. BC


I'm modifying the lead, and here's why:

This sentence is a bit wordy. More problematically, Homer is not necessarily the oldest known Greek poet; the Greeks thought Hesiod was earlier, and believed that Orpheus and other poets were earlier. While many moderns like to make Homer the oldest (then you get to say things like "The Iliad is the first and greatest work of Western literature"), there's a pretty fierce controversy over the dating of the poems, such that one could claim Hesiod as the first Greek poet. Also, the Homeric Hymns are usually not considered by modern scholars to be by the same composer as that of the epics.
Two quick points on this. You are right and wrong. 'the Greeks thought' refers to general opinion from the late 5th to early 4th centuries, as we have it. Hesiod is a particular problem, but as early as Herodotus at least (Book 8 from memory) the mythic figures of Musaeus and Orpheus (add Linus etc.) were dismissed as being older than Homer. Secondly your suggested version is wrong, since you says 'Homer is'. Homer is a name attached to epics, about whom legendary material abounds, but we do not know if he existed as an individual. In challenging my prose you completely missed the point. Look at the German wiki article, which is more concise, and on this, quite correct. Some formulation along the lines I have suggested 'name given to' is therefore required. I will address your other changes tomorrow.Nishidani (talk) 22:32, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I've looked at the German version, and while it's vastly better than our article here, that doesn't mean that it's the best possible version. You sound rather Nagy-like when you say that we can't say "Homer is", and in some ways I agree with you, but I think we should avoid convoluted prose, especially in the lead. Starting "Homer is a legendary ancient Greek poet..." would address your point, I think.
The Herodotus quote you're thinking of is 2.53, "for I believe that Homer and Hesiod were 400 years before my time--and no more than that. It is they who created for the Greeks their theogony;...Those who are spoken of as poets before Homer and Hesiod were, in my opinion, later born." But Herodotus says that's his own opinion; he's disagreeing with what seems to be the common idea that Orpheus, etc. came first. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Though no secure biographical information has been transmitted about this Homer, these works took shape towards the end of the 8th century BCE in the Ionian colonies of Asia Minor.
Assumes that there's universal agreement on this date, and there isn't. A lot of scholars go for a 7th-century date these days.
Again you misread. 'Took shape' does not mean final composition of what we now have. But the text can be improved. In the meantime name the scholars and the sources, so I can handle each point more precisely.
Well, I'm sorry for misreading, but I think it's pretty natural to understand "took shape" as equivalent to "reached the form that we have now." I suppose that shows that it's best to be precise. One thing to keep in mind also is Graziosi's statement that "Disagreements about the date of Homer...are linked to more fundamental differences over what Homer represents in the first place," i.e. questions of dating are entangled with notions of what/who Homer is. Here's a partial list of the date ranges scholars go for:
9th century: Irad Malkin, Returns of Odysseus (this is an idiosyncratic opinion, and probably not worth mentioning in the article)
8th century: Ian Morris, "Use and Abuse of Homer", Richard Janko, Homer, Hesiod, and the Hymns, Barry Powell, etc. (consensus position for most of 20th century)
7th century: M.L. West, "The Date of the Iliad," Museum Helveticum 52:203-19, W. Burkert, Robin Osborne, Making of Greece pp. 156-160 (dominant position of last 20 years or so, according to Janko)
Nagy's crystallization model, probably most lucidly stated in Homeric Questions Ch. 2, esp. p. 42; poems become gradually more stable over time, w/a definitive period in 6th-4th cent BC (first texts of Homer during this period), and rigid textual stability after 150 BC or so
Sorry that list is incomplete, I can try to fill it in if you think it would be helpful. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
  • The poems are now generally believed to represent the culmination of a long tradition of orally composed poetry in which the relative weight of an individual poet and of bardic guilds like the Homeridae is much disputed.
It's not so much the relative weight of an individual vs. the Homeridae, but between individual authorship and collective composition.
Then evidently you haven't understood much about what oral composition means. I suggest you reread Parry and Lord onwards. Someone working in an oral tradition always takes on a huge amount of collectively sung material.
I'm sorry, I don't see how what I wrote contradicts what you just said. This sentence seems to be getting at the issue of whether the poems have one (or two) author(s), or whether the poems are the collective creation of many poets, with no single person responsible for the poems' design and cohesion. I differ with what you wrote in the article, because of the importance your text gives to "bardic guilds like the Homeridae"--it's not at all clear that the Homeridae are best characterized as a "guild", and most treatments of the Homeridae and rhapsodes contrast them with the aoidos--the aoidos is a fully oral poet, the rhapsode is a derivative performer of relatively fixed "texts" (see the Burkert article cited in rhapsode); thus, the aoidos is fully part of the process of oral composition, the rhapsode, not so. But the difference between aoidos/rhapsode, as well as who the Homeridae were, are best dealt with in the body of the article (and the details are probably best left to sub-articles)--in the lead, it's better just to focus on the contrast between individual composition/authorship and not mention technical terms like rhapsode. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
(a)You write:

'it's not at all clear that the Homeridae are best characterized as a "guild".

. Nothing is clear about high antiquity. I had in mind Kirk's reasonable remark:'that there was some sort of guild-organization ihn Chios as early as the 6th century at least, claiming a special relationship with Homer, need not be doubted; and it survived there, apparently in a degenerate form, at least until Plato's time'. I can't think of anything on this subject that cannot be disputed, in wording or detail. But one must start somewhere.Nishidani (talk) 10:30, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
(b)You write:

'most treatments of the Homeridae and rhapsodes contrast them (Homeridai) with the aoidos. the aoidos is a fully oral poet.'

I'm quite aware of the distinction, as I am aware of the fact that Pindar, at Nem.2,1ff. connects Homeridai and aoidoi. I.e.Οθεν περ και Ομηριδαι ραπτων επεων τα πολλ'αοιδοι αρχονται'. It's best to be specific. I don't understand expressions like 'most treatments'(by the way I appreciate the bibliographical list you provided, on request, last night)Nishidani (talk) 10:44, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Antiquity held that a single poet composed these works; modern scholarship is more sceptical.
Actually, there were Hellenistic critics who believed that the epics had separate authors; this should be covered in the body, not the lead.
Indeed they will be. And I was writing the lead. All you need to have done was insert 'generally' to clarify your point.
Ok, I tried to reintegrate this into the text. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Obviously, the lead is hardly complete; it needs to handle dating in more detail, and it needs to discuss Homeric poetry--what its form and subject is, what the ancients and moderns thought about it. One quote from Aristotle hardly suffices. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:45, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I found the (mis)quote in the text, checked it against Aristotle and gave a proper sourcing. This is a juvenile pastiche of sub-sophomoric quality, and no one for several months has done the clean-up job it requires. I began today, and will be quite happy to go through the piece, if I find other editors ready to help clean the existing muck, rather than essentially revert to what is in any case a text full of lacunae, and flaccid statements. regards Nishidani (talk) 22:43, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
The article obviously needs a lot of work, and I wish you luck in the task and will help where I can, but I do want to make sure that the article reflects the range of opinion in current scholarship (which is quite broad on some points). I think that the authorship/date of the poems is of less concern to the general reader than things like style, themes, and reception. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I think this isn't such a bad article, considering the ongoing controversy over whether or not its subject existed at all. I would only point out that in the lead, there is a brief summary of the current state of the 'Homeric question' in the first paragraph, but the second para goes on to discuss the controversy about his date as if he really existed. If the whole article is to be strictly neutral, it's going to have to discuss Homer as a sort of Schrödinger's Cat who both exists and doesn't exist at the same time. If that's so, shouldn't the first sentence in para 2 start out "The presumed date of Homer was controversial in antiquity..."? Or is that unacceptably wishy-washy? Lexo (talk) 21:30, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the input. The solution to this problem is to explain the different things people mean by the date of Homer. For those who think that a single person is responsible for shaping the epics, the date of Homer is when the composer lived. For those who think that the epics are a collective work, the date of "Homer" is when the epics reached the form in which we have them today. This can be explained in the lead, but its already pretty convoluted... --Akhilleus (talk) 21:56, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
The point is well taken. I will give it some thought and come up with a variant draft of the intro. (talk) 21:34, 30 July 2008 (UTC)


I'll try to deal with the points of the lead in sequence. A general consideration. The lead can only be refinished when we have the substance of the article. To expect perfection in the lead while the text languishes in the disastrous state one finds it in now, is to make a preliminary drafting more arduous than is necessary.

The first point. I am not enamoured of any one approach, Nagy's or any one else's. 'Homer' is a name, attached to the two epics and several other pieces. To state this is not to wed Nagy's thesis. We do not know if the word represents an (a) individual who composed the two epics ascribed to him (b) two individuals, one who composed the Iliad, the other the Odyssey or (3)several compositors (since other hands are at work in the Homeric Hymns, Margites etc., ascribed to 'Homer' in antiquity, there is obviously a technical problem in saying, as does the German text, or as this text did, that 'Homer' is a Greek poet, or the first named Greek poet etc. For these reasons, I think one cannot avoid using a formula of the kind: 'Homer is the name given to' the composer(s) to whom the creation of the two epics, and some other works, was ascribed. An elegant way of addressing this crux, so that we do not prejudice the fact of our lack of knowledge or scholarly consensus, can be worked out. But, as far as I can see, one has no alternative than to write the incipit re 'Homer' in such a way that he is not said to be a poet, unless we begin by saying Greeks thought of him as a single poet. By writing 'Legendary' the phenomena of this crux are saved, and we can leave it at thats for the moment. Nishidani (talk) 09:28, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Move the header authorship debate?[edit]

The header text is dominated (cloyed, I'd say) by discussion of authorship, an issue to which a) there is no conclusive resolution and b) there are widely varying academic accounts. This protracted discussion at the top of the page (where the most essential/overview information is supposed to go) is hurting the article as a whole. Your average visitor doesn't want to read "Academic A says this, but B says this and C says this weird thing and that A is an idiot, oh and here are a few more people who say these things." I propose a simplified alternative paragraph:

The identity of Homer is disputed. By tradition "Homer" referred to a single person, but modern scholarship suggests the the epics were composed by separate poets[?], or that the epics are not the creation of any individual, but rather slowly evolved towards their final form over a period of centuries[?]. The scholarly consensus is that "the Iliad and the Odyssey date from the extreme end of the 9th century BC or from the 8th, the Iliad being anterior to the Odyssey, perhaps by some decades."[4]*

  • - The phrase "scholarly consensus" is contradicted b/c it is followed by two separate views in the current article.

This would shorten the header text significantly, and if there is any info I skipped over (I left out the contradicting academic views on the date of composition) it would be much better served with a foot citation rather than a nebulous (not to mention specialized) reference to this-or-that critic.

If you feel it is necessary to keep the information in the article, it should be relegated to the "Problems of authorship" section.

Justin Parnell (talk) 22:00, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree the lead is problematic. Its unclear how much of the opening you are suggesting to replace. I think we still need an opening sentence directly to the point:

Homer (ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος, Homēros) is traditionally held to be the author of the ancient Greek epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Jwy (talkcontribs)

Well, I'm not a fan of the lead as it stands, but the fact that there's a controversy over the authorship of the Homeric poems is one of the essential things to know about this topic. After all, if you're consulting a typical article about an author, you expect to learn when s/he was born/died and what s/he wrote at the beginning. If we have no real biographical information about Homer, and if some people think that there wasn't even such a person, it's pretty hard to say when he lived or died, and saying what he wrote is problematic...and we haven't begun to say anything about oral poetry yet. So sure, the intro may be overly convoluted, but at the same time the topic is inherently complex. Still, the lead sentence that Jwy proposed above might be a place to start. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:36, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, I wholeheartedly support Jwy's lead sentence there, though I would also maybe support adding a clause like "although in modern times, the extent of his authorship is debated." Maybe. The subject is inherently complex, sure, but that doesn't mean we hit people with that complexity in the lede. In undergraduate-level classics courses, students continue to be taught (by omission, perhaps, but still) that Homer was one guy, and he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, the end. Not that this is what we should be telling people, but the question of authorship is not one that should be placed first. The lede should be an (extremely) brief summary of salient points; you put the most general information up front, and save the sticky stuff for later. Ford MF (talk) 11:55, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Well I'm apparently two generations older than many others worrying about the 'complexity' of the lead. It looks straightforward to me. How much paring down to get the simplest gist in an eyeblink do youngsters require these days? The subject is complex, its exposition in the lead is not. Nishidani (talk) 12:06, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, I'm hardly a youngster, but I think the fact that the lede takes up an entire screen before you even get to the TOC or the article or what people mean when they say "Homer" is a problem. Ford MF (talk) 12:29, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
The lead to the article on Shakespeare takes up a whole screen, no one objects. I strenuously oppose (post)modern attempts to soundbite the classics, and press for catchy snippet editing of complex narratives. The problem is resolved by clear syntax. What is the hurry in having to scroll down a tad, after reading a full screen for, on checking, 15 seconds? Are we reduced to this anal level of informational reductionism? Cui bono? Nishidani (talk) 15:21, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
The difference is that the lede for Shakespeare contains what we know about him, while the lede for Homer largely consists of what we do not. Prickly problems are best introduced in the article, not the opening paragraph. See also WP:LEDE. Ford MF (talk) 15:38, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
My concern with the lead is not in the mention of the two disputes (who and when), but in how much it focuses on them. Homer, no matter who he, she or they may be, wrote the two most influential works in the Western literary canon. Almost every single literary work of the past 2500 years can trace influences to Homer's works. Yet only one line in this entire section mentions this. It would be like having a lead about J.K Rowling that doesn't mention Harry Potter until the very last line. While these debates should most certainly be brought up in the article, we should place them as secondary when compared to Homer's overall contribution to Western culture. --Hemlock Martinis (talk) 21:55, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

For all we know he could of been some Ancient Greek version of Matt Stone and Tray Parker, since his storys are possibly Satires of history, politics, relegion and other issues, of the history of his land. EmperorofFatalism 9:16 P.M 11 September 2008

Homer never existed?[edit]

My old professor told us in the class that Homer never existed in real life. Can anyone verify that?

It depends on exactly what you mean. There was probably not a blind guy named Homer who composed the Iliad and the Odyssey in the 8th century. But some people think that the poems were composed by an unknown person, whom we call "Homer" for convience's sake. Others would say that the poems aren't the work of a single person, but a collective composition that took form over many centuries. It's a complicated subject. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:18, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

earliest western literature?[edit]

The scholarly consensus is that "the Iliad and the Odyssey date from the extreme end of the 9th century BC or from the 8th, the Iliad being anterior to the Odyssey, perhaps by some decades",[4] i.e., somewhat earlier than Hesiod,[5] and that the Iliad is the oldest work of western literature.

Táin Bo Cuailgne, the Irish-language epic poem, was writtne down before this date, and therefore homer's works should not be considered the oldest work of western literature.

discuss? (talk) 11:36, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Our article is incorrect about the current consensus for the date of the Iliad and Odyssey (9th century is believed by almost no one, and 7th century is a very common date now), but you seem to be even farther off for the Táin Bo Cuailgne, if we can trust the Wikipedia article. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:31, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Eliotistic (talk) 21:04, 20 January 2010 (UTC) Please observe that the "J" parts of the Hebrew Bible are currently datad at ca. 1000 BCE.


The lede, which was never that good to begin with, has turned into a contradictory mess. The current point of contention is whether the third sentence should read "The ancient Greeks generally believed that Homer was a historical individual, but most modern scholars are skeptical..." or "The ancient Greeks generally believed that Homer was a historical individual, but some modern scholars are skeptical..." It should be "most"; while many scholars believe that a single poet composed the epics (or that each epic was composed by a single person), very few think we can know anything about this composer, and he is called "Homer" for convenience's sake, rather than from confidence that he was named Homer. But it's sort of pointless to fight over some/most when the first two sentences already create the impression that "Homer" is a person, rather than a label for a person; and, in fact, the entire lead has been recast according to this assumption. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:10, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Confusing name[edit]

To me, Every american and all the other normal people Homer is that stupid guy in the television show "The Simpsons", Why have you shortened the name Homeros to Homer???

Okay, I should probably not blame you 'cuz you take stuff from others as a reference. If some people says Homer, then you copy it. (generally nothing bad with that, but this one is confusing for some people).

Pick a random guy on the street and as him "Who is Homer?" and he will probably asfer somting like "Homer is the fat yellow dude with three hairstraws on his head that works on the springfield nuecular powr plant".

Then ask them "Who is Homeros?" - "Some anicent greek poet, look it up at wikip!" :)

Well, I don't exactly know how stuff works here on wikip. But I think that I have to start a vote, right?

I vote for this page to be moved to homeros, and in this place a disamburgationpage should be placed.

( Sorri for ani misspellings, I'm tired ) Spearmintz (talk) 05:39, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

To at least one American, Homer is not that stupid guy in the television show. For anyone who gets here looking for someone else, there's a note at the top of this article stating "This article is about the Greek poet Homer and the works attributed to him. For other meanings, see Homer (disambiguation)." If you'd like to read more about disambiguation pages, you can go here. --Gimme danger (talk) 05:50, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Answer me this,why do people think I'm from another planet,when I say i read books like ,homerus , Ovid, etc???? I have never met someone who has read either of these books!!Is there something wrong with me???

Two requests in the English Translations section 12.3:

1. By Robert Fagles, delete "b. 1933" and substitute "1933-2008" to indicate his death in 2008.

2. Add entry:

"• Herbert Jordan (b. 1938) • Iliad, University of Oklahoma Press (2008) ISBN 9780806139746 (soft cover); ISBN 9780806139425 (cloth bound)"

Kwakcus (talk) 19:52, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

For future reference, please don't put the template in the section title (ie == {{editsemiprotected}} ==) because it messes up formatting; instead, please put something like this;
== Request for edit ==
Cheers,  Chzz  ►  21:58, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

request edit: add external link[edit]


  • [2] Iliad translator Herbert Jordan (U. of Oklahoma Press 2008) describes issues including: how literal should the translation be; whether to call the besiegers Achaeans, Argives, Danaans, or Greeks; how--and whether--to translate "winged words"; what the wall by the ships looked like; whether the besiegers slept in tents, huts, camps--or nothing.

Kwakcus (talk) 13:00, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

I believe that, as of this edit, you are now autoconfirmed and can thus make the change yourself! Although you'll probably want to keep the description pretty short. ~ Amory (usertalkcontribs) 15:28, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

LinkFixerChuck (talk) 17:03, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

I found a dead external link Collection of Homer-related links(fourth link in the External links section). I used and created a new page at otherwise the link should just be removed.

Dating the Homer poems[edit]

The article seems to imply that the recent consensus is that the poems were writen in 7th century BCE or according to Gregory Nagy, they became fixed texts in only the 6th century.[1]

However, I've come across an article by William N Bates that argues that the entity that is Homer doesn't mention any Greek colonies in Asia Minor, Italy or Sicily. Homer also doesn't know of any of the events that are now known as the Dorian invasion.[2] The same "invasion" which was responsible for the sacking of the Mycenaean capital sometime around 1100BC. Therefore Bates argues, "It is inconceivable that a poet writing about Agamemnon could have kept silent about the great catastrophe which brought upon his capital the same ruin which he had inflicted on Troy."[2] So Homer knows nothing of the Dorian invasion and also knows nothing of any Dorian noblemen like the Dorian lords of Argolis and Sparta which is odd for a poet who sings to the aristocracy.[2] Following this argument Homer must have predated the Dorian invasion because he doesn't mention it or its consequences in any of his works. Therefore Homer's poems had to have been written before the Dorian invasion circa 1100 BC. Same goes for the author he would have lived before the invasion.[2] Granted the Bates article is from 1925 but the logic seems to stand up to an amateur greek historian like myself. Anybody who knows what they're talking about have any input? -- (talk) 01:26, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^ Nagy, Gregory (2001). "Homeric Poetry and Problems of Multiformity: The "Panathenaic Bottleneck". 96. Classical Philology (journal): 109–119. ISSN 0009-837X. 
  2. ^ a b c d Bates, William Nickerson (1925). "Notes on the Dating of the Homeric Poems". Vol 46 (No 3). American Journal of Philology: 263–267. ISSN 0002-9475. 
As far as I know there is no recent scholarship that argues for a date before the 9th century (and I can only think of one person who argues for the 9th century, Irad Malkin). The absence of the Ionian colonies from the Iliad is usually explained as deliberate archaizing on the part of "Homer"; that is, the composer of the epic knows that the colonies were founded after the Trojan War, and therefore he leaves them out entirely, because it would have been anachronistic to have Agamemnon know about them. A similar argument applies to the Dorian Invasion; it (supposedly) occurred after the time of the Iliad and the Odyssey, so why would the poems mention them? (Of course, one could read Iliad 4.51-4 as a forecast of the destruction of Argos, Sparta, and Mycenae at the end of the Bronze Age if one wanted to.) However, here's where a problem with using articles from 1925 pops up: the Dorian Invasion is probably a scholarly mirage.
If you want more details probably the best thing to do is to read some recent scholarship on the date of Homer. It's worth reading Ian Morris' "The Use and Abuse of Homer", Classical Antiquity 5 (1986) 81-138; sadly, that's not freely available online, but if you have JSTOR access you can reach it here. I haven't done anything but skim this piece by Barry Powell but it covers some of the same ground. The books by Gregory Nagy you mention in your post are available online, I believe, but I'm not sure where. But there is a lot of scholarship published on Homer every year; a non-trivial amount of it touches on the dating of the poems, and since Wikipedia's supposed to reflect what current consensus is, there's not a reason to use an article from 1925 unless it has the status of a landmark in the field. I don't think Bates' article has that status; I could be wrong, but I don't think I've ever seen a reference to it. --Akhilleus (talk) 02:44, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

The main problem you're encountering is in comparing one argument that takes as its a priori basis Homer as a person, with another that understands Homer as an oral tradition, without regard to their respective contexts. The date of the "fixing" of Homeric text in Nagy, as oral tradition, can in no way be informed by the Bates argument: i.e. the points Bates argues make no sense after Parry, Lord, or Nagy. This kind of synchronic comparison of argument, without consideration of the history of Homeric scholarship, is one of the reasons this article and discussion have been so very muddled. It is not an exaggeration to state that putting the Bates argument (or most others on this topic from 1925) next to the Nagy is like using Aquinas in an article on wave physics. Sure, it's part of the history of science, but Scholasticism does not have a lot to say concerning modern physics. Discursively, the Bates-Nagy axis you construct is very much the same. Bates cannot speak to Nagy's comparative approach on Greek and Indic meter, for example, nor would it even have been possible for him to imagine to do so. You are comparing unlike things. Currently, the evidence is quite a bit more convincing for oral tradition than for a guy composing the Iliad and Odyssey. Scholarship does not merely change due to fad, fashion, or matters of opinion, but because of new evidence bringing forth new discovery. Bates wrote his article even before Hittite was discovered, and well before Linear-B. These are two very important facts regarding the possibilities of his interpretation of evidence. Now, someone is bound to hop up and down and get all full of fury about how can I say this and that about Homer, and how we really don't know anything about it, or that he had to be person. . . or maybe they've even read Butler's 1890's argument about how Homer was a woman, but I've read the scholarship and looked at the evidence - in Greek, and in Sanskrit: the Bates is not an argument that you can put against the Nagy, not because Bates is a fool, but because the evidence has changed. There is a tendency, perhaps, in our postmodern age to believe that literary criticism is sophistry or pyrrhonism, but the history of Homeric scholarship is one of the changing evidence, particularly in the twentieth century, upon which the best arguments are made. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Alkibiades231 (talkcontribs) 17:36, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Homer supports the Trojans![edit]

Homer supports the Trojans! He was from Smyrna(Western Anatolia). The Luwians of this region became Greeks after the Greek invasion of Western Anatolia... Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and Hades were "the real" Greek gods...At the beginning, Artemis, Apollon and Leto were the Luwian gods/goddesses:

The Greeks began to conquer Western Anatolia (in fact, they conquered only the seashores!) between 1200 BC-750 BC. At that time Western Anatolian people = The Greek rulers + Luwian people (that began to speak Greek and forgot their own Luwian language!) Homer wrote the Iliad in 730 BC. He really supports the Trojans! And The Iliad ends with Hector's funeral! Homer was born in Smyrna (now İzmir). Today, we know that Homer was a "Greek" epic poet. He was a "Hellenised Anatolian" man! He said many "good things" about the Achaeans in The Iliad, but he had to write these things because the Greeks were "the rulers" of Western Anatolia at that time. At the beginning, The Iliad was the epic poem of the Trojans and the other Luwian people of Western Anatolia. After the Greeks had conquered Western Anatolia, the Greeks adopted this epic poem and it became a "Greek" epic poem! Homer did NOT write The Odyssey! The Odyssey was a "real Greek" epic poem. (but they used the same characters. There was an influence of The Iliad on The Odyssey!) Böri (talk) 09:25, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Probably, according to your nationalistic POV, he might even be speaking turkish. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:11, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

730 BC[edit]

date of The Iliad Böri (talk) 11:33, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

revisit - what about format?[edit]

I just revisited. For the life of me I can't remember what the original furor was. It seems all right now. I remember before it was a question of narrowness of view and black and white statements, firm assertions that there was no Homer or that the date was definitely such and such or exactly what the origin of the poems really was. The language is more temperate and more befitting our ignorance now. I think. The complexity of the question is beginning to be recognized. In the field it really has been a big issue. More man-hours have been spent on it than it took to build the pyramids I am sure. I notice the article failed the review. We can probably afford to let the content go for the moment - but what about the fine points of formatting? Do we really need two hatnotes? Why are we not using "cite web"? Maybe the minor formatting might dress it up to the point where it would pass. Anyone care to take a hand?Dave (talk) 20:56, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

Lead section, again[edit]

quoth Justin Parnell on 12 May 2008 above:

"The header text is dominated (cloyed, I'd say) by discussion of authorship, an issue to which a) there is no conclusive resolution and b) there are widely varying academic accounts. This protracted discussion at the top of the page (where the most essential/overview information is supposed to go) is hurting the article as a whole. "

more than two years later, this is still very much the case.

Of course the question of historicity, authorship and date are important. In fact they are important enough to have their own article, Homeric Question. For some reason, people still seem to thing that the WP:LEAD of the Homer article must give a full account of the issues involved. This is flawed. The lead should state the basic consensus in the briefest possible form, in proportion with a summary of the topic as a whole (including history of reception, textual transmission, etc.). --dab (𒁳) 07:44, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Please fix a minor error, add "the"[edit]

For modern scholars "the date of Homer" refers not to an individual, but to period when the epics were created.

should be:

For modern scholars "the date of Homer" refers not to an individual, but to the period when the epics were created. (talk) 21:10, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Fixed: thanks for spotting this. --Old Moonraker (talk) 22:04, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Polytonic Greek[edit]

I am defiantly not qualified to add this but some place in the many Greek articles Wikipedia has I believe you should have a discussion of the the tonal nature of early Greek in Homeric Greek.

If I click on I learn about Homer but normally would not click though. I would assume I knew that dactylic hexameter was.

Saliency (talk) 15:10, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

Pitch accent isn't limited to Homeric Greek but persisted in classical Greek. Hence this is not a topic of Homeric Greek in particular. The proper place to discuss would be Ancient Greek accent. --dab (𒁳) 09:50, 22 March 2012 (UTC)


Are you capable of doing a good article here? I think I see the raw material but whether you can ever get beyond that is up to you. A surprising amount has survived since the days when I worked on it. There is no unification. The article is really scattered remarks according to different views. I KNOW what the problem is. I've edited with many of you. You all have fixed points of view, on which you insist, but you are not willing to allow other points of view. You never DID understand my original argument, that you cannot exclude the possibility of a single author. You should be talking about a range of opinions. Instead each one presents what he knows but it isn't tied to what anyone else is doing. And yet, none of you can let go of it. You have to allow some measure of free speech. WP talks big about free speech but when all is said and done does not offer any. This is the domain of the demagogue and there are plenty of you in it. I don't really think there was a single author of everything called Homer. What's that mean, anyway? There might have been a single unifying hand of the version we know. I don't read of any such definitions and allowances. You need to open your minds a little. This is not the right place for a crusader. I say all this but I don't think you will hear it and I doubt the editors here will be able to solve the problem, but that is what it is. You either quit behaving as though this were congress and parliament and cooperate in writing the article or I am sure I can revisit every year and the quality will be the same, bad. For myself I got less time now so I'm going to focus on what I can actually do, which isn't this article, and it isn't getting embroiled in futile argument. Well, that's it, that's my time for tonight and that's all I have for here until next year. As to altering your hard-fought stances, I wouldn't even think of it. Ideally, you are not supposed to do that. If there is a point of view for which there is a good ref and someone wants it in, you work it in, providing the transitional sentences. Here, we have opposite views juxtaposed as though both were the absolute truth.Branigan 02:10, 30 July 2012 (UTC)


An IP user, (talk · contribs · WHOIS), changed all occurrences of BC to BCE in the article. The manual of style says consensus should be reached on the talk page before such a change is made, so I have reverted it for now. (However, I shouldn't have done so using the pending changes interface. I goofed there.) But since the issue has been raised, I thought I would come here and ask which era system people think is most appropriate for this article. Novusuna talk 21:07, 12 January 2014 (UTC)

I think BCE is more appropriate. M Carling 14:10, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
It makes no real difference. No reason to change it from BC. Catobonus (talk) 17:15, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Problems with article[edit]

There was this reddit post on /r/askhistorians describing some problems in this article. -- (talk) 19:45, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

That's interesting! Did it identify any problems with the article that need fixing? What were they? --Demiurge1000 (talk) 20:14, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
They hit the comment length limit describing the problems with this entry. You'd be better off clicking the link and actually reading it. (talk) 20:41, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia article talk pages don't have any comment length limit. Go right ahead. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:24, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
This comment is very confusing to me. The person who linked to that comment is not the same person who wrote that comment. Not sure what he's supposed to "Go right ahead" and do—unless you're advocating just pasting everything that was said in that link here, which would be rather fruitless. —nirbheek (talk) 00:06, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
The comment before Demiurge was saying that the Reddit post hit the character limit on Reddit, inferring that given the post's length Demiurge should simply read it at the link provided, and Demiurge misunderstood and thought they were to referring to a character limit on Wikipedia. I'll paste the Reddit comment below to try to avoid more confusion. I tried to keep the original formatting as best I could, but feel free to delete it if it's too long. I believe this was the post in question:

(Posted to reddit in this thread by user rosemary85):
"I can -- though, to be clear, that wasn't the point I was trying to make; I wasn't wanting to make a claim that all articles in my area are awful (this is the worst! though the Library of Alexandria article is probably beyond salvaging as well), but rather to explain why it would be vain for someone who isn't already in the circle of people who have contributed to the article in the past to try to fix it.
For reference, I'll refer to this version of the article. I shall try to keep this reasonably abbreviated.
I couldn't help read this and I note your apparent enthusiasm for the topic. You make a few good points, especially about the weasel words. However I believe you are too severe a critic. I would like to take the liberty of replying to some points that seem a bit off the mark to me.Branigan 00:12, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
  • The article persistently relies on poor quality sources: fringe theories; views that no scholars have held for decades or even for centuries; and recent restatements of traditional views with which no scholar would agree. Examples:
    • Obsolete sources: Gilbert Murray (cited 5 times), Martin Nilsson, Wilhelm Dörpfeld. Nilsson and Dörpfeld were very respectable when they were alive, but a little thing known as the decipherment of Linear B has happened since their time; there's also a certain amount of fiction in the claims attributed to them (there is no "palace of Odysseus" on Ithaca).
There aren't any obsolete sources in the field of classics. To the contrary, the scholars of another day are idolized almost like Screen stars. If you mean the theories, well, yes, there are theories that are no longer likely, due to substantial improvements in data. Carbon dating, for example made somewhat of a difference, but not surprisingly not to the basic structure of things. It tended to validate rather than overthrow. So, theories that are chronologically quite ancient might have more merit than some formulated yesterday. Theories go out of credibility and come back into it again. Furthermore, you confuse the men with the theories. Men are not obsolete (in spite of what their wives say), only theories. People change their minds, you know, and change them back again, depending on the current evidence. In my time in the field and associated with it I never heard the term obsolete applied to any author whatsoever. The ones you mention are certainly not obsolete. This is not a technology race or a rush to get to the moon first. It is only classics, and any theory of any time is a candidate for consideration. We don't reject the antique, we specialize in it.
    • Fringe views: references to Murray, Samuel Butler, Robert Graves, Andrew Dalby, Barry Powell
Excuse me, but who are you to judge who is a fringe? Anyway it is not people that are fringes but ideas. In this field ideas only get to a fringe after long and careful discussion and then only tentatively.Branigan 00:12, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
    • Unrepresentative sources: Vernant, Najock, Vonfelt (these are probably the worst offenders; there are others)
What? Unrepresentative of what? Who made you the judge of that? Have you written a survey of all the views of all the theories? The last I heard, you do not have to be a famous author to write anything valuable, you only have to write. To the contrary, the search is on for valuable new theories written by obscure persons. Maybe you have heard of beginner's luck. I'm sorry, we aren't going to let you tell us who we can use and who not, who is a fringe and who not. In any case I have heard of all these people but I never heard of you! You have to be of note to be on WP but just about anyone who published is of note. Are you going to judge for us now who to respect and who not? You have to take your people as you find them.Branigan 00:12, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Misinformation:
All right. These sorts of statements fall into the category of weasel words. Many moons ago I was part of the development of this article. There was a huge battle over whether we should even mention Homer as a possible real person. The combatants wanted to fight it out by proving what was generally accepted, standard, etc and showing that the other view is not. That was pretty disgusting. I quit. However now that is over and those are weasel words. I am going to rewrite those statements. We know what is wrong with the article and there is a block on it to keep just anyone from interfering. Well, I got the same problem as you, I'm saying too much, so I'm shutting up now.Branigan 00:12, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
    • "The consensus is that "The consensus is that 'the Iliad and the Odyssey date from around the 8th century BC'" - compounded by citing a non-representative source (a cultural theorist, not a philologist or historian); in reality, the majority of published research on Homer's date since the late 1970s puts the poems in the 7th century, with two outliers (Janko and Nagy; 8th and 6th centuries respectively) and one fringe view (Powell).
    • Note 6 misrepresents its source as saying the exact opposite of what it actually says (the source argues that Homer belongs to the mid-7th century, later than Hesiod; additionally, that reference is not up-to-date with the author's published research).
    • "The association with Chios dates back to at least Semonides of Amorgos..." - both false (the source is Simonides of Keos, 3 centuries later than Semonides) and misrepresents the source cited (you will not find this source in West's edition if you look in the "Semonides" section! West rightly puts it under "Simonides").
  • Misleading bits:
    • "Some scholars, such as Martin West, claim..." - this is an odd way of describing a view that is almost universally held by researchers in the field.
    • The "Works attributed to Homer" section is incomplete (the Thebaid! plus others); misleading (no ancient source attributes the whole Cycle to Homer); lists titles that are unquestionably spurious (no one doubts that the Batrachomyomachia is centuries later than Homer); and contains one or two tidbits of misinformation.
    • "an inscription from Ischia in the Bay of Naples, ca. 740 BC, appears to refer to a text of the Iliad" - this, and the surrounding material, is very tendentious (no one actually agrees on any of this).
  • Entire sections that are disasters:
    • The section on "Life and legends" is totally misleading, since it prioritises ancient biographical traditions (even while accepting that they're basically fictional), and even there, it prioritises fictional legends from the Roman era ahead of material dating to earlier centuries! The upshot is that a satirist (Lucian) and a totally fictional story (Hadrian) are prioritised ahead of modern linguistic research on the name "Homer", in the fourth paragraph (which is, incidentally, not up to date).
    • The section on "Homeric dialect" devotes two lines to an extremely important area of historical linguistics and a very active area of research. This section really deserves to be about 20% of the article.
    • "Homeric style": hopelessly bad, based entirely on a single 19th century literary critic. No mention of anything 20th century or later; no mention of formulae, tropes, and type-scenes; no mention of the enormous number of modern narratological studies. Even it were confined to traditional olde-style literary criticism, it's flabbergasting that critics like Auerbach, Lynn-George, Redfield, and Ford get no mention.
    • "Homer and history": totally obsolete. No research later than the 1890s is represented (Schliemann); no mentions of Finley, Snodgrass, Morris, Korfmann/Latacz vs. Hertel/Kolb, van Wees, Grethlein, or Raaflaub.
    • "Hero cult": really not notable enough to make it into the main article, but maybe I'll let this slide.
    • "Transmission and publication": skims over the most important phases in the history of this topic with just a couple of words, and contains no information about standard modern editions.
I didn't want to make this a big long screed, but there you go: I've reached the 5000-character point, so I'll cut myself off. Between the misinformation, poor choice of sources, and entire sections that either don't belong or are wholly misleading, there's not a huge amount to salvage. (For reference, the full paragraph that I thought worth preserving is the third paragraph of the introduction -- though even that could do with being redistributed to more appropriate bits of the article. Other good bits would be the bits that refer to Graziosi; Nagy and Taplin are OK too, though not representative.)"

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:32, 7 April 2014 (UTC)


I think the article is rather good. It has battled a long way up since the days when just about singlehandedly I had to hang on against those who hold that Homer is a total fiction. If that is so, one wonders why all this mention by several hundred years of ancient sources of a fictional character. Anyway, what can I do now? There seems to be a glaring tag on top, the last shot of the other camp. So, I will address some weasel issues by Homer enthusiasts, with kindly intent, to make the article better than a C grade. Don't worry. There was too a Homer! Change #1. Most researchers assign a date of the 8th or 7th. This is a weasel sentence. There are no modern types of researchers using scientific techniques to illuminate the issue with physical and chemical data or any new epigraphic finds on the topic etc. Furthermore, how would the editor know that? Has he done a survey of all the literature and can definitely state that this is the date most espouse? Just for general opinion, I don't see all the philologists flocking to that date. So, what I would like to give you here instead is a classic source summarizing the traditional dates and their authors. Keep in mind the Greek alphabet did not appear until about 750 so there goes the written work for earlier than that. First mention of it is not until the 6th. Well, read it for yourself.Branigan 22:32, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Scientific techniques? Come on. C8th-7th isn't just consensus, it's a well-known consensus. Catobonus (talk) 03:35, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

The write-up on period is rather confused. No one uses "the date of Homer" except possibly in impromptu personal conversation. I propose to rewrite this. There are three periods to consider, the biographical dates or period of a hypothetical person named Homer, the dates of the current composition and wording of the Homerica, and the times and formats of the constituent tales or source material, including any prior oral versions. Statements asserting what used to be thought are more in the weasel category and aren't of much use. One wants to say, "oh, did it?" Also, generalizations from one author are not a good idea. These authors are pretty individualistic, for which we love them dearly, but they do not necessarily represent any general view. I'm not really sure what general views really do exist. Not many, I suppose. They are not a canning factory; if they were, we would only need one.Branigan 00:22, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Under the life of Homer the first sentence says that although nothing is known various traditions have arisen. This is begging the question. If nothing is known, then the traditions are not going to tell us anything because they are nothing. But, that is why we are looking at them, to see what can be known. If nothing is known, the sentence should end there. There is nothing more to say. But then we go on to say a great deal more. I see the same refrain, over and over, "nothing is known." I see that often in WP, typically preceding a long article on what is known. We don't need this canonical nihil potest sciri so I am taking it out. Something obviously can be known or there would be nothing to talk about.Branigan 02:38, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

English Translations[edit]

These really belong in the main article referenced. Here they clutter up the article and they are not referenced in the text. The reason why they have not been transferred is obvious if you go to the main article. The latter needs a lot of work; it is not ready. I am therefore leaving them here for now. If you feel like doing some work that would be a good thing to do.Branigan 15:09, 7 November 2014 (UTC)


The former article before I started working on it had a nifty sounding paragraph of etymologies. It ended up in the new section I created of etymologies. I altered some of it. In the course of checking out the references I discovered the paragraph had been taken word-for-word from Bernie Keating, "Music: Then and Now", page 10. Check it out, you can get a preview. Bernie goes on to say that he is no professional so he can voice his own opinion. That turns out to be that Homer was reincarnated as Elvis Presley. Onward and upward, Bernie. This section had been bothering me because I knew of no etymologies along those lines, and I have the major etymological dictionaries. The editor threw in other refs as he saw fit or else gave no ref. That's all right, how is he to know? It was in a book, wasn't it? He can read just like everyone else. So, I need to check out those assertions coming from Bernie and make the changes accordingly. I will have to do that before I go on to the rest of the article and the other linked articles. However, I'm inclined to stick with this because it is important. If Homer is not right, none of the rest of them can be right, either.Botteville (talk) 18:43, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

PS There is another twist on the plagiarism. There are one or more persons in Marblehead, MA calling themselves "Galaxy Books," who, in collaboration with Google Books, have undertaken to produce ebooks giving translations of the Iliad and Odyssey. I haven't checked the translations, but the introductory page copies our Homer article word-for-word the way it was before I started on it. The date is this year, 2014. I'm tempted to say, all right, our plagiarizer plagiarized them, except that ours plagiarized Keating. Most books on Google have the courtesy to say that they copied WP articles, but apparently "Galaxy Books" never heard of WP. There might be some cross-plagiarism. I need to check further. Meanwhile I do not see how I can trust anything in the article, and probably not in many related articles. I noticed already that many of the references in our article are to no preview books or rare and expensive books that are not generally available. I will have to find some way to work around those. I remember what a total furor there was when a friend of mine submitted an article that someone else had published. He was drummed off WP and suffered the rollback, a removal of all his articles. Many of these he had worked pretty hard on and had taken his own photos. Now, no one seems to care. Anyway I care so I am reworking much of this article where there is any question of who wrote what. Is it for this I had to put up with editorial abuse during the early stages of the article?Botteville (talk) 16:06, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

I removed this: ὁμηρέω (homēréō), another related verb, besides signifying "meet", can mean "(sing) in accord/tune".[1] Some argue that "Homer" may have meant "he who puts the voice in tune" with dancing.[2][3] Marcello Durante links "Homeros" to an epithet of Zeus as "god of the assemblies" and argues that behind the name lies the echo of an archaic word for "reunion", similar to the later Panegyris, denoting a formal assembly of competing minstrels.[4][5] The reason I did are that it was taken from Keating, with an attempt to imitate or supply Keating's refs in WP language.

Now, perhaps it could be reworked to appear to be ours. The refs, however, are not right. All those meanings do NOT appear in the Greek dictionaries. They are not standard Grrek. They only have those meanings as part of a phrase, which the editor omits. Moreover, the meanings, like Homer, are author- and geography-specific. All these authors are relying on phrases from Hesiod for their attestation. By the time you fix the references and get the phrases in there, you have the same thing covered about 5 times; in other words, overkill. Nagy just about covers it. The overkill gives the impression that those words had all those meanings all of Greek or all of East Greek, which they did not. Homer is Aeolic, you know? The Ionic was undoubtedly added by later Ionic rhapsodes, after Aeolia was assimilated and became part of Ionia. My inclination is to leave the overkill out and go with Nagy, who lists several phrases from Hesiod. If you want to rework it, fine, but I suggest you know some ancient Greek beforehand, and I will be checking it.Botteville (talk) 16:06, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Hesiod (1966). West, M. L., ed. Hesiod Theogony. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 170 on line 39. 
  2. ^ Gilbert Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic, ibid., p.
  3. ^ Filippo Càssola (ed.) Inni Omerici, Mondadori, Milan, 1975 p. xxxiii
  4. ^ Marcello Durante, 'II nome di Omero', in Rendiconti Accademia Lincei, XII, 1957 p. 94–111
  5. ^ Marcello Durante, Sulla preistoria della tradizione poetica greca,Edizioni dell'Ateneo, Rome 1971 2 vols. vol. 2 p. 185–204, esp. pp. 194ff.

AD and BC yet once again[edit]

Thank you for your legitimate interest in the article. AD and BC were devised within the Christian religion. CE and BCE were devised by persons wishing to make usage less committed to any one religion. This idea ultimately flows from separation of church and state. Which should WP use? The issue has been fought over in many a long discussion in many articles. WP finally decided by consensus that if an article began with AD and BC it should keep that usage consistently, but if CE and BCE, etc. Here frankly I do not remember what the original status was, and I'd rather fix the current article than spend time in researching the original usage. I have no objection to either system, but I do agree with the decision that it should be consistent. I presume then that unless someone wants to do the research and argue for AD and BC, it is to stay CE and BCE. For usage in the literature, it is tedious to see these tags all over the place. The custom is to identify the range the first time and not put the tag on thereafter. I grant you, for random browsers this convention can be a problem, as AD is customarily left off. Not only that, but most WP readers are unfamiliar with the conventions anyway. This is not to disparage anyone, as English WP has a wide foreign audience. So, I'm inclined not to participate in your putting the tags on, even though 1270 for Troy must manifestly be BC for any native English speaker a little familiar with ancient history. Requiescat in pacem.Botteville (talk) 10:05, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

To make things more complicated, the original iterations of this article used BC and BCE interchangeably and inconsistently in the same article. Catobonus (talk) 18:34, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Homeric Studies Bibliography[edit]

This detailed bibiography makes distinctions not explained in this article. Instead, this article refers you to "Homeric scholarship," which does make all the fine distinctions. That article began with 1911 Britannica but seems far from it now, as such distinctions were not made in 1911. Its bibliography, however, does not support the distinctions. That article needs this bibliography. So, I am moving that part of the bibliography to "Homeric scholarship" in lieu of repeating parts of that article here. Then I will get back to expanding the works of Homer in between working on the English translations article so I can finish moving the translations list to there. I suppose this comes under the heading of improving organization by moving material to their proper articles.Botteville (talk) 13:37, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Basic arithmetic[edit]

I'm no classicist but I do have a grasp of basic numbers and as such it seems to me that there's a huge howler in the second paragraph. We're told that Herodotus thought that Homer lived no more than 400 years before his (Herodotus's) own time. Then we're told that this equates to around 750 BC or later. But Herodotus was born in approximately 484 BC and died in approximately 425 BC. Surely then that places Homer at around 850 BC or later? (The "or later" adds an extra layer of confusion but let's ignore that for a moment, as it could in theory mean that Homer lived at 650 BC, or 550 BC, or indeed any time up until Herodotus's own birth.) Assuming I haven't had a complete brain melt, this is a clear mistake. It's a significant one too, given that the paragraph then goes on to conclude, based on this calculation, that there is a difference of more than 250 years between the various estimates of when Homer lived. The difference is in fact only 150 years.

I get that there's debate as to whether Homer existed at all, but the point is that the paragraph as it stands contradicts itself. As such I'm going to correct it so that it makes sense on its own terms. As this is a simple matter of arithmetic I'm not sure there's any point in discussion but if there's something I'm missing then of course I have no objection to my edit being reverted. Brooklyn Eagle (talk) 18:40, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

Oops! Just re-reading, I notice that the second bit - the figure of 250 years between the two estimates - was actually correct. I'd assumed an internal consistency to the paragraph, ie that the 250 figure was based on the 750 BC figure earlier in the parapraph, but evidently not. So I've reverted the 250, but kept the change from 750 BC to 850 BC. Brooklyn Eagle (talk) 18:50, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

Rewrite needed[edit]

"Some really important core articles are really, really bad: a good example is the article on Homer* - The thing is so absolutely awful that it needs a complete re-write from scratch... But this is the article on Homer. A pretty big topic, and one in which an awful lot of people have an awful lot invested. Editing even one paragraph of it is a recipe for a protracted conflict. Re-writing the whole thing from scratch? Forget about it. Your right to correct Wikipedia by swinging your fist ends at the nose of some nerd who is better able to keep years of arbitration & bureaucracy in mind. If you do not know the dispute resolution process, and you do not have the tenacity of Asperger Syndrome, you will not and cannot win, despite being factually correct."

That is all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:36, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

  • Obsolete sources: Gilbert Murray, Martin Nilsson, Wilhelm Dörpfeld. Nilsson and Dörpfeld were very respectable when they were alive, but a little thing known as the "decipherment of Linear B" has happened since their time; there's also a certain amount of fiction in the claims attributed to them (there is no "palace of Odysseus" on Ithaca).
  • Fringe views: references to Murray, Samuel Butler, Robert Graves, Andrew Dalby, Barry Powell
  • Unrepresentative sources: Najock & Vonfelt (these are probably the worst offenders; there are others)
  • "The association with Chios dates back to at least Semonides of Amorgos..." - both false (the source is Simonides of Ceos, 3 centuries later than Semonides of Amorgos and misrepresents the source cited (you will not find this source in West's edition if you look in the "Semonides" section! West rightly puts it under "Simonides").
  • The section on "Life and legends" is totally misleading, since it prioritises ancient biographical traditions (even while accepting that they're basically fictional), and even there, it prioritises fictional legends from the Roman era ahead of material dating to earlier centuries! The upshot is that a satirist (Lucian) and a totally fictional story (Hadrian) are prioritized ahead of modern linguistic research.
  • "Homeric style" section: hopelessly bad, based entirely on a single 19th century literary critic. No mention of anything 20th century or later; no mention of formulae, tropes, and type-scenes; no mention of the enormous number of modern narratological studies. Even it were confined to traditional olde-style literary criticism, it's flabbergasting that critics like Lynn-George and Redfield get no mention, and Auerbach and Andrew Ford get minor citations at the bottom
  • "Homer and history": totally obsolete. No research later than the 1890s-1900s is represented (Schliemann); no mentions of Snodgrass, Korfmann/Latacz vs. Hertel/Kolb, van Wees, Grethlein, or Raaflaub - Guillane (talk) 13:07, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Descendant of Orpheus[edit]

In some writers; Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898) "Some made him a descendant of Orpheus."

someone add this in the proper section — Preceding unsigned comment added by MaryroseB54 (talkcontribs) 10:07, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

Minor Issues in Lead?[edit]

The lead states that "He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets." Perhaps omitting or changing the word 'greatest', should this not be generalized? Is it not the belief of most authorities on the matter that he was the first epic poet? Seems particularly odd to specify that the ancient Greeks believed that when it's still very much a widely held belief.

Also, I don't know if this is redundant, but I think the first sentence of the lead would certainly flow better if it began by stating what he was/probably was rather than immediately starting off with what he is known for. If it's an issue of historical certainty to say something along the lines of "Homer was a writer and poet", the current sentence heavily implies that Homer was, in fact, the author of both poems anyway. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vamanospests (talkcontribs) 03:45, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

This article is a mess. Do we have consensus it's a mess?[edit]

Homer is a vital, core topic for wikipedia, but this article is C-class. If you asked an academic specialist to write an encyclopedia article about Homer, it would not look like this. Outdated scholarship, undue weight given to fringe aspects and theories, ancient legends given undue weight, etc. I'm tempted to dip my toe in, but I don't want to spend time rewriting entire sections if it means a big wikibattle. So, is there consensus this article needs big revisions? 1177BC (talk) 22:16, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

I agree the article needs work. What exactly do you have in mind? Paul August 22:44, 25 February 2017 (UTC)
A lot of the superfluous material, like exhaustive cataloguing of each island ever said to have been Homer's birthplace, lost works attributed to him, and crankish Samuel Butlerite theory, can be moved to less visible articles like Ancient accounts of Homer. Proposed article plan here - the current article can be reworked into this format with copy-paste while it is worked on: Draft:Homer 1177BC (talk) 00:52, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment by PCR I'm going to accept your edit due to the stated purposes here on the talk page. More of a notice to other editors that to you, 1177BC, but I think perhaps a RfC should be held per policy for major changes. Best, L3X1 My Complaint Desk 01:55, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Thanks. If I make major changes I plan to save them to the draft space and get comment. I hoped that the deletion I made would be uncontroversial. 1177BC (talk) 04:28, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Hero Cult[edit]

User:Katolophyromai A good wikipedia article about Homer has to summarize a vast body of scholarship about Homer in, at most ~100k. Homereia are not mentioned at all by major sources like the 3 volume Homer Encyclopedia that recently came out. Having an entire section devoted to the Homereion and marble relief built by Ptolemy in the 200BCEs and a reference by Strabo to a couple of similar instances is absurdly out of WP:WEIGHT. This is why I would like to have consensus that this article needs a major rewrite. 1177BC (talk) 04:22, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

I understand your point entirely. Actually, when I undid your deletion of the section, I had not yet read your explanation here on the talk page and, from your edit summary alone, it sounded like the only reason you were deleting the section was because you thought that, because the material was covered in another article, it therefore should not be mentioned in this article.
I do understand that this article has quite a few problems, but I do not think that going through and deleting whole sections all at once is the best way to deal with them. Generally speaking, I do not like deleting material unless it is either a) factually inaccurate or b) so completely irrelevant to the subject of the article that it has barely any connection whatsoever. I would not categorize the information about the hero cults as completely irrelevant and as such, I am not particularly in favor of deleting it, but, on the other hand, I do understand why you would consider it so. I am willing to let you delete the section if you really think that it is a burden to the article.
On a side note, exactly how much of the article do you plan on rewriting? Should we be expecting you to go through and completely rework the whole thing or are you just planning on passing through, making small changes here and there? --Katolophyromai (talk) 04:47, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Thanks. You say that "I do not like deleting material unless it is either a) factually inaccurate or b) so completely irrelevant to the subject of the article that it has barely any connection whatsoever", but this is simply not compatible with WP:WEIGHT and writing a good article on Homer. There are tonnes of material available that has *some* connection to Homer which simply shouldn't be in the wikipedia article 'Homer'. The article is crammed with this sort of stuff. (Lucian told a story about how Homer was a Babylonian called Tigran. Really?) Basically, I think the article needs an almost entire reworking, which would be done by stages, if we can get consensus that big changes need to be made. I don't know how far I'll get before being preoccupied by the real world, but I'll see. 1177BC (talk) 05:21, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
I should perhaps emphasize again that if material is undue weight I only propose deleting it from this article; if it's encyclopedic it will be sent to a loving home where it will be much happier. 1177BC (talk) 05:36, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
User:WikiPedant, could you explain? What sources justify mentioning this per WP:BALASP? 1177BC (talk) 05:43, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

I have a suggestion. Perhaps instead of having a huge edit war over all of this, we should simply sit down (metaphorically speaking, of course) and plan out exactly what major changes need to be made to the article before any of us actually make them. My understanding is that this is the whole purpose in having a talk page to begin with. We can decide what exactly needs to be added and what needs to be removed. Then, when we actually implement those changes, we will have no need to fight over them. --Katolophyromai (talk) 13:45, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Talk:Homer#Rewrite_needed gives a good list, and most of the problems identified are still there. I suggested a table of contents in the draft space. Let's start from the top: the section labelled 'Period' is awful. Needs to be burned to the ground and rewritten. 'Lives of Homer' needs to be condensed to a stub-sized paragraph. A whole paragraph on Wilhelm Ihne's belief that Homer was from Smyrna needs to go. Then 'Works attributed to Homer' should be a sentence or two... random discussions are inserted at various points of topics unconnected to the section titles. 'The damage is fixable, but the effort in doing so dwarfs the effort involved in merely starting over.' WP:NUKEANDPAVE The Hero cult section definitely should go, that's a no-brainer. 1177BC (talk) 17:33, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
You seem to have a fairly good idea in mind of what needs to be changed. I am willing to cooperate with you and help rewrite the article. The table of contents you created for Draft:Homer still has some organizational issues (for instance, the titles of the sections are way too long to be used exactly the way they are right now), but considering that it is only a first draft, it seems relatively decent. We must tread carefully, though. If we are really going to completely rewrite the article, we must make sure that the article we produce is actually better than the article as it is right now. Also, we should make sure that any material we remove from the current article that is still useful makes its way into other related articles so that it does not end up being destroyed entirely. --Katolophyromai (talk) 19:49, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
What about the current titles in the draft? 1177BC (talk) 20:59, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
The current titles are better, but I think they may need to be more specific. For instance, the "Historicity" heading is too vague since it is unclear from the heading alone whether the section is describing the historicity of the events described in Homer's poems, or the historicity of Homer himself. It may be better to title this section "Historicity of poems" instead of just "Historicity." The headings can be multiple words as long as they are not too long. We can probably also add subheadings underneath the main headings to further organize the material.--Katolophyromai (talk) 21:05, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
Also, I think it would be better for the section currently titled "Iliad and Odyssey" to simply be titled "Works" since you say that you also want to mention the Homeric Hymns in this section. Then we can further divide the section into subsections entitled "Iliad," "Odyssey," and "Homeric Hymns." --Katolophyromai (talk) 21:14, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
I changed it to 'historical background'; feel free to make your own changes. Subsection headings will probably develop over time. 1177BC (talk) 21:08, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
How's this revision going? In particular, I'm concerned about the mention in the intro of the "Homeric question" as if it were an active debate in modern scholarship. - Eponymous-Archon (talk) 14:11, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

Era style[edit]

We go by the established style, and it appears that BCE was added by an IP in 2007,[3] changing BC to BCE - possibly before the guideline was as it is now, possibly not but that's irrelevant. It's had BCE since then although some editors have added BC at times, possibly not even noticing it used BCE elsewhere. So it would need a discussion to change it to BC. Doug Weller talk 10:11, 16 April 2017 (UTC)

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Lucian et al[edit]

No sane scholar, asked to write a wikipedia length article on Homer, would include pointless minutiae like Lucian telling a story about Homer being a Babylonian. This article is currently mostly a magpie's nest of stuff drawn at random from the vast corpus of Homeric scholarship (in fact worse than random, as lots of stuff still in the article is fringe, and some vital areas are not mentioned at all - this article will be extended is some areas, and there has to be room for them). A brief paragraph highlighting some of the major *recurring* themes of the Homeric legends is quite enough. There is no need to detail which Hellenistic/Roman poet wrote which piece of fanfiction. If you want to include material in this article, find reliable scholarly *contemporary* secondary sources to justify inclusion. There is another article to detail the Homeric biographical legends NPalgan2 (talk) 20:49, 23 August 2017 (UTC)

I disagree. These are not "pointless minutiae"; Lucian is a famous ancient author. Furthermore, your paragraph does not address all of the recurring themes. The story about Homer being the son of the river Meles and a nymph occurs in almost all of the ancient vitae, but you do not even mention it. As for your objection that the sources being cited in these paragraphs are not contemporary enough, there are plenty of recent sources cited in the section you deleted, including Barbara Graziosi's Inventing Homer from 2002, which you also cite in your paragraph; there is also Joachim Latacz's Homer: His Art and His World, which was published in 1996 and Martin Persson Nilsson's Homer and Mycenae, published in 1972. All of these are sources published within the last twenty-one years, except for Homer and Mycenae, but, even then, that was published in 1972, which was only forty-five years ago. --Katolophyromai (talk) 21:15, 23 August 2017 (UTC)
1) Nilsson's book was originally pubished in 1933. He was dead by 1972. 2) I've readded the Meles story in the list of recurring themes. 3) There important thing in this article is foreground and background. Lucian's story may have been mentioned once or twice in the vast body of Homeric scholarship. But adding it to the article is out of place. We have to summarise disputes that have generated vast quantities of scholarship in a sentence or two. 4) Discussion about the number of aristocrats vs commoners, etc in Homer is not suitable for a brief paragraph about the Homeric legends. Another section would be more suitable. NPalgan2 (talk) 21:30, 23 August 2017 (UTC)
Previously someone else argued further up: "The section on "Life and legends" is totally misleading, since it prioritises ancient biographical traditions (even while accepting that they're basically fictional), and even there, it prioritises fictional legends from the Roman era ahead of material dating to earlier centuries! The upshot is that a satirist (Lucian) and a totally fictional story (Hadrian) are prioritized ahead of modern linguistic research." NPalgan2 (talk) 21:32, 23 August 2017 (UTC)
Very well. I do not wish to argue over this any further. The Nilsson reference must have had the wrong date; I will not dispute that a work published in 1933 could certainly be considered outdated. In terms of priorities, I will admit that modern research should be given greater preference over ancient legends, but I do think that there should be more coverage on the ancient legends than just a single paragraph. --Katolophyromai (talk) 22:00, 23 August 2017 (UTC)

Thank you. I have now rewritten all parts of the article, but now there are sections that need to be expanded (e.g. the Homeric Greek) section. NPalgan2 (talk) 19:06, 24 August 2017 (UTC)

For the most part, I think you have done a very good job rewriting the article and I would like to congratulate you on having greatly improved this article's focus; there were some parts in the previous version that were admittedly rather off-topic. Nonetheless, I still think that the article now requires some serious expansion. Right now this article is extremely short and I do not think it fully covers the topic. Most Wikipedia articles about complex subjects such as this one are a great deal longer than this and usually go into much greater detail. I would look towards the article Sappho, which has just become a Good Article, as a model for expansion in the future. It is roughly twice the length of this article, even though only one of Sappho's poems has survived complete; whereas there are two lengthy surviving epics attributed to Homer, plus the Homeric Hymns and other works. --Katolophyromai (talk) 19:36, 24 August 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, I'm currently travelling and mostly away from sources and internet connection, but I plan to start reexpanding the article after the U.S. long weekend. NPalgan2 (talk) 23:09, 1 September 2017 (UTC)