Scholars know little about ancient Greek poet Homer. He is believed to have written the Iliad, about the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, the subsequent adventures of Odysseus. These two classic epics, long stories in verse, were written between 800 and 700 B.C.
"From his tongue flowed speech sweeter than honey," he wrote.
Creator of the heroic code, his oral narratives (epics were sung or chanted) inspired Aristotle, Sophocles, and Euripides. Aristotle praised Homer's artistic celebration of creative unity, calling him in Poetics, "unequalled in diction and thought."
Homer once said, "To him who hearkens to the gods, the gods give ear." He was held in high esteem by most Greeks and often called "the holy poet." Many believe he lived on the island of Chios in the eastern Aegean Sea.
"There is a fullness of all things," he said, "even of sleep and of love."
Homer was the catalyst for the creation of classical Greek civilization. He was the literary gardener who planted the seeds of comedy, tragedy, and narratives for the entire Western world. Even Alexander the Great carried a copy of the Iliad with him in battle.
"Pray," advised Homer, "for all men need the aid of the gods."