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HOMER.

301

The compilation is rude and uncritical, but historically important. It. is the work of six different authors belonging to the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th centuries a.d. Soon after the middle of this century, aurelius victor wrote a short history of the Caesars, and EuTROpius and festus epitomes (brivlaria') of all Roman history. The clearness and simplicity of Eutropius' book has maintained its popularity down to modern times. amm!ands marcellinus rises far above the heads of his contem­poraries. He was a Greek by birth, and wrote a continuation of Tacitus frpm 96-378 A.D., only the second half of which haa come down to us. After him begins the epoch of Christian historians, e.g. SuLPlCius severus and orosius. Special mention should be made of hieronymus, who trans­lated and made additions to the Chronicon of Eusebius.

Homer (Gr. Himeros). (1) The poet, "hose name is borne by the two oldest and

(1) * BUST OP HOMER.

Sansaoaci Palace, Potsdam.)

(Sansaoaci

at the same time grandest monuments of the Greek genius, the epic poems called the Iliad and the Odyssey. Concerning the personality of the poet, his country, and his time, we have no trustworthy infor­mation. Even the personal existence of the poet has been disputed, and it has often been attempted to prove, from the meaning of the name, that he was not an individual, but an ideal type. It has been

held that Homer means either orderer or comrade, and it has been supposed that in the former case the name indicates the ideal representative of the epic poem in its unified and artistically completed form, whilst the other explanation is suggestive of an ideal ancestor and patron of an ex­clusive order of minstrels. But as Homer is a proper name, simply meaning hostage, without any connexion with poetry, there is nothing in the name itself to give occasion to any doubt as to the existence of Homer as an historical personage. In

j antiquity seven places contended for the honour of being his birthplace : Smyrna,

; Rhodes, Colophon, Salamls (in Cyprus),

; Chios, Argos, and Athens; yet there is no doubt that the Homeric poems originated on the west coast of Asia Minor, and the older tradition is fairly correct in fixing on the JEoli&n Smyrna as his home, and on the Ionian island of Chios as the place where

I his poetry was composed. The yEolic colour­ing of the Ionic dialect, which forms the foundation of Homeric diction, agrees with this; as also the fact that at Chios for cen­turies afterwards there was a family called the HSmeridce, who, called after his name, claimed descent from him and occupied themselves with the recitation of his poetry. As to the time when the poet lived, all the views of early investigators, founded on chronological considerations, differ widely from one another. However, this much seems certain, that the period in which epic poetry attained the degree of perfec­tion to which Homer brought it does not fall either before b.c. 950 or after 900. Of the various traditions respecting Homer, we need only state that his father's name was Meles, that in his old age he was blind, and that he died on the small island of los, where his grave was shown, and on it yearly, in the month called after him HSmereon, a goat was sacrificed to the poet, who was worshipped as a hero. Perhaps the story of his blindness arose from fancying that DemodScus, the blind singer in the Odyssey, was a prototype of Homer. A trustworthy corroboration of this was supposed to be found in the fact that the author of the hymn to the Delian Apollo, which the voice of antiquity unhesitatingly described to Homer, represented him as blind and living on the island of Chios. The importance of Homer rests in the fact that, while using the fixed forms of poetic diction and metre which had been fashioned by his prede­cessors, he was able to raise epic song to

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