Homer Might Have Been Roman or Egyptian (Life of Homer, 6; Part 1)

(from the so-called “Roman Life of Homer”)

Asserting directly and precisely that Homer’s place of birth or city was a specific city or place instead of another is difficult–actually, I think it is impossible. It is necessary instead to list the cities that claim his origin and then to explain his contested genealogy.

Anaximenes, Damastes, and the lyric-poet Pindar declare Homer a Chian–and Theocritus claims the same in his Epigrams. Damastes says that he is a descendent of Mousaios (ten generations later). Hippias, however, and Ephoros locate him in Cymae; But Ephorus makes his forebear Khariphemos who settled Cyme. Timomachus and Aristotle think he is from Ios; according to Antimachus he is from Colophon; according to Stesimbrotus the Thasian he is from Smyrna; according to Philokhoros, he is Argive; and Kallikles says he is from Salamis.

Aristodemos of Nysa claims Homer is Roman based on certain characteristics that occur only among the Romans, such as the game of pessoi and the practice of lesser men willingly rising from their seats for betters. Such customs are practiced by the Romans to this day. Other scholars say that Homer is Egyptian because he has his heroes kiss one another with the mouth, a thing that is customary for Egyptians to do.

According to Stesimbrotus, Homer’s father was Maion the son of Apellis and his mother was Hyrnetho or Cretheis. Deinarchos says his father is Crethon; according to Democrines, he was Alemon. Most sources say Homer is the son of the river Meles near Smyrna, which flows well for a short bit until it issues into the nearby sea. Aristotle records the claim that Homer was born from a daimon who danced with the Muses.

Βίος ῾Ομήρου

Τὸ μὲν ἄντικρυς εἰπεῖν διισχυρισάμενον τήνδε τινὰ σαφῶς εἶναι τὴν ῾Ομήρου γένεσιν ἢ πόλιν χαλεπόν, μᾶλλον δὲ ἀδύνατον εἶναι νομίζω• ἀναγκαῖον δὲ καταριθμῆσαι τὰς ἀντιποιουμένας τῆς γενέσεως αὐτοῦ πόλεις, τό τε γένος
ἐξειπεῖν τὸ ἀμφισβητήσιμον τοῦ ποιητοῦ.

᾿Αναξιμένης μὲν οὖν καὶ Δαμάστης καὶ Πίνδαρος ὁ μελοποιὸς Χῖον αὐτὸν ἀποφαίνονται καὶ Θεόκριτος ἐν τοῖς ἐπιγράμμασιν. ὁ δὲ Δαμάστης καὶ δέκατον αὐτὸν ἀπὸ Μουσαίου φησὶ γεγονέναι• ῾Ιππίας δ’ αὖ καὶ ῎Εφορος Κυμαῖον• ὁ δ’ ῎Εφορος καὶ εἰς Χαρίφημον ἀνάγει τὸ γένος αὐτοῦ, ὁ δὲ Χαρίφημος οὗτος Κύμην ᾤκησε• Τιμόμαχος δὲ καὶ ᾿Αριστοτέλης ἐξ ῎Ιου τῆς νήσου. κατὰ δ’ ᾿Αντίμαχον Κολοφώνιος, κατὰ δὲ Στησίμβροτον τὸν Θάσιον Σμυρναῖος, κατὰ Φιλόχορον δ’ ᾿Αργεῖος, κατὰ Καλλικλέα δὲ τῆς ἐν Κύπρῳ Σαλαμῖνος.

᾿Αριστόδημος δ’ ὁ Νυσαεὺς ῾Ρωμαῖον αὐτὸν ἀποδείκνυσιν ἔκ τινων ἐθῶν παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίοις μόνον γινομένων, τοῦτο μὲν ἐκ τῆς τῶν πεσσῶν παιδιᾶς, τοῦτο δὲ ἐκ τοῦ ἐπανίστασθαι τῶν θάκων τοὺς ἥσσονας τῶν βελτί-στων ἑκόντας, ἃ καὶ νῦν ἔτι φυλάσσεται παρὰ ῾Ρωμαίοις ἔθη.

ἄλλοι δ’ Αἰγύπτιον αὐτὸν εἶπον διὰ τὸ † ἠ † παράγειν τοὺς ἥρωας ἐκ στόματος ἀλλήλους φιλοῦντας, ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἔθος τοῖς Αἰγυπτίοις ποιεῖν. πατρὸς δὲ κατὰ μὲν Στησίμβροτόν ἐστι Μαίονος τοῦ ᾿Απέλλιδος καὶ μητρὸς ῾Υρνηθοῦς ἢ Κρηθηίδος, κατὰ δὲ Δείναρχον Κρήθωνος, κατὰ δὲ Δημοκρίνην ᾿Αλήμονος, κατὰ δὲ τοὺς πλείστους Μέλητος τοῦ κατὰ Σμύρναν ποταμοῦ, ὃς ἐπ’ ὀλίγον ῥέων εὐθέως εἰς τὴν παρακειμένην θάλασσαν ἐκδίδωσιν. ᾿Αριστοτέλης δὲ ἱστορεῖν φησιν † λητὰς ἔκ τινος δαίμονος γεγενῆσθαι τὸν ῞Ομηρον ταῖς Μούσαις συγχορεύσαντος.

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