Two Lives of Homer, One Rather Strange

The first ‘life’ of Homer listed below is extremely strange. The other is a rather short but typical variation on the others. For some additional “lives” see earlier posts.


Life of Homer 7 (Allen; Eustathius Comm. Ad. Od. 1713.17)

“Alexander the Paphian records that Homer was the son of Aithra and Dmasagoras, Egyptians and that his nurse was a prophetess, a certain daughter of Oros, a priest of Isis, from whose breasts once flowed honey into the child’s mouth. Then the child uttered nine voices during the night: a swallow’s, a peacock’s, a dove’s, a crow’s, a partridge’s, a water hen’s, a starling’s, a nightingale’s, and a blackbird’s.

The child was found playing with nine doves on his bed along with the Sybil who was being entertained among the child’s doves and had been inspired to improvise epic lines which began “Dmasagoras, man of much victory…” in which she also addressed Homer’s father as “very-famous” and “prince” and ordered him to build a temple for the nine Pierian Muses. And she was revealing the muses to him [Dmasagoras].Then he did that [what she ordered] and showed the accomplishment to the human child. And thus the poet reverenced the animals he played with as a child and he made the doves carry ambrosia to Zeus.”

᾿Αλέξανδρος δὲ ὁ Πάφιος ἱστορεῖ τὸν ῞Ομηρον υἱὸν Αἰγυπτίων Δμασαγόρου καὶ Αἴθρας· τροφὸν δὲ αὐτοῦ προφῆτίν τινα θυγατέρα ῎Ωρου ἱερέως ῎Ισιδος, ἧς ἐκ τῶνμαστῶν μέλι ῥεῦσαί ποτε εἰς τὸ στόμα τοῦ παιδίου. καὶ τὸ βρέφος ἐν νυκτὶ φωνὰς ἐννέα προέσθαι· χελιδόνος, ταῶνος, περιστερᾶς, κορώνης, πέρδικος, πορφυρίωνος, ψαρός, ἀηδόνος καὶ κοττύφου. εὑρεθῆναί τε τὸ παιδίον μετὰ περιστερῶν ἐννέα παῖζον ἐπὶ τῆς κλίνης, εὐωχουμένην δὲ παρὰ τοῖς τοῦ παιδὸς τὴν Σίβυλλαν ἐμμανῆ γεγονυῖαν ἔπη σχεδιάσαι, ὧν ἀρχὴ
Δμασαγόρα πολύνικε,

ἐν οἷς καὶ μεγακλεῆ καὶ στεφανίτην αὐτὸν προσειπεῖν, καὶ ναὸν κτίσαι κελεῦσαι ἐννέα Πιερίδων· ἐδήλου δὲ τὰς μούσας. τὸν δὲ καὶ τοῦτο ποιῆσαι καὶ τῷ παιδὶ ἀνδρωθέντι ἐξειπεῖν τὸ πρᾶγμα. καὶ τὸν ποιητὴν οὕτω σεμνῦναι τὰ ζῷα οἷς βρέφος ὢν συνέπαιζε, καὶ ποιῆσαι αὐτὰ τῷ Διὶ τὴν ἀμβροσίαν κομίζοντα.


Life of Homer 4 (Allen; 8 Most, Vita Scorialensis 1)
“Homer, the poet, was the son of Maiôn and Hurnetho, according to some. According to others, he was the son of Melês. Others attribute his lineage to Kalliopê the Muse. They say that he was named Melêsigenes or Melianaks, but after he was blinded he was named Homer—for the Aeolians call blind people “Homers”. Some say his country was Smyrna, others say it was Khios; even others say Kolophôn and some claim it is Athens. He traveled around singing his poems. Later, Peisistratos gathered together his poems, as this epigram shows:

The people of Erektheus ran me out of town after I was a tyrant
Three times and took me back three times.
Peisistratos, tremendous in councils, who gathered up
all the Homer that was sung separately before.
That golden one is our citizen
If we believe that Athens founded Smyrna

They say that he died after starving himself due to grief on the island Ios because he could solve the riddle which was posed to him by the fishermen. When he encountered them he asked: “Fisherman from Arcadia, what do you have?”
And they answered: “However much we caught, we left behind; but whatever we didn’t, we bring.”

And written on his gravestome is:

Here the earth covers over this sacred head,
The master of heroic men, godly Homer.”

῞Ομηρος ὁ ποιητὴς υἱὸς ἦν κατὰ μέν τινας Μαίονος καὶ ῾Υρνηθοῦς, κατὰ δ’ ἐνίους Μέλητος τοῦ ποταμοῦ καὶ Κριθηίδος νύμφης. ἄλλοι δ’ αὐτοῦ τὸ γένος εἰς Καλλιόπην τὴν Μοῦσαν ἀναφέρουσιν. φασὶ δ’ αὐτὸν Μελησιγένη ἢ Μελησιάνακτα κεκλῆσθαι, τυφλωθέντα δ’ αὐτὸν ὕστερον ῞Ομηρον κληθῆναι· οἱ γὰρ Αἰολεῖς τοὺς τυφλοὺς ὁμήρους καλοῦσιν. πατρίδα δ’ αὐτοῦ οἱ μὲν Σμύρναν, οἱ δὲ Χίον, οἱ δὲ Κολοφῶνα, οἱ δ’ ᾿Αθήνας λέγουσιν. περιιὼν δὲ τὰς πόλεις ᾖδε τὰ ποιήματα. ὕστερον δὲ Πεισίστρατος αὐτὰ συνήγαγεν, ὡς τὸ ἐπίγραμμα τοῦτο δηλοῖ·

τρίς με τυραννήσαντα τοσαυτάκις ἐξεδίωξε
δῆμος ᾿Ερεχθῆος καὶ τρὶς ἐπηγάγετο,
τὸν μέγαν ἐν βουλαῖς Πεισίστρατον ὃς τὸν ῞Ομηρον
ἤθροισα σποράδην τὸ πρὶν ἀειδόμενον·
ἡμέτερος γὰρ κεῖνος ὁ χρύσεος ἦν πολιήτης
εἴπερ ᾿Αθηναῖοι Σμύρναν ἐπῳκίσαμεν.

φασὶ δ’ αὐτὸν ἐν ῎Ιῳ τῇ νήσῳ διὰ λύπην ἀποκαρτερήσαντα τελευτῆσαι διὰ τὸ μὴ λῦσαι τὸ ζήτημα τὸ ὑπὸ τῶν ἁλιέων αὐτῷ προτεθέν. ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἐπιστὰς ἤρετο·
ἄνδρες ἀπ’ ᾿Αρκαδίης ἁλιήτορες ἦ ῥ’ ἔχομέν τι;
οἱ δ’ ἀπεκρίναντο·
ὅσσ’ ἕλομεν λιπόμεσθ’, ὅσα δ’ οὐχ ἕλομεν φερόμεσθα.
ἐπιγέγραπται δ’ ἐν τῷ μνήματι αὐτοῦ
ἐνθάδε τὴν ἱερὴν κεφαλὴν κατὰ γαῖα καλύπτει
ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων κοσμήτορα, θεῖον ῞Ομηρον.

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