Let’s Talk about Homer!

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, de Liberorum Educatione

“The ancients decided that reading should begin from Homer and Vergil, though it requires a firm sense of judgment to understand their virtues.”

Veteres instituerunt, ut ab Homero atque Vergilio lectio inciperet, quamvis ad intelligendum eorum virtutes opus esset firmiori iudicio.

Recently I spent an afternoon chatting with Liv Albert of the amazing “Let’s Talk about Myths, Baby” Podcast. During this podcast, she got me to range far and wide talking about “Homer” and the “idea of Homer” and toxic heroism and more.

If you’ve never listened to Liv’s podcast, you should. She asks great questions, has a fabulous sense of humor, and knows what she’s talking about.

Simonides, fr. 6.3

“Simonides said that Hesiod is a gardener while Homer is a garland-weaver—the first planted the legends of the heroes and gods and then the second braided together them the garland of the Iliad and the Odyssey.”

Σιμωνίδης τὸν ῾Ησίοδον κηπουρὸν ἔλεγε, τὸν δὲ ῞Ομηρον στεφανηπλόκον, τὸν μὲν ὡς φυτεύσαντα τὰς περὶ θεῶν καὶ ἡρώων μυθολογίας, τὸν δὲ ὡς ἐξ αὐτῶν συμπλέξαντα τὸν᾿Ιλιάδος καὶ Οδυσσείας στέφανον.

if you want to know more about what I think about Homer, here are some books and links.

I wrote about how to ‘read’ Homer in the modern sense.

But I also wrote earlier about how not to read Homer, following a rather ridiculous debate in the UK.

I also wrote about using trees as a metaphor for where Homer comes from. Here’s another on music.

Elton Barker and I lay out what we see as the stakes of interpreting Homer in our book Homer’s Thebes, free on the Center for Hellenic Studies Website

And we also give a broader overview and introduction in our earlier Homer: A Beginner’s Guide

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