The Unity of Homer

The Unity of Homer

The Unity of Homer

The Unity of Homer

Excerpt

The great fact of ancient Greece is the poetry of Homer, which was the center of education, the source of mythology, the model of literature, the inspiration of artists; known and quoted by all. Homer was a poet of such authority, even in matters not poetic, that contending states were supposed to have settled their claims to territory on the interpretation of his verses. Passing westward the power of Homeric verse transformed the Latin tongue, making the Romans abandon their own poetic forms and forcing that language, with its long case endings, to march in dactylic rhythms. The oldest Latin literature of which any fragments have been preserved is a version of the Odyssey, and the greatest poetic production of Roman Italy is the Aeneid of Vergil, a literary amalgamation and adaptation of both the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer was thus in turn to inspire the genius of Dante; and the introduction of Milton Paradise Lost , "Sing, heavenly Muse," shows the kinship of that poem also with Homeric poetry.

Nothing could better illustrate the preëminence of Homer than the fact that among the papyrus . . .

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