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My Favourite Planet > English > People > Homer part 1
back Homer – part 1 Page 1 of 3
 
Homer
 
Part 1   Introduction (this page)

A short introduction to Homer

Homer in Greek and Roman art
 

Part 2   The Iliad

in Greek, Etruscan and Roman art
 

Part 3   The Odyssey

in Greek, Etruscan and Roman art
including the Trojan Horse
 

Homer (Ὅμηρος, Homeros) is the name given by the ancient Greeks to the author of two important early epic narrative poems in Greek, The Iliad (Ιλιάς) and The Odyssey (Ὀδύσσεια).

Debate has continued since antiquity over the identity of Homer. Did he really exist as a historical individual and literary genius? If so did he compose both epic poems, and perhaps others as well? Was he a bard who composed, memorized and performed the poem or poems without the aid of writing (the alphabet was introduced to Greece in the early 8th century BC)? Or was he the first to write or dictate the poems that he had either composed himself or learned from other poets, a link in a long chain of oral tradition? Or were his name and character later inventions, to represent collectively several early Greek poets and the spirit of Archaic epic verse?

Whether Homer was a real person, a legendary or mythological character, other literary works were also attributed to him, including poems of the Epic Cycle (the Little Iliad, the Cypria, the Nostoi, the Epigoni and the Theban Cycle), the Homeric Hymns, the Margites, the Batrachomyomachia (The frog-mouse war), the Capture of Oechalia and the Phocais. Several of these poems have also been attributed to other poets, and many modern scholars believe that these works are of a later date than The Iliad and The Odyssey.

The Iliad tells of legendary and mythical heroic events around the time of Bronze Age conflicts between Greeks and Anatolians, distilled into the story of the Trojan War. The Odyssey synthesizes seamen's yarns of pioneer Greek military, piratical and merchant sea voyages around the Mediterranean into the wanderings of Odysseus (Ὀδυσσεύς) during his ten year journey to his home in Ithaka (Ιθάκη) at the end of the war.

The stories take place around the end of the second millenium BC, for later Greeks an era of larger-than-life heroes, great warriors, founders of cities and dynasties, some of whom were descended from gods and other divine figures who interacted with the mortal characters and either actively supported or opposed them. Monsters, magic and the supernatural were part of the characters' lives and adventures.

Many of the stories of this era, true and fictional, were transmitted orally from generation to generation, often in the form of songs and poetry which in themselves contributed to the creation and preservation of the great heroic ethos. Each generation of bards no doubt altered and added details to show off their skills and to appeal to local contemporary tastes of audiences.

In the case of The Iliad and The Odyssey, the questions of how much of the original Bronze Age traditions survived this process, how much was based on historical fact and/or age-old story-telling, and how much was newly created by the writer (or writers) will keep scholars busy for many years to come.

The two epics became enormously influential works throughout the Greek and Roman world for a millenium; considered exemplary in poetic and literary terms, essential reading and central to the cultural values of the time.

It should not come as a surprise for us to learn that the Greeks built shrines to their author and eventually deified him (see The Apotheosis of Homer below).

Alexander the Great was said to have a particular love of Homer's poetry, especially The Iliad with its typically Homeric ideals of honour and glory. On his campaigns through Asia he carried a copy of the work which Aristotle had annotated and given to him as a gift.

 

There is no doubt that the works are literary masterpieces, and the language, technique and style of the poetry in which they are written, as well as the structural and narrative qualities, are still influential and universally admired. They are also like gazeteers and a veritable who's who (or all too often who killed whom) of the ancient world. The Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC – circa 24 AD) called Homer the founder of geography:

"And first, [we maintain,] that both we and our predecessors, amongst whom is Hipparchus, do justly regard Homer as the founder of geographical science, for he not only excelled all, ancient as well as modern, in the sublimity of his poetry, but also in his experience of social life. Thus it was that he not only exerted himself to become familiar with as many historic facts as possible, and transmit them to posterity, but also with the various regions of the inhabited land and sea, some intimately, others in a more general manner. For otherwise he would not have reached the utmost limits of the earth, traversing it in his imagination."

Strabo, Geography, Book 1, chapter 2, section 2.

Many of the geographical, topographical and historical details in Homer's works have in fact been confirmed by archaeologists, historians and scientists over the last two centuries, proving at least that the author based his often incredible tales on a solid ground of facts.

The style, language and several other details have led many scholars to believe that the versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey known from antiquity were probably written by an author from East Greece (western Anatolia and the eastern Aegean islands) about 750-700 BC. This is around the same time as the poet Hesiod is also thought to have lived.

The earliest known mention of Homer was by the philosopher and poet Xenophanes of Colophon (Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος, circa 570-475 BC), who criticized the way in which he and Hesiod represented the gods. [3] An oft-quoted passage of Pausanias stating that a certain Kelainos (or Kallinos) attributed the epic poem Thebais to Homer is questionable. [4]

 

The Iliad and The Odyssey were first mentioned by Herodotus (circa 484 - circa 425 BC), who considered that Homer and Hesiod virtually invented the names, genealogies, forms and functions of the gods:

"But whence each of the gods came to be, or whether all had always been, and how they appeared in form, they did not know until yesterday or the day before, so to speak. For I suppose Hesiod and Homer flourished not more than four hundred years earlier than I; and these are the ones who taught the Greeks the descent of the gods, and gave the gods their names, and determined their spheres and functions, and described their outward forms.

But the poets who are said to have been earlier than these men were, in my opinion, later. The earlier part of all this is what the priestesses of Dodona tell; the later, that which concerns Hesiod and Homer, is what I myself say." [5]

 

At some point Homer acquired a biography and became known as the blind bard from Ionia, and at least four East Greek cities, Smyrna, Chios, Kolophon and Kyme, claimed the bard as a native son (see the inscription from Pergamon below).

The Roman author Aulus Gellius (circa 125 - after 180 AD) mentioned even more places making this claim to fame, and repeated the legend that his tomb was on Ios:

"Also as to Homer's native city there is the very greatest divergence of opinion. Some say that he was from Colophon, some from Smyrna; others assert that he was an Athenian, still others, an Egyptian; and Aristotle declares that he was from the island of Ios. Marcus Varro, in the first book of his Portraits, placed this couplet under the portrait of Homer:

'This snow-white kid the tomb of Homer marks;
For such the Ietae offer to the dead.'" [6]

(The Ietae were the inhabitants of Ios.)

The author and date of a famous epigram on the subject of Homer's birthplace are unknown:

"Seven cities contend for the birth of Homer: Smyrna, Rhodes, Kolophon, Salamis [Cyprus], Ios, Argos and Athens." [7]

Pausanias (2nd century AD) discussed the birthplace of Homer when remarking on a statue and accompanying inscription at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo in Delphi:

"... and you can see a bronze statue of Homer on a slab, and read the oracle that they say Homer received:

'Blessed and unhappy, for to be both wast thou born.
Thou seekest thy fatherland; but no fatherland hast thou, only a motherland.
The island of Ios is the fatherland of thy mother, which will receive thee
When thou hast died; but be on thy guard against the riddle of the young children.'

The inhabitants of Ios point to Homer's tomb in the island, and in another part to that of Clymene, who was, they say, the mother of Homer.

But the Cyprians, who also claim Homer as their own, say that Themisto, one of their native women, was the mother of Homer, and that Euclus foretold the birth of Homer in the following verses:

'And then in sea-girt Cyprus there will be a mighty singer,
Whom Themisto, lady fair, shall bear in the fields, A man of renown, far from rich Salamis.
Leaving Cyprus, tossed and wetted by the waves,
The first and only poet to sing of the woes of spacious Greece,
For ever shall he be deathless and ageless.'

These things I have heard, and I have read the oracles, but express no private opinion about either the age or date of Homer." [8]
 
References to Homer
on My Favourite Planet
 

Homer, the first to write about the area of Pergamon.

Pergamon gallery 2, page 1
 
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Marble bust of Homer of the Hellenistic blind type at My Favourite Planet

Marble bust of Homer of the "Hellenistic
blind type" or "Pergamon type". Found in
Baiae, Bay of Naples, Campania, Italy. [1]

British Museum, London.
Inv. No, GR 1805.7-3.85 (Sculpture 1825).
 

A herm bust of Homer of the Epimenides type at My Favourite Planet

A marble herm bust with a portrait of Homer
of the "Epimenides type" [2], with a long,
straight beard and closed eyes, thought
to imply the poet's blindness.

Roman period. Possibly a copy of a
mid 5th century BC Greek prototype.

Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican
Museums, Rome. Inv. No. 315.

Anton Hekler, Greek & Roman portraits,
plate 9a. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York,
1912. At the Internet Archive.
 

Head of Homer of the Epimenides type in Munich at My Favourite Planet

A marble head of Homer
of the "Epimenides type".

Roman period, 1st century AD.
Height 39.7 cm, width 23.6 cm,
depth 25.7 - 30.7 cm.

Staatliche Antikensammlungen und
Glyptothek, Munich. Inv. No. GL 273.

Purchased in Rome around 1890 by the
German archaeologist Paul Julius Arndt,
who donated to the museum in 1892.
 

Marble head of Homer of the Epimenides type at My Favourite Planet

Head of Homer of the "Epimenides type".

Roman period. Parian marble.

Barracco Museum, Rome. Inv. No. MB 123.
Purchased in Rome.
 

A marble head of Homer, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford at My Favourite Planet

A marble head of Homer. 1-100 AD.
Similar to the "Epimenides type" heads
above but, unusually, with open eyes.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Inv. No. LI1022.1. On loan from
the Franziska Winters Collection.
 
 

A papyrus page of Homer's Iliad Book 13 at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a papyrus roll with part of Book 13
of the Iliad. The roll is one of the longest
surviving Homer papyri, containing most
of the Iliad books 13 and 14. From Egypt,
1st or 2nd century AD.

British Museum. Papyrus DCCXXXII.

Source: Frederic B. Kenyon,
The palaeography of Greek papyri,
Plate XIX, page 97.
Oxford University Press, 1899.
   

A papyrus page of Homer's Odyssey Book 3 at My Favourite Planet

A papyrus fragment of the Odyssey,
the end of Book 3. The earliest surviving
copy of the work. Early 1st century AD.

British Museum. Papyrus CCLXXI.

Source: Frederic B. Kenyon,
The palaeography of Greek papyri,
Plate XV, page 84.
Oxford University Press, 1899.
 
 
 
 
Vyzantino Greek Restaurant, Plaka, Athens, Greece
 
NEWGEN Travel Agency, Athens, Greece
 
Hotel Orestias Kastorias Thessaloniki, Greece - The heart of hospitality beats at the heart of the city
 
Big Dino's Galini, self-catering beach hotel, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece
 
Hotel Liotopi, Olympiada, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Greece
 
Hotel Germany, Olympiada, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Greece
 
Hotel Okeanis, Kavala, Macedonia, Greece
 

George Alvanos

rooms
in Kavala's historic Panagia District

Anthemiou 35,
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Olive Garden Restaurant

Kastellorizo,
Greece

+30 22460 49 109

kastellorizo.de
 
 

Papoutsis
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greeklodgings.gr
 
 
Homer Homer in Greek and Roman art  

If Homer lived in the 8th century BC, some time earlier, or even a century later, this was long before realistic portraiture was practised by the Greeks. It is therefore considered that all the portraits of him were works of pure imagination, like those of many other famous people, created throughout antiquity to supply a popular need to have a face to go with a name.

Sculptures representing the legendary poet were made as early as the Classical period (5th - 4th century BC). Pausanias mentioned statues of Homer and Hesiod, among a number of statues dedicated by Mikythos, the former tyrant of Rhegium in the mid 5th century BC, next to the Great Temple of Zeus in the Sanctuary of Olympia. [9]

Statues and busts of Homer, showing him as a scholarly, elderly, blind man, were placed in libraries and sanctuaries, a tradition which continued into Roman times. There were sculptures of this type in the Library of Pergamon and the Homereion of Alexandria, a centre for Homeric studies during the Hellenistic period. [10] The practice of inventing idealized portraits of famous writers and setting them up in libraries was commented on by Pliny the Elder:

"There is a new invention too, which we must not omit to notice. Not only do we consecrate in our libraries, in gold or silver, or at all events, in bronze, those whose immortal spirits hold converse with us in those places, but we even go so far as to reproduce the ideal of features, all remembrance of which has ceased to exist; and our regrets give existence to likenesses that have not been transmitted to us, as in the case of Homer, for example.

And indeed, it is my opinion, that nothing can be a greater proof of having achieved success in life, than a lasting desire on the part of one's fellow-men, to know what one's features were.

This practice of grouping portraits was first introduced at Rome by Asinius Pollio [75 BC - 4 AD], who was also the first to establish a public library, and so make the works of genius the property of the public. Whether the kings of Alexandria and of Pergamus, who had so energetically rivalled each other in forming libraries, had previously introduced this practice, I cannot so easily say."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 35, chapter 2. At Perseus Digital Library. [11]

 

Around the end of the 5th century AD, the Egyptian poet Christodorus described a bronze statue of Homer in the Baths of Zeuxippus in Constantinople:

"... the features of an old man, but of a gentle old age, so much so that it gives him an even richer aura of grace: a mix of venerability and admiration, but from which prestige shines through... With his two hands supported by his staff, one on top of the other, like a real man. The right ear bent, as if always listening to Apollo, almost as if he could hear a Muse nearby..."

Anthologia Palatina, II, 311-349 [12]

Many (if not all) of the cities claiming to be Homer's birthplace, as well as other cities around the Greek world as far as the Black Sea (see photo, above right) issued coins depicting the poet. According to Strabo, the inhabitants of Smyrna (today Izmir, Turkey) had a shrine dedicated to Homer known as the Homereion, and issued bronze coins of the same name:

"There is also a library; and the Homereion, a quadrangular portico containing a shrine and wooden statue [xoanon] of Homer; for the Smyrnaeans also lay especial claim to the poet; and indeed a bronze coin of theirs is called Homereion."

Strabo, Geography, Book 14, chapter 1, section 37. At Perseus Digital Library.

The enormous popularity and cultural influence of Homer's epic poems, as well as Homeric stories about the Trojan War and Oysseus by other authors (and perhaps also surviving oral tradions), are evident in the large number of surviving artworks illustrating scenes from the works (see Homer part 2 and part 3) made and traded around the Graeco-Roman world.

Bronze coin showing the head of Homer at My Favourite Planet

Roman provincial bronze coin showing the
head of Homer in profile. From Amastris,
Paphlagonia, Black Sea, 100-260 AD.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Inv. No. HCR7895.
 

The Wooden Horse of Troy on the Mykonos Vase at My Favourite Planet

The Trojan Horse (Wooden Horse of Troy) on the
neck of the "Mykonos Vase", around 675-650 BC.

Mykonos Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 2240.

See the article and photos in Homer part 3.
 
 

Marble bust of Homer, British Museum, London at My Favourite Planet

Marble bust of Homer of the "Hellenistic blind type"
or "Pergamon type". Found in Baiae, Bay of Naples,
Campania, Italy [see note 1]. Height: 57.15 cm.

British Museum, London.
Inv. No, GR 1805.7-3.85 (Sculpture 1825).
   

Bust of Homer in the Naples Museum, Italy at My Favourite Planet

A head of Homer similar to the one in the British Museum
(photo, left) on a modern bust.

Antonine copy (138-192 AD) of a 2nd century BC Greek
original, thought to have been made by the Rhodian School.
Height without bust 33 cm.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv. No. 6023.
From the Farnese Collection.
 

Bust of Homer in the Neues Museum, Berlin at My Favourite Planet

Replica of the Farnese bust of Homer in
Naples, made by Gaetano Rossi in 1875.

Neues Museum, Berlin.
 

Bust of Homer in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin at My Favourite Planet

A plaster cast of a plaster cast of the Farnese
bust of Homer. This modern copy, in the
Pergamon Museum, Berlin, was taken from
the cast in the Goethe Nationalmuseum,
Weimar, which is thought to have belonged
to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Berlin, Abguss-Sammlung Antiker
Plastik der Freien Universität, VII 3470.

Rembrandt was also one of several
scholars and artists who possessed
a cast of the Farnese Homer.
 
 

Marble herm of Homer, Capitoline Museums, Rome at My Favourite Planet

Marble herm bust of Homer of the "Hellenistic blind type".

Roman copy after a 2nd century BC Hellenistic original. Like the
head of the bust above, it was also reported to have been found
in 1704 in the garden of the Canonici Regolari di San Antonio
Abbate, on the Esquiline Hill, Rome [13]. Height 53 cm.

Hall of the Philosophers, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums, Rome.
Inv. No. MC 559. From the Giustiniani Collection.
   

Bust of Homer of the Hellenistic blind type, Capitoline Museums, Rome at My Favourite Planet

Marble head of Homer of the "Hellenistic
blind type" on a modern bust.

Roman copy after a 2nd century BC Hellenistic original.
Perhaps the head found in 1704 in the garden of the
Canons of San Antonio Abate, Rome [see note 13].
The nose and bust are modern additions. Luna marble.
Height 54 cm, with foot 71 cm.

Hall of the Philosophers, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums,
Rome. Inv. No. MC 557. From the Albani Collection.
 

Herm bust of Homer, Capitoline Museums, Rome at My Favourite Planet

Marble herm of Homer of the "Hellenistic blind type".

Roman copy after a 2nd century BC Hellenistic original.

Unusually, the poet is shown "veiled, that is "with part of his himation
(cloak) drawn over the back of his head. The end of the nose and the
back of the head as well as most of the neck and the herm have been
restored. Luna marble. Height 56.5 cm (head 29 cm). [14]

Hall of the Philosophers, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums, Rome.
Inv. No. MC 558. From the Albani Collection.
 

Bust of Homer of the Apollonios of Tyana type at My Favourite Planet

Marble bust of Homer of the "Apollonius of Tyana" type, of which there are
twelve extant examples, named due to the previous belief that they were
portraits of the 1st century AD Pythagorean philosopher. Like the "Modena
type" portraits of Homer (see below), the subject is not evidently blind.

Hadrianic copy (117-138 AD) of a late 4th century BC Greek original.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv. No. 6140.
From the Farnese Collection.
 

A bronze bust of Homer of the Modena type at My Favourite Planet

A small bronze bust of Homer of the "Modena type".

1st century AD. Found in Elis, western Peloponnese,
Greece. Height 13.5 cm, with its ancient spigot 14.8 cm.

Antikensammlung, State Museums Berlin (SMB).
Inv. No. Misc. 8091. Purchased in 1888.

Only two almost identical busts of the "Modena type" are known, named after the example currently in the depot of the Galleria Estense, Modena, Italy. (Inv. No. 2121. Height 13.5cm, width 6.5 cm.) The subject of the Modena bust was identified from the inscription ΟΜΗΡΟC (OMEROS, Homer) on the chest. First recorded as being in the collection of Tommaso degli Obizzi at Padua around 1800, it was acquired by Francis IV of Habsburg-Este in 1822. (Read more about the Este family on the Dionysus page.)

It was suspected of being a 16th - 17th century forgery until the discovery of the Berlin bust in Elis appeared to confirm its authenticity. The age of the inscription remains uncertain. Some scholars have commented that the type shows no evident blindness.
 
Statue of Homer or a philosopher from Herculaneum at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the Homer/philosopher statue from Herculaneum at My Favourite Planet

The so-called "Homer" statue, a marble statue thought to represent either Homer or a philosopher.
The head is modern copy of the "Homer-Sophocles" type from a sculpture of the Farnese collection.

Found in 1752 in the rectangular peristyle of the Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum. Height 198 cm.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv. No. 6126.
 

The figure wears a himation (cloak) over a chiton (tunic), indicating that he is a Greek. His clothing and pose identify him as a mature intellectual, perhaps a writer or philosopher. A bundle of papyrus rolls on the base reinforce the identification, as well as providing part of the support for the figure, which also includes part of his himation and a long staff. The pose is reminiscent of the bronze statue of Homer in Constantinople described by Christodorus (see above), which depicted the bard "with his two hands supported by his staff, one on top of the other, like a real man".

As with many ancient sculptures in Italian museums, this statue has been extensively restored, and it is not always easy to spot which parts are modern additions. It was found headless and restorers added a modern head copied from an ancient marble head of the "Homer-Sophocles Farnese type", formerly in the Farnese Collection and now in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples (see photo, right). There are differences in the hair and beard of the copy on this statue, and the features are generally smoother and less severe. The type, of which there are around thirty two extant examples, is named after a Roman period herm bust from the Farnese Collection thought to represent the Athenian playwright Sophocles, copied from a 4th century BC Greek original.

According to the website of the Naples museum, it is currently believed that the statue may have originally represented the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates (Ἰσοκράτης, 436-338 BC). This theory is apparently based on the presence of the papyrus rolls that "represent the art of oratory which the character portrayed was linked to" and "the aspect of an elderly but vigorous man and the quiet attitude of a rhetorician".

See: www.museoarcheologiconapoli.it/en/3598-2/

However, these arguments are not convincing, particularly since there are no extant statues of Isocrates with which it can be compared. Scrolls on statues are not exclusive to those of orators, and the relationship of scrolls to orator statues is much debated. On the "Apotheosis of Homer" relief (see below) Homer is shown holding a scroll, as is the tragic playwright Euripides on the relief from Smyrna in Istanbul. A number of statues have been identified as orators because of scrolls, but those held by statues of Demosthenes, for example, are modern restorations (Braccio Nuovo, Vatican Museums, Inv. No. 2255; Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Kopenhagen, Inv. No. 2782; Newby Hall, Ripon, Yorkshire). The scrolls and the posture of this statue could indicate one of a number of mature, learned men of antiquity.

See a bust of Isocrates on Athens Acropolis gallery page 8.
 

Marble Farnese Type head of Sophocles in Naples at My Favourite Planet

Marble head of Sophocles "Farnese type".

1st century AD copy of a Greek
original of the early 4th century BC.
Found in the Via Ostiense, Rome.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples.
Inv. No. 6413. From the Farnese Collection.
 

Base of a statue of Homer from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

An inscribed limestone base of a statue of Homer from Pergamon.
Late Hellenistic period, 2nd - 1st century BC.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. IvP 203.

The blue-grey limestone block was found in May 1881 in the eastern part of the north stoa of the Sanctuary of Athena Polias Nikephoros, the area in which the Library of Pergamon is thought to have stood. Two foot-shaped indentations in the top of the block indicate that it was the base for a standing bronze statue. See below for details of the inscription.

Height 41.5 cm, width 70 cm, depth 75.5 cm. Height of letters 1.2 - 1.4 cm.

Bases for statues of other Greek poets and historians have also been found at the sanctuary: Alkaios of Mytiline, Apollonios, Balakros, Herodotus and Timotheos. The statues were probably part of a collection of monuments dedicated to famous writers exhibited in the library.

See also the base of a statue of Herodotus from the Sanctuary of Athena.
 

The inscription on the Homer statue base from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Drawing of the inscription on the Homer statue base from Pergamon by Max Fränkel.

The badly weathered inscription on the front of the block consists of three epigrams
concerning the contending claims of four East Greek cities to be Homer's birthplace:
the Ionian cities of Smyrna, Chios and Kolophon, and Aeolian Kyme.

Inscription IvP I 203.

Image source: Max Fränkel (1846-1903), Altertümer von Pergamon, Band VIII, Band 1: Die Inschriften von Pergamon,
pages 119-121, No. 203. Königliche Museen zu Berlin. W. Spemann, Berlin, 1890. At Heidelberg University Digital Library.
 
Greek

αὐ[τὸς δῆ]τα φράζ[ε τ]εῆς κλυτὸν [οὔνομα πάτ]ρης,
μο[ῦνο]ς ὅτ’ ἀρρήτ[ου]ς θήκαο γειναμ[ένους].
α[ἵ]δε τοι ἀμφίλογον μύθων περὶ δῆ̣[ριν ἔ]θεντ̣ο̣·
Σμ̣ύρνα τε καὶ γαίης Οἰνοπ̣ίωνος ἕ̣[δ]ος
καὶ Κολοφῶν Κύμ̣η τε. μέτα πτολέ[ε]σσι δὲ πάσαις
ἀμφὶ σέθεν γενεῆς ἵμερος ἱεμέναις·
τοῖόν τοι κλέος αἰπὺ μετὰ ζώιοισιν ἀοιδῆς,
ἔστε περ̣ιστείχη̣ι νύξ τε καὶ ἠέλιος.

τὸν περιδήριτον κοσμήτορα θεῖον Ὅ̣μηρον
λεύσσετ’, ἐν ὧι πᾶσαι νεῖκος ἔθεντο πόλεις·
Σμύρνα, Χίος, Κολοφῶ̣ν, Κύμη κα̣ὶ πᾶσα πελασγὶς
Ἑλλὰς καὶ νήσων ἄστεα καὶ Τροΐης.
οὐ νέμεσις· τόσσογ γὰρ ἐπὶ χθονὶ φ̣έγγος ἔλαμψε
Μουσάων ὁπ̣όσον τείρεσιν ἠέλιος.

μυρίος αἰολίδαισιν ὑπέρ σεο μόχθος, Ὅμηρε,
Κυμαίοις ἱερᾶς̣ τ’ ἐνναέταισι̣ Χίου,
μυρία δὲ Σμύρναι Κολοφῶνί τε νείκεα λείπεις·
μούνωι δέ γνωστὰ Ζηνὶ τεὰ γένεσις,
αἵδε μάταν ὑλάουσι γὰρ ὄστεον οἷάτε λ̣ίχνοι
[ἅ]ρπυιαι θοινᾶ̣ς μειρόμεναι σκύλακες.
  English

"These [cities] have completed, with arguments for and against, about your myths: Smyrna and the place in the land of the Oinopion [Chios], and Kolophon and Kyme: among all cities there is a desire to contend for the fame of your birth. So great is the fame of your singing among the living, as long as night and Helios continue to circle above.

The disputed, divine Homer, the celebrator [of heroes], whom all cities have competed for: Smyrna, Chios, Kolophon, Kyme, and the entire Pelasgian Hellas and the cities of islands and the landscape of Troy. There is no need to be offended: for just as Helios shines among the stars, so does he shine as the light of the Muses on Earth.

Endless effort do we have on account of you, Homer, the Kymeans descended from Aiolos and the people of Chios, endless conflict did you leave behind for Smyrna and Kolophon. But only to Zeus is the place of your birth known; but they [the cities] bark senselessly, just as eager, predatory dogs do for the bones, lusting for a feast."
 
The so-called Homer statue of a seated man, from Klaros at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the so-called Homer statue from Klaros at My Favourite Planet

The so-called "Homer" marble statue of a seated man.

Classical period, 4th century BC. From Klaros (Ahmetbeyli, Turkey).

Department of Sculpture, Izmir Museum of History and Art.
 

The Apotheosis of Homer relief, British Museum, London at My Favourite Planet

"The Apotheosis of Homer" Hellenistic relief.

Parian marble. Said to have been found on the Via Appia at Bovillae, Lazio,
central Italy, in the mid 17th century. Until 1819 in Palazzo Colonna, Rome.
Height 117 cm, width 80 cm.

British Museum. GR 1819.8-12.1 (Sculpture 2191, Inscription 1098).
Purchased from Messrs May in 1819.

Also known as "the Relief of Archelaos", signed by the sculptor Archelaos, son of Apollonios of Priene, it is thought to have to have been made in Alexandria, Egypt in the 3rd or 2nd century BC, perhaps during the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopater (222-205 BC) and his queen Arsinoe III who built a temple of Homer there. It is thought that Ptolemy and Arsinoe may be portrayed on the relief, as Chronos (Time) and Oikoumene (Inhabited World), standing behind Homer (see drawing below).

The religious ceremony in which Homer is elevated to divine status by deities, muses and mythical characters was a popular subject in the art of antiquity. The bard, enthroned before an altar, holds a sceptre and a scroll. The scene is observed from above by Zeus.
 
Numbered key to the Apotheosis of Homer at My Favourite Planet   Key to the Apotheosis of Homer

1 Zeus with his eagle
2 Mnesmosyne ?
3 Muse (Klio ?)
4 Muse
5 Muse (Erato ?)
6 Muse (Euterpe ?)
7 Muse
8 Muse (Terpsichore ?)
9 Muse (Ourania ?)
10 Muse (Polyhymnia ?)
11 Apollo Kitharodos
12 Muse
13 statue of a poet ? *
14 Oikoumene (Arsinoe III) ?
15 Chronos (Ptolemy IV) ?
16 The Iliad
17 Homer
18 The Odyssey
19 Mythos (Myth)
20 Istoria (History)
21 Poiesis (Poetry)
22 Tragodia (Tragedy)
23 Komodia (Comedy)
24 Physis (Nature)
25 Arete (Virtue)
26 Mnem(e) (Memory)
27 Pisti (Good Faith)
28 Sophia (Wisdom)

* Possibly Apollonius, author of
the Argonautica, 2nd century BC
 

Detail of the Apotheosis of Homer, British Museum, London at My Favourite Planet

Detail of the Apotheosis of Homer, British Museum.
 

A bust of Homer on a floor mosaic from Jerash, Jordan at My Favourite Planet

A restored bust of Homer on a Roman period floor mosaic from the "Villa of the Muses
and Poets" (named after the mosaic) in Gerasa (Γέρασα), today Jerash, Jordan.

Late 2nd - early 3rd century AD. Natural stone and glass tesserae. Restored 1979-1980.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Mos. 73. Acquired in 1908. Previously in the Pergamon Museum.

Part of a large polychrome floor mosaic, measuring around 380 x 440 cm, from a rectangular room of the villa, thought to have been a triclinium (dining room). It was discovered by chance in 1907 by a Circassian family living in the ruins of the ancient city, and excavated between 1907 and 1935. The twenty two fragments of the floor now in the Berlin State Museums (SMB) were purchased in 1908, following the first excavation by Gottlieb Schumacher, and parts uncovered subsequently are in other museums and private collections. [15]

The floor mosaic had a 20 cm wide frame with a continuous guilloche pattern, enclosing a wider border within which ran a series of busts of Muses alternating with ancient Greek writers, including Homer, Thucydides (see the bust on the Thucydides page), as well as the poets Anakreon, Alkman and Stesichoros. Each of the busts is shown above part of a long garland, continuous along each side of the border, festooned with leaves and fruit (in this case pine cones), supported by Erotes (Cupids) and hung with theatre masks. Various birds stand on the garland, flanking the busts. To the left of Homer's head is what appears to be a parakeet (see a mosaic of an Alexandrine parakeet Pergamon gallery 2, page 12), and to the right a duck. At each of the four corners of the border was a round medallion containing a bust of one of the Seasons (Horai).

The centre of the mosaic is thought to have been divided into four large emblemata (panels) with depictions of Dionysian scenes with several figures: one surviving emblema shows a Triumph of Dionysus (see the Dionysus page), and another a Dionysian procession with a drunken Herakles among Satyrs, Silens and Maenads.

The Dionysian themes and the presence of the Muses has led to the suggestion that the villa's owner may have had some connection with the theatre. However, none of the surviving busts portray playwrights, and apart from the actors' masks there is no specifically theatrical imagery. It may be more likely that the central panels reflect the use of the room for symposia (drinking parties), and the Muses and writers were meant to broadcast the owner's claim to literary taste.

Homer's name in Greek is written in black tesserae, in two parts, ΟΜΗ ΡΟC (OME ROS), to either side of his head. Much of the head has been restored, and in its present state does not appear similar to surviving sculpture portraits of the poet; it may have been a product of the mosaic artist's imagination or copied from unknown work, perhaps a painting. He is depicted as a middle-aged man with long dark hair and greying beard, his head turned slightly to face the viewer's left. He wears a white chiton (tunic) and a himation (cloak) over his shoulders. The mosaic fragments in the museum are currently displayed in a large glass cabinet and it is difficult to see whether Homer's eyes have been given irises. In contrast to the detailed and highlighted eyes of all the other faces in the border, including that of Thucydides and the masks, Homer's eye sockets appear dark and empty, and he may have been depicted as blind.

Among the puzzling aspects of this floor decoration is the fact that on the outer border all the portraits face the outside of the mosaic area. In order to appreciate the images and read the inscriptions, the viewer in the villa would have had to stand or sit on the narrow guilloche frame, which was at the edge of the floor next to the walls of the room. Usually the floor would have been covered by dining couches and other furniture, and perhaps carpets. This also applies to other floor mosaics in private homes, leaving us to wonder why their owners went to so much expense commissioning or buying works of art they seldom saw.
 

The man from Troy written on a Mycenaean Linear B tablet at My Favourite Planet

A fragment of a clay tablet inscribed in Linear B script,
mentioning "the man from Troy" (to-ro-wo; Greek, Τρωας).

13th century BC. From the archives of the Mycenaean
palace of Thebes, Boeotia, central, Greece.

Thebes Archaeological Museum.
 

to-ro-wo, the man from Troy at My Favourite Planet

to-ro-wo = the man from Troy

In The Iliad Homer referred to the besieged fortified city of Priam as Ilion (Ἴλιον, Ilion, or Ἴλιος, Ilios; Latin, Ilium), hence the title of his poem (ἡ ποίησις Ἰλιάς, the poem of Ilion). He also wrote of Troy (Τροία, Troia, or Τροίας, Troias; Latin, Troia), sometimes referred to as the Troad (Τρωάδα, Troada), the area around the city, the homeland of the Trojans. The names were later confounded and both used to refer to the city and the surrounding country.

The names are thought to be derived from the Hittite Wilusa and Truwisa. However, Homer provided a typically Greek geneaology of a local royal dynasty to explain the names, starting with Dardanos (Δάρδανος), a son of Zeus and founder of Dardania (Δαρδανία), the city and area at the northwestern edge of Anatolia, south of the western entrance to the Dardanelles (Δαρδανέλλια, later known as the Hellespont, Ἑλλήσποντος), the straits between the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. His son King Erichthonius (Ἐριχθόνιος), was the father of of Tros (Τρώς or Τρωός), after whom Troy and the Trojans were named. In turn, Ilos (Ἶλος), a son of Tros and grandfather of Priam, founded Ilion, the city of Ilos.

Just before he is about to fight Achilles, the Trojan prince Aeneas boasts to the Greek hero of his illustrious lineage.

"Howbeit, if thou wilt, hear this also, that thou mayest know well my lineage, and many there be that know it:

At the first Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, begat Dardanus, and he founded Dardania, for not yet was sacred Ilios builded in the plain to be a city of mortal men, but they still dwelt upon the slopes of many-fountained Ida. And Dardanus in turn begat a son, king Erichthonius, who became richest of mortal men.

Three thousand steeds had he that pastured in the marsh-land; mares were they. rejoicing in their tender foals. Of these as they grazed the North Wind [Boreas] became enamoured, and he likened himself to a dark-maned stallion and covered them; and they conceived, and bare twelve fillies These, when they bounded over the earth, the giver of grain, would course over the topmost ears of ripened corn and break them not, and whenso they bounded over the broad back of the sea, would course over the topmost breakers of the hoary brine.

And Erichthonius begat Tros to be king among the Trojans, and from Tros again three peerless sons were born, Ilus, and Assaracus, and godlike Ganymedes that was born the fairest of mortal men; wherefore the gods caught him up on high to be cupbearer to Zeus by reason of his beauty, that he might dwell with the immortals.

And Ilus again begat a son, peerless Laomedon, and Laomedon begat Tithonus and Priam and Clytius, and Hicetaon, scion of Ares. And Assaracus begat Capys, and he Anchises; but Anchises begat me and Priam goodly Hector. This then is the lineage amid the blood wherefrom I avow me sprung."

Homer, The Iliad, Book 20, lines 213-240. At Perseus Digital Library.

The name Erichthonius is also known in connection with the ancient history of Athens (see Athens Acropolis gallery, page 18). In Greek myth Ganymede (Γανυμήδης) was abducted by Zeus, a popular subject in ancient Greek and Roman art. Zeus, sometimes depicted as an eagle, was said to have carried away the handsome youth from Mount Ida (Όρος Ίδη or Ἴδα; Turkish, Kazdağı, Goose Mountain) near Troy. Boreas (Βορέης or Βορίας), the North Wind, was also depicted in Greek art (see Homer part 3).

The archaeological site today identified as Troy (Turkish, Truva or Troya), famously excavated by Heinrich Schliemann between 1871 and 1883, is at Hisarlik, Çanakkale province, in the Southern Marmara Region of Turkey. It is around 30 km southwest of the provincial capital Çanakkale. The Troad is believed to be area around what is now called the Biga Peninsula (Turkish, Biga Yarımadası).
 

A depiction of a ship on a Middle Bronze Age ceramic storage vessel at My Favourite Planet

A depiction of a ship on a Middle Bronze Age, matt-painted ceramic pithos (large storage
vessel) from Aegina. Four manned, crescentic (crescent-shaped) ships with bifurcated
sterns (at the right end of the ship above) are shown around the body of the restored
vase, in the central zone. In the registers above and below are typical geometric motifs.
The ships are thought to be warships, perhaps used for pirate activities in the Aegean.

1800-1650 BC. Excavated at Aegina-Kolonna (Town IX), Greece.

Aegina Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 2458.
 
Homer
part 1
Notes, references and links
 

1. Head of Homer found at Baiae, Italy

Marble terminal portrait bust of the blind poet Homer, with Greek letters carved on each side.
White marble. Height: 57.15 cm (22.5 inches).
British Museum, London.
Main floor, Room 22, Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic world.
Invoice Number GR 1805.7-3.85 (Sculpture 1825).

Found in 1780 among the ruins of the ancient city of Baiae, on the Bay of Naples, Italy.

Thought to be a Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic original of the 2nd century BC. It belongs to the so-called "Hellenistic blind type" or "Pergamon type" of depictions of Homer, the style of which has been compared with figures of the friezes on the Great Altar of Zeus in Pergamon. The original of the type may have been created for the Pergamon Library. See also the base of a statue of Homer from Pergamon above.

The bust is in the form of a "terminus", i.e. the top part of a herm. Terminus was the Roman god who protected boundaries, and stone pillars known in Latin as terminii were set up as boundary markers in a similar way to which herms were used by the Greeks. Such busts of gods and famous humans were made for the private collections of wealthy people. See more about herms on Pergamon gallery 2, page 15.

This bust was purchased in late 1780 for £80 by the wealthy English collector Charles Townley (1737-1805) from the Scottish painter, antiquarian and antiquities dealer Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798). It was acquired, along with around 300 ancient artefacts of the Townley Collection, by the British Museum after Townley's death.

See:

Taylor Combe, William Alexander, George Cooke, A description of the collection of ancient marbles in the British Museum: with engravings. [Marbles in the third room of the Gallery of Antiquities] Part II. W. Bulmer and Co., London, 1815.

G. M. A. Richter, The portraits of the Greeks. Phaidon, London, 1965.
 

2. The "Epimenides type" Homer

The "Epimenides type" head of Homer is named after the first known example, now in the Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican Museums, Rome. Inv. No. 315. This was at first known as the "Sleeping Epimenides" and believed to depict the 7th century BC Cretan philosopher Epimenides, following a proposal by the Italian antiquarian and art historian Ennio Quirino Visconti (1751-1818), papal Prefect of Antiquities. It was first identified as Homer by the archaeologist Franz Winter (1861-1930) in 1890, and subsequently by Adolf Furtwängler.

All known examples of the type are believed to have been made in the Roman period as copies of a prototype speculatively dated around 460 BC, due to the style of the carving and the features. This period would coincide with the earliest known statue of Homer which, according to Pausanias, was dedicated by Mikythos at Olympia [see above and note below].
 

3. Xenophanes on Homer

The works of Xenophanes of Colophon are known only from fragments quoted by later writers and commentators, including the biographer Diogenes Laertius (Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Diogenes Laertios; circa 3rd century AD).

"Xenophanes, a native of Colophon, the son of Dexius, or, according to Apollodorus, of Orthomenes, is praised by Timon, whose words at all events are:

'Xenophanes, not over-proud, perverter of Homer, castigator.'

His writings are in epic metre, as well as elegiacs and iambics attacking Hesiod and Homer and denouncing what they said about the gods."

R.D. Hicks, Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 9, chapter 2, section 18. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1972 (First published 1925). At Perseus Digital Library.

Fragments criticizing the portrayal of the gods by Homer and Hesiod:

Fragment B11
"Homer and Hesiod have attributed to the gods all sorts of things that are matters of reproach and censure among men: theft, adultery, and mutual deception."

Fragment B12
"...as they sang of numerous illicit divine deeds: "theft, adultery, and mutual deceit."

Xenophanes. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002.
 

4. Pausanias on the Thebais, Calaenus and Homer

When discussing the earliest mention of Homer in ancient literature, many modern authors cite a single mention in Pausanias in which an epic poem titled Thebais (Θηβαΐς) was attributed to Homer by Calaenus (Κελαινός, Kelainos). Pausanias gives us no further information about this person, who appears to be otherwise unknown.

"And this is the war which is celebrated in verse. Calaenus, making mention of these verses, says that they were composed by Homer; and many celebrated persons are of the same opinion. Indeed, I consider these verses as next in excellence to the Iliad and Odyssey. And thus much concerning the war, which the Argives and Thebans waged for the sake of the sons of Oedipus."

Pausanias, The description of Greece, Volume III (of 3), translated by T. Taylor, Book 9, chapter 9, page 19. Richard Priestley, London, 1824. At googlebooks.

However, the translations most referred to by scholars render the name as Callinus (Καλλῖνος, Kallinos), the name of a Greek elegiac poet who lived in Ephesus in the mid 7th century BC. Presumably, when the translators came across the unknown name Calaenus, they considered it an error or corruption and conjecturally substituted it with that of Callinus, who is known to have written poems about war; he may have seemed more fitting and had the added advantage of living at a time closer to Homer, which would give his opinion on the authorship of the Thebais more credibility.

No mention of the Thebais has been found among the surviving fragments of Callinus' works. Although Peter Levi also translated the name as Kallinos, he pointed out in his notes, that "this casual reference is not among his surviving work" (Pausanias, Guide to Greece 1: Central Greece, page 327, note 49. Penguin Classics, 1979).

This error was pointed out by the classics professor John Adams Scott as early as 1921, but few seem to have noticed.

"Not a single manuscript has the word Callinus in this place, but all have Calaenus, so that Callinus is simply an emendation. The word Callinus is a pure conjecture."

John Adams Scott, The Unity of Homer, pages 15-16. Sather Classical Lectures Volume I. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 1921. At the Internet Archive.

Scott made the same argument in: John A. Scott, Homer as the Poet of the Thebais, Classical Philology, Vol. 16, No. 1 (January 1921), pages 20-26. University of Chicago Press. At Jstor.

The subject of the Thebais was the war for the kingship of Thebes between the brothers Eteocles and Polyneikes (Polynices), sons of Oedipus, in which Polyneikes was supported by King Adrastos of Argos. The content of the poem is known only from a handful of fragments, short quotes and mentions in the works of later writers, none of which are very enlightening. One fragment mentions Homer as the author:

"Homer travelled about reciting his epics, first the Thebaid, in seven thousand verses, which begins: 'Sing, goddess, of parched Argos, whence lords...'"

Hugh Gerard Evelyn-White (translator), Hesiod, the Homeric hymns and Homerica, Thebais, pages 484-487 (seven fragments in Greek and English). William Heinemann, London; Macmillan Co., New York. 1912. At the Internet Archive.

See also: Gottfried Kinkel, Epicorum graecorum fragmenta Volume I, pages 9-13. G. Teubner, Leipzig, 1877. At the Internet Archive.

The story of the Theban War became more widely known from Aischylos' play Seven against Thebes, produced in 467 BC. The Thebais is also known from later versions by other poets, including Antimachus (Ἀντίμαχος, Antimachos of Colophon or Claros, flourished about 400 BC, a pupil of Panyassis), and the Latin Thebaid of Publius Papinius Statius (circa 45-96 AD).

The elegiac poet Sextus Propertius (circa 50-15 BC) appears to be referring to a poem on the Theban War by Homer in a Latin elegy addressed to Ponticus (a contemporary of Ovid), who wrote on the same subject:

"While you tell of Thebes and Cadmus, Ponticus,
and the tragedy of fraternal warfare,
and, if I may say, you contend with Homer himself
(may the fates just go easy on your songs),
I pursue my loves, as is my wont,
and look for something against my hard mistress."

Vincent Katz (translator), Sextus Propertius, Elegies, Book I, Elegy VII. Sun and Moon Press, Los Angeles, 1995. At Perseus Digital Library.
 

5. Herodotus on Hesiod and Homer

Herodotus, The Histories, Book 2, chapter 53, translated by A. D. Godley. Harvard University Press, 1920. At Perseus Digital Library.

The Iliad and The Odyssey are mentioned in Book 2, chapters 116-117, and Book 4, chapter 29. At Perseus Digital Library.
 

6. Aulus Gellius on Homer's native city

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights (Noctes Atticae), Book III, Chapter 11. English translation at Bill Thayer's LacusCurtius website, University of Chicago.
 
7. Seven cities contend for the birth of Homer ...

Ἑπτὰ πόλεις διερίζουσιν περὶ ῥίζαν Ὁμήρου,
Σμύρνα, Ῥόδος, Κολοφών, Σαλαμίς, Ἴος, Ἄργος, Ἀθῆναι.

These two lines have been quoted innumerable times without citations or references. One source attributes the epigram to Antipater of Sidon. It has also been paraphrased by several authors, including Vasari and the English playwright and poet Thomas Heywood.

"... even as seven cities contended for Homer, each claiming that he was her citizen..."

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), Lives of the artists (first published in 1550), Part III, "Life of Baldassare Peruzzi painter and architect of Siena".

"Seven cities warr'd for Homer, being dead;
Who, living, had no roofe to shrowd his head."

Thomas Heywood (early 1570s - 1641), The hierarchy of the blessed angels, The Dominations, Lib. 4, page 207. London, 1635. At the Internet Archive.
 

8. Pausanias on the statue of Homer in Delphi

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 10, chapter 24, sections 2-3. At Perseus Digital Library.
 

9. Mikythos

Mikythos (Μίκυθος: Latin, Micythus), Son of Choiros (Latin, Choerus), was the tyrant and regent of Rhegion (Ῥήγιον; Latin, Rhegium), Magna Graecia (today Reggio di Calabria), on the southwestern tip of Italy, and Messine (Μεσσήνη, or Messana; formerly Zankle, Ζάγκλη), on the opposite shore on the northeastern tip of Sicily, 476-467 BC.

Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus wrote that he was originally a slave of Anaxilas (Ἀναξίλας or Ἀναξίλαος), the tyrant of Rhegium, but became a trusted servant. Before his death in 476 BC, Anaxilas named Mikythos as guardian of his two sons, and regent until they reached adulthood. Nine years later, when the sons had grown up and demanded their inheritance (encouraged by Hieron, the tyrant of Syracuse), Mikythos took his accumulated wealth and sailed to retirement in Tegea in Arcadia.

Pausanias lists several inscribed statues and statue groups at Olympia, including works by Dionysios and Glaukos (Glaucus) of Argos, dedicated ex-voto by Mikythos, in fulfilment of a vow made for the recovery of a son from an illness. He also mentions that there had previously been even more offerings by Mikythos, but the others had been looted by Nero (reigned 54-68 AD, he participated in the Olympic Games in 67 AD).

Herodotus, The Histories, Book 7, chapter 170. At Perseus Digital Library.

Diodorus Siculus, Library, Book 11, chapter 48, section 2; chapter 59, section 4; chapter 66, sections 1-3. At Perseus Digital Library.

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 5, chapter 24, section 6; chapter 26, sections 2-7. At Perseus Digital Library.

Fragments of an inscribed marble statue base with a metrical dedication by Mikythos to all gods and goddesses have been discovered at Olympia (Olympia Archaeological Museum, Inv. No. 660, inscription IvO 268), as well as a 12 metre long, rectangular poros stone foundation of a base for statues, at the northeast corner of the Temple of Zeus (lying parallel to the north side).

See, for example:

Wilhelm Dittenberger, Karl Purgold, Ernst Curtius, Friedrich Adler, Olympia: die Ergebnisse der von dem Deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabung, Textband 5: Die Inschriften von Olympia, pages 394-397, numbers 267-269. Berlin, 1896. At Heidelberg University Digital Library.

600384: Inschrift der Statuenbasis des Mikythos (Inscription of the statue base of Mithykos). At the Arachne website, University of Köln Archaeological Institute.

epigraphy.packhum.org/text/214073. Regions Peloponnesos (IG IV-[VI]) Elis, IvO 268. Elis - Olympia - circa 460 BC. At the Packard Humanities Institute.

It has been suggested that Mikythos dedicated the statues while still tyrant, rather than during his retirement in Tegea, as the extant inscription fragments mention only Rhegion and not Tegea. This would make the date of the statues earlier than the conjectural 460 BC.

The reference by Pausanias to the statues next to the temple, including those of Homer and Hesiod, has been translated as:

"The offerings of Mikythos I found were numerous and not together ... Along the left side of the great temple Mikythos dedicated other offerings: the Maid [Persephone], daughter of Demeter, Aphrodite, Ganymede and Artemis, the poets Homer and Hesiod; then again deities, Asklepios and Health [Hygieia]." (Book 5, chapter 26, section 2)

However, the foundation was discovered on the right side of temple, when viewing it from the front (east). Tonio Hölscher has pointed out that the passage from Pausanias should be read: "on the side of the temple to the left hand side", i.e. to the left of Pausanias' route through the sanctuary.

Tonio Hölscher, Noch einmal rechts und links am Zeus-Tempel von Olympia, in: András Patay-Horváth (editor), New Approaches to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia: Proceedings of the First Olympia-Seminar, 8th-10th May, 2014, chapter 5, page 92. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. Preview at googlebooks.
 

10. The Homereion of Alexandria

See: Rosanna Cappelli and Annalisa Lo Monaco, The National Archaeological Museum of Naples (guide book), page 24. Mondadori Electa S.p.A., Verona, 2014.
 

11. Pliny on statues of Homer in libraries

Pliny did not actually write that there was a statue of Homer in the Library of Pergamon, as a number of modern authors have asserted, although the discovery of the statue base near the site of the library (see above) may be confirmation that this is what may be inferred.
 

12. Christodorus on the statues in the Baths of Zeuxippus in Constantinople

Christodorus (Χριστόδωρος) was a Greek epic poet from Coptos in Egypt who flourished during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I (491-518 AD). He wrote an ekphrasis (from Ancient Greek ἔκφρασις, description), a poem in 416 hexameters describing 80 statues of deities and famous mortals in the Baths and Gymnasium of Zeuxippus in Constantinople.

The public baths-gymnasium was originally built by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (reigned 193-211 AD), in the centre of the city near the Hippodrome, and decorated over time with artworks shipped from various parts of the Roman Empire. These works were probably destroyed when the building was burnt down during the Nika Riots in 532 AD. Archaeologists discovered inscribed statue bases at the site which relate to works described in the poem. In 1556 the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan built the Haseki Hürrem Sultan Hamamı (Turkish baths) on the site.

Christodorus' Ekphrasis, Ἔκφρασις τῶν ἀγαλμάτων τῶν εἰς τὸ δημόσιον γυμνάσιον τα ἐπικαλουμένον τοῦ Ζευξίππου, forms the second book of the Anthologia Palatina (Palatine Anthology), II, 311-349. The manuscripts of this collection of Greek poems and epigrams, compiled around 980 AD by four scribes, were discovered in 1606 by Claudius Salmasius (Claude de Saumaise, 1588-1653) in the Palatine Library in Heidelberg, Germany.

You can read the description of the statue of Homer in Greek, with a translation in English at:

livingpoets.dur.ac.uk/w/Christodorus,_Ekphrasis_314-350

By the time of Christodorus ekphrases had become a literary genre, and many such poems described works of art, monuments and cities. One of the oldest examples of ekphrasis is Homer's description of Achilles' shield in the Iliad (Book 18, lines 478-608, at the Internet Classics Archive).

Christodorus also wrote Πάτρια (Patria), poems about the early histories of the cities Thessaloniki, Nakle, Miletus, Tralles, Aphrodisias and Constantinople, and Λυδιακά (Lydiaka), a history of Lydia.
 

13. Capitoline Museums, head of Homer, MC 557 and herm of Homer, MC 559

Some confusion appears to have arisen over the history of the several portraits of Homer from Rome, particularly the head and the herm in the Palazzo Nuovo of the Capitoline Museums, and the herm now in the Louvre, Paris, Inv. No. MR 530 (Ma 440). The confusion was compounded by varying accounts in reports and catalogues, and differing reference numbers given to the sculptures by each publication.

According to Wolfgang Helbig (1839-1915), the head (Inv. No. MC 557) was found built into a wall in the garden of the Palazzo Caetani, near the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggioro, Rome, and purchased by the antiquarian Francesco de' Ficoroni (1664-1747), who sold it to Cardinal Alessandro Albani, who gave it to Pope Clement Xll:

"Found among the stones of a wall in the garden of the Palazzo Caetani, not far from S. Maria Maggiore. It came first into the possession of Ficoroni and then into that of Cardinal Albani, the latter ceding it to Pope Clement XII (Ficoroni, in Fea, Miscellanea, I, p. CXXI, No. 9; Röm. Mitth., VI, 1891, p. 59, note 205)."

Wolfgang Helbig and Emil Reisch, Guide to the public collections of classical antiquities in Rome, Volume I, page 354, No. 480 (44). Head of Homer. English translation by James Fullarton Muirhead and Findlay Muirhead. Karl Baedeker, Leipzig, 1895. At the Internet Archive.

Helbig also stated that the herm of Homer now in the Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums, Inv. No. MC 559 (see above) was found in the garden of the Canonici Regolari di San Antonio Abate, on the Esquiline Hill:

"482 (46). Herma of Homer.
Found on the Esquiline, in the garden of the Canonici Regolari di S. Antonio Abhate (Ficoroni, in Fea, Miscellanea, I, p. CXXI, No. 9). The nose is modern.
Bottari, Mus. Cap., I, 55. Montagnani. III, 2, T. 55. Visconti, Iconogr. gr., I, T. I, 1, 2, p. 60 (comp. Opere varie, IV, p. 406. No. 242). Baumeister, Denkm. d. kl. Alterthums, I, p. 698, Fig. 755."

Helbig, Guide to the public collections of classical antiquities in Rome, Volume I, page 35, No. 482 (46).

However, Henry Stuart Jones (1867-1939) believed the head may be the one found in 1704 in the garden of the Canons of San Antonio Abate. In a note, he also stated that the portrait of Homer found in the wall of the Palazzo Caetani is the herm now in the Louvre.

"The coarse workmanship, and especially the free use of the drill, points to a fairly advanced date in the second century A.D. The original was one of those in which the pathetic features of the ideal type of Homer were strongly accentuated and was therefore of fairly advanced Hellenistic date. The marked upward gaze of the head (noted by Visconti) is at least partly due to the modern restorer. This is probably the head found (according to Ficoroni, Mem. 9, ap. Fea, Miscellanea, I, p. CXXI) in 1704 in the garden of the Canons of S. Antonio Abate."

Henry Stuart Jones (editor), A catalogue of the ancient sculptures preserved in the municipal collections of Rome: The Sculptures of the Museo Capitolino, page 235, Cat. No. 44. Bust of Homer. Oxford University Press, 1912. At the Internet Archive.

"Another herm of Homer (Inv. Albani, B 59 ; Bottari, I. 55 ; Bernoulli, Gr. Ikon., I, p. 10, No. 10) was removed to Paris in 1797, and is still in the Louvre (Cat. Somm. 440); cf. p. 7, n. 5. This was the herm stated by Ficoroni, Vestigia, 1744, p. 56, to have been found broken in two pieces in a wall of the Villa Caetani near S. Maria Maggiore. It was sold to Ficoroni, and by him to the dealer Borioni (Venuti, Collectanea Antiqu. Rom., pl. 10), from whom it passed to Card. Albani."

Henry Stuart Jones, page 236, Cat. No. 45. Herm of Homer, note 1.

According to the database of the University of Köln Archaeological Institute, the inventory number of the head when in the Albani Collection (not mentioned by Helbig or Jones) was B 10.

See: arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/39115

The herm of Homer in the Louvre, known as "Homer Caetani", is described as being from the Palazzo Caetani, Rome.
2nd century AD. Pentelic marble. Height 53 cm. Inv. No. MR 530 (Ma 440).
From the Albani Collection. Purchased by Pope Clement XII for the Capitoline Museums in 1733. Confiscated by France, according to the Treaty of Tolentino, 1797, and taken to Paris. Although one of several confiscated artworks scheduled to be returned to Rome following Napoleon's defeat, in 1815 it was given to Louis XVIII by Pope Pius VII in exchange for portrait of Napoleon by Canova.
 

14. Capitoline Museums, herm of Homer, MC 558

"45. Herm of Homer (pl. 54).

Height 56.5 cm. Luna marble.

The mask and upper part of the head are antique, but have been much worked over, especially the hair and forehead. The greater part of the nose, the projecting locks of hair on both sides of the face, and a patch (in plaster) over the r. brow are modern. The line of breakage passes behind the r. ear, across the back of the crown, and through the middle of the l. ear. At the back a veil has been attached by the restorer, and the hair worked away at the point of juncture. The upper portion of the veil is of Parian marble, and is probably a fragment of antique origin. The lower portion, together with the locks of hair behind the ears, is of Luna marble of a different quality from that of the mask.

By reason of the restorations this head possesses little iconographic value. The copy is of somewhat earlier date than No. 44 [Inv. No. MC 557, see note above]. Visconti regards the veil as a symbol of apotheosis.

Inv. Albani, B 65."

Henry Stuart Jones (editor), A catalogue of the ancient sculptures preserved in the municipal collections of Rome: The Sculptures of the Museo Capitolino, page 236, Cat. No. 45. Herm of Homer. Oxford University Press, 1912. At the Internet Archive.
 

15. The mosaic of the Muses and Poets from Jerash

See:

Carl Hermann Kraeling (1897-1966), Appended note on mosaics from two private houses. In: Carl H. Kraeling (editor), Gerasa, city of the Decapolis, pages 351-352, Plate LXXXV, and Inscription No. 240, pages 458-459 (with plan of the mosaic floor). American Schools of Oriental Research, New Haven, Connecticut, 1938. PDF at the Hathi Trust.

Kraeling had not seen the mosaic fragments in Berlin and depended on archaeological reports, particularly those of Gottlieb Schumacher, as well as photos and descriptions sent to him by Dr. Robert Zahn, Director of the Berlin State Museums (SMB). He cited Schumacher's plan of Gerasa which included the location of "the mudir's house", the findspot of the mosaic: Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästinavereins (ZDPV), 1902. Considering the inscriptions (page 458) he commented:

"The date of this mosaic makes it one of the earliest instances of the assignment of the Muses to definite fields of literary activity, and of their association with a representative of each (cf. O. Bie, Roscher's Lexikon, II, 2, 1894-1897, 3295; M. Mayer, R-E, XVI, 1, 1933, 726). The pairing Calliope-Homer is canonical; with Urania should have been paired Aratus, with Thucydides Clio (though Herodotus is more commonly the type historian). The Muse of Stesichorus is sometimes Euterpe, sometimes another. The mosaic is too poorly preserved for the attributes of the Muses to be determined. A similar mosaic from Trier * has long been known, G. Lafaye, A. Blanchet, Inventaire des Mosaiques de la Gaule, I, 1909, pp. 121 f., no. 1231, and bibliography."

* The very fragmentary "Monnus mosaic" from Trier, which depicted Homer and the Muses. 3rd century AD. Found in 1884 and named after the inscription MONNVS FECIT (CIL XIII. 3710).

For a discussion on the restoration of the Gerasa mosaic fragments in Berlin and attempted reconstruction of the composition of the whole work, see:

Irmgard Kriseleit, Ein Fußbodenmosaik aus Gerasa; Die Restaurierung der Berliner Fragmente. In: Forschungen und Berichte Band 24, Archäologische Beiträge (1984), pages 75-97 +T15-T20. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz. At Jstor.

See also: Richard Grossman, A New Reconstruction of a Mosaic from Gerasa. In: Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 1 (2006), pages 149-153.
 
 
Photos on the Homer pages were taken
during visits to the following museums:

Germany
Berlin, Altes Museum
Berlin, Bode Museum
Berlin, Neues Museum
Berlin, Pergamon Museum
Dresden, Albertinum, Skulpturensammlung
Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe

Greece
Aegina Archaeological Museum
Athens, Agora Museum
Athens, Kerameikos Archaeological Museum
Athens, National Archaeological Museum
Corfu Archaeological Museum
Delos Archaeological Museum
Delphi Archaeological Museum
Eleusis Archaeological Museum, Attica
Kavala Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Mykonos Archaeological Museum
Nafplion Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Olympia Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Olympia, Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity
Thebes Archaeological Museum, Boeotia
Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, Macedonia

Italy
Milan, Civic Archaeological Museum
Naples, National Archaeological Museum
Ostia Archaeological Museum
Paestum Archaeological Museum
Rome, Barracco Museum
Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo dei Conservatori
Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo Nuovo
Rome, National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Altemps

Italy - Sicily
Castelvetrano, Museo Civico
Catania, Museo Civico, Castello Ursino

Netherlands
Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum
Leiden, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Turkey
Izmir Museum of History and Art

United Kingdom
London, British Museum
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum

Many thanks to the staff of these museums.

Via Omero, Rome at My Favourite Planet

Via Omero, Villa Borghese, Rome, named in honour
of the "grande poeta Greco" (the great Greek poet).
Photos and articles © David John, except where otherwise specified.
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