HOMER AND THE ILIAD

It is to Homer that we owe much of the ethereal spirit of antiquity; without this bard we would never have met Hector or Achilles. it was Homer who -some- where around 700 BCE- immortalized in speech first the Iliad and then the Odyssey. This poet is one of the most miraculous the human race has seen, creating works whose monumental texts rival even the world's religious scriptures. Homer's epics represent the earliest surviving literature of Western civilization. Thanks to the verses of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the myth of the Trojan War and the fate of those involved remains alive even today. That among all the early oral epics of the Greeks these in particular have survived is beyond all doubt a credit to their quality.

Homer's account of the "Trojan War" is much more intricate than a simple chronological narrative of events, one following up on the other (as is true of works by other early poets as well), an indication that the audience knew the stories well. Homer's accomplishment lay in lifting specific events out of the greater context and arranging the plot anew -from the vantage point of these specific incidents. The result is a literary masterpiece, an epic poem in which even logic and history must sometimes bow to art. The narrative action is confined to a very brief period: a few days within the tenth and final year of the war. The theme is a schism in the personal relationship between the two most heroic leaders of the besieging troops, Achilles and Agamemnon, and the resulting consequences. Nevertheless, through flashbacks and glimpses into the future, the Iliad and the Odyssey present the en tire story of what happened inside and outside the walls of Troy -or (W)Ilios, as the city was also known- the events from Paris' choice and the abduction of Helen to the victory over the city through the ruse of the wooden horse. Soon after the composition of the epics, the theme was on the lips of all and ubiquitously represented in picture by a great variety of artists.

The influence of the myth upon Western culture has survived to the present day; consider, for example, Jean Giradoux's La Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu and Christa Wolf's Kassandra.