Whether or not Homer was an actual person or not is still debated. This is
called The Homeric Question and there has been suggestions that he was
really a group of people under the name Homer, which in Greek means witness,
or that he was a woman or that he actually was a blind man by that name. The
tradition says that he was born blind and that his first name was
Melisigenis. He was the son of Maion and the nymph Krithiis.
The conclusion that he was blind, came from the etymology of the name given by Kymaios while others believe that it was given because he became a hostage (Omiros in Greek) when he was still an infant.No one really knows.
Neither does one know where Homer was from, and there has been many suggestions. Nevertheless, Homer works were major sources of inspiration and widely quoted in the ancient world.
It is believed that Homer lived sometime during the 9th or 8th century BC and the Iliad and the Odyssey are considered the oldest books of western civilization. The Iliad tells us the story of the Trojan War and consists of more than fifteen thousand lines.
The date of the story, which embraces a period of thirty years, is about twelve hundred years before the Christian era. It passes over the carrying way of Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, by Paris, the son of Priam, King of Troy, the outraged Monarch's appeal to his brother Agamemnon, King of Argos and Mycenae, the preparations throughout Greece for the invasion of Troy, the sailing of a fleet of twelve hundred ships, carrying I00,000 men, the sacrifice of Iphigenia, and the landing on the coast of Ilium.
The Odyssey is the saga of Odysseus return from the war to his home Ithaca. It is believed that there were actually many more books, but only these two have survived. Homer is also credited with some hymns.
Many scholars are far from being agreed whether Homer had any real existence, whether he was the author of the poems which bear his name,
or whether they are the collected works of several composers, dove-tailed into each other by some clever editor of ancient times.
Uncritical readers, however, will prefer the idea of the blind old bard singing his lays to a crowd of admiring listeners.
In a biography of him, supposed to have been written by Herodotus, we are told, though several other cities have claimed the honour, that he was born at Smyrna, and that in early life he travelled through Egypt, Italy, Spain, and the islands of the Mediterranean, until he was stricken with blindness, when he returned to his native place, and composed his two great poems, which he afterwards recited through the towns of Asia Minor, and at Athens, as a wandering minstrel.
Their preservation, in days when writing was hardly invented, has been the subject of much. speculation; but copies of them appear to have existed from an early period of Greek civilisation, and they have ever since been regarded as the store-house of ancient history and genealogy, as well as the main source of the epic poetry, the heroic drama and the romantic literature of mediaeval and modern times.
From the times of Alexander the Great there has been controversy that the
works of Iliad and the Odyssey were not written by the same person or poet.
The proponents of this theory, reached this conclusion from the fact that
both poems do not have the same style.
The German scholar Friedrich Wolf, the English historian Thompson and others argue that Homer was not even a real person. According to this theory the Homeric epics were created by combining several folk songs that each had an affinity for travels, battles and wars. Those old folk songs transferred to the Greek mainland by Ionians and Aeolians of Asia Minor and the bards sang them in celebrations.
Alexander the Great carried with him always a copy of the Iliad and Goethe never parted the Homeric poetry.