Date of Homer

Date of Homer is very controversial topic , There is very little detail on time he lived, placed he was born and details of his life. Seven cities claim to be his place of birth. The date of Homer represents the beginning of Western literature, So the date is given more prominence. Let us see some of the events on which date is fixed and discuss about them.

Herodotus placed Homer 400 years before him. according to which he would have lived 850BC. This date places him before first Olympiad that is 776BC. But scholars wonder if his poems can come down from such age. That time poetry and literature were written without punctions marks and other syntaxes that we see today. That time homer Ilyad and Odyssey were sung my masses. Later period they were written in proper form by the ancient greek scholars (around 530BC). This date claim is also based on claims that Hesiod and lyric poets as alluding to homer rather than common tradition.
But Jenko who gives the date on the basis of modernity of poems admits date is a assumption. And references to old expressions do not mean they are of Early date , as poets who deal with heroes tend to give iconic status by referring to ancient terms.

German Scholar P. A. Wolf Says that that odyssey and Iliad were not composed as distinct whole. They existed as separate epical Ballards consisting of single poem. They were written and composed by pisistratus and friends. This claim is not new , the Neapolitan writer vico. His arguement is based on the following.
  • No traces of writing exist prior to 620BC(40th Olympiad).
  • In Homer poems there is no single mention of any writing(No inscription, Coins)
  • complete absense of letter called Digamma
  • There are similarities in subjects and analysing them shows that they cannot be product of single mind.
So analysing the type of compositions and period of these cultures put the period not before 6th century BC.

Mycenaean civilization
Homer accurately depicts the Mycenaean civilization (1600BC to 1100BC )civilization along with his own timing accurately. So the date is put just after dark period (1100BC to 750BC). The question again comes to the fore, how can homer talk about events that took place several hundred years before.

3rd-1st century
Gregory Nagy tells that poems as scripture cannot have existed before Hellenistic period.

Burkert and West say that , Illiad refers to 6th and 7th century Egyptian tales of Thebes(663BC) and destruction of babylon (688BC). This again comes to how we refer to poems events. But some scholars have argued around this events saying that Homer is the main poet and subsequent poets have added them.

Trojan War and Ionian Migration
Aristarchus says homer lived at the time of Ionian migration which is 150 years after Trojan war(12 to 11century BC). Dating these are also controversial expressing everything in relation to one date by Aristarchus is a not acceptable proposition.

The competition between Egyptian(gods) , Chrisitian(moses) and Greek civilizations means that each is trying to date the other down and put their candidates upfront claiming themselves to be more ancient. So the dating controversies will never end.
Trojan War
Black Athena  
Dating Greek Civilization
Indo European Origin 
Homer Date



  1. Homer didn't exist as a person. The epics attested to him were products of an oral tradition that passed from generation to generation with personal additions to the poem by each one.

    1. Yes If you can't Pre-date him. He is not a person. How Convenient!


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