HOMER: MY CHILDHOOD HERO -
EVEN IF HE NEVER EXISTED

by Christopher Xeneopoulos Janus

At 96 I still can recall the most vivid stories my father told me as a child. They were stories about Homer from the "Iliad" and "The Odyssey." Sometimes I believe my father made up his own stories about Homer!

Anyway, Homer was my childhood hero.

My friends had their heroes, too, Most of them were cartoon characters from the funny papers. Having heroes as a child educators tell us is more important and may influence a child when he or she grows up.

I'm going to recall my most favorite story, and possibly yours, to from Homer.

My father would not read me the story but would tell it in his own words.

Following is the story taken from various books and encyclopedias.

At the end of the story I'm going to have to write with much sadness my views of Homer have changed. Some scholars have even come to the conclusion that Homer really never existed but more on this later.

Three thousand years ago the bustling city of Troy was famous. Completely surrounded by a thick wall, tye city was impregnable to attack. Only one huge set of gates allowed access in or out of the city. For hundreds of years.

The walls safe from enemies looking to steal its great wealth.

But the city's peace eas shattered when Paris, Prince of Troy stole Helen, the wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta.

Furious, Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon joined with other Greeks who tried and declared war on Troy, For ten years the battles raged as the Greeks tried to storm the city, but the mighty wall of Troy kept the invaders out and the citizens safe.One morning the citizens of Troy, known as the Trojans, were stunned to see that the Greek soldiers had disbanded their camp and set sail for home.

Nothing is known about

Homer's identity or life and

in fact there is no evidence

he existed.

Tradition holds that he was

blind and that the island

of Chios was his birth place.

Standing outside the gates to the city a gigantic wooden horse, which they were told was a gift to the goddess Athena from the defeated Greeks. Deliriously happy the war was finally over, the gates to the city were opened and the horse was pulled into the center of the of town.

Little did they suspect that the wooden horse was a trap.

Silently camped was a group of Greek soldiers, including Odysseus, who had devised the plan.

Knowing they would never be able to penetrate the walls of Troy, Odysseus decided the only way to get inside was by trickery.

He convinced the other Greeks to build a wooden horse big enough to hold him and a group of other soldiers.

Once the soldiers were inside, the horse would be left at the gates of Troy while the rest of the Greek troops would set sail pretending to return to Greece.

Caught completely off guard, the Trojans were slaughtered. Nearly every male in the city was killed, including the children of Troy.

The swords of the Greeks ran red with blood and the skies were filed with shrieks of terror and cries of agony. Menelaus had vowed to kill Helen for her betrayal. But he once again was so taken by her beauty. Spared her life and they left Troy together.

Nothing is known about Homers identity or life and, infact, there is no evidence he existed. Tradition holds that he was blind and that the island of Chios was his birth place.

As for the "Iliad" and "The Odyssey," it is believed it was composed by deliberate rhapsodies in an oral debate in the 8th or 7th century B.C., but as a matter of debate among scholars whether a single rhapsodie is responsible for the poems as they stand.

The name Homer is nevertheless often used as a convention, by those who did not believe in a singular authorship of the Homeric poems.

Finally, it may be debatable whether Homer existed, but the story is a fact, and it's a Story that's told, retold and loved by all.



(Posting date 3 January 2008)

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