- Some people maintain that the Homeric writings were the work of many men. But historians interested in that point have concluded that the Iliad and the Odyssey were poems from the poet Homer, a blind Greek who wandered from city to city in the ninth century B.C. reciting his epic poems. The episodes from his epic poems and the words he has contributed to the English language remain as monuments of a magnificent mind that knew no boundaries.Homeric means imposing, magnificent, or, in another sense, mighty, colossal, monumental, titanic. The scale and sweep of Homeric narrative is mighty and full of grandeur. His characters are larger-than-life: Achilles, the brave and dangerous young man who dies so young; Odysseus, the man of experience whose triumph is survival; Penelope, Odysseus's faithful wife, who stealthily unravels the threads of her tapestry every night lest she be forced to take a suitor. All of these characters demonstrate the extraordinary powers of the human spirit.Homer in the Odyssey speaks of the deeds of the gods and men as the subject of epic poetry. Much of the Homeric poems is concerned with the gods, and the action hinges on their intervention. Many of today's expressions have come from Homer's works. Hector, a hero in the Iliad, refers to a bully or to a blustering, swaggering fellow. Trojans, as recorded in Vergil's Aeneid and Homer's Iliad, were hardworking, determined, industrious people. Hence: "He worked like a Trojan." A person who shows pluck, determination, and energy has Trojan characteristics. And Homer was the first to say, "Out of sight, out of mind." The Achilles heel and the Achilles tendon are in current usage; the Achilles heel is a person's vulnerable spot, and the Achilles tendon is the tendon running from the heel bone to the calf muscle of the leg. That "Homer sometimes nods" is an expression that means that even the wisest and most gifted of men, like Homer, make mistakes. The expression first appeared in Horace's De Arte Poetica: "Sometimes even good old Homer nods."The English language is indebted to Homer for the word stentorian, from Stentor, a Greek herald during the Trojan War. His voice was "as loud as that of fifty men together." And when a man is characterized as a Nestor, he is being referred to as an old man with the wisdom of the ancient Nestor, the Homeric hero who fought in the Trojan War with the Greeks. It is reputed that he lived so long that he ruled three generations of men.Alexander the Great showed his high regard for Homer by carrying an edition of Homer on his campaigns. He always placed it under his pillow at night with his sword.Many of the great minds of the world have been compared to Homer; he is a standard to measure men by. Plato has been called the Homer of philosophers, Milton the English Homer, and Ossian the Gaelic Homer. Byron called Fielding the prose Homer of human nature, and Dryden said that Shakespeare was the Homer of our dramatic poets.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.