The Beginning of Western Literature
Homer Statue 2nd Cent B.C.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
• To Introduce Homer and the Iliad.
1. Students will discuss the Homeric questions.
2. Students will predict reasons for the contemporary relevance
of the Iliad.
3. Students will watch the clip.
4. Students will discuss the nature of the Iliad.
HOMER – ‘THE HOMERIC QUESTION’
• Most historians think ‘Homer’ lived in about 800 B.C.
• That is about 400 years after the Trojan war.
• Historians think the Iliad and Odyssey were refined and written
down in around this period.
• There is real debate about whether Homer existed or not.
• This is the Homeric question. Does it matter?
• The language and style of the Iliad suggest he could have been
from Smyrna in modern Turkey.
• A central text to both Greek and western culture.
• Knowledge of the Iliad was a sign of education from Classical
Greece through to Victorian England.
• How can a book retain its power and relevance through so many
• The Iliad is arguably the first Western work of literature.
• The themes of war, love ,sacrifice ,ethics and the perfidy of the
gods ring true throughout the ages.
• The writing is of a very high quality and many of his similes and
metaphors are still used today.
• The Iliad is a written version of hundreds of years of oral
• Alexander the Great slept with a copy.
• It is still used in military academies around the world.
• Most papyrus fragments from the ancient world are of the
• Throughout the last 120 years archaeologists have spent a
fortune trying to prove that the Iliad is true. Why?