Nothing is known of the life of Homer, but as author of two of ancient Greece's most important literary works - the Iliad and the Odyssey - his importance to Greek culture can hardly be underestimated.
According to a hymn written in honour of the god Apollo, he was a blind man from the island of Chios, in the eastern Mediterranean. Chios was home to a guild of poets, or rhapsodists, called the Homeridai, and seems to be one of the most likely candidates. However, many other Greek cities have also claimed to have been his home, as an old Greek epigram says:
Homer's verses were first set down in writing around 700 BC, soon after the Greeks invented their own alphabet by incorporating vowels into the existing Phoenician alphabet. The verses were probably significantly older than this, because we know that until this point they had been memorized by traveling bards who earned a living by reciting them.
Homer's most important contribution to Greek culture was to provide a common set of values that enshrined the Greeks' own ideas about themselves. His poems provided a fixed model of heroism, nobility and the good life to which all Greeks, especially aristocrats, subscribed. In his works, disgrace due to dishonor is the worst that can happen to a hero, and a short life of glorious deeds is considered far superior to a long life of peace and mediocrity, since by great deeds a man might become immortal.
Legends depicting him as blind may have been extrapolated from his portrayal of the blind bard, Demodocus in the Odyssey. However, he is also described as sighted in the same epic and, therefore, must infer the possibility of embellishment by admirers who placed in him the tradition of the blind prophet of the myths, Tiresias.
“ Homer” is believed to be commonly used as a term for blind men who wandered the countryside reciting epic poetry
John Ogilby's translation of The Odyssey (1669) is only the second complete English translation and includes scholarly annotations. Following the publication of his translation, his reputation as a scholar and translator of classic texts reached new heights.
Thomas Hobbes, who translated The Odyssey in 1675 chose not to include annotations. He wrote: "But why without Annotations? Because I had no hope to do it better than it is already done by Mr. Ogilby."