The Lives of Homer as Aetiologies for Homeric Poetry

This video recording was originally shown at an international conference held at Baku, November 27–28, 2015. In this video Professor Gregory Nagy explores the myths relating to The Lives of Homer.

“This inquiry centers on the surviving texts of ‘Life of Homerʼ narrative traditions, to which I refer simply as Lives of Homer. These Lives, I argue, can be read as sources of historical information about the reception of Homeric poetry. The information is varied and layered, requiring diachronic as well as synchronic analysis…

My describing the Lives of Homer as aetiologies converges with the general direction of my argumentation, which is, to show that the narratives of these Lives are myths, not historical facts, about Homer. To say that we are dealing with myths, however, is not at all to say that there is no history to be learned from the Lives. Even though the various Homers of the various Lives are evidently mythical constructs, the actual constructing of myths about Homer can be seen as historical fact.”

Featured image credit: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: The Apotheosis of Homer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons