Homer should not be thought of as a person but as a tradition, said historian and award-winning author Adam Nicolson.
In his latest book titled “Why Homer Matters,” Nicolson claims that the two most important books in Western civilization are “Iliad” and “Odyssey.” And as such, they are not written by a person, but by a whole culture.
In an article published by National Geographic, Nicolson said, “I think it’s a mistake to think of Homer as a person. Homer is an “it.” A tradition. An entire culture coming up with ever more refined and ever more understanding ways of telling stories that are important to it. Homer is essentially shared.”
Nicolson’s theory is that the two great epic poems written by Homer in eighth century B.C. are not works of the era but a product of the tradition of ancient Greece that goes back a millennium before they were actually written.
The writer said in his National Geographic interview that his understanding of Homer’s work came to him in an “epiphany” while sailing the west coast of the British Isles and the Atlantic coast, and opening “Odyssey” after 25 years: “Odysseus is the great metaphor for all of our lives: struggling with storms, coming across incredibly seductive nymphs, finding himself trapped between impossible choices. I suddenly thought, this is talking to me in a way I would never have guessed before.”
Speaking of his “epiphany” Nicolson said, “I found myself confronted with what felt like the truth – like somebody was telling me what it was like to be alive on Earth, in the figure of Odysseus.”
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