We’re All Homer’s Children

From The Washington Post:

Homer The English novelist and essayist Maurice Baring is often credited with the quip that it wasn’t Homer who composed the Iliad and the Odyssey, but another man of the same name. Regardless of who said it, we get the joke. Homer, the Ur-poet of Western civilization — and usually the first author listed on any Western Civ syllabus — has over two and a half millennia become a legend, not a personage whose life we can chart more or less accurately.

That we shall never know the truth makes this mystery all the more enticing. So instead of penning a biography of Homer, a fairly impossible task likely to produce thin work anyway, the Argentinean critic and translator Alberto Manguel offers a so-called biography of the epic poems themselves, and it turns out that we find in their lives reaching back over 2,000 years all the complexity and contradictions of any eminent life, and then some.

But of course Manguel begins with the man belonging to history, the poet himself — or herself, or themselves.

More here.