What is the Homeric Question?
Q. Were the two epics (The Iliad and The Odyssey) written by Homer, a single author?
A. Modern archeology, linguistic study, and literary criticism have convinced most scholars that The Iliad and The Odyssey are the work of a single consummate genius, who employed a traditional style, language, and meter, and borrowed from a common pool of traditional material.
There are post-Homeric interpolations in the poems, but essentially the civilization presented, the style, plot construction, and character treatment show unity. (Reinhold page 6)
Q. How would you compare The Iliad and The Odyssey?
A. Both epics have the same style, language, and meter.
- There is greater evidence in The Odyssey of private property, increased importance of the individual, and more use of iron.
- There is decreased power of Kings, but the rising importance of nobles.
- Religion is more spiritual, and the gods are no longer in violent conflict.
- The Odyssey is technically superior to The Iliad, there is greater unity of plot.
- Characters in The Odyssey are not so majestic; The Odyssey emphasizes cunning rather than military prowess, as is emphasized in The Iliad.
(Reinhold, page 38)
Reinhold, Meyer. Greek and Roman Classics, 1971, Barrons, New York.