Very little is known about Homer, including his birth and death dates. However, it is generally accepted that he lived during the period 900-800 B.C. His birthplace is in question â€“ some say Smyrna, others say Ionia. Too, in question, is whether or not he actually wrote the two major works that are traditionally ascribed to his name: The Iliad and The Odyssey.
The Iliad and The Odyssey are both epics: long, narrative poems that detail the deeds of a hero. The Iliad, based on oral traditions, is written about the Trojan War, specifically focusing on two soldiers: Akhilleus, representing the Greeks, and Hector, the hero of the Trojans. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus, King of Ithaka, who, while on his way home from the Trojan War, offends the sea god, Poseidon, and is doomed to another ten years of wandering before being able to return to his home and family. The Homeric Hymns, a series of short poems that honor the Greek gods, is also attributed to Homer.
Prolegomena ad Homerum (The Homeric Problem), published in 1795 and written by F. A. Wolf, began the debate that continues today. The book questions whether Homer ever existed and if the two epic poems could have been written by one person.