How do ancient sources represent the figure of Homer? This question launches Graziosi’s study, which reaches back to the sixth and fourth centuries BC, cataloguing how ancient sources describe, debate, and imagine the poet “Homer.”
The book is divided into six chapters, each tackling a different issue around Homer: his birth, name and place of origin, dating, blindness and closeness to the gods, his relationship to other poets, and the “heirs” of Homer. The latter refers not to putative biological heirs (though she does discuss the Homeridae) but to how different ancients framed their relationship to the poet.
One of the most valuable assets of this study is the way it models a way of thinking about ancient sources, neither “believing” them or “doubting” them but examining them as a way to reveal the assumptions that animate them. This enables Graziosi to reveal what modern assumptions that have shaped the way the poems have been studied and interpreted. While I may not always agree with her conclusions, the study is fascinating and a pleasure to think with. This is a study I have returned to again and again.