Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson is a comprehensive tome on the analysis of Homer. I imagine every student with a Homer writing assignment will now simply choose a chapter from this book and have their research done. Topics include: linguistic analysis, archeological analysis, origins of the Greeks, Mediterranean influences, nomadic steppe influences, etc. This must be the most up-to-date comprehensive compendium of research related to The Illiad and The Odyssey.
The book includes many fascinating details. For example one of the oldest copies is the Hawara Homer from AD 150. These papyrus scrolls, discovered in 1888, were found in an unmarked grave, a papyrus pillow. What was even more surprising, the text was very close to the text compiled by Byzantine scholars 800 years later, and thus the text we depend on today.
My only disappointment is the title. The title question is addressed on the last page, and this felt to me like an after thought. As Greek history through Homer, the book is a great read.
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on September 20, 2014. I received my copy on September 30, 2014.
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