November 11, 2011

The Others - Authors of Antiquity

Ever wondered who's the oldest author in the world? And no, I'm not referring to those writers who managed to get over a 100 years old. Let me take you on a trip down into the past. As far as the 12th century BC, to be exact.

Homer, the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, is seen as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. When exactly he lived is not certain, just as well there is the question of the historicity of Homer as individual as there is no reliable biographical information available. Homer's poems are generally seen as the culmination of many generations of oral story-telling, and some scholars claim that "Homer" is not the name of a historical poet, but either a fictitious or constructed name, or the name was applied to two individuals who are each responsible for writing the above mentioned works.

Homer wasn't the only author who lived in Antiquity, that is still known and revered today. Aesop was a Greek writer credited with a number of popular fables, and Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet as well. Leaving Greece towards the East we find Tao Qian, an influential Chinese poet, or back in Europe there was Cicero, Rome's greatest orator and prose stylist. In all cases biographical accounts are either unreliable or rather vague.

What they all have in common is how their works transcended centuries, having formed language and literature. While it might not be everyone's cup of tea to actually read a book like The Illiad, an epic poem of the Trojan War, it certainly gives insight into the antique writing tradition. While we will never know whether Homer can be seen as the oldest author of all time, he (or they) have certainly paved a way for many authors straight to the present. Not to say I'd mention Homer and Stephen King in the same sentence, but oh look, I guess I just did!

No comments:

Post a Comment