We only seem to learn from Life that Life doesn't matter so much as it seemed to do—it's not so burningly important, after all, what happens. We crawl, like blinking sea-creatures, out of the Ocean onto a spur of rock, we creep over the promontory bewildered and dazzled and hurting ourselves, then we drop in the ocean on the other side: and the little transit doesn't matter so much.D. H. Lawrence
Homer, legendary ancient Greek poet.
The Iliad (c. 7th century BC)
- This section uses the translation by Richmond Lattimore (1951). Full text online as translated by Samuel Butler
- The will of Zeus was accomplished.
- Then looking at him darkly resourceful Odysseus spoke to him: "What is this word that broke through the fence of your teeth, Atreides?"
- IV. 350-351
- As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity. The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning. So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
- VI. 146-150
- So they spoke, and both springing down from behind their horses gripped each other's hands and exchanged the promise of friendship; but Zeus the son of Kronos stole away the wits of Glaukos who exchanged with Diomedes the son of Tydeus armour of gold for bronze, for nine oxen's worth the worth of a hundred.
- Victory passes back and forth between men.
- Paris contemplates the fickleness of victory as he prepares to go into battle.
- Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle, would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal, so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost, nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory. But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us in their thousands, no man can turn aside or escape them, let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others.
- XII.322-328 (Sarpedon to Glaukos)
- Among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it there is not anywhere a thing more dismal than man is.
- XVII.446-447 (Zeus)
- I have gone through what no other mortal on earth has gone through; I put my lips to the hands of the man who has killed my children.
- XXIV.505-506 (Priam to Achilleus)
- And you, old sir, we are told you prospered once.
- XXIV.543 (Achilleus to Priam)
The Odyssey (c. 7th century BC)
- These things surely lie on the knees of the gods.
- Book I, line 267.
Quotes about Homer
- But how did you come to have this skill about Homer only, and not about Hesiod or the other poets? Does not Homer speak of the same themes which all other poets handle? Is not war his great argument? and does he not speak of human society and of intercourse of men, good and bad, skilled and unskilled, and of the gods conversing with one another and with mankind, and about what happens in heaven and in the world below, and the generations of gods and heroes? Are not these the themes of which Homer sings?
- Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.
I'm aggrieved when sometimes even excellent Homer nods.
- Horace, in Ars Poetica.
- In the Odyssey one may liken Homer to the setting sun, of which the grandeur remains without the intensity.
- Longinus, in On the Sublime.
- Homer, the sovereign poet.
- Dante Alighieri, in Divina Commedia.
- Seven cities warred for Homer, being dead,
Who, living, had no roof to shroud his head.
- Thomas Heywood, in The Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels, 1635.
- As learned commentators view
In Homer more than Homer knew.
- Jonathan Swift, in On Poetry, 1733.
- Oft in one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken.
- Mr. Gladstone read Homer for fun, which I thought served him right.
- Winston Churchill, in My Early Life, 1930.