Homer: The Very Idea
Join us to discuss with James Porter our ongoing fascination with Homer—the man and the myth. The poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey was revered as a cultural icon in antiquity and remains millennia later a figure of lasting influence. But his identity is shrouded in questions about who he was, when he lived and whether he was an actual person, a myth or merely a shared idea. Whatever his source, Homer is a cultural invention nearly as distinctive and important as the poems attributed to him.
Porter follows the cultural history of the idea of the great poet and of the obsession that is reborn every time Homer is reimagined. Offering novel readings of texts and objects, the idea of Homer is elucidated from its origins to its most recent imaginings in literature, criticism, philosophy, visual art and classical archaeology. Porter explores the many sources of Homer’s mystique and their cultural impact, starting with the first recorded mentions of his name in ancient Greece.
This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.
Porter photo by Julie Wolf; Homer photo from British Museum in London, by JW1805
Irving Stone Professor of Literature, University of California, Berkeley; Author, Homer: The Very Idea
In Conversation with George Hammond
Author, Conversations With Socrates