Homer: The Very Idea

Homer Book Cover

Homer: The Very Idea

James Porter
Berkeley Book Chats

Homer, the great poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is revered as a cultural icon of antiquity and 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. Rather than attempting to solve the mystery of this character, James Porter (Ancient Greek & Roman Studies and Rhetoric) explores the sources of Homer’s mystique and their impact since the first recorded mentions of Homer in ancient Greece.

Homer: The Very Idea (Chicago, 2021) considers Homer not as a man, but as a cultural invention nearly as distinctive and important as the poems attributed to him, following the cultural history of an idea and of the obsession that is reborn every time Homer is imagined. Offering novel readings of texts and objects, the book follows the very idea of Homer from his earliest mentions to his most recent imaginings in literature, criticism, philosophy, visual art, and classical archaeology.

Porter is joined by Mark Griffith (Ancient Greek & Roman Studies and Theater, Dance & Performance Studies) and Mario Telò (Rhetoric, Comparative Literature, Ancient Greek & Roman Studies). After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.