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The life and works of Homer, the earliest epic poet whose works have survived, still give rise to a great deal of discussion and controversy. According to Herodotus of Halidarnassus, he lived around 850 B.C., and it is generally agreed that he was born in Izrnir, lived oh the island of Chios and died in los. Some believe that in the Aeolian dialect the word "homer" means "blind". Obvious differences in style and technique between the two epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, have led some scholars to believe that they are the works of different poets. Homer's epics have been known since the 7th century and in the 6th century parts are known to have been read in the Panathena Festival in Athens. Throughout the whole of the Hellenistic and Roman periods Homer's epics were regarded as sacred texts. According to Aristotle and Strabo, copies of the two works had been prepared by Anaxorchos and Callisthenes. Alexander the Great found them in the war booty seized from Darius and preserved them in a corfer of peerless value. The Iliad, which consists of some 16,000 verses, covers the last forty days of the warbetween the Trojans and the Achaeans. The Odyssey, a poem of 12,000 verses, covers the ten years following the end of the war and relates the adventures of Odyssey and his companions during their return from Troy. The Odyssey is said to have been writtdn fifty years later than the Iliad. The influence of Homer, which greatly increased in the West atl the time of the Renaissance, continues unabated at the present day.
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