Pseudo-Plutarch, Life of Homer 2.1-4

How to quote this translation

M = reading of the whole MS tradition
m = reading of part of the MS tradition
P = reading on a papyrus

1 Ὅμηρον τὸν ποιητήν χρόνωι μὲν τῶν πλείστων, δυνάμει δὲ πάντων πρῶτον γενόμενον εἰκότως ἀναγινώσκομεν πρῶτον, ὠφελούμενοι τὰ μέγιστα εἴς τε τὴν φωνὴν καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν καὶ τὴν τῶν πραγμάτων πολυπειρίαν. λέγωμεν δὲ περὶ τῆς τούτου ποιήσεως, πρότερον μνησθέντες διὰ βραχέων τοῦ γένους αὐτοῦ.

2 Ὅμηρον τοίνυν Πίνδαρος Fr. 264 Snell μὲν ἔφη Χῖόν τε καὶ Σμυρναῖον γενέσθαι, Σιμωνίδης Eleg. 19.1 δὲ Χῖον, Ἀντίμαχος Fr. 130 Wyss δὲ καὶ Νίκανδρος Fr. 14 Schneider Κολοφώνιον, Ἀριστοτέλης Fr. 76 Rose δὲ ὁ φιλόσοφος Ἰήτην, Ἔφορος FGrHist 70 F 1 δὲ ὁ ἱστορικὸς Κυμαῖον. οὐκ ὤκνησαν δέ τινες καὶ Σαλαμίνιον αὐτὸν εἰπεῖν ἀπὸ Κύπρου, τινὲς δ’ Ἀργεῖον, Ἀρίσταρχος δὲ καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾶιξ Ἀθηναῖον. υἱὸς δὲ ὑπ’ ἐνίων λέγεται Μαίονος καὶ Κριθηίδος, ὑπὸ δέ τινων Μέλητος τοῦ ποταμοῦ.

3 ὥσπερ δὲ τὰ τοῦ γένους αὐτοῦ διαπορεῖται, οὕτω καὶ τὰ περὶ τῶν χρόνων καθ’ οὓς ἐγένετο. καὶ οἱ μὲν περὶ Ἀρίσταρχόν φασιν αὐτὸν γενέσθαι κατὰ τὴν τῶν Ἰώνων ἀποικίαν, ἥτις ὑστερεῖ τῆς τῶν Ἡρακλειδῶν καθόδου ἔτεσιν ἑξήκοντα· τὰ δὲ περὶ τοὺς Ἡρακλείδας λείπεται τῶν Τρωικῶν ἔτεσιν ὀγδοήκοντα. οἱ δὲ περὶ Κράτητα καὶ πρὸ τῆς Ἡρακλειδῶν καθόδου λέγουσιν αὐτὸν γενέσθαι, ὡς οὐδὲ ὅλα ἔτη ὀγδοήκοντα ἀπέχειν τῶν Τρωικῶν. ἀλλὰ παρὰ τοῖς πλείστοις πεπίστευται μετὰ ἔτη τετρακόσια τετρακόσια Kindstrand: ἑκατὸν M τῶν Τρωικῶν γεγονέναι, οὐ πολὺ πρὸ τῆς θέσεως τῶν Ὀλυμπίων, ἀφ’ ἧς ὁ κατὰ Ὀλυμπιάδας χρόνος ἀριθμεῖται.

4 εἰσὶ δὲ αὐτοῦ ποιήσεις δύο, Ἰλιὰς καὶ Ὀδύσσεια, διηιρημένη ἑκατέρα εἰς τὸν ἀριθμὸν τῶν στοιχείων, οὐχ ὑπὸ αὐτοῦ τοῦ ποιητοῦ ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ τῶν γραμματικῶν τῶν περὶ Ἀρίσταρχον.

1 It is reasonable that we read the poet Homer first, as he comes before most other poets in antiquity, and before all of them in skill, since we thereby derive the most benefit with respect to our eloquence, intelligence, and experience of affairs. Let us talk about his poetry, after briefly recalling his origins.

2 Pindar said that Homer was a Chian and a Smyrnaean, Simonides that he was a Chian, Antimachus and Nicander that he came from Colophon, Aristotle the philosopher that he was from Ios, Ephorus the historian that he was a Cymaean. Some did not hesitate even to say that he was a Salaminian from Cyprus, some that he was an Argive, Aristarchus and Dionysius Thrax that he was an Athenian. He is said by some to have been the son of Maeon and Critheis, by others, of the river Meles.

3 Just as the details of his origins are disputed, so are those concerning the chronology of his birth. The followers of Aristarchus say that he was born at the time of the Ionian migration, which postdates the return of the Heraclids by sixty years; the affair of the Heraclids was eighty years after the Trojan War. The followers of Crates say that he was born even before the return of the Heraclids, so that he would not even have been a full eighty years later than the Trojan War. But most people believe that he was born four hundred years after the Trojan War, not long before the establishment of the Olympic Games, from which the time is calculated by Olympiads.

4 There are two poems by him, the Iliad and the Odyssey, each divided into the number of the letters of the alphabet, not by the poet himself but by the grammarians who were followers of Aristarchus.

Relevant guides Homer