The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson

Why Homer Matters
Why Homer Matters

Recommended by Phil Weir

No, not Homer Simpson, although he too does matter.

The focus here is on the Homer of Iliad and Odyssey fame, two of the world’s most ancient stories and ones which still resonate in the modern age.

Nicolson goes over what is a fair bit of old ground re their origins – were they the product of one man or rather the finessed result of centuries of oral story telling; just when did these yarns originate; and was there really a Trojan War, and if so, when did it take place (as far as the latter two questions go, he suggests a more ancient origin than currently agreed on).

Where Nicolson gets most interesting though is with his theories about the provenance of the Mycenaean Greeks - he reckons they were a hero-centric warrior-hunter-gatherer caste who’d migrated south from the Eurasian steppes.

Out of their initial awestruck encounters with the sea and the city-based societies of the Med, the campfire sagas of the Iliad and Odyssey were born.

This is a beautifully and elegantly written work of worship, which is the perfect companion to both the Iliad and Odyssey.