Homer is one of those names which is, rightly so, intimidating. There is depth and breadth to Homer’s name, because there is, still residing deep within our imaginations, the importance the Iliad and the Odyssey have had on Western Civilization. Typically, when we hear Homer’s name, it is said in reverence, with a kind of residual and lingering authority. Each year I teach Homer, each year I read with our 7th graders the Iliad and the Odyssey, I see anew, in greater ways, just why it is imperative that our 7th grade year, the first year of Logic and Rhetoric School, begins with a deep-dive into Homer, usually lasting twenty school weeks. Why twenty school weeks on one poet? Why any poet? Why this poet?
Recently my class and I finished our trek through the Iliad and the Odyssey, always the first two texts our students read starting in 7th grade. I tell them these are the longest poems they will read in their formal education, and it is a feat to have completed them. After we finish the Iliad, but before we begin the Odyssey, we read the chapter on Homer from HDF Kitto’s book The Greeks. The first few pages of Kitto’s chapter on Homer are magnificent in capturing not just why Homer is so important for knowing Ancient Greece, but why Homer is so important for a great education. Here are the first few pages from chapter four of HDF Kitto’s work, The Greeks:
A reading of pages 44-45 in Kitto