Homer's most significant contribution to Greek civilization was the establishment of a shared set of ideals that entrenched the Greeks' own notions about themselves. His writings established a permanent paradigm of valor, nobility, and the good life to which many Greeks, particularly aristocrats, adhered. This was especially true for those who lived after the advent of writing; without texts such as those by Homer, it is unlikely that ancient Greece would have developed into what it did.
In addition to defining the qualities necessary for greatness, Homer also established certain standards by which individuals could be measured. He gave voice to noble sentiments long since forgotten by most Greeks, things like honor, courage, devotion to one's country, and friendship. Through his poems, Homer helped to form a common identity for Greeks who had only just begun to unite under single governments. This is probably why many historians believe him to be the first writer whose work has been called "history".
Homer's historical accuracy is disputed by some scholars. The Iliad is usually dated to around 730 B.C., but some think it may be older or younger. The Odyssey is even more problematic because much of it takes place in another world called Hades. However, despite these problems, most scholars agree that he played an important role in fostering unity between Greeks who were beginning to inhabit separate cities all over the peninsula.
Homer's Importance in Ancient Greek History There are no other writings in the Western mind that are as fundamental to the self-definition of Western civilization as Homer's two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. They are both about the Trojan War, the great defining period in Greek civilization. But whereas the Iliad focuses on the war itself, bringing together a vast array of characters from across the empire of Alexander the Great, telling their stories through battle after battle, the Odyssey is about homecoming: Odysseus's journey back to Ithaca following the war.
Homer's Value for Historians Modern historians regard the Iliad and Odyssey as two of the most important documents in ancient Greek history. They tell us about many different periods in Greece's past, including the Bronze Age, the Dark Ages, the Mycenaean Empire, and the fall of Troy all before Christ even born! By exploring these old poems we can learn much about ancient Greece: its people, their lives, their customs. The fact that they have survived until today shows that they are worth studying.
Homer's Influence on Later Poets and Authors Although he was not the only poet of his time, the Iliad and the Odyssey still remain the main sources of information for scholars about the wars between Greeks and Trojans because neither one of them makes any reference to events or people beyond the area around Troy.
One of these storytellers was thought to be Homer. His poetry, written about 535 B.C.E., provided insight into life. The Greeks regarded his poetry as important because they united Greeks and conveyed their common heritage. Homer understood the concepts of honor, honesty, morality, compassion, loyalty, and devotion. He also knew how to make a point without using profanity which was unusual for his time.
Homer's influence on later poets and philosophers is evident from the fact that many phrases are attributed to him. For example, Aristotle quoted several passages from Homer in his work on rhetoric called "The Art of Rhetoric." These quotations show that the Greeks believed that Homer had excellent style and used appropriate examples to make their points.
Another reason why Homer is important is because he served as an inspiration to other poets such as Virgil and Milton.
Homer's epics were so influential that some scholars believe he actually invented some tropes (common patterns in storytelling) that are still used in popular culture today. For example, one of these tropes is the "falling hero" plot where someone who is strong and brave eventually falls victim to danger or evil people. This trope can be seen in stories as old as Achilles' anger in Homer's Iliad chapter 23 verse 1: "Now Agamemnon king of men was sleeping in his tent but around him were gathered all those whom the kingship rested upon.