Homer. The greatest name in epic poetry; has come down to us as, unfortunately, little better than a name, and many theories of the origin of the Homeric poetry hardly leave us even the name. The traditions agree in making Homer an Asiatic Greek, born probably at Smyrna about the year 850 B.C. Homer is represented as blind, and as reciting his poems from place to place. All scholars agree that the poems were not written, but handed down from memory, as there is little evidence that writing was practiced at so early a period. One theory of their authorship is that they are the work of compilation of a company of poets, or Homeric guild, who composed, collected, and handed down in this form these legends of early history. The "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" are sometimes referred also to different writers, and sometimes to the early and later periods of Homer's genius. They are the greatest epics of any age; the "Iliad" is called the "beginning of literature."