Why Read Homer Today? – Nigel Smith

  • Brendon Books
  • November 18
  • 14:00 - 15:30
Event Website

The Talk

In his talk Nigel outlines the narratives of the two epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and explores some less well-known aspects beyond the famous stories of the wooden horse of Troy, and the blinding of the Cyclops. In the Iliad we meet Achilles who challenges the very purpose of going to war and questions the inequality that exists between the leader and the warrior, while the Trojan wife, Andromache, bewails the fate of women in time of war.

In the Odyssey, we meet Odysseus’ long-suffering, loyal wife Penelope, and his son who, in journeying in search of news of his father, comes of age.

The whole pantheon of Greek gods take sides in the epic siege of Troy. In the Odyssey the goddess Athena, who plays a significant role at Troy and an essential part in the final recovery of Odysseus’ family, home and kingdom, brings humour, resourcefulness, and a touch of magic to this tale set in the dawn of our culture.

Nigel explores some of the spell-binding techniques used to enchant an audience then as now, and engages with the question of Homer’s value today. A little audience participation and a brief look at some works of art inspired by Homer make for a lively presentation.

Nigel has had a lifelong interest in epic tales, myths and folk tales, how they came to exist and the societies that created and nurtured them. They were part of our childhood, and they are embedded in our worldview. Nigel is interested in their origins and how – and why – they have survived for millennia. They provide not only consolation, but touch us to the core, and offer insights into what it is to be human in relation to others.

For the past 20 years Nigel has been exploring Homer, and more recently has led several groups reading Homer’s Odyssey aloud. While giving people the rare pleasure of reading aloud in a group, these gatherings have inspired discussion about the moral and ethical issues we all face today. For, although nearly 3,000 years old, Homer’s epic stories present us with dilemmas as relevant now as they were in the ancient Greek world