This article accompanies the fable
Although attributed to the poet Homer, who may have lived around 700 B.C.E., the Odyssey was forged into its brilliant form by oral storytellers over many hundreds of years. Then it was written down and reshaped again and again. Set in a time when a pantheon of gods ruled the ancient world, those gods freely interacted with men and women. Few humans ever transcended the distance between the earth and the heavens, between the real world and Olympus. It was the destiny of the hero to confront death and to accept it at the end, as Achilles does in the Iliad, while the gods remained immortal. One might say that Odysseus always resented that arrangement.
Is that why Homer is always depicted as old and blind? Below is Adolphe-William Bouguereau's Homer and his Guide (1874), which is in the
Milwaukee Art Museum.
Below is a Dutch or Flemish portrait of Homer from 1639, but the painter is unknown. It is in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.
Below is a Rembrandt of Homer from 1663. It is in The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague.