|The Story of the Greeks|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Greece, made up principally of stories about persons, giving at the same time a clear idea of the most important events in the ancient world and calculated to enforce the lessons of perseverance, courage, patriotism, and virtue that are taught by the noble lives described. Beginning with the legends of Jason, Theseus, and events surrounding the Trojan War, the narrative moves on to present the contrasting city-states of Sparta and Athens, the war against Persia, their conflicts with each other, the feats of Alexander the Great, and annexation by Rome. Ages 10-14 |
THE BLIND POET
 THREE or four centuries after the siege of Troy, there lived
a poor old blind poet who wandered about from place to
place, playing upon his lyre, and reciting wonderful
verses which told about the adventures of the Greek
heroes, and their great deeds during the Trojan War.
We are told that this old man, whose name was Homer, had not always been poor and blind, but that, having
embarked by mistake upon a vessel manned by pirates, he
not only had been robbed of all his wealth, and
blinded, but had been left upon a lonely shore.
By some happy chance, poor blind Homer found his
 way to the inhabited parts of the country, where he
soon won many friends. Instead of spending all his time
in weeping over his troubles, Homer tried to think of
some way in which he could earn his living, and at the
same time give pleasure to others. He soon found such a
way in telling the stories of the past to all who cared
to listen to them.
As the people in those days had no books, no schools,
and no theaters, these stories seemed very wonderful.
Little by little Homer turned them into verses so grand
and beautiful that we admire them still; and these he
recited, accompanying himself on a lyre, which he
handled with much skill. As he wandered thus from place
to place, old and young crowded around him to listen to
his tales; and some young men were so struck by them
that they followed him everywhere, until they too could
repeat them. This was quite easy to do, because Homer
had put them into the most beautiful and harmonious
language the world has ever known. As soon as these
young men had learned a few of the tales, they too
began to travel from place to place, telling them to
all they met; and thus Homer's verses became well known
throughout all Greece.
Telling Homer's Tales.
 The Greeks who could recite Homer's poems went next to
the islands and Asia Minor, stopping at every place
where Greek was spoken, to tell about the wrath of
Achilles, the death of Patroclus, Hector, or old Priam,
the burning of Troy, the wanderings of Ulysses, and the
return of the Greeks. Other youths learned the poems;
and so, although they were not written down for many a
year, they were constantly recited and sung, and thus
kept alive in the memory of the people.
As for Homer, their author, we know but little about
him. We are told that he lived to be very old, and that
although he was poor as long as he lived, and forced to
earn his living by reciting his songs, he was greatly
honored after his death.
His two great heroic poems—the Iliad, telling all about
the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, relating how Ulysses
sailed about for ten years on his way home from
Troy—were finally written down, and kept so carefully
that they can still be read to-day. Such was the
admiration felt for these poems, that some years after
Homer's death an attempt was made to find out more
about him, and about the place where he was born.
Fifty cities claimed the honor of giving him birth;
but, although it was never positively found out where
he was born, most people thought the Island of Chios was his birthplace. The Greek towns, wishing to show
how much they admired the works of Homer, used to send
yearly gifts to this place, the native land of the
grandest poet the world has ever known.
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