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Homer, c. 8th century BCE, Greek epic poet.

Homer is the name to which the ancient Greek epics the Iliad and the Odyssey are attributed. According to tradition, Homer was a blind poet who lived in Chios or Smyrna in the twelfth century BCE, around the time of the Trojan War.

Critics since Mary Shelley's time have focused largely on the so-called Homeric Question on how the poems were composed. It was long believed they were fixed in written form in Homer's time, but in the eighteenth century, faced with hints that the historical Homer lived before the dawn of written language, scholars came to suspect that the poems may have been composed orally. The thesis was clearly stated for the first time by the German scholar F. A. Wolf in the Prolegomena to Homer (1795). Wolf argued that the poems were too long for any single poet to memorize and repeat, and suggested that the name Homer be applied to a later editor who stitched together a long series of folk ballads. Most twentieth-century scholars, acquainted with the poetic practices of such pre-literate bardic cultures as Yugoslavia, now agree that the epics can be accounted for by some kind of oral composition mixed with a degree of improvisation.

Homer's works were translated into English many times before the composition of Frankenstein, most famously by George Chapman (1598-1616), Alexander Pope (1714-1725), and William Cowper (1791).