The two legendary poems attributed to Homer are the epics the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Iliad is the story of the final weeks of the Trojan War when the Greeks overtook the city of Troy, also called Ilion in the Ancient World, hence the name of the poem. It is believed to have been created sometime during the eighth century BCE. It details the rescue of Helen from Troy. The Odyssey picks up once the Greeks have conquered Troy and tells the story of one of the Greek soldiers and heroes, Odysseus.
These are two of the most widely read epics in literary history, translated into multiple languages and included in academic curricula in many countries. Many scenes from the epics have also been popularized in paintings and other works, and the epics have been endlessly adapted and retold. The poems also have had substantial influence on other writers. For instance, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Virgil was influenced by the two Homer poems when he wrote the “Aeneid” and Homer’s epics also influenced “the Renaissance culture of Italy.”
Given that most people were not literate and an oral tradition prevailed during the Greek Empire, the poems were originally transmitted to listeners orally, although some literary historians believe that Homer wrote the Iliad himself after 750 BCE using some form of writing—either writing some of the poem himself or dictating portions to other scribes. Others believe that the poems were passed down only orally until sometime during the seventh century BCE.