Achilles, Hector, Ulysses . . . these are all names that continue to resonate for us today. From Antiquity to the Renaissance, Homer’s tales provided artists with a plethora of basic subjects that would shape the history of art. What lies behind this uninterrupted success?
The Homer exhibition at the Louvre-Lens sets out to explore Homer as a source of inspiration, both the poet himself and the heroes of The Iliad and The Odyssey. It also provides an opportunity to answer numerous questions: did Homer exist? Was he the sole author of this monumental literary oeuvre? Where and when did he live?
The fact that Homeric poems were frequent sources of inspiration was no doubt linked to the mania for Homer, whose ramifications and various manifestations in language, literature, the sciences, the arts, morality and the art of living are explored in the exhibition.
Featuring some three hundred items (archaeological objects and more recent works), the exhibition brings to life the principal heroes and stories in The Iliad and The Odyssey, analysing how this major, seminal work has been illustrated, re-evaluated, interpreted and updated so many times, exerting endless fascination. The investigation revolves around a number of central themes, such as human emotions, monsters and women.
The exhibition also enables visitors to rediscover the well-known themes that inspired numerous texts (poems, tragedies, etc.) in the form of the Epic Cycle. This vast, epic fresco, today lost, was still read during Antiquity and was the source of such famous images as the Trojan horse, the sack of Troy and the death of Achilles.
As they exit the exhibition, visitors pass through a soundscape combining recited poems and the sounds of the sea, reflecting the Homer as “man of the Ocean” celebrated by Victor Hugo.