Two of the longest, oldest and greatest poems in world literature are ascribed to the Greek poet known as Homer. By the fifth century these poems had become so firmly rooted in Greek culture that a young Athenian could claim to listen ‘nearly every day’ to recitations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and be able to repeat by heart all 27,800 lines (Xenophon, Symposium 3.5-6). The poems were regularly performed by rhapsodes (professional reciters of poetry, like Ion in Plato’s dialogue of the same name), taught in schools and widely studied. When Plato depicts Socrates as banning the works of Homer, ‘the educator of Greece’, from his model state in The Republic, he uses the metaphor of a lover reluctantly putting aside the object of his love. The impact of the Iliad and the Odyssey on the ancient Greeks was unique.