used in the two great epic poem
s of Homer
is an artificial one. It combines the two predominant dialects of the west shores of Asia Minor
, the Ionic dialect
and the Aeolic dialect
, with many later influences.
How did it come about? The answer to this question lies probably in the fact that at the time of the creation of the Homeric poems (an era known as the Greek Dark Age), the Greeks did not have a written language, and as the poems were passed on orally, the local reciter changed the phrases wherever the meter and form allowed it, so as to adjust them to his native dialect and that of his listeners. And so, as the poems moved through Ionia and Aeolis, the two dialects mingled with one another completely within the poems.
As the poems moved on the mainland Greece the local dialects of the place influenced it also, but by that time the poems have taken their final form (more or less), so the existance of these dialects is only minor in importance in the poems. Of these dialects the most influential is the Attic dialect, for as the last editing and the final writing of the Illiad and the Odyssay were made in Athens in the 6th century BC, the Athenians changed some of the words and phrazes (There have even been claims already in antiquity that the Athenians changed and added to the text in order to magnify themselves).