The city of Smyrna (Izmir) in Asia Minor is the birthplace of Homer, legendary author of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" and the West's earliest epic poet. Homer's dates are still not much know today with accuracy. For example, Herodotus said that Homer lived 400 years before his own time, which would be around 8th century BC. Meanwhile other ancient sources tell us that it was closer to the time of the Trojan War (around 12th century BC).

Tradition has it that he was a blind "rhapsode", a wandering reciter of poetry who traveled around the Ionian cities. The Ionian "sons of Homer" existed as a guild from about 700 BC, based more particularly on the island of Chios (Sakiz in Turkish). However, it has always been a matter of debate whether Homer actually was a historical figure, especially since it was doubted whether one single person was capable of being solely responsible for two such great works. A late 18th century German scholar advanced the theory that the Iliad and the Odyssey were collections of individual lays, thus making Homer a kind of collective term for more ancient epic verse. The authorship of Homer's epics are still a little bit problematic today amongst the scholars.

Nowadays it's generally held that Homer was a real person who lived and wrote on the west coast of Asia Minor and was associated in many ways with the island of Chios. His great works probably also incorporated many older and shorter legendary epics, with the Iliad thought to have been written before the Odyssey although both works were much amended and expanded at a later date. Homer is also credited with the "Homeric Hymns and Epigrams" and the comic epics of the "Fool Margites" and the "War of Frogs and Mice" (Batrachomyomachia).