The Classical Traveler: Homer (Eighth Century B.C.)
“Homer was like Shakespeare, [and the Iliad and Odyssey] were regarded like the Bible. Going to Troy was like a pilgrimage to Jerusalem,” says travel historian Tony Perrottet, author of Route 66 A.D. and an expert on the amblings of the ancients.
Greek poet Homer lived an epic life, and the Trojan War stories he put to verse created a vivid classical road map that’s been assiduously followed by travelers for nearly 3,000 years. Imperial Romans were among the world’s first committed tourists, making multiyear trips to the Athenian Acropolis and the Pyramids of Egypt, among other Mediterranean stops. But no tour was complete without a visit to Troy (in present-day Turkey), site of the storied battle that Homer turned into one of the touchstone events of Western civilization.
Photos: Famous Great Travelers
Tourism has been around since antiquity—the earliest guidebook, The Description of Greece, was written by Greek geographer Pausanias around A.D. 160—but travel is timeless. A handful of history’s boldest travelers staged epic journeys that crossed new lands, broke cultural barriers, and revealed the radical diversity of the world around us. In doing so, these trailblazers confirmed that wanderlust is part of the human condition. “Curiosity is the one thing invincible in nature,” wrote explorer Freya Stark—one of ten travelers whose intrepid itineraries left the world a better place. —By George W. Stone