The Iliad and the Odyssey were recited orally for centuries before they were written down, despite containing more than 10,000 lines.
The epic is the oldest genre of writing, at least it is the oldest surviving genre. Even 2,000 years before the Greeks had a form of writing, epics were being created and told for entertainment. The first two tales written in Greek were Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer was supposedly a blind poet, who created the Iliad and the Odyssey, however, it’s not clear whether he actually existed, much less created the two epics.
It is truly incredible how long these orally told stories were. The Iliad was more than 12,000 lines and the Odyssey was more than 15,000 lines. Bards through the years had taken it upon themselves to actually memorize these gigantic poems called epics. They maintained the stories for more than a century before they were recorded in the newly created Greek. The two epics still contain clear signs of having been orally told stories.
For example, the bards would have used the epithets like “clever Odysseus” and “brave Achilles” repeated throughout the epic to make memorization easier. There were also several other repeated phrases in the stories. Nevertheless, memorization would have been an impressive feat!