Clearly, all this must remain speculation. It is not that important: my interpretation of the poems does not depend on this. Any questions why A should be self-reflective and B not, must remain unanswered. The only criterion is that the story must make sense and explains a lot of references of both Iliad and Odyssey.
Born at the earliest first half 8th c. in Smyrna ("Melesigenes") into a branch of the Neleid clan
these were a royal family from Pylos who claimed descent from Poseidon. They were very involved in the Ionian Migration (via Athens). [Hdt. 1.146]
father: 'king' of the city, occupant of the Big House in Smyrna. In character like Peleus
grandfather: the man who stole Smyrna from the Aeolians ("Autolykos(1)")
They must have justified their capture of Smyrna by claiming that they would conquer "Troy" (Sardis) for the Greeks.
mother: a concubine, possibly non-Greek (ref. Aeneas). His father apparently did love her, elements of this relation may appear in the picture of Thetis (e.g. Il 1.495-). Is the only son for many years. His father treats him as a successor (ref. Peleus and Phoenix, Il 9.481-(2)) until his wedded wife gives him a son.
Is from an early age (Il 18.569-) a talented singer, kithara-player and speechmaker in his
father's service. But also an experienced soldier.
younger half-brother, born from the wedded wife when H. was already at least a teenager
The younger brother is to become king ("Achilles is nobler than you"- ref. Patroclus) (Notos - theme)
H. will be 'commander of the army'? (Diomedes vs. Aineias scene)
Quarrel with father and/or brother: goes into exile (Phoenix' , Patroclus' story etc.) The quarrel may have been about Smyrna's warlike intentions, like Odysseus vs. Nestor, Il 2.278-.
Lives for a while as a professional soldier (Thrace? Egypt?)
Ionia is by then 'full', with no prospect of growing larger. Economic crisis, immigration stop. Only δημιοεργοὶ, people with a useful skill, may get in.
Swears off his name (deal with family?). The poet's anonymity certainly needs an explanation. To me it seems a strong point in favour of the exile-theory.
Composes the Iliad. Starts living as an itinerant singer
Sings for a large royal audience at "Amphidamas' funeral" in Chalkis (ref. "Contest of Homer &
Travels extensively, singing the Iliad everywhere
Goes to Kyme. Meets Hesiodos ("Aeolus") (ref. Life of Homer).
Finally settles in Chios (Volissos). Chooses this place because it is far from cities,
and ships (e.g. from Smyrna) beach there waiting for favourable wind before crossing the Aegean
(Od 3.170-, 9.116-, 12.165-).
Probably marries (again?). Has a daughter. (Nausikaa, Leukothea, Eidothea: the young girl who saves his life)
'school forming' as with later philosophers. Becomes a kind of teacher to admirers from all over Greece. (Proteus)
Founds the Guild of Singers, the Homeridae. Composes the Odyssey, meant to be performed by his pupils. See Il 18.372-.
He or his pupils sing at Delos (-> Hymn to Apollo)
To facilitate training his rhapsodes, he and his pupils create written texts of both large poems (revising and extending the Iliad?)
Has problems with eyesight in old age. The one who marries his daughter will be leader of the Homeridae ("Who can string my bow?"). The writing project - a major task - may have earned him the nickname "Phoenix", because of the "Phoenician letters" he wrote. The teaching part really makes him the first schoolteacher. A tradition about this still lives on in Volissos on Chios.
Dies: 7th c. ?
Admittedly Autolykos is Odysseus maternal grandfather. But he is described
as the "greatest thief in the world" (Od 19.395-) which seems a good description for someone
who steals a whole city. His name is a hint as well.
If this is true, the story that Phoenix tells is rather rough humour,
a reversal of the picture that I give.
Reversing wedded wife and concubine, he appears to say: "I slept with your mother, I could
be your father". Note how his brother is the addressee, in a hidden way of course. It will certainly not be a literal version of events but I cannot help suspecting that the story of Phoenix' exile and the relation with Peleus and Achilles is some kind of reflexivity of Homer's own life.
All this reminds of Hesiod's admonitory address to his brother Perses.