In the Poet’s Own Hand?

Some time ago, I came across this photograph:

Iliad with 'autographed' stickerIt’s such an intriguing image – you wonder: was it just a mistake by some sales assistant, or was somebody in that bookshop making a very thoughtful comment on an age-old mystery?

Well, well…. just imagine.

What would the signature be like? What name would he write?
And would he be willing to sign the Odyssey as well?

At this point, I wonder whether we’d be any wiser if we read that his name was actually Melesigenes – how much, apart from a name, would he have to add to make us really any wiser about those epics?* We know already that whoever put them together was a genius in story-telling, but in the end, the Iliad and the Odyssey are the work of many nameless contributors: in a way, the Homeric mystery seems perfectly appropriate.

And yet… I’d love to see the signature in that book.


* I guess we would be rather surprised if he signed his name as Tigranes of Babylon – see Lucian’s little fiction experiment, Verae Historiae 2.20 (text here, scroll down to p.323).

This entry was posted in Inventing the Past and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.