Lousy boys and pseudo-Homeric giggles
Copyright (c) 2020 Laura Gianvittorio-Ungar
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
A funny ancient anecdote, first recounted by Heraclitus of Ephesus, says that Homer was confronted by a group of children with a riddle about their own lice. This paper formulates two hypotheses. The first is that the lice anecdote was spread by the Chios-based guild of the Homeridai, who, starting from the 6th century BC, established themselves as the chief authority on Homer’s life and works: indeed, Heraclitus shows that this anecdote circulated in the time and area of the Homeridai’s peak activity. The second and more speculative hypothesis is that the anecdote appeared in the lost poem called Epikichlides, which like other Homeric apocrypha might well have been composed by the Homeridai. While too little is known about Epikichlides to make a strong case, there are some interesting matching points with the anecdote about the lousy boys.