When I first studied the Iliad in middle school, I remember a story about about a politician in Athens punching a traveling tutor for the sin of not carrying his copy of Homer on him at all times. Does anyone have any detail about this story? Who was the politician? Can anyone point me to a primary source?

1 Answer 1


The anecdote appears in Plutarch’s life of Alcibiades:

After he [Alcibiades] had finished his education, he went into a school, and asked the master for a volume of Homer. When the master said that he possessed none of Homer’s writings, he struck him with his fist, and left him. Another schoolmaster told him that he had a copy of Homer corrected by himself. “Do you,” asked he, “you who are able to correct Homer, teach boys to read! One would think that you could instruct men.”

Plutarch (2nd century). Life of Alcibiades, VII. Translated by Aubrey Stewart & George Long (1894). London: George Bell.

  • Geez he sounds like kind of a d*ck.
    – davidbak
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 2:25
  • 2
    @davidbak "He once struck Hipponikus, the father of Kallias, a man of great wealth and noble birth, a blow with his fist, not being moved to it by anger, or any dispute, but having agreed previously with his friends to do so for a joke." Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 7:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.