Aristotle Beyond the Academy

Aristotle Gets Punched

In 1891, Aristotle’s recently rediscovered Constitution of the Athenians was published in full for the first time, creating quite the stir and press attention. The papyrus manuscript had been purchased for the British Museum by E. A. Wallis Budge in 1890.

Nor did the momentous occasion escape the notice of satirical magazine Punch, who in the January 31 1891 edition, penned a short ditty in commemoration, treating Budge’s quick acquisition as a source of national pride:

All have heard of “a Manuscript found in a Bottle,”
But here is a waif with romance yet more fraught:
A newly-found treatise by old ARSTOTLE
Is flotsom indeed from the Ocean of Thought.
Oh, happy discoverer, lucky Museum!
Not this time the foreigner scores off JOHN BULL.
Teuton pundits would lift, for such luck, their
Te Deum!
Punch hopes, such a triumph to dull!
May it all turn out right! Further details won’t tire us.
We may get some straight-tips from that Coptic papyrus!

Two weeks later, and a Punch cartoon took a different tack – portraying a well-groomed young man telling his mother how glad he was to have left school before they found even more Aristotle for him to translate…!

Durham UniversityDurham University Centre for Classical ReceptionLeverhulme Trust