There are various fragments of Greek and Latin poetry whose provenance is unknown, such as quotations in other works whose source hasn't survived.

Are there any known fragments longer than a couple lines, whose author is unknown or uncertain?

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    An unserious answer: yes, all of Homer.
    – TKR
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 23:45
  • The collection known as the Carmina Burana is mostly anonymous. Slightly earlier are the graduals in rhymed prose. A number of saints' Lives from the time of King Edgar are also written in rhymed prose. DWRollason has published some of these.
    – Hugh
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 3:11
  • Not classical, but has been called a masterpiece of Koine Greek: The authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews has been contested since antiquity. Traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, current scholars' opinions range from denying it altogether, to attributing him intellectual authorship (in the same way politicians' speeches are usually written by assistants based on a set of more or less detailed ideas,) to even giving him full authorship and justifying stylistic differences as a result of translation.
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


Authorship and the rights associated with it, as we know it now, is a relatively modern concept. In antiquity, works had a higher probability of being preserved (by being distributed more, by being sold more, by being in higher demand) if they were ascribed to a famous author, preferably a dead one who couldn't disclaim authorship anymore. Thus "book sellers" had an incentive to lie about authorship of their wares, with probably a very small chance of being caught and suffering repercussions.

You can find contested works easily on Google by looking for "pseudo-[famous author]" . A few examples:

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