Outis

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Outis (transliteration of Ancient Greek Οὖτις, in capitals ΟΥΤΙΣ, from οὔτις "nobody" or "no one")[1] is an often used pseudonym. Artists, writers and others in public life use this pseudonym in order to hide their identity. The Latin equivalent Nemo is also often used.

Origin of the name[edit]

Blinding of the Cyclops

"Οὖτις" was used as a pseudonym by the Homeric hero Odysseus, when he fought the Cyclops Polyphemus, and had put out the monster's eye. Polyphemus shouted in pain to the other Cyclopes of the island that "Nobody" was trying to kill him, so no one came to his rescue. The story of the Cyclops can be found in the Odyssey, book 9 (in the Cyclopeia). The name Nobody can be found in five different lines of Chapter 9. First of all in line 366:

  • "'Cyclops, you asked my noble name, and I will tell it; but do you give the stranger's gift, just as you promised. My name is Nobody. Nobody I am called by mother, father, and by all my comrades.'

Then in line 369:

  • "So I spoke, and from a ruthless heart he straightway answered: 'Nobody I eat up last, after his comrades; all the rest first; and that shall be the stranger's gift for you.'

Then in line 408:

  • "Then in his turn from out the cave big Polyphemus answered: 'Friends, Nobody is murdering me by craft. Force there is none. But answering him in winged words they said: If nobody harms you when you are left alone, illness which comes from mighty Zeus you cannot fly. But make your prayer to your father, lord Poseidon".

In line 455:

  • "Are you sorry because that wicked Nobody brought your master down with drink and blinded him?".

And in line 460:

  • "I should thus have some revenge for the harm that no-good Nobody has done me".

Uses of the pseudonym Outis[edit]

Edgar Allan Poe
  • In the New York Evening Mirror (January 14, 1845), Edgar Allan Poe denounced the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as a plagiarist. Longfellow remained silent on the matter, but a defender for Longfellow did appear, an anonymous writer who signed his letters only as "Outis". Speculation as to the identity of Outis has mentioned Cornelius Felton, Lawrence Labree,[2] and Poe himself.[citation needed]
  • Henry Stevens was an American rare book dealer, and a graduate of Yale University. In 1845 he went to London 'on a book-hunting expedition' and remained there until his death in 1886. As an antiquarian he helped to build up several great American libraries. In 1877, under the pseudonym of 'Mr. Secretary Outis,' he projected and initiated a literary association named The Hercules Club.
Hablot Knight Browne: illustration for David Copperfield
  • István Orosz (1951-), Hungarian visual artist, uses the pseudonym Utisz, a phonemic respelling of the Greek Outis: that is, both are pronounced /utis/. The hidden meaning of the ancient tale is very close to the visual pitfalls created by Orosz. He likes to use visual paradox, double meaning images and optical illusion – all of them are some kind of attack upon the eye, an Odysseus' gesture in a symbolic way.
"Orosz doubles even himself: from time to time, he signs his works as Utisz, the pseudonym borrowed from Cyclopeia. The most artful Greek, Odysseus, also used as a pseudonym the word meaning No-man, and as we know, with that exchange of names, then Polyphemos the Cyclops’ eye came into the world. The gouging out of the eye, or deception to the eye, also accompanied the works of Orosz/Utisz, if only metaphorically. Trompe l’oeil – we refer with an art historical expression to those images in which illusion guides the gaze. Orosz often uses such artifice, though he is completely aware of the danger of these deceptive procedures. He put it this way at a symposium a few years back: I hope my intentions are clear, in the ambitions of a Hungarian artist at the turn of the century, who does not tell the truth only to be caught in the act." (Introduction by Guy d'Obonner)
  • Pseudonym of Henri Antoine Meilheurat des Pruraux for O il cattolicismo o la morte in Leonardo nr 7 (29 March 1903).

Uses of the pseudonym Nemo[edit]

Camille Claudel
Captain Nemo
Little Nemo

Other "Nobody" pseudonyms[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ οὔτις. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. ^ Ljungquist, Kent (2009). A Further Note on Lawrence Labree. The Edgar Allan Poe Review Vol. 10, No. 2 , pp. 122-128.

External links[edit]