Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | May 14, 2013

Freud’s Bookplate

Ex Libris bookplates are so evocative. And they can help books find their way back to you when borrowed by absent-minded friends. Here is Sigmund Freud’s bookplate. Can anyone translate the Greek here? I wonder what the Sphinx is saying to this ‘small-but-perfectly-formed’ man?



  1. the sphinx is saying, I can’t see ya bits, they must be small, and the perfectly formed man is saying, you should of gone to spec savers.

    • Yes John I was thinking of jokes like ‘And this from the man who invented the theory of penis envy?’

  2. I found out that Freud was given a bronze medal bearing the same sentence on the occasion of his 50th birthday! It is a verse from Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” (ahem!). It means “he who understood that famous enigma and was a strong man” (or possibly the strongest because the Greek word is a superlative). Not very modest, but you could expect that from Dr Freud…

    • Fantastic Diane! Don’t you love the internet? I put this post up a few minutes ago and voila the answer arrives! Thank you! 🙂

      • You are most welcome! It’s very interesting.

  3. A quotation from Sophicles Oedipus Tyrannus: “he who knew the famous riddle and was a man most mighty.” Perhaps Freud thought of himself as that man who had divined secret knowledge:)

  4. Great to read the answer, as Arthur’s just been busy at the kitchen table with his old text books and come up all unaided with, ‘He solved the famous riddle and was the strongest man,; which I think not bad after a 40 year layoff from classics. I’ll report back to him so he can have a bask!

  5. I don’t see anything to be envious of 😉

  6. . . .he solved the famous riddle and was most powerful of men –

    Its out of dipus who unravelled the mystery of the Sphinx.

    Hopefully its helpful

    Love and light from Berlin



  7. I think the Sphinx says: “Wake up, dude!”

  8. I go with teh ‘should’ve gone to specsavers’ one myself lol.

  9. I am going with the ‘should’ve gone to spec’savers’ one myself. lol

  10. To the transgendered ‘small but perfectly formed’ is quite good enough. wink

  11. I’m confused. I thought the Sphinx was a size queen…

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