In ancient times the world was so sparsely populated that an individual needed only one name.
Anonymous was apparently an Athenian Greek who had a lot to say but never had the courage to just come out and say it. Instead, he invented graffiti in order to more fully express himself. His friends quoted him –Anon. We forgive his trepidation in boldly speaking out, especially against government, either a republic or one led by tyrants (not sure which) because to do so was often punishable by death and, as most people would, and for just that reason, he just wished to remain Anonymous.
In modern times, Author Unknown seems the more prolific writer yet we know so little about him. We don’t even know if this Author is living or dead. He could even be a she, for all we know.
Anonymous quotations or even those from an Author Unknown always present problems to writers. Professionals of all stripes are pernickety (and well they should be) in making attributions to others so as to not step on anyone’s toes. It is not only giving credit where credit is due; but also blame where blame is due. In publication, this credit actually does put meat on one’s table, and to take from another is considered theft. But true attribution also either adds to or detracts from ones personal reputation.
It seems a quest for originality. It’s not good enough to cite the origin of an idea or quote; but to be original yourself – to add to it – to somehow be creative. By making attribution we thus identify the old and isolate and highlight only that which is new.
And if it be true:
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV
Then what could I possibly contribute?
If I were to describe something in my mother tongue (the language I learned from my own mother), am I not merely quoting my mother? Are not all of my ideas merely an amalgam of only those ideas written down by my literate predecessors and limited still further, only of those using the Latin alphabet and Hindu-Arabic numeric writing system.- Authors Unknown?