The majority of famous people go down in history for something they’ve done or something that happened to them. Often, however, what we think we know about a historic figure turns out to be little more than a myth or a legend. You might have your fair share of stories about these famous faces, but unlike their historical counterparts, they never lived to do a day’s work. These famous figures have given us a great many interesting stories and legends; it simply turns out that none of them even existed in the first place.
Despite having penned some of the most important literature ever to have been discovered, Homer might not have even existed. While the writings of Homer are very much a solid part of the literary canon, historians have yet to determine whether or not the man as we have created him was even a real figure. With little to no information out there on the man’s life, the jury is well and truly out as to whether he even existed in the first place. Many researchers believe that his tales were instead created by a group of people over time, attributed with a name for the sake of cataloguing the lessons within the stories.
- John Henry
One of the most important figures in American history, John Henry might not have been as real as we give him credit for. A former slave and steel driver, Henry has gone down in history for facing up to machine and coming out the victor. Despite his celebrated status, however, some believe that the tale is only partly true. While there was a real man named John Henry, the history books report that he was relatively weak, tragically dying during the construction of the railway. The legend of John Henry might just have been a hopeful tale.
- King Arthur
Despite being one of the most famous figures in ancient history, there is no evidence to suggest that King Arthur was a real figure. While there is a great deal of information relating to the battles that took place in Camelot, no paper refers to a man named Arthur, or a King to match his status. While the man represented the gallant knight figure, most historians believe he was simply made up, having been developed from Sir Thomas’ “Le Morte d’Arthur” stories.
Responsible for one of the universal laws of mathematics, Pythagoras might never have lived a day in his life. Despite being attributed with the Pythagorean Theorem, the man behind the equation is subject to a great deal of debate amongst historical circles. While the 5th century mathematician is said to have had crowds of followers, there is no historical documentation of him in books from the period. Stories relating to the man suggest that he was the son of the god Apollo, leading many to believe he was simply conjured up by a religious sect.
- Pope Joan
Despite being one of the most famous popes in history, it is unlikely that Pope Joan ever existed as a real figure. According to legend, Pope Joan served as Pontiff between the years of 853 and 855 AD. While stories relating to the Pope have circulated across the world, historians have yet to find any legitimate documentation to back up her existence. Now, the majority believe that she was merely a satirical figure, based on stories of Pope John XI.