How we showed Homer’s Odyssey is not pure fiction, with a little help from Facebook

Murilo Baptista, Pedro J. Miranda, Sandro E. de S. Pinto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When you look at networks of people, whether it’s architects or table tennis players or a regular bunch of Facebook friends, they will have certain similarities. They tend to confirm the “six degrees of separation” idea that most people are connected in a few very short steps. Each person tends to have large numbers of connections and to associate with people who are similar to them. The networks are also usually organised into hierarchies.

In fiction – the Marvel universe or Lord of the Rings, say – networks of people usually differin certain ways to the real thing. People don’t only associate with similar people and have smaller numbers of associates, for example. And unlike real networks, you can remove people from the fictional equivalent without undermining the number of connections the remaining people are statistically likely to make. These differences raise an interesting possibility: testing works of fiction to see how far they deviate from reality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018

Data Availability Statement

Murilo Da Silva Baptista has received funding from the EPSRC.

Pedro Jeferson Miranda received PhD funding from CAPES.

Sandro Ely de Souza Pinto receives funding from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, CNPq.


  • facebook
  • Social Networks
  • Homer
  • Beowulf
  • The Iliad
  • The Odyssey


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