Greek poet says he believes author of 'Name of Rose' was plagiarist


NICOSIA, Cyprus -- An award-winning Greek poet testified Tuesday that he is convinced that 'The Name of the Rose' by Italian novelist Umberto Eco was plagiarized from a book by a Cypriot author.

Demetris Siatopoulos was the main witness in the second day of the plagiarism trial in which Cypriot author Costas Socratous is demanding $2.2 million in damages Eco's Greek and Italian publishers, Gnossi and the Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri Bompiani.


He believes that Eco plagiarized his novel 'The Excommunicated' and turned it into a best-seller with sales of more than a million in Italian and other languages, including English. The story also was made into a film starring Sean Connery.

Siatopoulos, a winner of the Athens Academy award who is also a retired lawyer and top-ranking literary critic in Greece, said he had read Socratous's book in 1965 and that 20 years later he read the Greek translation of 'The Name of the Rose.'

'It reminded me of an earlier story I had read, a case of deja vu,' Siatopoulos testified. 'I believe Eco's story is a copy of the plot in Socratous's book. I believe Eco took parts or the entire plot from the novel by a poor Cypriot writer and made it into a best-seller.'


'The Name of the Rose' was published in 1980 and sold more than a million copies, but is probably better known for its movie adaptation.

Cast in the Medieval era when heretics were burned at the stake and the Holy Inquisition was rampant, both 'The Name of the Rose' and 'The Excommunicated' have as their plot the arrival of a teacher and his disciple at a remote monastery in search of a book that will revolutionize the concept of religion.

The book, 'In the Hands of the Infidel,' written by an ancient Greek philosopher, was the only one saved from the torching of the great library of Alexandria, Egypt.

In 'The Name of the Rose' it is said to have been written by Aristotle, while in 'The Excommunicated' it was written either by Plato or Socrates. In both books three murders were committed.

In 'The Excommuniacted,' the plot spans a four-day period, while the action in 'The Name of the Rose' spans seven.

Socratous alleges that he has found more than 1,000 similarities between his book and Eco's and has written a book titled 'The Plundering of 'The Excommunicated'' to detail his claim.

Socratous also says there are similarities between his book and the film, which were not in Eco's book.


Eco, a teacher in Bologna, Italy, has said in response to Socratous' claims in the past that they may have had the same sources. Socratous argues that he did not have any. 'I was inspired by the oppressive force of religion. I have no sources except my own imagination,' he after Monday's hearing.

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