Truth, narration, and interpretation in Lucian's Verae Historiae

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This article examines the representation of truth and interpretation in Lucian’s True Stories. The discussion is comprised of two parts: the first half brings under examination the rhetorical and philosophical significance of the preface’s key terms, and in particular the use of the term psychagōgia and its heritage. I point to certain Platonic and Aristophanic intertexts, through this term, which adumbrate exactly why Lucian forsakes truth for lies in his narrative. The second part of this article localizes in the famous meeting of Homer in the Isles of the Blessed the negation of truth as the essential aspect of rhetoric already set forward in the preface. Lucian’s text complicates interpretation through narratorial voices characterized as slippery because of their intertextual representations; this is seen not only in the unsatisfactory answers of Homer about his own poetry, but also through the new Homeric hexameter pastiches in book 2, which underline, through Homeric intertext, the inevitable epigonality of all texts and the unreliable nature of “true”, authorial pronouncements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-250
Number of pages32
JournalAmerican Journal of Philology
Issue number2
Early online date31 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2016


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