Where the boundary lies between falsehood and fiction, between an actual untruth and an admitted invention, has set off many debates in intellectual circles. In classical studies, this issue has gained prominence through the upsurge of interest in the ancient novel and through recent work on the rhetorical character of ancient historiography.This pathfinding collection of essays charts the borderland between falsehood and fiction in the ancient world, especially by considering how far "lying" was distinguished from "fiction" at different periods and in different genres. The areas covered are early Greek poetry (E. L. Bowie), Plato (Christopher Gill), Greek and Roman historiography (J. L. Moles and T. P. Wiseman), and the Greek and Roman novel (J. R. Morgan and Andrew Laird). Michael Wood and D. C. Feeney discuss the literary critical questions involved and draw connections with contemporary debate. All Greek and Latin passages are translated into English, and the collection is designed to be accessible to students of literature and history generally, as well as to Classicists.
Despite its selective focus, this superb collection of articles on the problem of fiction in antiquity is a valuable acquisition for any general library, the scope of the book and the range of the individual contributions extensive enough to ensure that the evidence for this protean literary category is given generous coverage. It has long been recognized that the imagination of the novelist, the poet, and the historian must be related in important, intimate ways. This collection advances our understanding of those related imaginations. If the range of ideas developed by ancient writers does not precisely correspond to modern categories, that is hardly surprising: as Michael Wood and D.C. Feeney argue, the boundaries between fact, fiction and falsehood are culturally determined and change over time. This book explores the varying ways in which these categories were constructed in the ancient world, and in the process raises important questions about the definition of fiction in contemporary culture.