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Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World$
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Christopher Gill and T.P. Wiseman

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780859893817

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780859893817.001.0001

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Lying Historians: Seven Types of Mendacity

Lying Historians: Seven Types of Mendacity

(p.122) Chapter Four Lying Historians: Seven Types of Mendacity
Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World

T.P. Wiseman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter presents an illustrated catalogue of types of invention in ancient historiography (the sub-title echoes the famous ‘seven types of ambiguity’ of the literary critic Empson); these types cover a spectrum of cases from modest elaboration of fact to outright, even flagrant, lying. Although modern historiography also involves some creative or inventive presentation, it is claimed that the ancient genre goes much further in this respect, and often produces what we would regard as virtually historical novels. The seven types of mendacity reviewed are (1) tendentiousness, (2) myth (the miraculous or remarkable story told for its own pleasure), (3) travellers’ tales, presented as fact (4) the pervasive influence of rhetoric and drama, (5) aphegesis, story-telling for its own sake, (6) elaboration of detail to achieve vividness, (7) spareness of detail, also designed for effect.

Keywords:   Detail, Drama, Historiography, Mendacity, Myth, Rhetoric, Story-telling, Tendentiousness, Vividness

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