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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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Fiction, Bewitchment and Story Worlds: The Implications of Claims to Truth in Apuleius

Fiction, Bewitchment and Story Worlds: The Implications of Claims to Truth in Apuleius

Chapter:
(p.147) Chapter Five Fiction, Bewitchment and Story Worlds: The Implications of Claims to Truth in Apuleius
Source:
Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World
Author(s):

Andrew Laird

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780859893817.003.0005

This chapter discusses the understanding of fiction expressed in the ancient novel. The focus is on one (Roman) novel, Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, especially the prologue and Pamphile's transformation into an owl. It is suggested that such material is best interpreted in terms of strategies designed to disarm disbelief, rather than in terms of the contrast between fact and fiction. The novel writer aims to create two types of community, namely community with the reader's experience and with other stories. In the context of these two ‘story worlds’, an episode such as that of Pamphile's transformation invites the reader to waver in their judgement about the truth of what is described. The narrator describes himself as ‘bewitched’, and aims to ‘bewitch’ his readers by his description of the event. The chapter suggests that (what we call) fiction in antiquity was often conceived by them as a form of bewitchment, produced by different types of expression, including rhetoric as well as narrative.

Keywords:   Bewitchment, Community, Disbelief, Fiction, Reader, Rhetoric, Story world

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