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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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Make-believe and Make Believe: The Fictionality of the Greek Novels

Make-believe and Make Believe: The Fictionality of the Greek Novels

(p.175) Chapter Six Make-believe and Make Believe: The Fictionality of the Greek Novels
Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World

J.R. Morgan

Liverpool University Press

This chapter considers how the fictionality of the small, but significant, genre of Greek novels, deriving from the late Hellenistic era and the Roman empire, was understood in antiquity. Although the genre was ignored by ancient literary critics, and the concept of fiction is not defined as such, it is suggested that there are a number of notions and distinctions formulated in ancient discussions which point towards an appreciation of fiction. However, it is maintained that it is more helpful to take account of the understanding of fictionality expressed in the Greek novels themselves. The novels simultaneously encourage belief in the world created and signal, in sophisticated ways, the artifice and artificiality of this same world. We are thus invited to ‘make believe’, rather than just to ‘believe’, and to accept, against our better judgement, that real life could be like that fictional world. This strategy is not fundamentally different from that of modern fiction, although it employs different conventions.

Keywords:   Artifice, Artificiality, Belief, Fiction, Make-believe, Novel, Reader

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