Telling the truth through lying about lying in Lucian’s true stories


  • George Couvalis Flinders University


Lucian of Samosata’s True Stories (alethondiegematon) is, in part, a parody of Greek allegorical writing and of Greek allegorical interpretation. The parody works through a bizarre narrative that has been said to be the world’s first science fiction story. Before the narrative begins, Lucian announces that he is lying, but is more honest than other liars because he tells you that he is lying. Lucian then plays on various paradoxes without committing himself to a paradoxical content. Using a Gricean account of meaning, which distinguishes between semantic and pragmatic meanings, I explain how Lucian evades paradox while satirising pseudo-profound paradox mongers.