Stripping the Integuments of Fiction

Giovanni Boccaccio, Genealogy of the Pagan Gods (1.3):

So here you have, my noble king, a ridiculous story. But we have come to the point where it is convenient to remove the bark of fiction from the truth, though we must first respond to those who ask why the poets covered the works of God, or of nature, or of humans under this veil of fictions. Was there not another way? There was, to be sure, but just as not all people are equal in appearance, so too the faculty of judgment differs among them. Achilles preferred arms to leisure, Aegisthus indolence to arms; Plato followed philosophy to the neglect of everything else, while Phidias sculpted statues with his chisel and Apelles painted images with his brush.

Habes, rex inclite, ridiculam fabulam, verum eo ventum est, ubi oportunum sit a veritate amovere fictionis corticem, sed prius respondendum est persepe dicentibus, quid poete dei opera vel nature vel hominum hoc sub fabularum velamine tradidere? Non erat eis modus alter? Erat equidem, sed uti non equa facies omnibus, sic nec animorum iudicia. Achilles arma preposuit ocio, Egisthus desidiam armis, Plato phylosophiam omissis ceteris secutus est, statuas celte sculpere Phydias, Apelles pinnaculo ymagines pingere.


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