Overpowering the Truth

Here’s a recent piece on Greek concepts of the truth from The Conversation. It is part of a series developed with WBUR’s On Point, called “In Search of Truth” (here’s the first episode)

Sophocles, fr. 86.3

“What is believed overpowers the truth.”

τό τοι νομισθὲν τῆς ἀληθείας κρατεῖ.

Stobaeus, 3.1.154

“Truth is victorious within itself, but belief wins over those without.”

῾Η ἀλήθεια παρ’ αὑτῇ νικᾷ, ἡ δὲ δόξα παρὰ τοῖς ἔξω.

Plato, Phaedrus, 272-273 [cf. Philebus on difference between truth and opinion]

“In the courts, no one has any concern for the truth of matters at all, but only for that which persuades, this is what is probable. For this reason, to speak artfully one must pay attention to probability. Sometimes it is not possible to say what was done in both the accusation and the defense, even if it was unlikely to have happened, but only what was probable. So, a speaker must always pursue what is probable, saying many things to bid farewell to the truth. For this, when it happens for the entire speech, provides furnishes the whole craft of speaking.”

τὸ παράπαν γὰρ οὐδὲν ἐν τοῖς δικαστηρίοις τούτων ἀληθείας μέλειν οὐδενί, ἀλλὰ τοῦ πιθανοῦ· τοῦτο δ᾿ εἶναι τὸ εἰκός, ᾧ δεῖν προσέχειν τὸν μέλλοντα τέχνῃ ἐρεῖν. οὐδὲ γὰρ αὐτὰ τὰ πραχθέντα δεῖν λέγειν ἐνίοτε, ἐὰν μὴ εἰκότως ᾖ πεπραγμένα, ἀλλὰ τὰ εἰκότα, ἔν τε κατηγορίᾳ καὶ ἀπολογίᾳ· καὶ πάντως λέγοντα τὸ δὴ εἰκὸς διωκτέον εἶναι, πολλὰ εἰπόντα χαίρειν τῷ ἀληθεῖ· τοῦτο γὰρ διὰ παντὸς τοῦ λόγου γιγνόμενον τὴν ἅπασαν τέχνην πορίζειν.

Harmonika, 18.4

“The truth is simple and clean, a lie is the opposite.”

ἁπλοῦν γὰρ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ καθαρόν, τὸ δὲ ψεῦδος τοὐναντίον.

Cf. Aesch. fr. 288 “True words are simple ones.” ‘ἁπλᾶ γάρ ἐστι τῆς ἀληθείας ἔπη’

Crispin van den Broeck, 1523, “An Allegory of Truth and Deception”

Sophron, Mime fr. 1. 3-5

 

“Grief overcomes me every time I remember that he was planning to leave me even as he kissed me”

 

ὀδύνη μ᾿ ἔχει,

ὅταν ἀναμνησθῶ

ὥς με κατεφίλει ᾿πιβούλως μέλλων

με καταλιμπάν[ει]ν

 

Sophron? Mimes? Yeah, not part of our usual fare…But Plato read them to help himself sleep.