I continue now with my lecture this past week on whether ancient readers and writers considered pseudepigraphic writing – in which an author claimed to be someone else (always someone famous) – was seen as deceitful, a kind of literary lie, and is therefore appropriately, in an ancient context, appropriately considered by thos of us today, “forgery.”  This is Part 2 of 4.


I do not need to give an extensive account of all the instances of ancient Echtheitskritik (= scholarly attempt to determine if a work is authentic) found throughout the surviving literature: full accounts are readily available in any of the lengthy monographs.  To be sure, some recent scholars have claimed it was a rare discourse.  But maybe abundance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  I myself have always been struck by how extensive the discourse of authenticity is, going back in some sense to Herodotus and becoming a focus of interest for some authors, especially critics and biographers such as (the Roman medical writer of the second century) Galen and (the third-century biographer of eminent philosophers) Diogenes Laertius who thought it truly important to know if a particular author wrote a particular work.  No, it was not good enough to say that the content of the work was roughly what the author would have written in a different situation, or if he had had more time.   Some books were authentic, others were lies or illegitimate children.

And so in the Greek and Roman tradition, from a much longer list, forgeries are exposed by such figures as….

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