Web Theoi
ALETHEIA
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Name Translation
Αληθεια Alêtheia Veritas Truth, Truthfulness,
Sincerity (alêtheia)

ALETHEIA (or Alathea) was the spirit (daimona) of truth, truthfulness and sincerity. Her opposites were Dolos (Trickery), Apate (Deception) and the Pseudologoi (Lies).

PARENTS
[1] ZEUS (Pindar Olympian Ode 11)
[2] Crafted by PROMETHEUS (Aesop Fables 530)

Pindar, Olympian Ode 11. 6 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Ah Moisa (Muse), I beg you, and Alatheia (Truth) daughter of Zeus, with your right hand upraised shield me from this reproach of a pledge broken and a friend's dues dishonoured."

Pindar, Fragment 205 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Alatheia (Truth), who art the beginning of great virtue, keep my good-faith from stumbling against rough falsehood."

Bacchylides, Fragment 57 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Alatheia (Truth) is from the same city as the gods; she alone lives with the gods."

Aesop, Fables 531 (from Babrius 126) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"A man was journeying in the wilderness and he found Veritas [Aletheia, Truth] standing there all alone. He said to her, ‘Ancient lady, why do you dwell here in the wilderness, leaving the city behind?’ From the great depths of her wisdom, Veritas (Truth) replied, ‘Among the people of old, lies were found among only a few, but now they have spread throughout all of human society!’"
[N.B. This fable is preserved only in a Latin text. Aesop's Aletheia (Truth personified) becomes Veritas in the Latin.]

Aesop, Fables 530 (from Phaedrus Appendix 5) :
"Prometheus, that potter who gave shape to our new generation, decided one day to sculpt the form of Veritas [Aletheia, Truth], using all his skill so that she would be able to regulate people's behaviour. As he was working, an unexpected summons from mighty Jupiter [Zeus] called him away. Prometheus left cunning Dolus (Trickery) in charge of his workshop, Dolus had recently become one of the god's apprentices. Fired by ambition, Dolus (Trickery) used the time at his disposal to fashion with his sly fingers a figure of the same size and appearance as Veritas [Aletheia, Truth] with identical features. When he had almost completed the piece, which was truly remarkable, he ran out of clay to use for her feet. The master returned, so Dolus (Trickery) quickly sat down in his seat, quaking with fear. Prometheus was amazed at the similarity of the two statues and wanted it to seem as if all the credit were due to his own skill. Therefore, he put both statues in the kiln and when they had been thoroughly baked, he infused them both with life: sacred Veritas (Truth) walked with measured steps, while her unfinished twin stood stuck in her tracks. That forgery, that product of subterfuge, thus acquired the name of Mendacium [Pseudologos, Falsehood], and I readily agree with people who say that she has no feet: every once in a while something that is false can start off successfully, but with time Veritas (Truth) is sure to prevail."
[N.B. This fable is preserved only in a Latin text. Aesop's Aletheia (Truth personified) becomes Veritas in the Latin.]

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 27 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting depicting the oracle of Amphiaraos at Oropos:] The painting depicts also [the town of] Oropos as a youth among bright-eyed women, Thalattai (the Seas), and it depicts also the place used by Amphiaraos for meditation, a cleft holy and divine. Aletheia (Truth) clad all in white is there and the gate of dreams (pylê oneirôn)--for those who consult the oracle must sleep--and Oneiros (the god of dreams) himself is depicted in relaxed attitude . . . ain his hands he carries a horn, showing that he brings up his dreams through the gate of truth."
[N.B. Oropos was a dream-oracle. The Oneiros (Dream) carries a horn because the gate of true dreams in the underworld was constructed of horn, cf. Homer, Odyssey 19.566.]

Apuleius, The Golden Ass 8. 7 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) :
"He beguiled Veritas (Truth) herself with his many [false] expressions of affection."


Sources:

  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Pindar, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Aesop, Fables - Greek Fables C6th B.C.
  • Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
  • Apuleius, The Golden Ass - Latin Epic C2nd A.D.

Other references not currently quoted here: Empedocles 1; Parmenides 1.29