Ulysses used to lie to save his life, but also for the pleasure of doing so. Plato recommended that rulers should lie for the sake of the people. In the Middle Ages, it was thought that the lie was and attack upon God's Word, the Truth: players were buried outside the town, together with thieves, magicians and forgers. Then, suddenly, the art of lying became an art, with Machiavelli's politics, the courtiers' manuals and the explosion of the Art of Astonishment.
Since then, the dividing line between Pinocchio's lies and great illusions has become less well-definied, and virtual reality might be the latest and greatest lie.
This book covers the History of the Lie: the lies of rulers, players, artists and children, seen in the light of the considerations of philosphers and poets, the greatest liars ever.
Maria Bettetini teaches History of Ideas and Aesthetic at IULM University of Milan