Volume 25, Issue 2, Spring 2021
Jessica Elbert Decker
I Will Tell A Double Tale
Double Speak in the Ancient Greek Poetic Tradition
Double speak refers to two parallel devices that are often deployed together: simple repetition, which is frequently used as both emphasis and as an indicator of double speak, and ambiguous syntax such that the phrase uttered may have multiple meanings at once. This paper explores the use of double speak in early Ancient Greek poetic texts, beginning with Homer and tracing its use through the texts of Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Empedocles. Double speak seems to be employed in order to mediate between mortal and divine, creating a double audience: a god or goddess is capable of speaking in two registers at once, so a mortal listening will infer one meaning, while from the perspective of the god or goddess speaking, the statement will have another meaning supplemental to the first. This paper demonstrates the manner in which these Presocratic thinkers employ double speak as a means of disrupting human binary habits of thinking and creating a “quantum awareness” where the subject is able to perceive the relationships and paradoxes that exist between the knower and the seeming objects of knowledge, as well as the habits of thinking and perceiving that nourish the repetition and growth of those patterns.