Volume 26, 2008
Philosophy and Literature
Literature after Philosophy
A Reading of Virgil, Aeneid, II, 604‐612s
The following paper seeks to show, through a close reading of lines 604-612 from the second book of the Aeneid, that Virgil develops an understanding of truth opposed to the dominant understanding of truth of the philosophical tradition. Whereas philosophy (as exemplified in the “cave analogy” of Plato’s Republic)
regards truth as a power over deception, Virgil comes to understand truth instead as the effect of a deception that cannot be “disillusioned,” and that in turn summons us towards an obedience to a power that deceives us. This way of understanding the truth, I further suggest, stands in a close relation to literature, and suggests a way to think of the possibilities of literature outside the perspective of philosophy.