In archaic Greece, the poet (aedo), the diviner, and the king had the common privilege of being the dispensers of truth simply because they possessed qualities that distinguished them. This is what Marcel Detienne tells us in his book The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece:
“The poet, the seer, and the king also share a similar type of speech. Through the religious power of Memory, Mnēmosynē, both poet and diviner have direct access to the Beyond; they can see what is invisible and declare ‘what has been, what is, and what will be.’ With this inspired knowledge, the poet uses his sung speech to celebrate human exploits and actions, which thus become glorious and illuminated, endowed with vital force and the fullness of being. Similarly, the king’s speech, relying on test by ordeal, possesses an oracular power. It brings justice into being and establishes the order of law without recourse to either proof or investigation.”
It is interesting to note that the characters chosen as dispensers of truth can be summarised in characteristics such as sensitivity, for the poet (sensitivity is the perception of direct relational data without hindrance to their receptive use); expansion of the perceived according to ritual and shamanic patterns, for the diviner (incorporation of data and experiences into the meshes established for extrapolation of the perceived); and distribution, the sharing of the perceived according to criteria of right, correctness, and propriety in order to contemplate his subjects with justice, for the king.
What is truth and what is true has been a constant concern since archaic Greece and replacing truth with reality, objectivity, and opposing it to illusion, delusion, subjectivity is a process that we have observed over the centuries and millennia. The criteria for distinguishing between what is alive and what is dense, the desire to know if the stone that occupies a place in space also breathes, are questions that strike us as children and that continue to dominate the Inuit peoples, for example. Frequency and occurrence transform the banal into rare. Stones in Eskimo glaciers, flakes in the desert, are ghostly finds. Shamans are called upon to explain them. Some nomadic tribes keep these rarities transformed into amulets, into references indicating rare events.
True is what is remembered and captured; it is what is not forgotten. Since the Greeks, the opposition between memory and forgetting has guaranteed the polarity that explains phenomena. To pass through the river Léthe is to forget everything that has been lived; it is to be born blank for another life; it is also to forget known truths; hence, we can understand the importance of the diviner as a dispenser of truth. He makes the passage; he goes back and forth; he does not stay on the other side; he does not forget; he brings information; he has the connections; he goes beyond the data; he knows the truth and its whole process. To forget is to disconnect and decontextualise. This loss of the process indicates the fragmentations responsible for the non-continuity that causes the idea that everything begins here, at this moment, without realising that the intersections translate processes that require vast explanations, landscapes that unfold and reveal the truth. It was not for nothing that Heidegger said that truth - alétheia - is unveiling.
The justiciar king who held the codes and laws could encompass the given - what occurs as a process - and furthermore, by grasping this sequence through explanatory narratives or stories full of truth, he established the criteria of justice.
The poet (aedo), the seer, and the king, that is, discovery (insight), belief, and ascertainment, are intrinsic to what is true. This relational density configures numerous variables, thus making truths and lies explicit. It is interesting to note that truth and deception, truth and lies, always go together in archaic Greek thought because it is in the structure, in the order of discourse, in speech, and in language that experiences and rules are communicated, expressed, or hidden. The Greeks almost said that deception lives in truth when they stated that the gods know the "truth" but also know how to deceive with appearances and words. Appearances are traps set for men. The words of the gods are always enigmatic; they conceal as much as they reveal: the oracle "shows himself through a veil, just like the newly married girl", as Detienne explains, and continues:
… the ambiguity of the divine mode corresponds to the duality of the human; there are men who recognise the aspect of the gods under the most disconcerting appearances, who know how to hear the hidden meaning of words, and there are also all the others who allow themselves to be led astray, who fall into the trap of the enigma.
In other words, memory deceives, distortions are imposed, demagoguery and "divide and rule", as well as the manipulation of facts, data, minds and laws are constant. Poets, seers and kings who exercise justice are lost, their guardians disappear, and the truth is a soap bubble that slides over us and when we try to stop it, it disappears.
To be whole, to be a poet, a seer and a just king is experienced through autonomy. It is autonomy that establishes truth, which removes divisions and allows one to discover, believe and determine what to do with oneself and with others, in this process of being in the world with the other. It is truth, it is poetry, it is magic, it is law, it is consistency.