THE AIM of my work is explained in the first chapter. Excellent books on Homer and on Greek tragedy, taken separately, are obtainable. No one, however, as far as I know, has since Aristotle considered Greek epic, tragedy, and comedy from a single point of view, studying fiction as essentially a representation of forces in action. Menander in particular has not been given the place that he deserves as successor to Homer and the tragedians. Secondly, the study of Greek fiction from Aristotle's point of view almost forces the student to combine with his criticism of poets a reconsideration of Aristotle's Poetics or Theory of Fiction. My views on this point are summarized in the last chapter of this book. Those whose main interest is in the philosophy of fiction are advised to read the added ninth chapter first. The earlier chapters may then be read as supplementary and illustrative material. Still a third project has intruded here and there. I should have liked to add a tenth chapter dealing with fiction as a force in history and discussing the place of fiction in personal and social dynamics. This proved to be a task too great for my powers. Nor would a single volume, let alone a chapter, be enough for such a theme. In preparing my lectures, however, I had the project in mind and was concerned not to divorce fiction from history, nor the history of ancient Greece from that of the rest of mankind.
Except for omissions, the first eight chapters of this book are substantially the lectures that I gave as Sather Professor of Classical Literature at the University of California in the spring of 1948. It is a great privilege to participate in the lively and varied intellectual activity of that great university.
I am deeply grateful to Professor W. H. Alexander, Chairman of the Department of Classics at the time of my visit, and others who smoothed the way and gave me the most friendly welcome. To Professor Alexander, and to Harold A. Small, Editor of the University of California Press, I owe a debt for careful editing. Professors L. A. MacKay and J. E. Fontenrose read my typescript