ὄνομα (name). But “pseudonym” does not mean “false name.” What is the thing, what does it mean? If, say, we called the chalk a sponge, we would be applying a false designation to it. A pseudonym is not a false name, but a designation behind which the author hides, a covering name that hides him. It is not that the name does not correspond to the author. The work faces the reader under a label behind which there hides someone other than what the name on the book says. The facts about the author are covered up, distorted.
That is the fundamental meaning of the Greek ψεῦδος: to turn the thing around in such a way that it is not seen as it really is. ψεῦδος is what twists and distorts.
Now, the Greeks also have a contrary concept and contrary word for ψεῦδος. It appears, for instance, in Democritus: ἀτρεκής (from τρέπω, to turn); that which is unturned, untwisted. The contrary concept ψεῦδος does not simply mean the false, but rather the distorted. The decisive moment is the twisting.
This meaning of ψεῦδος underlies a further development in the history of the meaning. ψεῦδος means what is turned toward man and his perception not only in such a way that what hides behind it is covered up, but also in such a way that there is the illusion that something is hiding behind it, when at bottom there is nothing behind it at all.
This means not only what is twisted, but also what is null, that behind which there lies nothing. This is the meaning that also comes out in the middle-voice form (ψεύδεσθαι): making something into nothing, explaining it in a way that is null and void.
A type of λόγος, discourse, that is null, that contains nothing and even deludes us by passing something off on us that is different from what it means—that is the lie.
These, then, are the main directions taken by the linguistic expression ψεῦδος.
Now we ask whether the Greek word for truth, ἀλήθεια, also found a corresponding positive word form. This is, in fact, the case, although this word form does not coincide with the concept of truth. The reference to the positive contrary concept should make it clear that truth and unconcealment of things are not a property of a proposition, not a property of cognition, but an objective happening into which the things themselves enter.
This becomes clear from the concept contrary to ἀλήθεια: λήθη, λάθω, λανθάνω = I am concealed, I remain concealed. This characteristic of remaining concealed applies to reality, to the thing that is.
An example of the “I remain concealed,” of a definite type that we tend to translate as “forgetting,” is found in Thucydides, book II, the end of chapter 49. During the course of the Peloponnesian War a great plague broke out in Athens, and its course and consequences are depicted.