World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0016293779
Reproduction Date:

Title: Pseudo-Lucian  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chrysippus, Eratosthenes, Cleanthes, Amores (Lucian), Cynicism (philosophy), Xenophilus
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


For other uses, see Lucian (disambiguation).
Lucian (Λουκιανός)
A 17th-century fictional portrait of Lucian of Samosata
Born ca. 125 AD
Samosata, Roman Empire (modern day Turkey)
Died after 180 AD
probably Athens
Occupation Novelist, rhetorician
Notable work(s) True History,
Dialogues of the Dead, Dialogues of the Gods,
Dialogues of the Courtesans,
Alexander the False Prophet,
Sale of Creeds,
Philopseudes (which includes The Sorcerer's Apprentice)

Lucian of Samosata (Ancient Greek: Λουκιανὸς ὁ Σαμοσατεύς, Latin: Lucianus Samosatensis; c. AD 125 – after AD 180) was a rhetorician[1] and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature. Although he wrote solely in Greek, mainly Attic Greek, he was ethnically Syrian.[2][3] Lucian claimed to be a native speaker of a "barbarian tongue" (Double Indictment, 27) which was most likely Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic.[4]


Few details of Lucian's life can be verified with any degree of accuracy. He claimed to have been born in Samosata, in the former kingdom of Commagene, which had been absorbed by the Roman Empire and made part of the province of Syria. In his works, Lucian refers to himself as a "Syrian",[5] and "barbarian", perhaps indicating "he was from the Semitic and not the imported Greek population" of Samosata.[6] There are more than eighty surviving works attributed to him – declamations, essays both laudatory and sarcastic, satiric epigrams, and comic dialogues and symposia with a satirical cast, studded with quotations in alarming contexts and allusions set in an unusual light, designed to be surprising and provocative. His name added lustre to any entertaining and sarcastic essay: more than 150 surviving manuscripts attest to his continued popularity. The first printed edition of a selection of his works was issued at Florence in 1499. His best known works are A True Story (a romance, patently not "true" at all, which he admits in his introduction to the story), and Dialogues of the Gods (Θεῶν διάλογοι) and Dialogues of the Dead (Νεκρικοὶ Διάλογοι).

Lucian was trained as a rhetorician, a vocation where one pleads in court, composing pleas for others, and teaching the art of pleading. Lucian's practice was to travel about, giving amusing discourses and witty lectures improvised on the spot, somewhat as a rhapsode had done in declaiming poetry at an earlier period. In this way Lucian travelled through Ionia and mainland Greece, to Italy and even to Gaul, and won much wealth and fame.

Lucian admired the works of Epicurus, for he breaks off a witty satire against Alexander of Abonoteichus, who burned a book of Epicurus, to exclaim:

What blessings that book creates for its readers and what peace, tranquillity, and freedom it engenders in them, liberating them as it does from terrors and apparitions and portents, from vain hopes and extravagant cravings, developing in them intelligence and truth, and truly purifying their understanding, not with torches and squills and that sort of foolery, but with straight thinking, truthfulness and frankness.


Lucian was also one of the earliest novelists in Western civilization. In A True Story, a fictional narrative work written in prose, he parodied some fantastic tales told by Homer in the Odyssey and some feeble fantasies that were popular in his time. He anticipated "modern" fictional themes like voyages to the moon and Venus, extraterrestrial life and wars between planets, nearly two millennia before Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. His novel is widely regarded as an early, if not the earliest science fiction work.[7][8][9][10][11]

Lucian also wrote a satire called The Passing of Peregrinus,[12] in which the lead character, Peregrinus Proteus, takes advantage of the generosity of Christians. This is one of the earliest surviving pagan perceptions of Christianity. His Philopseudes (Φιλοψευδὴς ἤ Ἀπιστῶν, "Lover of Lies or Cheater") is a frame story which includes the original version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

In his Symposium (Συμπόσιον), far from Plato's discourse, the diners get drunk, tell smutty tales and behave badly.

The Macrobii (Μακρόβιοι, "long-livers"), which is devoted to longevity, has been attributed to Lucian, although it is generally agreed that he was not the author.[13] It gives some mythical examples like that of Nestor who lived three generations or Tiresias, the blind seer of Thebes, who lived six generations. It tells about the Seres (Chinese) "who are said to live 300 years" or the people of Athos, "who are also said to live 130 years". Most of the examples of "real" men lived between 80 and 100 years, but ten cases of alleged centenarians are given. It also gives some advice concerning food intake and moderation in general.

Lucian's Kataplous or Downward Journey was deathbed-reading for David Hume and the source of Nietzsche's Übermensch or Overman.[14]

There is debate over the authorship of some works transmitted under Lucian's name, such as De Dea Syria ("On the Syrian goddess"), the Amores and the Ass. These are usually not considered genuine works of Lucian and normally cited under the name of Pseudo-Lucian. The Ass (Λούκιος ἢ ῎Oνος) is probably a summarized version of a story by Lucian and contains largely the same basic plot elements as The Golden Ass (or Metamorphoses) of Apuleius, but with fewer digressions and a different ending.


Lucian wrote in the Atticizing Greek popular during the Second Sophistic. He further imitated Herodotus's Ionic dialect so successfully in his work The Syrian Goddess that some scholars refuse to recognize him as the author.[15]

See also


  • Lucian, Works, Loeb Classical Library, 8 volumes.
  • Graham Anderson, 1976, Lucian: Theme and Variation in the Second Sophistic, Brill.
  • Graham Anderson, 1976, Studies in Lucian's Comic Fiction, Brill.
  • Adam Bartley, 2009, A Commentary of Lucian's Dialogi Marini, Cambridge Scholar's Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-0960-3
  • Adam Bartley, 2003, The implications of the influence of Thucydides on Lucian's Vera Historia, Hermes, Heft 2.
  • Jane Lightfoot, 2000, Lucian: On the Syrian Goddess, Oxford, University Press.
  • Daniel Ogden,2007, In Search of the Sorcerer's Apprentice: The Traditional Tales of Lucian's Lover of Lies, Classical Press of Wales.
  • D.S. Richter, "Lives and Afterlives of Lucian of Samosata," Arion (2005) 13.1:75-100.
  • P.P. Fuentes González, 2005, art. "Lucien de Samosate", in R. Goulet (ed.), Dictionnaire des Philosophes Antiques IV, Paris, CNRS, p. 131-160.


  • Neil Hopkinson (ed.), Lucian: A Selection. Cambridge Greek and Latin Texts (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

External links

  • Lucian of Samosata Project - Library/Texts, Articles, Timeline, Maps, and Themes
  • A.M. Harmon, Introduction to Lucian of Samosata
  • Project Gutenberg
  • serpent god
  • Works of Lucian of Samostata at
  • The Syrian Goddess, at
  • Macrobii, at
  • Contents – Harvard University Press
  • P.P. Fuentes González, art. ISBN 2-271-06386-8
  • A Classical F.T.M.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.