name = Lucian (Λουκιανός)
caption = A XIXth century fictional portrait of Lucian of Samosata.
birthdate = ca. 125 AD
Samosata, Roman Empire(nowadays Turkey)
deathdate = after 180 AD
notableworks = "
Dialogues of the Dead", " True History", " Alexander the false prophet", " Sale of Creeds", " Philopseudes" (which includes The Sorcerer's Apprentice)
Apuleius, Gil Vicente, Goethe
Lucian of Samosata ( _el. Λουκιανός ὁ Σαμοσατεύς, _la. Lucianus; c. A.D. 125 – after A.D. 180) was an Assyrian
rhetorician, [cite web |first= |last= |authorlink= |author=Parpola, Simo |coauthors= |title=Assyrian Identity in Ancient Times and Today |url=http://www.aina.org/articles/assyrianidentity.pdf |format=PDF |work= Assyriologist|publisher=Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies |id= |pages= |page=17 |month=April | year=2003 |accessdate= |quote=In the second century AD, two prominent writers from Roman Syria, Lucian and Tatian, ostentatiously identify themselves as Assyrians (Assúrios). This self-identification is commonly misinterpreted to imply nothing more than that these writers were ethnic Syrians (in the modern sense) speaking Aramaic as their mother tongue. ] and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature.
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 Empireand made part of the province of Syria. In his works, Lucian refers to himself as a "Syrian". [ [http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/lucian_intro.htm Harmon, A. M. "Lucian of Samosata: Introduction and Manuscripts."] in Lucian, "Works". Loeb Classical Library (1913)] "Assyrian" and "barbarian", perhaps indicating "he was from the Semitic and not the imported Greek population" of Samosata. [Keith Sidwell, introduction to Lucian: "Chattering Courtesans and Other Sardonic Sketches" (Penguin Classics, 2005) p.xii] His birthplace was recently lost when the Atatürk Damproject led to the inundation of the site.Fact|date=September 2008 Lucian almost certainly did not write all the more than eighty works attributed to him — declamations, essays both laudatory and sarcastic, 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 luster to any entertaining and sarcastic essay: over 150 surviving manuscripts attest to his continued popularity. The first printed edition of a selection of his works was issued at Florencein 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" ("Νεκρικοί 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 Ioniaand mainland Greece, to Italyand 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 first novelists in occidental civilization. In "A True Story", a fictional narrative work written in prose, he parodied some fantastic tales told by
Homerin 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 lifeand wars between planets centuries before Jules Verneand H. G. Wells. His novel is widely regarded as an early, if not the earliest science fictionwork. [Grewell, Greg: “Colonizing the Universe: Science Fictions Then, Now, and in the (Imagined) Future”, "Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature", Vol. 55, No. 2 (2001), pp. 25-47 (30f.)] [Fredericks, S.C.: [http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/8/fredericks8art.htm “Lucian's True History as SF”] , "Science Fiction Studies", Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 1976), pp. 49-60] [Swanson, Roy Arthur: [http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/10/swanson10art.htm “The True, the False, and the Truly False: Lucian’s Philosophical Science Fiction”] , "Science Fiction Studies", Vol. 3, No. 3 (Nov. 1976), pp. 227-239] [Georgiadou, Aristoula & Larmour, David H.J.: [http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=75&pid=2774 “Lucian's Science Fiction Novel True Histories. Interpretation and Commentary“] , "Mnemosyne Supplement" 179, Leiden 1998, ISBN 9004106677, Introduction] [Gunn, James E.: “The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction”, Publisher: Viking 1988, ISBN 9780670810413, p.249]
Lucian also wrote a satire called "The Passing of Peregrinus", [ [http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/peregrinus.htm Passing of Peregrinus] at Tertullian.org] in which the lead character,
Peregrinus Proteus, takes advantage of the generosity and gullibility of Christians. This is one of the earliest surviving pagan perceptions of Christianity. His "Philopseudes" ("Φιλοψευδής ἤ Ἀπιστῶν "Lover of Lies or Cheater") is a frame storywhich 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.
Lucian is also the presumed author of "Macrobii" ("Μακρόβιοι") "long-livers" which is devoted to longevity. He gives some mythical examples like that of Nestor who lived three centuries or
Tiresiasthe blind seer of Thebes who lived 600 years. Most of the examples are normal lives (80-100 yrs). He tells his readers about the Seres (Chinese) who live 300 years. He also gives some advice concerning food intake and moderation in general.
The Amores and the Ass, transmitted among the works of Lucian, are usually not considered genuine works of Lucian and are normally cited under the name of "Pseudo-Lucian". There is also debate over the authorship of "
De Dea Syria" ("On the Syrian goddess").
List of works
"For a complete list of works by Lucian see
List of works by Lucian"
Alexander of Abonoteichus
* Lucian, "Works", Loeb Classical library, 8 volumes
* Ogden, Daniel, "In Search of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. The Traditional Tales of Lucian's Lover of Lies". Swansea: The Classical Press of Wales, 2007. Pp. ix, 310.
* [http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/lucian_intro.htm A.M. Harmon, Introduction to Lucian of Samosata]
* [http://www.ancientlibrary.com/lucian-3/ Loeb Classical Library, vol. 3/8 of Lucian's works] , with facing Greek text
* [http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/lucian_alexander.htm "Alexander the false prophet"] - the successful travelling prophet of
Asclepiusand his oracular serpent god
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/luc/fowl/index.htm Works of Lucian of Samostata] at sacred-texts.com
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/luc/tsg/index.htm The Syrian Goddess] , at sacred-texts.com
* [http://www.attalus.org/old/macrobii.html Macrobii] , at attalus.org
* [http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/L014.html Contents] – Harvard University Press
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Lucian of Samosata
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Writer: a
rhetorician and satirist
DATE OF BIRTH=120 - after 180
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=120 - after 180
PLACE OF DEATH=
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