9. Of SAMOSATA. [See also No. 1.]
), also called LYCINUS, a witty and voluminous Greek writer, but of Syrian parentage, having been born, as he himself tells us, at Samosata, the capital of Commagene. (Ἁλιεύς
, § 19; Πῶς δεῖ ἱστ. συγγρ
. § 24.)
There is no ancient biography of Lucian extant, except the short and inaccurate one by Suidas; but some particulars may be gleaned from his own writings.
Considerable difference of opinion has existed respecting the time in which Lucian flourished. Suidas places him under Trajan, and subsequently, and in this he is followed by Bourdelot.
The opinion of Voss (De Histor. Graec.
2.15), that he flourished in the reigns of M. Aurelius Antoninus and Commodus seems, however, more correct, and has been generally followed by later critics.
It is impossible to fix the exact dates of his birth and death, but the following passages will afford some clue to his chronology.
In the Πρὸς ἀπαίδευτον
, § 13, he tells us that there existed in his time,
and was probably still alive, a man who had bought the lamp of Epictetus for 3000 drachms, in the hope of inheriting his wisdom.
As this purchase was probably made shortly after the death of Epictetus, the natural inference is, that Lucian was alive in the time of that philosopher (hardly that Epictetus died before
the time of Lucian, as Mr. Clinton says, Fasti Rom.
A. D. 118).
The uncertainty expressed as to whether the purchaser was still alive denotes that a considerable period had elapsed between the transaction recorded and the date of the Πρὸς ἀπαίδευτον
But that piece can be shown to have been written shortly after the extraordinary suicide of Peregrinus, A. D. 165; for in § 14 Lucian mentions another silly fellow who had just recently
purchased (Χθὲς καὶ πρώην
) the stick of the fanatical cynic for a talent. Now Epictetus could hardly have survived the reign of Hadrian, who died A. D. 138 (EPICTETUS, and Clinton, l. C.
), and it is more likely that he did not reach the middle of it. On these grounds we might at a venture place Lucian's birth about the year 120; and this date tallies pretty well with other inferences from his writings. The Πῶς δεῖ ἱστορίαν συγγράφειν
must have been nearly contemporary with the Πρὸ ἀπαίδευτον
, since it alludes to the Parthian victories of Verus (Clinton, A. D. 166), but was probably written before the final triumph, as from an expression in § 2 (τὰ ἐν ποσὶ ταῦτα κεκίνηται
) the war would seem to have been still going on.
These pieces, together with the account of the death of Peregrinus (Περὶ τῆς Περεγίνου τελευτῆς
), which has all the air of a narrative composed immediately after the event it records, are the earliest works of Lucian which we can connect with any public transactions.
But he tells us that he did not abandon the rhetorical profession, and take to a different style of writing, till he was about forty (Δὶς κατηγοπ
. § 34); and though he there more particularly alludes to his Dialogues, we may very probably include in the same category all his other works, which, like the preceding, are unconnected with rhetoric. If these were his first works of that kind, and if he was forty when he wrote them, he would have been born about the year 125. They were, however, in all probability preceded by some others, such as the Hermotimus,
which he mentions having written about forty (§ 13), the Nigrinus,
This brings us again to the year 120, as a very probable one in which to fix his birth; and thus he might have been contemporary as a boy with Epictetus, then in his old age; and with the man who bought his lamp, some 30 or 35 years, perhaps, before 165.
A passage which alludes to later political events occurs in the Alexander,
48, where mention is made of the war of Marcus Antoninus against the Marcomtanni, A. D. 170-175; and as Marcus is there called Θεός
, Voss inferred that the piece was written after the death of that emperor in 180.
According to the computation of Reitz, which is that above given, Lucian would then have been more than sixty years old. From § 56, it appears that Lucian's father was still alive when he visited Alexander; but the visit might have taken place at least ten years before the account of it was written. (Clinton, Fasti Rom.
A. D. 182.) That Lucian himself was a man of some consequence at the time of it appears from the intimate terms he was on with Rutilianus, § 54, and from the governor of Cappadocia having given him a guard of two soldiers (§ 55).
This is another argument for the visit having taken place when Lucian was well advanced in life, probably about fifty; for his youth was spent in struggling with adverse fortune.
In the Ἀπολογία περὶ τῶν ἐπὶ μισθῷ συνόντων
, § 1, he mentions having obtained an appointmltent in Egypt, probably under Commodus, when he had one foot almost in Charon's boat; but we have no means of determining the age at which he died. On the whole, however, Reitz's calculation may be safely adopted, who places his life from the year 120 to the end of the century.
Having thus endeavoured to fix Lucian's chronology, we may proceed to trace those particulars of his life which may be gathered from his works.
In the piece called The Dream
(Περὶ τοῦ ἐνυπνίου
), which stands at the beginning of them, he represets his parents as in poor circumstances, and as deliberating with their friends about the choice of a profession for himself, then about fourteen years of age.
Those of the learned sort were too expensive for the family means, and it was therefore resolved to apprentice him to some mechanical trade, which light bring in a quick return of money.
As a schoolboy, he had shown a talent for making little waxen images; and his maternal uncle being a statuary in good repute, it was determined that lie should be put apprentice to him. Lucian was delighted with the thoughts of his new profession; but his very first attempt in it proved unfortunate. Having been ordered to polish a marble tablet, he leant too heavily upon it, and broke it.
The consequence was, a sound beating from his uncle, which Lucian resenting, ran away home to his parents.
In the version of the affair which he gave to them, he took the liberty to add a little circumstance, which already betrays the malice and humour of the boy. he affirmed that his uncle had treated him thus cruelly because he was apprehensive of being excelled in his profession !
The event itself may almost be regarded as an omen of his future course, and of his being destined from his earliest years to be an iconoclast. From the remainder of the Dream,
where, in imitation of Prodicus's myth of the choice of Herriles, related in Xenophon's Memorabiliua, Ἑρμογλυφική
(Statuary) and Παιδεία
(Education) contend which shall have him for a votary, we can only infer that, after some deliberation, Lucian henceforward dedicated himself to the study of rhetoric and literature; but of the means which he found to compass his object we have no information. From. the Δὶς κατηγορ
. § 27, it would appear that, after leaving his uncle, he wandered for some time about Ionia, without any settled plan, and possessiug as yet but a very imperfect knowledge of the Greek tongue. Subsequently, however, we find him an advocate by profession; and if we may trust the authority of Suidas, he seems to have practised at Antioch.
According to the same writer, being unsuccessful in this calling, he employed himself in writing speeches for others, instead of delivering them himself.
But he could not have remained long at Antioch; for at an early period of his life he set out upon his travels, and visited the greater part of Greece, Italy, and Gaul.
At that period it was customary for professors of the rhetorical art to proceed to different cities, where they attracted audiences by their displays, much in the same manner as musicians or itinerant lecturers in modern times.
The subjects of these displays were accusations of tyrants, or panegyrics on the brave and good (Δὶς καρηγ
., § 32).
It may be presumed that his first visit was to Athens, in order to acquire a perfect knowledge of the language; and that he remained there a considerable time may be inferred as well from his intimate familiarity with all the graces of the Attic dialect, as from his acquaintance with Demonax there, whom he tells us he knew for a long period. (Demonactis Vita,
He did not, however, gain so much reputation by his profession in Ionia and Greece as in Italy and Gaul, especially the latter country, which he traversed to its western coasts, and where he appears to have acquired a good deal of money as well as fame. (Ἀπολογία περί τῶν ἐνὶ μισθῷ
§ 15; Δὶς κατηγ
., § 27.) Whether he remained long at Rome is uncertain. From his tract Ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἐν προσαγορ
, § 13, he would seem to have acquired some, though perhaps an imperfect, knowledge of the Latin tongue; and in the Περὶ τοῦ ἡλέκτρου
lie describes himself as conversing with the boatmen on the Po.
In the Περὶ τῶν ἐπὶ μις
., he shows an intimate acquaintance with Roman manners; but his picture of them in that piece, as well as in the Niginus,
is a very unfavourable one.
He probably returned to his native country in about his fortieth year, and by way of Macedonia. (Herodotus,
At this period of his life lie abandoned the rhetorical profession, the artifices of which were foreign to his temper, the natural enemy of deceit and pretension (Δὶς κατηγ
., § 32, Ἀλιεύς
, § 29); though it was. perhaps, the money he had made by it that enabled him to quit it, and to follow his more congenial inclinations.
In his old age, indeed, he appears to have partially resumed it, as he tells us in his Ἠρακλῆς
, § 7; and to which period of his life we must also ascribe his Διόνους
But these latter productions seem to have been confined to that species of declamation called a προσλαλιά
, to which the pieces just mentioned belong, and for which we have no equivalent term; and they were probably written rather by way of pastime and amusement than from any hopes of gam.
There are no materials for tracing that portion of his life which followed his return to his native country.
It was, however, at this period that he produced the works to which he owes his reputation, and which principally consist of attacks upon the religion and philosophy of the age.
The bulkiness of them suggests the inference that many years were spent in these quiet literary occupations, though not undiversified with occasional travel; since it appears from the Πῶς δεῖ ἱστ
., § 14, that he must have been in Achaia and lolnia about the close of the Parthian war, A. D. 160-165; on which occasion, too, he seems to have visited Olympia, and beheld the self-immolation of Peregrinus. We have already seen that about the year 170, or a little previously, he must have visited the false oracle of the impostor Alexander, in Paphlagonia. Here Lucian planned several contrivances for detecting the falsehood of his responses and in a personal interview with the prophet, instead of kissing his hand, as was the custom, inflicted a severe bite upon his thumb. For these and other things, especially his having advised Rutilianus not to marry Alexander's daughter by the Moon, that impostor was so enraged against Lucian, that he would have murdered him on the spot had he not been protected by a guard of two soldiers. Alexander, therefore, dissembled his hatred, and even, pretending friendship, dismissed him with many gifts, and lent him a vessel to prosecute his voyage. When well out at sea, Lucian observed, by the tears and entreaties of the master towards the rest of the crew, that something was amiss, and learnt from the former that Alexander had ordered them to throw their passenger into the sea, a fate from which he was saved only by the good offices of the master.
He was now landed at Aegialos, where he fell in with some ambassadors, proceeding to king Eupator in Bithynia, who received him on board their ship, and landed him safely at Amastris. (Alex.
54-58.) We can trace no later circumstances of his life, except his obtaining the office of procurator of part of Egypt, bestowed upon him in his old age, probably by the emperor Commodus, and which has been already mentioned. From the Ἀπολ. περὶ τῶν ἐπἲ μ
., 12, it appears that his functions were chiefly judicial, that his salary was considerable, and that he even entertained expectations of the proconsulship.
In what manner he obtained this post we have no means of knowing; but from his Imagines,
which sone have supposed to have been addressed to a concubine of Verus, and which Wieland conjectures to have been intended for the wife of Marcus Antoninus, as well as from his tract Pro Lapsu,
he seems to have been neither averse from flattery nor unskilled in the method of applying it.
He certainly lived to an advanced age, and it is probable that he may have been afflicted with the gout; but the inference that he died of it merely from his having written the burlesque drama called Ποδάγρα
is rather strong.
He probably married in middle life; and in the Εὐνοῦχος
, § 13, he mentions having a son.
The nature of Lucian's writings inevitably procured him many enemies, by whom he has been painted in very black colours.
According to Suidas he was surnamed the Blasphemer,
and was torn to pieces by dogs, or rather, perhaps, died of canine madness, as a punishment for his impiety. On this account, however, no reliance can be placed, as it was customary with Suidas to invent a horrid death for those whose doctrines he disliked. To the account of Suidas, Volaterranus added, but without stating his authority, that Lucian apostatised from Christianity, and was accustomed to say he had gained nothing by it but the corruption of his name from Lucius to Lucianus. So too the scholiast on the Peregrinus,
§ 13, calls him an apostate (παραβάτης
); whilst the scholiasts on the Verae Historiae
and other pieces frequently apostrophise him in the bitterest terms, and make the most absurd and far-fetched charges against him of ridiculing the Scriptures.
The whole gravamen of the accusation of blasphemy lies in the point whether Lucian was really an apostate. If he had never been initiated into the mysteries of Christianity, it is clear that he is no more amenable to the charge than Tacitus, or any other profane author, who from ignorance of our religion has been led to vilify and misrepresent it.
The charge of apostacy might be urged with some colour against Lucian, if it could be shown that he was the author of the dialogue entitled Philopatris.
The subject of the piece is shortly this. Triephon, who is represented as having been a member of the church, meets Critias, and inquires the reason of his disturbed looks and hurried gait.
After some discourse about paganism and Christianity, Critias relates his having been among an assembly of Christians, where he has heard troubles and misfortunes predicted to the state and its armies. When he has concluded his story, Cleolaus enters, and announces some military successes gained by the emperor in the East.
A sneering tone pervades the whole piece, which betrays so intimate a knowledge of Christianity that it could hardly have been written but by one who had been at some time within the pale of the church.
Some eminent critics, and amongst them Fabricius, have held the Philopatris
to be genuine. Towards the middle of last century, Gesner wrote his dissertation De Aetate et Auctotre Philopatridis,
in which he showed satisfactorily that the piece could not have been Lucian's; and he brings forward many considerations which render it very probable that the work was composed in the reign of Julian the Apostate.
The scholiast on the Alexander,
§ 47, asserts that Lucian was an Epicurean, and this opinion has been followed by several modern critics.
But though his natural scepticism may have led him to prefer the tenets of Epicurus to those of any other sect, it is most probable that he belonged to none whatever.
In the Ἀπολ
. περὶ τῶν ἐπὶ μισθῷ συν
., § 15, he describes himself as οὐ σοφός
, but ἐκ τοῦ πολλοῦ δήμου
; and in the Hermotimus
he calls himself ἰδιώτης
, in contradistinction to that philosopher.
In the Βίων πρᾶσις
, too, Epicurus is treated no better than the other heads of sects.
Of Lucian's moral character we have no means of judging except from his writings; a method which is not always certain. Several of his pieces are loose and licentious, but some allowance should be made for the manners of the age. The Ἔρωτες
, the most objectionable, has been abjudicated by many critics, and for Lucian's sake it is to be hoped that they are correct; but in the Εἰκόνες
we find allusions to the same perverted tastes, and in § 4 the promise of a story respecting the Cnidian Venus, which is actually found in the former piece. Yet in the Alexander,
§ 54, he seems indignant at the charge of immorality brought against him by that impostor; and that he must at least have avoided any grievous and open scandal may be presumed from the high office conferred upon him in Egypt. Lucian was not averse from praising himself, and in the Ἁλιεύς
, § 20, has drawn his own character as a hater of pride, falsehood, and vain-glory, and an ardent admirer of truth, simplicity, and all that is naturally amiable; nor is there much to object against the truth of this autograph portrait.
He seems to have retained through life a natural taste for the fine arts, as may be inferred from the many lively descriptions of pictures and statues interspersed through his works.
That he was a warm admirer of dancing appears from his treatise Περὶ ὀρχήσεως
In giving an account of Lucian's numerous and miscellaneous writings, it is difficult to class them under distinct heads with accuracy. Yet an attempt at arrangement seems preferable to going through then in the confused order in which they stand in the editions, which has not even the merit of being chronological.
The main heads under which his pieces may be classed, and which are, perhaps, accurate enough for general purposes, are, 1. the Rhetorical; 2. the Critical; 3. the Biographical; 4. Romances; 5. Dialogues; 6. Miscellaneous pieces; 7. Poems.
By some writers Lucian has also been called an historian, a mathematician, a physical philosopher, &c.
But the works for which these appellations have been bestowed upon him are either not his, or fall more properly under one of the preceding divisions.
1. Rhetorical Works.
Lucian's rhetorical pieces were no doubt for the most part the first productions of his pen, for we have already seen that he did not lay aside that profession, and apply himself to a different style of writing, till he had reached the age of forty. Of all his pieces they are the most unimportant, and betray least of his real character and genius, and therefore require but a passing notice. They may be divided into προσλαλιαί
, or introductory addresses, delivered in literary assemblies, and more regular rhetorical pieces in the demonstrative and deliberative kind. Among the προσλαλιαὶ
may be reckoned Περὶ τοῦ ἐνυπνίου
, Somnium seu Vita Luciani,
the closing sentence of which shows it to have been addressed to some assembly of his countrymen, apparently after his return from his travels.
This piece, which is valuable for the anecdotes it contains of Lucian's life, has been already mentioned. The Ἡρόδοτος
, Herodotu sive Aötion,
seems to have been addressed to some Macedonian assembly. Of Action the painter an account is elsewhere given. [AETION.
] From the picture described in this piece, Raphael is said to have taken one of his frescoes. Ζεύξις
, Zeuxis sive Antiochus,
also contains the description of a picture which Sulla carried off from Athens, and which was lost on its voyage to Rome, but of which a copy was extant in the time of Lucian. Ἁρμονίδης
which, however, is called by Marcilius a Σύστασις
, or Commendatio,
contains a/n anecdote of Timotheus and his pupil Harmonides. Σκύθης ἢ Πρόχενος
turns on the visit of Anacharsis to Athens, and his meeting Toxaris, a fellow-countryman, there, who introduces him to the friendship of Solon. Ἱππίας ἢ Βαλανεῖον
, Hippias seu Balneum,
is the description of a bath. Προσλαλία ἢ Διόνυσος
turns on the conquests of Bacchus. Προσλαλία ἢ Ἡρακλῆς
, Hercules Gallicus.
An account of the Gallic Hercules. Περί τοῦ ἠλέκτρου ἢ τῶν κύκνων
, De Electro seu Cygnis.
This was probably an early piece, as in § 2 the author mentions a recent visit to the Po, in which he inquired for the poplars that distilled amber, and the singing swans; but without success. Περὶ τοῦ οἴκου
, De Domo,
contains a description of a house, or rather apartment. Περὶ τῶν διφάδων
, De Dipsadibus.
An account of certain Libyan serpents.
More regular rhetorical pieces are Τυραννοκτόνος
A man intending to kill a tyrant, but not finding him, leaves his sword in the body of his son.
At this sight the tyrant slays himself; whereupon the murderer claims a reward, as having killed him.
This piece is perhaps spurious. Ἀποκηρυττομενος
This declamation is attributed to Libanius. Φάλαρις πρῶτος καὶ δεύτερος
, Phalaris prior et alter.
The authenticity of these two declamations, on the subject of the tyrant of Agrigentum, has likewise been doubted. Μυίας ἐγκώμιον
, Encomium Muscae,
a playful and ingenious little piece, describing the nature and habits of the fly. Πατρίδος Ἐγκώμιον
, Patriae Encomium.
The title indicates the subject of this declamation.
2. Critical Works.
, Judicium Vocalium,
was probably a juvenile performance, in which a brings a complaint of ejection against T.
The suit is conducted after the Athenian manner, the vowels being the dicasts. Λεχιφάνης
a humorous dialogue, written to ridicule the affectation of strange and obsolete diction.
By some it has been considered as directed against the Onomasticon
of Pollux; by others, against Athenaeus; but in both cases probably without foundation. After Lexiphanes has been made to vomit up the strange farrago with which he has overloaded himself, Lucian prescribes the following course of wholesome diet, in order to complete a cure. First, to read the Greek poets; then the orators; next Thucydides and Plato, with the dramatic authors.
The piece concludes with some sound critical advice. Πῶς δεῖ ἱστορίαν συγγράφειν
, Quomodo Historia sit conscribenda
, is the best of Lucian's critical works.
The former portion is employed in ridiculing the would-be historians of the day, whilst the latter contains some excellent critical precepts. The 41st section in particular is admirable.
The historian Du Thou thought so much of this essay, that he drew the rules for historical writing in the preface to his work principally from it. Ῥητόρων διδάσκαλος
, Rhetorum Preceptor,
is a piece of critical irony, pretending to point out a royal road to oratory.
It also contains a bitter personal attack upon some apparently Egyptian orator. Ψευδολογιστής
a violent attack upon a brother sophist who had ignorantly asserted that the word ἀποφράς
, used by Lucian, was un-Attic. Δημοσθένους Ἐγκώμιον
, Demosthenis Encomium,
a critical dialogue on the merits of Demosthenes.
This piece has been reckoned spurious by many critics, but perhaps on insufficient grounds.
The concluding part contains some interesting particulars of the death of the great orator. Ψευδφοσοφιστής
a dialogue on Attic solecisms, has also been abjudicated, and on more certain grounds. Several phrases are given out as solecisms which are not really so, and which have even been used by Lucian himself.
3. Biographical Works.
The pieces which entitle Lucian to be called a biographer are the Ἀλέχανδρος ν̓̀ Ψευδόμαντις
, Alexander seu Pseudomantis ; Δημώνακτος βίος Vita Demonactis;
and Περι τῆς Περεγρίνου τελευτῆς
, De Morte Peregrini.
They are, however, rather anecdotical memoirs (ἀπομνημονεύατα
), like Xenophon's Memorabilia Socratis,
than regular biographies. Of the first piece the chief contents are given elsewhere. [ALEXANDER, Vol. I. p. 123
.] An account of Demonax will also be found under the proper head.
The life of that philosopher must have been prolonged considerably beyond the reign of Hadrian, since Lucian tells us that he was personally acquainted with him for a long period. (Θατέρῳ δὲ τῷ Δημώνακτι
, καὶ ἐπὶ μήκιστον συνεγενόμην
,§ 1.) Demonax was a philosopher after Lucian's own heart, belonging to no sect, though he had studied the tenets of all, and holding the popular mythology in profound contempt. His chief leaning was to the school of Socrates, though, in the unconstrained liberty of his way of life, he seemed to bear some resemblance to Diogenes. Demonax sacrificed to the Graces, and was equally averse from the austerity of the Stoics and the filth of the Cynics. Had he been one of the latter, Lucian would never have mentioned him with praise. Of all the philosophic sects, Lucian detested the Cynics most, as may be seen in his Peregrinus
&c.; though he seems to have made an exception in favour of Menippus, on account, perhaps, of his satirical writings, to which his own bear some resemblance.
It was for his account of Demonax that Eunapius ranked Lucian among the biographers. Περὶ τῆς Περεγρίνου τελευτῆς
, De Morte Peregrini,
contains some particulars of the life and voluntary auto-da-fé
of Peregrinus Proteus, a fanatical cynic and apostate Christian, who publicly burnt himself from an impulse of vain-glory shortly after the 236th Olympiad (A. D. 165), and concerning whom further particulars will be found elsewhere. [PEREGRINUs.] Lucian seems to have belleld this singular triumph of fanaticism with a sort of barbarous exultation, which nearly cost him a beating from the Cynics, who surrounded the pyre (§ 37). The Μακροβιοι
may also be referred to this head, as containing anecdotes of several Greek and other worthies who had attained to a long life.
Under this head may be classed the tale entitled Λούκιος ν̓̀ Ὄνος
, Lucius sive Asinus,
and the Ἀληθοῦς ἱστορίας λόγος ά καὶ β́
, (Verae Historiae
). Photius (Phot. Bibl. 129
) is inclined to believe that Lucian's piece was taken from a fable by Lucius of Patrae, but does not speak very positively on the subject.
It has been thought that Appuleius drew his story of the Golden Ass
from the same source [APPULEIUS
]; retaining, however, the lengthy narrative and fanatical turn of the original tale; whilst Lucian abridged it, and gave it a comic caste, especially in the denouement,
which, however, is sufficiently gross. M. Courier, on the contrary, who published an edition of the piece with a French version and notes (Paris 1818, 12mo), thinks that Lucian's is the original; and this opinion is acceded to by M. Letronne in the Journal des Savans,
There are no means of deciding this question satisfactorily.
The story turns on the adventures of Lucius. who, from motives of curiosity, having arrived at the house of a female magician in Thessaly, and beheld her transformation into a bird, is desirous of undergoing a similar metamorphosis.
By the help of the magician's maid, with whom he has ingratiated himself, he gets access to her magic ointments; but, unfortunately, using the wrong one, is deservedly turned into an ass, in which shape he meets with a variety of adventures, till he is disenchanted by eating rose-leaves.
The adventure with the robbers in the cave is thought to have suggested the wellknown scene in Gil Blas.
The Verae Historiae
were composed, as the author tells us in the beginning, to ridicule the authors of extravagant tales, including Homer's Odyssey,
of Ctesias, and the wonderful accounts of Iambulus of the things contained in the great sea.
According to Photius (Phot. Bibl. 166
), Lucian's model was Antonius Diogenes, in his work called Τὰ ὑπὲρ Φούγην ἄπιστα
That writer, however, was probably later than Lucian. Still Lucian may have had predecessors in the style, as Antiphanes.
The adventures related are of the most extravagant kind, but show great fertility of invention. Lucian tells us plainly what we have to expect; that he is going to write about things he has neither seen himself nor heard of from others; things, moreover, that neither do, nor can by possibility exist; and that the only truth he tells us is when he asserts that he is lying.
He then describes how he set sail from the columns of Hercules, and was cast by a storm on an enchanted island, which appeared, from an inscription, to have been visited by Hercules and Bacchus; where not only did the rivers run wine, but the same liquid gushed from the roots of the vines, and where they got drunk by eating the fish they caught. On again setting sail, the ship is snatched up by a whirlwind, and carried through the air for seven days and nights, till they are finally deposited in the moon by certain enormous birds called Hippogypi (horse vultures ). Here they are present at a battle between the inhabitants of that planet and those of the sun.
Afterwards they prosecute their voyage through the Zodiac, and arrive at the city of Lanterns, where Lucian recognises his own, and inquires the news at home. They then pass the city of Nephelococcygia (Cloud-cuckoo-town), and are at length deposited again in the sea. Here they are swallowed up by an immense whale; and their adventures in its belly, which is inhabited, complete the first book.
The second opens with an account of their escape, by setting fire to a forest in the whale's belly, and killing him.
After several more wonderful adventures, they arrive at the Isle of the Blest (Μακάρων νῆσος
). Here they fall in with several ancient worthies, and Homer among the rest, which affords an opportunity for some remarks on his life and writings. Homer is made to condenmn the criticisms of Aristarchus and Zenodotus.
He asserts, as Wolf and others have since done, that he began the Iliad
with the anger of Achilles merely from chance, and without any settled plan; and denies that the Odyssey
was written before the Iliad,
then a prevalent opinion.
After this they again set sail, and arrive at the internal regions, where, among others, they find Ctesias and Herodotus undergoing punishment for their falsehoods.
The book is concluded with several more surprising adventures.
That the Verae Historiae
supplied hints to Rabelais and Swift is sufficiently obvious, not only from the nature and extravagance of the fiction, but from the lurking satire.
But Lucian's fame rests chiefly on his dialogues, by which term is here meant those pieces which are of an ethical or mythological nature, as well as of a dramatic form; and which were intended to ridicule the heathen philosophy and religion; for a few of his pieces which have not that scope are also in the shape of dialogue. Lucian has himself explained the nature and novelty of his undertaking in his Prometheus
(Πρὸς τὸν εἰπόντα Προμηθεύς εἶ ἐν λόγοις
, § 5), where he tells us that it consists of a mixture of the Platonie dialogue with comedy; in other words, a combination of Plato and Aristophanes.
In the Bis Accusatus,
§ 33, we have a still more complete account of his style, where Dialogue personified accuses Lucian of stripping him of his tragic mask, and substituting a comic and satyric one; of introdancing scurrilous jokes, and the iambic licence; and of mixing him up with Eupolis, Aristophanes, and Menippus, the most snarling of the ancient cynics.
These dialogues, which form the great bulk of his works, are of very various degrees of merit, and are treated in the greatest possible variety of style, from seriousness down to the broadest humour and buffoonery. Their subjects and tendency, too, vary considerably; for whilst some, as it has been said, are employed in attacking the heathen philosophy and religion, others are mere pictures of manners without any polemic drift. For the sake of convenience, we may first consider those which are more exclusively directed against the heathen mythology; next, those which attack the ancient philosophy; and lastly, those in which both the preceding objects are combined, or which, having no such tendency, are mere satires on the manners of the day and the follies and ices natural to mankind.
In the first class may be placed Προμηθεύς ν̓̀ Καύκασος
, Prometheus seu Caucasus,
which is properly a dialogue of the gods, and to which it forms a very fitting introduction, as it opens up the relationship between gods and men, and puts Zeus completely in the wrong for crucifying Promethens. Though a good dialogue, it is in the grave style, ald has little of Lucian's characteristic humour. The Θεῶν Διάλογοι
, Deorum Dialogi,
twenty-six in number, consist of short dramatic narratives of sone of the most popular incidents in the heathen mythology.
The reader, however, is generally left to draw his own conclusions from the story, the author only taking care to put it in the most absurd point of view. Hence, perhaps, we may conclude that, like some of Lucian's more serious dialogues, they were along his earlier attempts, before he had summoned hardihood enough to venture on those more open and scurrilous attacks which he afterwards made. Of the same class, but inferior in point of execution, are the fifteen dialogues of the Dei Martini, Ἐνάλιοι Διάλογοι
In the last, that of Zephyr and Notus,
the beautiful and graphic description of the rape of Europa is worthy of remark, which, as Hemsterhuis observes, was probably taken from some picture.
In the Ζεύς Ἐλεγχόμενος
, Jupiter Confutatus,
a bolder style of attack is adopted; and the cynic proves to Zeus's face, that every thing being under the dominion of fate, he has no power whatever.
As this dialogue shows Zeus's want of power, so the Ζεὺς τραγωδός
, Jupiter Tragoedus,
strikes at his very existence, and that of the other deities.
The subject is a dispute at Athens between Timocles, a Stoic, and Damis, an Epicurean, respecting the being of the gods. Anxious as to its result, Zeus summons all the deities to hear the arguments. Hermes first calls the golden ones, then the silver, and so forth; not according to the beauty of their workmanship, but the richness of their materials. On meeting, a squabble takes place about precedence, which is with some difficulty quelled. Timocles then goes through his arguments for the existence of the gods, which Damis refutes and ridicules.
At this result, Zeus becomes dejected; but Hermes consoles him with the reflection that though some few may be convinced by Damis, the great mass of the Greeks, and all the barbarians, will ever be of a contrary opinion.
The abuse of the stoic on finding himself worsted is highly natural. Much of the same tendency is the Θεῶν ἐκκλησία
, Deorum Concilium,
which is in fact a dialogue of the gods. Momus complains of the rabble which has been introduced into heaven, not only mere mortals, but barbarians, and even apes and other beasts.
In this class may also be enumerated the Τὰ πρὸς Κρόνον
which contains a laugh at the ancient fable of Cronos.
In the second class of Dialogues, namely, those in which the ancient philosophy is the more immediate object of attack, may be placed the following: Βίων πρᾶσις
In this humorous piece the heads of the different sects are put up to sale, Hermes being the auctioneer. Pythagoras fetches ten minae. Diogenes, with his rags and cynicism, goes for two obols-he may be useful as a house-dog. Aristippus is too fine a gentleman for any body to venture on. Democritus and Heraclitus are likewise unsaleable. Socrates, with whom Lucian seems to confound the Platonic philosophy, after being well ridiculed and abused, is bought by Dion of Syracuse for the large sum of two talents. Epicurus fetches two minae. Chrysippus, the stoic, who gives some extraordinary specimens of his logic, and for whom there is a great competition, is knocked down for twelve minae.
A peripatetic, a double person (exoteric and esoteric) with his physical knowledge, brings twenty minae. Pyrrho, the sceptic, comes last, who, after having been disposed of, and in the hands of the buyer, is still in doubt whether lie has been sold or not. From the conclusion, it appears that Lucian intended to include in another auction the lives of other members of the community ; but this piece is either lost, or was never executed. The Ἁλιεύς ν̓̀ Ἀναβιοῦντες
, Piscator seu Reviviscentes,
is a sort of apology for the preceding piece, and may be reckoned among Lucian's best dialogues.
The philosophers are represented as having obtained a day's life for the purpose of taking vengeance upon Lucian, who in some degree makes the amende honorable
by confessing that he has borrowed the chief beauties of his writings from them.
He begs not to be condemned without a trial; and it is agreed that Philosophy herself shall be the judge; but Lucian expresses his fears that he shall never be able to find her abode, having been so often misdirected. On their way, however, they meet Philosophy, who is astonished to see so many of her chief professors again alive, and is surprised they should be angry at her being abused, when she has already endured so mulch from Comedy.
It is with great difficulty that Lucian discovers Truth among her retinue, the allegorical description of which personage is very good. Lucian, indeed, excels in that kind of writing.
The philosophers now open their case against him.
He is charged with taking Dialogue out of their hands, and with persuading Menippus to side with him, the only philosopher who does not appear among his accusers.
This may afford another answer to those who would make Lucian an Epicurean. Under the name of Parrhesiades, Lucian advocates his own cause; and having gained it, becomes, in turn, accuser.
The philosophers of the age are summoned to the Acropolis, in the name of Virtne, Plilosophy, and Justice, but scarce one obeys the call. Lucian undertakes to assemble them by offering rewards. Immediately a vast concourse appear, quarrelling among themselves; but when they find that Philosophy herself is to be the judge, they all run away.
In his haste to escape, a cynic drops his wallet, which, instead of lupins, brown bread, or a book, is found to contain gold, pomatum, a sacrificing knife, a mirror, and dice. Truth orders their lives to be inquired into by Logic, and the pretenders to be branded with the figure of a fox or an ape. Lucian then borrows a fishing-rod from the temple; and having baited his hook with figs and gold, flings his line from the Acropolis.
He draws up a great many different philosophers, but Plato, Chrysippus, Aristotle, &c., disown them all, and they are cast down headlong.
This piece is valuable, not only from its own merits, but from containing some particulars of Lucian's life. Ἑρμότιμος
is chiefly an attack upon the Stoics, but its design is also to show the impossibility of becoming a true philosopher.
The irony is of a serious and Socratic turn, and the piece, though carefully written, has little of Lucian's native in humour. From § 13 it appears he was about forty when he wrote it; and like the Nigrinus,
it was probably, therefore, one of his earliest productions in this style. The Εὐνοῦχος
is a ridiculous dispute between two philosophic rivals for the emperor's prize, the objection being that the eunuchus
is ipso facto
a disqualified person, and incapable of becoming a philosopher. From § 12, it appears to have been written at Athens. The Φιλοψευδής
may be ranked in this class.
It is a dialogue on the love of falsehood, natural to some men purely for its own sake. In § 2 Herodotus and Ctesias are attacked as in the Verae Historiae,
as well as Hesiod and Homer. Poets, however, may be pardoned, but not whole states that adopt their fictions; and Lucian thinks it very hard to be accused of impiety for disbelieving such extravagancies. Some commentators have thought that the Christian miracles are alluded to in § 13 and § 16; but this does not seem probable.
The main subject of the piece is the relation of several absurd stories of ghosts, &c., by a company of whitebearded philosophers. The Δραπετραί
is directed against the cynics, by whom Lucian seems to have been attacked for his life of Peregrinus.
In a conversation between Apollo and Zeus, the latter asserts that he was so annoyed by the stench that ascended from the pyre, that, though he fled into Arabia, all the frankincense there could hardly drive it out.
He is about to relate the whole history to Apollo, when Philosophy rushes in, in tears and trouble, and complains of the philosophers, especially the cynics.
She gives a history of her progress in India, Egypt, Chaldaea, &c., before she reached the Greeks, and concludes with a complaint against the cynics. Apollo advises Jupiter to send Mercury and Hercules to inquire into the lives of the cynics, and to punish the evil doers; the greater part being mere vagabonds and runaway slaves. Συμπόσιον ν̓̀ Λαπίθαι
, Convivium seu Lapithae,
is one of Lucian's most humorous attacks on the philosophers.
The scene is a wedding feast, at which a representative of each of the principal philosophic sects is present. Of all the guests these are the only absurd and troublesome ones, the unlettered portion behaving themselves with decency and propriety.
The cynic Alcidamas, who comes uninvited, is particularly offensive in his behaviour.
In the midst of the banquet an absurd letter arrives from Hetoimocles, a stoic, expostulating with Aristaenetus, the host, for not having been invited.
The discussion that ensues sets all the philosophers by the ears, and ends in a pitched battle.
In the midst of the confusion, Alcidamas upsets the chandelier; and when lights are again brought, strange scenes are discovered.
The cynic is making free with one of the music-women; the stoic, Dionysidorus, is endeavouring to conceal a cup under his cloak.
The similarity of this piece, and the 55th epistle of the third book of Alciphron, is too marked to be the result of accident.
The relative chronology of Alciphron and Lucian cannot be accurately settled [ALCIPHRON]; but the dialogue is so much more highly wrought than the epistle, as to render Bergler's notion probable, that Lucian was the copyist. Under this head we may also notice the Nigrinus
and the Parasite
(Περὶ παρασίτου ἤτοι τέχνη Παρασιτική
). The Nigrinus has been reckoned one of Lucian's first efforts in this style, and this seems borne out by a passage § 35. Wieland calls it a declaration of war against the philosophers, and thinks that it still bears traces of Lucian's rhetorical style.
But though the piece may be considered as an attack on philosophic pride, its main scope is to satirise the Romans. whose pomp, vain-glory, and luxury, are unfavourably contrasted with the simple habits of the Athenians. The Parasitus
is a mere piece of persiflae
The dialogue is conducted like those of Socrates with the sophists, though the parasite, who may stand for the sophist, gets the better of the argument.
The philosophical definition of parasitism in § 9 is highly humorous, as well as the demonstration of its superiority to philosophy, on account of its unity and definiteness, in which it equals arithmetic; for two and two are four with the Persians as well as the Greeks, but no two philosophers agree in their principles. So also it is shown to be superior to philosophy, because no parasite ever turned philosopher, but many philosophers have been parasites.
The demonstration of the non-existence of philosophy, § 28, 29, seems directed against Plato's Parmenides.
The third and more miscellaneous class of Lucian's dialogues, in which the attacks upon mythology and philosophy are not direct but incidental, or which are mere pictures of manners, contains some of his best.
At the head must be placed Τίμων ν̓̀ μισάνθρωπος
which may perhaps be regarded as Lucian's masterpiece.
The story is that of the well-known Athenian misanthrope mentioned by Plato, whose tower, Pausanias tells us (1.30.4), still existed in his time.
The introduction affords an opportunity for some sneers at Zeus.
The dialogue between Plutus and Hermes, in which the former describes his way of proceeding with mankind, is very humorous and well-sustained, though the imitation of Aristophanes is obvious.
The story of Timon, which is very dramatically told, is too well known to need description here. The Νεκρικοὶ Διαλογοι
, Diologi Mortuorum,
are perhaps the best known of all Lucian's works.
The subject affords great scope for moral reflection, and for satire on the vanity of human pursuits. Wealth, power, beauty, strength, not forgetting the vain disputations of philosophy, afford the materials; and some cynic philosopher, Diogenes or Menippus, is generally the commentator. When Croesus and Menippus meet on the banks of the Styx, it is easy to see which will have the advantage.
The disappointments of those who lie in wait for the inheritance of the rich, afford a fertile theme, which, however, Lucian has worn rather thread-bare.
In a few of the dialogues it must be owned that some of the great men of antiquity are flippantly and unjustly attacked, and especially Socrates. Among the moderns these dialogues have been imitated by Fontenelle and Lord Lyttelton. The Μένιππος ν̓̀ Νεκυομαντεία
bears some analogy to the Dialogues of the dead. Menippus relates his descent into Hades,
and the sights that he sees there, particularly the punishment of the great and powerful.
The genuineness of this piece has been doubted. Du Soul thought that it was written by Menippus himself, who, as we learn from Diogenes Laertius (6.101), wrote a Necyomanteia,
but Hemsterhuis discards this onjecture.
It certainly wants Lucian's pungency; but arguments from style are not always safe.
In the Ἰκαρομένιππος ν̓̀ Ὑπερνέφελος
on the contrary, which is in Lucian's best vein, and a master-piece of Aristophanic humour, Menippus, disgusted with the disputes and pretensions of the philosophers, resolves on a visit to the stars, for the purpose of seeing how far their theories are correct.
By the mechanical aid of a pair of wings he reaches the moon, and surveys thence the miserable passions and quarrels of men. Hence he proceeds to Olympus, and is introduced to the Thunderer himself. Here he is witness of the manner in which human prayers are received in heaven. They ascend by enormous ventholes, and become audible when Zeus removes the covers. Strange is the variety of their tenor ! Some pray to be kings, others that their onions may grow ; one sailor begs a north wind, another a south; the husbandman wants rain; the fuller, sunshine. Zeus himself is represented as a partial judge, and as influenced by the largeness of the rewards promised to him.
At the end he pronounces judgment against the philosophers, and threatens in four days to destroy them all. Then he cuts Menippus's wings, and hands him over to Hermes, who carries him to earth by the ear.
With a malicious pleasure Menippus hastens to the Poecile to announce to the assembled philosophers their approaching destruction. Χάρων ν̓̀ ἐπισκοῦνοτες
is a very elegant dialogue, but of a graver turn than the preceding. Charon visits the earth to see the course of life there, and what it is that always makes men weep when they enter his boat.
He requests Hermes to be his Cicerone.
To get a good view they pile Pelion upon Ossa; but this not being high enough, Oeta must follow, and then Parnassus: a passage evidently meant to ridicule Homer. Parnassus being at top Charon and Hermes seat themselves on each of the peaks. Then pass in review Milo the wrestler, Cyrus, Croesus, and other celebrated characters.
In this piece, as Hemsterhuis observes, our author has not been very scrupulous about chronology.
In the interview between Croesus and Solon, Lucian follows Herodotus, but inverts the order of the happy. Of all Lucian's dialogues this is perhaps the most poetical: as in the description of the passions flying about; the comparison of cities to bee-hives attacked by wasps; the likening of human lives to bubbles; the death of cities as well as individuals.
The whole is a picture of the smallness of mankind when viewed from a philosophic, as well as a physical height. Lucian seems to have put his own sentiment into the mouth of Charon (§ 16), παγγελοῖα ταῦτα
, ὦ Ἑρμῆ
. The Κατάπλους ν̓̀ Τύραννος
, Cataplus sive Tyrannus,
is in fact a dialogue of the dead.
The persons are Charon, Clotho, Hermes, a cynic philosopher, the tyrant Megapenthes, the cobbler Micyllus, and certain rich men.
The reluctance of Megapenthes to obey the summons of Clotho, and his ludicrous attempts at evasion, are happily contrasted with the alacrity of Micyllus.
The latter being left behind on the banks of the Styx, swims after Charon's boat, which being full, he finds a place on the shoulders of the tyrant, and does not cease tormenting him the whole way.
There is considerable drollery in his pretended lament for his old lasts and slippers, when requested by Mercury to grieve a little, just for the sake of keeping up the custom. Megapenthes' description of the indignities which his household offer to his body while lying in state, and which, though conscious of them, he is powerless to resist, is very striking. Ὄνειρος ν̓̀ Ἀλεκτρύων
, Somnium seu Gallus.
Here we have the cobbler Micyllus again, who has been dreaming that he has fallen heir to Eucrates, a nouveau riche.
From this state of felicity he is awakened by the crowing of his cock, which he threatens to kill as soon as he gets up.
The cock discovers himself to be Pythagoras in one of his transmigratory states, which gives occasion to some jokes at the expense of that philosophy.
The cock then endeavours to persuade Micyllus that he is much happier than the rich men whom he envies, and in order to convince him, desires him to pluck one of the long feathers from his tail, which has the power of conferring invisibility. Micyllus, who has evidently a lurking spite against the bird, plucks out both his long feathers, much to the discomfiture of Pythagoras, whom, however, the cobbler consoles by telling that he looks much handsomer so than he would with only one. Being now invisible, Pythagoras and Micyllus go round to the houses of several rich men, and behold their miseries and vices.
This piece may be reckoned among the best of Lucian's. Δὶς κατηγορούμενος
, Bis Accusatus,
so called from Lucian's being arraigned by Rhetoric and Dialogue, is chiefly valuable for the information it contains of the author's life and literary pursuits. Zeus finds fault with Homer for calling the gods happy, when they have got so much to do, and when there are still so many undecided causes on hand. To clear these off a court is appointed, at which Justice is to preside.
The first cause is Drunkenness versus
the Academy, for depriving him of Polemo.
The plaintiff being naturally disqualified for pleading, the Academy undertakes both sides of the question. Next we have the Porch versus
Pleasure, which is defended by Epicurus.
After two or three more causes Lucian is accused by Rhetoric of desertion, and by Dialogue of having lowered and perverted his style. We may here also mention the Κρονοσόλων
, Crone Solon,
and the Ἐπιστολαί Κρονικαί
, Epistolae Saturnales,
which turn on the institution and customs of the Saturnalia.
Amongst the dialogues which may be regarded as mere pictures of manners, without any polemical tendency, may be reckoned the Ἔρωτες
, to which allusion has already been made in a former part of this notice. The Ἑταιρικοὶ Διάλογοι
, Dialogi Meretricii,
describe the manners of the Greek Hetaerae or courtesans, with liveliness and fidelity ; perhaps too much so for the interests of morality. Πλοῖον ὴ Εὐχαί
, Navigium seu Vota.
In this piece the company form various wishes, which are in turn derided by Lucian.
The imitation of Plato in the opening is very strong.
Dialogues which cannot with propriety be placed under any of the preceding heads, are the Εἰκόνες
which has been already adverted to in the sketch of Lucian's life. Ὑπὲρ τῶν Εἰκόνων
, Pro Imaginibus,
a defence of the preceding, with the flattery of which the lady who was the subject of it pretended to be displeased. Τόξαρις
a dialogue between a Greek and Scythian, on the subject of friendship, in which several remarkable instances are related on both sides.
It is in the grave style. The Ἀνάχαρσις
is an attack upon the Greek gymnasia, in a dialogue between Solon and Anacharsis.
It also turns on the education of youth. Here too the irony is of a serious cast. Περὶ ὀρχήσεως
, De Saltatione,
a disputation between Lucian and Crates, a stoic philosopher, respecting dancing.
It has been observed before that Lucian was an ardent admirer of dancing, especially the pantomimic sort, to which he here gives the advantage over tragedy.
The piece is hardly worthy of Lucian, but contains some curious particulars of the art of dancing among the ancients. Διάλεξις πρὸς Ἡσίοδον
, Dissertatio cum Hesiodo.
A charge against that poet that he cannot predict futurity, as he gave out.
The genuineness is doubtful.
6. Miscellaneous Pieces.
We are now to enumerate those few works of Lucian which do not fall under any of the preceding divisions, and which not being in the form of dialogues, bear some analogy to the modern essay. Πρὸς τον εἰπόντα Προμηθεὺς εἶ ἐν λόγοις
, Ad eum qui dixerat Prometheus es in Verbis.
A reply to somebody who had compared him to Prometheus. Allusion has already been made to this piece, which, as the title implies, turns chiefly on his own works. Περὶ θυσίων
, De Sacrificiis.
The absurdities of the heathen worship, especially of the Egyptian. are pointed out in a serious style.
This was probably an early production. Περὶ τῶν ἐπὶ μισθῷ συνόντων
, De Mercede Conductis,
was written to dissuade a Greek philosopher from accepting a place in a Roman household, by giving a humorous description of the miseries attending it.
This little piece abounds with wit and good sense, and may be placed among Lucian's most amusing productions.
It is likewise valuable for the picture it contains of Roman manners, which Lucian has here painted in highly unfavourable colours, but perhaps with some exaggeration and caricature. The Ἀπολογία περὶ τῶν ἐπὶ μισθῷ συνόντων
, Apologia pro de Merc. Cond.,
is Lucian's defence against a charge of inconsistency, in having accepted his Egyptian office, after having written the foregoing piece.
The chief ground of defence is the difference between a public and private office, and indeed the charge was absurd.
As already mentioned, this piece contains some particulars of Lucian's life. Ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἐν τῇ προσαγορεύσει πταίσματος
, Pro Lapsu in Salutando,
a playful little piece, though containing some curious learning, in which Lucian excuses himself for having saluted a great man with ὑγίαινε
in the morning, instead of χαῖρε
In the Περὶ πενθοῦς
, De Luctu,
the received opinion concerning the infernal regions is reviewed, and the folly of grief demonstrated in a rather serious manner. Πρὸς ἀπαίδευτον
, Adversus Indoctum,
is a bitter attack upon a rich man who thought to acquire a character for learning by collecting a large library. Περὶ τοῦ μὴ ῥᾳδίως πιστεύειν διαβολῆ, νον τεμερε ξρεδενδεμ̂ͅ
, Non temere credendum esse Delationi.
The title of this piece sufficiently explains its subject.
It is in the grave style; but is well written, and has something of the air of a rhetorical declamation.
These consist of two mock tragedies, called Τραγοποδάγρα
and about fifty epigrams. The Tragopodagra,
as its name implies, turns on the subject of the gout; its malignity and pertinacity are set forth, and the physicians who pretend to cure it exposed.
This little drama displays considerable vigour of fancy.
It has been thought that Lucian wrote it to beguile a fit of the malady which forms its subject. The Ocypus,
which turns on the same theme, is munch inferior, and perhaps a frigid imitation by some other hand. Of the epigrams some are tolerable, but the greater part indifferent, and calculated to add but little to Lucian's fame. Of some the genuineness may be suspected.
8. Spurious and Lost Works
In the preceding account of Lucian's works those have been omitted, of whose spuriousness scarce a doubt can be entertained.
These are :-- Ἀλκὺων ἢ περι Μεταμορφώσεως
, Halcyon seu de Transformatione.
This dialogue is completely opposed to Lucian's manner, as the fabulous tale of the Halcyon, which he would have ridiculed, is treated seriously.
It has been attributed to Leo the academician. For the rest, the style is agreeable enough. Περὶ τῆς Ἀστρολογίης
, De Astrologia,
containing a serious defence of astrology, can never have been Lucian's. The Ionic dialect, too, condemns it; the affected use of which Lucian ridicules in his Quom. Hist.
The same objections apply to the Περὶ τῆς Συρίης θεοῦ
, De Dea Syria,
also in the Ionic dialect. Though the scholiast on the Nubes
of Aristophanes ascribes it to Lucian we may safely reject it. Such a narrative of superstitious rites could never have come from his pen, without at least a sneer, or a word of castigation. Nor would he have sacrificed his beard at the temple of Hierapolis, as in the last sentence the author represents himself as having done. The Κυνικός
is abjudicated by the scholiast, and with reason; for the cynic worsts Lucian in the argument about his tenets. The Χαρίδημος ἢ περὶ καλλοῦς
, Charidemus seu de Pulchro,
is a frigid imitation of Plato, bearing no mark of Lucian's hand, and has been rejected by the best critics. Νέρων ἢ περὶ τῆς ὀρυχῆς τοῦ Ἰσθμοῦ
, Nero, seu de Fossione Isthmi.
Wieland seems to have stood alone in asserting this dialogue to be Lucian's. From the concluding part the author appears to have been alive at the time of Nero's death.
It contains some curious particulars of that emperor's singing.
The spuriousness of the Philopatris
has been already shown.
It is probable that several of Lucian's works are lost.
In the Life of Demonax,
§ 1, he mentions having written a life of Sostratus, which is not now extant. Of his rhetorical pieces perhaps the greater part is lost, as Suidas says of them γέγραπται αὐτῷ ἄπειρα
Lucian's merits as a writer consist in his knowledge of human nature, which, however, he generally viewed on its worst side; his strong common sense; the fertility of his invention; the raciness of his humour; and the simplicity and Attic grace of his diction. His knowledge was probably not very profound, and it may be suspected that he was not always master of the philosophy that he attacked.
He nowhere grapples with the tenets of a sect, but confines himself to ridiculing the manners of the philosophers, or at most some of the salient and obvious points of their doctrines. Du Soul, in a note on the Hippias,
§ 3, has collected two or three passages to show Lucian's ignorance of the elements of mathematics; and from this charge he has hardly, perhaps, been rescued by the defence of Belin de Ballu.
He had, however, the talent of displaying what he did know to the best advantage; and as he had travelled much and held extensive intercourse with mankind, he had opportunities to acquire that sort of knowledge which books alone can never give. Gesner justly calls him ἠθικώτατος
, and affirms that there is scarcely a sect or race of men whose history or chief characteristics he has not noted: presenting us with the portraits of philosophers of almost every sect; rhetors, flatterers, parasites; rich and poor, old and young; the superstitious and the atheistic; Romans, Athenians, Scythians; impostors, actors, courtezans, soldiers, clowns, kings, tyrants, gods and goddesses. (Dissert. de Philop.
xvi ) His writings have a more modern air than those of any other classic author; and the keenness of his wit, the richness, yet extravagance of his humour, the fertility and liveliness of his fancy, his proneness to scepticism, and the clearness and simplicity of his style, present us with a kind of compound between Swift and Voltaire.
There was abundance to justify his attacks in the systems against which they were directed. Yet he establishes nothing in their stead. His aim is only to pull down; to spread a universal scepticism. Nor were his assaults confined to religion and philosophy, but extended to every thing old and venerated, the poems of Homer and Hesiod, and the history of Herodotus. Yet writing as he did amidst the doomed idols of an absurd superstition, and the contradictory tenets of an almost equally absurd philosophy, his works had undoubtedly a beneficial influence on the cause of truth.
That they were indirectly serviceable to Christianity, can hardly be disputed; but, though Lucian is generally just in his representations of the Christians, we may be sure that such a result was as far from his wishes as from his thoughts.
Photius (Phot. Bibl. 128
) gives a very high character of Lucian's style, of the purity of which he piqued himself, as may be seen in the Bis Acc.
§ 34, and other places, though occasional exceptions might perhaps be pointed out. Erasmus, who was a great admirer of Lucian, and translated many of his works into Latin, gives the following character of his writings in one of his epistles, and which, making a little allowance for the studied antithesis of the style, is not far from the truth. “Tantum obtinet in dicendo gratiae, tantum in inveniendo felicitatis, tantum in jocando leporis, in mordendo aceti; sic titillat allusionibus, sic seria nugis, nugas series miscet; sic ridens vera dicit, vera dicendo ridet; sic hominum mores, affectus, studia, quasi penicillo depingit, neque legenda, sed plane spectanda, oculis exponit, ut nulla comoedia, nulla satyra, cum hujus dialogis conferri debeat, seu voluptatem spectes, seu spectes utilitatem.
The following are some of the principal editions of Lucian's works :--Florence, 1496, fol. (printer unknown) Editio Princeps. First Aldine edition, Venice, 1503,fol.
This edition, printed from bad MSS. and very incorrect, was somewhat improved in the second Aldine, 1522, fol.
, but is still inferior to the Florentine.
In this edition the Peregrinus
are generally wanting, which had been put into the Index Expurgatorius,
by the court of Rome. The Aldine, however, served as the basis of subsequent editions, till 1615, when Bourdelot published at Paris a Greek and Latin edition in folio, the text corrected from MSS. and the Editio Princeps.
This was repeated with emendations in the Saumur edition, 1619
. Le Clerc's edition, 2 vols. 8vo., Amsterdam, 1687
, is very incorrect. In 1730 Tib. Hemsterhuis began to print his excellent edition, but dying in 1736 before a quarter of it had been finished, the editorship was assigned to J. F. Reitz, and the book was published at Amsterdam, in 3 vols. 4to., in 1743
. In 1746 K. K. Reitz, brother of the editor, printed at Utrecht an Index, or Lexicon Lucianeum, in 1 vol. 4to., which, though extensive, is not complete.
The edition of Hemsterhuis, besides his own notes, also contains those of Jensius, Kuster, L. Bos, Vitringa, Du Soul, Gesner, Reitz, and other commentators. An appendix to the notes of Hemsterhuis, taken from a MS. in the Leyden library, was published at that place by J. Geel, 1824, 4to. Hemsterhuis corrected the Latin version for his edition as far as De Sacrificiis ; and of the remainder a new translation was made by Gesner. The reprint by Schmidt, Mittau 1776-80, 8 vols. 8vo., is incorrect. The Bipont edition, in 10 vols. 8vo., 1789-93
, is an accurate and elegant reprint of Hemsterhuis's edition, with the addition of collations of Parisian MSS.; but the omission of the Greek index is a drawback to it. A good edition of the text and scholia only is that of Schmieder, Halle, 1800-1801, 2 vols. 8vo. Lehman's edition, Leipzig, 1821-31, 9 vols. 8vo.
, is well spoken of.
There is a very convenient edition of the text by W. Dindorf, with a Latin version, but without notes, published at Paris, 1840, 8vo.
Amongst editions of separate pieces may be named Colloquia Selecta, by Hemsterhuis, Amst. 1708, 12mo., and 1732
. Dialogi Selecti, by Edward Leedes, London, 8vo., 1710 and 1726. Mythologie Dramatique de Lucien, avec le texte Grecque par J. B. Gail, Paris, 1798, 4to. Dialogues des Morts, par le même, Paris, 1806, 8vo. La Luciade, avec le texte Grecque par Courier, Paris, 1818, 12mo. Toxaris, Halle, 1825
, and Alexander, Cöln, 1828 8vo., with notes and prolegomena by K. G. Jacob. Alexander, Demonax, Gallus, Icaromenippus, &c., by Fritzsche, Leipzig, 1826. Dialogi Deorum, Ibid. 1829.
Lucian has been translated into most of the European languages. In German there is an excellent version by Wieland (Leipzig, 1788-9, 6 vols. 8vo.), accompanied with valuable comments and illustrations. The French translation of D'Ablancourt (Paris, 1654, 2 vols. 4to.) is elegant but unfaithful. There is another version by B. de Ballu, Paris, 1788, 6 vols. 8vo. In Italian there is a translation by Manzi, 1819-20.
Among the English versions may be named one by several hands, including W. Moyle, Sir H. Shere, and Charles Blount, London, 1711
. For this edition, which had been undertaken several years before it was published, Dryden wrote a life of Lucian, a hasty performance, containing some gross errors. The best English version is that of Dr. Franklin, 2 vols. 4to. London, 1780, and 4 vols. 8vo. London, 1781; but some of the pieces are omitted. Mr. Tooke's version (2 vols. 4to. London, 1820)
is of little value.