(redirected from Lucian of Samosata)
Also found in: Dictionary.


(lo͞o`shən), b. c.120, d. after 180, Greek writer, also called Lucianus, b. Samosata, Syria. In late life he held a government position in Egypt. Lucian wrote an easy, masterly Attic prose, which he turned to satirical use. His wit and characterizations give his satires a vigor and an interest that have made him highly admired and often imitated. The most important and characteristic are his dialogues (e.g., Dialogues of the Gods, Dialogues of the Dead, The Sale of Lives), which deal with ancient mythology (the Olympian fables, which he satirizes) and with contemporary philosophers (whose ineptitude he exposes). The True History, a fantastic tale parodying incredible adventure stories, influenced such later writers as Rabelais and Swift. Lucian also wrote poems and rhetorical, critical, and biographical works.


See C. R. Robinson, Lucian and His Influence in Europe (1979); C. P. Jones, Culture and Society in Lucian (1986).



Born circa A.D. 120 in Samosata, Syria; died after 180 in Egypt. Greek writer. Son of an artisan of modest means.

Lucian wrote his best works when he lived in Athens (c. 165-180). His primary genre was the satirical dialogue, a polemical parody of mythological subjects written in clear and witty language; the characters’ speech is peppered with jokes and proverbs. The influence of the democratic philosophy of the Cynics and similar ideas of the Stoics can be traced in Lucian’s most mature works (the Menippus dialogues—Menippus, Banquet, and Dialogues of the Gods). Lucian’s philosophy evolved into the materialism of Epicurus. The antireligiosity and sharp social criticism of his satires kept Lucian from enjoying the popularity he deserved in the ancient world. His works influenced the Byzantine satirists and writers of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. F. Engels called Lucian “the Voltaire of classical antiquity” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 22, page 469).


Luciani Samosatenis opera, vols. 1-4. Edited by C. Jacobitz. Hildesheim, 1966.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935.
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1962.
Izbr. ateisticheskie proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1955.


Istoriia grecheskoi literatury, vol. 3. Edited by S. I. Sobolevskii. Moscow,
1960. Pages 219-24.
Caster, M. Lucien et la pensee religieuse de son temps. Paris, 1937 Avenarius, G. Lukians Schrift zur Geschichtsschreibung. Meisenheim am
Glan, 1956. (Bibliography, pp. 179-83.)



2nd century ad, Greek writer, noted esp for his satirical Dialogues of the Gods and Dialogues of the Dead
References in periodicals archive ?
Zappala, Lucian of Samosata in the Two Hesperias: An Essay in Literature and Cultural Translation.
The Works of Lucian of Samosata, Volume II, reprinted 1949, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
14) In what is perhaps the earliest known application of the Prometheus story to artistic creation in general, a second century AD short comic work by the Syrian rhetorician Lucian of Samosata (a contemporary of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius) combines a number of these motifs.
The second-century writer Lucian of Samosata tells us that Proteus Peregrinus, a charlatan prophet, immolated himself because he could not resist such a grandstanding opportunity
Lucian of Samosata, a Syrian who wrote in Greek in the 2nd century A.
goes back to one of Hume's inspirations, Lucian of Samosata and his seriocomic dialogues of the dead.
The study covers firstly an examination of six examples of pagan reaction to Christian women, namely those of Pliny the Younger, Marcus Cornelius Fronto, Lucius Apuleius, Lucian of Samosata, Galen, and Celsus.
It is rather interesting, by the way, that Spenser seems to suggest that there is some sort of equivalence between these popular texts and the works of the Syrian-Greek satirist and essayist Lucian of Samosata.
Some are fictional sketches of stylized characters, like the three courtesans portrayed in the second-century Greek-language satire Dialogues of the Courtesans by Lucian of Samosata.
The Cynic philosopher, Peregrinus, for instance, is best known to us now through the sketch of the satirical writer, Lucian of Samosata, who considered him an exhibitionist, though not, we should note, entirely a fraud.
when it is supposed he was in the middle of his literary production and had already mastered the very varied resources of his cultural critics, Lucian of Samosata writes his own version of The Banquet, being the complete title The Banquet or the Lapites.
Two second-century classical texts captivated Renaissance readers, writers, and artists: the Greek Lucius, or the Ass, formerly attributed to Lucian of Samosata but now held to be of uncertain authorship, and the Roman Apuleius' Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass.