Lucian


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Lucian

(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.

Bibliography

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

Lucian

 

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).

WORKS

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.

REFERENCES

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.)

I. M. NAKHOV

Lucian

2nd century ad, Greek writer, noted esp for his satirical Dialogues of the Gods and Dialogues of the Dead
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