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(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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


2nd century ad, Greek writer, noted esp for his satirical Dialogues of the Gods and Dialogues of the Dead
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
A single, but rather detailed, account of a newly formed cult and its leader survives from the ancient world, written by a rhetorician named Lucian of Samosata (now Samsat, Turkey).
Primary source documents represent groups and individuals both well known (Clausewitz, Lenin, and Osama bin Laden, for example) and obscure (such as English Puritan Edward Saxby and Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata).
Although the book represents, as Posner mentions, the first application to intellectuals of the complete arsenal of analytic tools now available to economists, a precedent had already been established eighteen hundred years ago, albeit not in so systematic a fashion as Posner's, by a Syrian-born rhetorician and satirist who made his mark in the Roman Empire, Lucian of Samosata.
Meanwhile, Sarah Hutton's "Science and Satire: The Lucianic Voice of Margaret Cavendish's Description o[ a New World Called a Blazing World," shows how Cavendish "[models]" her "blend of comic and serious elements" in her "satire on contemporary science" on "the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata" (161).
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.D., described seeing that hybrid treatment of her in his account of Derceto worship in On the Syrian Goddess.
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. Is it conceivable that some Elizabethans may have felt that vernacular jest-books might attain to the same dignity as that enjoyed by classical texts of a similar nature?