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Difference between revisions of "Lucian"

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In his ''Symposium'', far from [[Plato]]'s discourse, the diners get drunk, tell smutty tales and behave badly.
 
In his ''Symposium'', far from [[Plato]]'s discourse, the diners get drunk, tell smutty tales and behave badly.
  
But he was also one of the first novelists in occidental civilization. In ''A True Story'', a fictional narrative work written in prose, he parodied some weird tales told by [[Homer]] in 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 life]] and wars between planets centuries before [[Jules Verne]] and [[H. G. Wells]]. He could actually be called the ''Father of [[science fiction]].'' [[Henry Fielding]] cited him as a model in [[Tom Jones]], and the influence of his more fanastical tales can be traced through [[Raspé]]'s[[Baron Munchausen]] tales into the films of [[Terry Gilliam]].
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But he was also one of the first novelists in occidental civilization. In ''A True Story'', a fictional narrative work written in prose, he parodied outlandish tales told in the style of the ''[[Odyssey]]'', describing in mock seriousness a voyage to the [[Isle of the Blessed]] where he quizzes [[Homer]] on which came first, the "[[Iliad]]" or the "[[Odyssey]]".  ''A True Story'' includes a description of a visit to the Moon where he becomes entangled in a war between the Lunites and Sunites, as well as an extended stay on an island inside the belly of a whale. With episodes such as these, Lucian anticipated "modern" fictional themes like voyages to the moon and Venus, [[extraterrestrial life]] and wars between planets centuries before [[Jules Verne]] or [[H. G. Wells]]. He could actually be called the ''Father of [[science fiction]].'' [[Henry Fielding]] cited him as a model in [[Tom Jones]], and the influence of his more fanastical tales can be traced through [[Raspé]]'s[[Baron Munchausen]] tales into the films of [[Terry Gilliam]].
  
 
Lucian also wrote a satire called ''The Passing of Peregrinus'', in which the lead character, Peregrinus, takes advantage of the generosity and gullibility of [[Christians]]. This is one of the earliest surviving pagan perceptions of [[Christianity]]. His ''Philopseudes'' (Greek for "Lover of lies") is a [[frame story]] which includes the original version of "[[The Sorcerer's Apprentice]]".
 
Lucian also wrote a satire called ''The Passing of Peregrinus'', in which the lead character, Peregrinus, takes advantage of the generosity and gullibility of [[Christians]]. This is one of the earliest surviving pagan perceptions of [[Christianity]]. His ''Philopseudes'' (Greek for "Lover of lies") is a [[frame story]] which includes the original version of "[[The Sorcerer's Apprentice]]".
  
Lucian's ''Dialogues with the Dead'' are often cited as a key instance of [Menippean satire]], a genre within which social types are the basis for episodic tales of social satire.  Some critics connect the tradition with the works of [[Chaucer]] and [[Bocccacio]].
+
Lucian's ''Dialogues with the Dead'' are often cited as a key instance of [[Menippean satire]], a genre within which social types are the basis for episodic tales of social satire.  Some critics connect the tradition with the works of [[Chaucer]] and [[Bocccacio]].
  
 
The [[Amores (Lucian)|Amores]] transmitted among the works of Lucian is probably not a genuine work, ascribed by some to Lucian himself, and by others to pseudo-Lucian.
 
The [[Amores (Lucian)|Amores]] transmitted among the works of Lucian is probably not a genuine work, ascribed by some to Lucian himself, and by others to pseudo-Lucian.

Revision as of 01:32, 24 November 2006

For the Underworld character, see Lucian (Underworld)

Lucian of Samosata (Λουκιανὸς Σαμοσατεύς, Latin, Lucianus; c. AD 120 - after 180) was a rhetorician and satirist, writing in the Greek language, noted for his witty and scoffing nature.

He was born in Samosata (now inundated in a reservoir of eastern Turkey), in the former kingdom of Commagene, which had been absorbed by the Roman Empire and made part of the province of Syria, thus he referred to himself as a "Syrian" [1]. He probably died in Athens. His birthplace was recently lost when the Atatürk Dam project led to the destruction of the site. 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 Florence in 1499. His best known works are A True Story (a romance, patently not "true" at all, with its trip to the moon), and Dialogues of the Gods and Dialogues of the Dead.

Lucian was trained as a rhetorician, a vocation where one pleads in court, composing pleas for others, and teaching the art of pleading, but 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 Ionia and mainland Greece, to Italy and even to Gaul, and won much wealth and fame.

Lucian admired the works of Epicurus, for he breaks off a witty satire against Alexander the false prophet, 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.

In his Symposium, far from Plato's discourse, the diners get drunk, tell smutty tales and behave badly.

But he was also one of the first novelists in occidental civilization. In A True Story, a fictional narrative work written in prose, he parodied outlandish tales told in the style of the Odyssey, describing in mock seriousness a voyage to the Isle of the Blessed where he quizzes Homer on which came first, the "Iliad" or the "Odyssey". A True Story includes a description of a visit to the Moon where he becomes entangled in a war between the Lunites and Sunites, as well as an extended stay on an island inside the belly of a whale. With episodes such as these, Lucian anticipated "modern" fictional themes like voyages to the moon and Venus, extraterrestrial life and wars between planets centuries before Jules Verne or H. G. Wells. He could actually be called the Father of science fiction. Henry Fielding cited him as a model in Tom Jones, and the influence of his more fanastical tales can be traced through Raspé'sBaron Munchausen tales into the films of Terry Gilliam.

Lucian also wrote a satire called The Passing of Peregrinus, in which the lead character, Peregrinus, takes advantage of the generosity and gullibility of Christians. This is one of the earliest surviving pagan perceptions of Christianity. His Philopseudes (Greek for "Lover of lies") is a frame story which includes the original version of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice".

Lucian's Dialogues with the Dead are often cited as a key instance of Menippean satire, a genre within which social types are the basis for episodic tales of social satire. Some critics connect the tradition with the works of Chaucer and Bocccacio.

The Amores transmitted among the works of Lucian is probably not a genuine work, ascribed by some to Lucian himself, and by others to pseudo-Lucian.

Reference

  • Lucian, Works, Loeb Classical library, 9 volumes
  1. Harmon, A. M. "Lucian of Samosata: Introduction and Manuscripts." in Lucian, Works. Loeb Classical Library (1913).

External links

Template:Wikiquote

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