The Lucian of Samosata Project
Momus' objection to Hephaestus' man was this: he should have made a window in the man's chest, so that, when it was opened, his thoughts and designs, his truth or falsehood, might have been apparent. - Hermotimus 20
A website dedicated to advancing the writings of Lucian of Samosata.
Lucian of Samosata (c. 120 AD - c. 200 AD) was the author of more than 70 known dialogues & treatises and is considered the supreme Ancient Greek satirist. Throughout his writings, Lucian interconnects the stories of gods and men, rich and poor, philosopher and skeptic, tyrant and subject, all with an eye for entertainment and humor. Lucian, an Assyrian by birth, held a strong command over the Greek language and his style harkens back to dialogues by Plato, writings by Attic writers in the Classical Age, and cynical satire by Menippus. With a keen eye to the follies of man and commentary on the universal aspects of human behavior, Lucian left us a treasure trove (Thesaurus) of delightful writings that will challenge and amuse his readers for centuries to come.
Why read Lucian?
Cyrenaics Resource: Only place online to find the majority of references and writings of the Cyrenaics, the ancient hedonists.
Cynic Lives and Writings: A comprehensive library of references to Cynic teachings and persons.
Demonax - Hellenic Library: Comprehensive online resource with almost all Greek writings from antiquity.
Lucian Blog: Links, articles, and images of interest to the developer of lucianofsamosata.info
Lucian Wiki: Essays and entries on sundry topics.
Vico Ricorso: Library of reblogs for the philosopher Giambattista Vico
Phalaris - The Source Material: Phalaris is a colorful character mentioned in Lucian who was best known for his exquisite torture device, the Brazen Bull.
Flowing Praise of Wieland
His shining qualities are certainly not without blemishes; neither the man nor the author are entirely blameless: who will pretend to deny it, or attempt to justify him in all respects? A head so clear and cool might easily, by his natural abhorrence of everything that bore the appearance of fanaticism, in some cases be led farther than many good people would be inclined to follow him. Such a lively and spirited wit, in the gaiety of his heart, may likewise be betrayed into a dry jest, and a partial judgment; or a too keen rebuke may be apt to slip out. An author of the second century, when good taste was beginning to give way to a passion for being new and original, when the elegant diction of the ancients was beginning to be superseded by a cramped, starched and quaint neological style, overloaded with artificial flowers and frippery, must, notwithstanding his nice tact in the true and beautiful, and with all his earnest endeavors to form himself by the most perfect models of better times, here and there have a dash of the present. All the three cases are sometimes, though but seldom, applicable to our author: but these spots are obliterated by so many substantial beauties and merits, that they come into no consideration. Indeed I know not which of all the old writers can be brought in competition with him for fertility of genius, for a union of the several species of ingenuity, for wit, humor, taste and elegance, for the talent of conferring the grace of novelty on the most common and familiar topics, and for combining all these means of pleasing, with a sound judgment, the most diversified and agreeable branches of knowledge, and with all that polish which a happy constitution of nature, nursed by the muses, can only acquire in the great world and in the conversation of select characters. Though it is not to be denied, that after a lapse of seventeen hundred years, from the alterations that have ensued in customs and manners, in religion and the whole constitution of society, from the advantages which in some respects we have over them, brought on by fortunate conjunctures, the progress of culture, extension of science, and other contingencies, his modern readers must lose not a little : yet as after deducting this loss, so much still remains ; since, notwithstanding so many disadvantages, he has always entertainment and charms for almost every kind of reader ; since, after so great an interval of time, his humor is still diverting, his satire still applicable, his pictures of manners still fresh and vivid, his raillery, in general, still fine and agreeable, and (what is not the least surprising) even his inventions so often copied and imitated by modern writers ; since, familiarized therefore as we are with them, they always retain such an air of originality, such an appropriate action and character, we are enabled to imagine the effects they must have produced upon the people of his time, and how much he must have delighted and enchanted the Greeks, who were so extremely sensible to the charms of genius, and particularly to the siren-strains of wit and eloquence.
Photius, an ancient commentator: thoughts on Lucian
Read Lucian's declamation On Phalaris and his various Dialogues of the Dead and Courtesans, and other works on different subjects, in nearly all of which he ridicules, the ideas of the heathen. Thus he attacks their silly errors in the invention of gods; their brutal and ungovernable passions and lack of restraint; the monstrous fancies and fictions of their poets; their consequent errors in statesmanship; the irregular course and changes and chances of their life; the boastful behaviour of the philosophers, full of nothing but pretence and idle opinions; in a word, his aim is, as we have said, to hold up the heathen to ridicule in prose. He seems to be one of those persons who regard nothing seriously; ridiculing and mocking at the opinions of others, he does not state what opinions he himself holds, unless we may say that his opinion is that one can know nothing for certain. His style is excellent, his diction clear, suitable and expressive; he shows a special liking for distinctness and purity united with brilliancy and appropriate dignity. His composition is so well fitted together that the reader does not seem to be reading prose, but an agreeable song, whose nature is not too obtrusive, seems to drop into the listener's ears. In a word, as already said, his style is charming, but not in keeping with the subjects which he himself has determined to ridicule. That he was one of those who held that nothing could be known for certain is shown by the following inscription in the work:
Lucian Ngram: 1780 - 2000
Preface to Lucian of Samosata
By Howard Williams
For the few ascertained facts in the life of the greatest prose satirist and most brilliant wit of Greek and Latin antiquity, we are indebted, almost wholly, to scattered and incidental allusions in his own various writings.
Like his immediate predecessor, Menippus the satirist; the illustrious Neo-Platonist, Porphyry, in the third; and the orator, Libanius, in the fourth century, Lucian was Syrian by birth. He was born at Samosata—its heap of ruins still retains the old mime almost unchanged—on the Euphrates, not far distant from Edessa, and the chief city of the district of Kommagene, in the extreme northeast of Syria, about the year 120 A.D. Tradition protracts the term of his existence to the age of ninety, or even of one hundred years. He thus lived through the reigns of Hadrian, the two Antonines, and Commodus, and (at all events) the earlier part of the reign of Severus—altogether the happiest period of the Roman Empire, and one of the most interesting ages in the world's history. Of his earlier life, the brief record supplied in his incomplete autobiographical sketch, the Dream, so often has been repeated, that it is not necessary to do more than to refer to it here. It is enough briefly to repeat that the deliberations of a family council determined his parents, who were in poor circumstances, to apprentice him, at the age of fifteen, to his maternal uncle, a statuary, for whose art he had shown some boyish inclination; that, by a fortunate accident—fortunate, at least, for the world of literary, if not of plastic art—the breaking of a piece of marble, he was induced to run away from his master, in resentment at a severe flogging, and to transfer his allegiance to Literature (Paideia); or, rather, to prepare himself, in the first instance, by a severe course of training, for the profession of a rhetor (in modern phrase, a public speaker), which eventually led him to embrace the career of philosophy and letters.
This very early stage his memoir, unhappily, comes to an end, and we are left to incidental remarks in his more considerable productions. His experiences for some years lay in the hard school of poverty and neglect - In search of employment, or, rather, to master the rudiments of his profession, the young Lncian wandered throngh the cities of the south-western region of the Lesser Asia, the celebrated and highly-cultured Ionia, gradually getting rid of his provincial manner and dialect, but still conspicuous by his Syrian (or, as he calls it, Assyrian) and un-Greek style of dress (The Twice Accused, 27). In his twentieth year he arrived in Greece, and made his first acquaintance with the Platonic philosopher Nigrinus, who gives the title to one of his Dialogues. He next settled in the Syrian capital, Antioch, where he practised at the bar, and acquired considerable reputation as a pleader; but the chicanery and frauds of the interpreters of the laws soon caused him to abandon that pursuit (The Fisherman, 29). The skill thus gained he turned to lucrative account as travelling disputant (sophistes, as it was termed)—a popular and profitable calling, which was as common in the philosophic Hellenic and Roman world in the second century, A.D., as it was in Scholastic Europe of the Middle Ages. In that capacity he traversed Syria and Egypt. Soon afterwards he visited Rome (in the year 150), among other reasons, to consult an oculist; and in his Nigrinus, the literary result of his visit, he stigmatizes the prevailing corruptions and laborious trifling of the literary as well as fashionable society of the capital. After a stay of two years in Italy, he proceeded to southern Gaul, at that time, and long previously, celebrated for its schools of rhetoric. In Gaul he continued his profession of public lecturer for some ten years, his residence in that country being interrupted only by a visit to Olympia. During this period, probably, he composed many of his published rhetorical pieces.
Having now secured an independent income, at the age of forty, Lucian set out again on his travels, and made a journey through Macedonia aud Thessaly, on his way to his Syrian home. His stay at Samosata was only temporary; and, inducing his surviving family to remove to Athens, in the next year he himself followed them to the literary metropolis, which to him, as to every Greek or phil-Hellenist, doubtless was an object of supreme intellectual curiosity. It was on his journey to Athens that he had the interview with the Paphlagonian prophet, Alexander, which gave birth to his satire of that name. The contempt openly exhibited by him for that eminent miracle-worker had almost, as he assures us (Alex. 56, 57), cost him his life: for the exasperated Alexander had secretly instructed the crew of the vessel, which he had insidiously placed at his visitor's disposal, to make away with their charge—a conspiracy frustrated only by the interposition of the relenting captain. Thus saved from a premature and inglorious end, he proceeded on his journey to Athens, accompanied by that extraordinary adventurer, Peregrinus, or Peregrinus Proteus, whose fiery immolation of himself (like that of another Hercules Furens), before the assembled multitude at Olympia, witnessed by Lucian, in the year 165, forms the principal subject of the Peregrinus.
At Athens Lucian seems—for there is no positive evidence—to have taken up his fixed abode for the greater part of his remaining life, occupying himself, as may safely be conjectured, in the highest philosophical and literary studies, and in the enjoyment of the friendship of such exceptional philosophers as Celsus, the famous Platonist critic of nascent Christianity (in his True Account, known to us only through the Reply of Origen, published fifty years later), of the Stoic Sostratus, and the Eclectic Demonax. His sketch of the career of the last, a meritorious ethical teacher, forms one of the not rare proofs of his esteem for real goodness. During this period appeared his masterpieces—his principal theological, philosophical, and ethical Dialogues—when that consummate skill in the management of the marvellous Attic dialect had been attained which rivals the style of the best masters, and which, as the acquisition of a foreigner, excites the admiration of all his editors and critics. Perhaps the only other equally remarkable instance of such kind of excellence is that of the African Terence.
When about the age of seventy, impelled, it would seem, by imminent poverty—for authors, then, even of the highest reputation fell very far short of obtaining from the Sosii of the day the immense pecuniary profits now often secured by ephemeral writers—Lucian once more resumed his old occupation of rhetor or sophist, and produced some of those declamatory essays which appear among his published works. At a fortunate moment, he found relief from his pecuniary difficulties in an official income derived from his appointment to the registrarship or clerkship of the lawcourts of the Egyptian capital, the presentation to which office has variously been assigned to Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, and Severus. Chronology seems, on the whole, to support the claims of the last prince, who became emperor in 193, to the honour of saving from destitution the greatest literary ornament of the century. To clear himself from the charge of teaching one thing (in his satire, On Hired Dependants) and practising another, by way of supplement to that essay he published his Apology. From it, incidentally, we learn that he derived a large salary from his legal post. He alleges the forcible argument that, as the Imperial master of the Roman legions himself—not to mention numerous less exalted personages—by no means refused the richest emoluments of office,
Such are the somewhat meagre facts collected from his writings. To these his earlier biographers or critics, led by the lexicographer Suidas, have been pleased to make some sensational and apocryphal additions. Suidas, of whom nothing is known except that he belongs to a very late date in Byzantine literary history, having, probably, in mind the story of the tragic end of the infidel Euripides, assures his readers that the "blasphemer" found a well-merited end in having been torn to pieces by wild dogs; and, not content with so unique a termination to his earthly career, adds, as to his posthumous existence, "in the future, with Satan, he will have his portion in eternal fire." Another equally discreet authority, of the sixteenth century, Raffaelle Maffei (or Volaterranus, as he is called from his birthplace), avers that he was a malicious apostate from Christianity, attributing to him the bon mot, that he had gained nothing from his old creed but change of name—Lucianus in place of Lucius (or Lykinus). To these and similar mendacious assertions Erasmus replies, "they attached to him the name of blasphemer, that is, 'evil-speaker;' but they who did so, one may be sure, were those whose festering sores he had probed." To his bitter and persistent satirical assaults upon the established religion, and upon the contending sects of (so-called) "philosophy," we may be sure, not a few (ephemeral) replies appeared: but no notices of them have come down to us. While, however, the last echoes of pagan sacerdotal or sectarian animosity, excited by his exposures, died away at the establishment of Christianity, orthodox zeal, on the other side, even still sometimes regards him as the declared enemy of the Christian faith. The hostility of the earlier Christian authorities had been aroused, in particular, by two very famous Dialogues—the Peregrinus and the Philopatris ("The Patriot"). As for the latter, it has been proved, beyond reasonable doubt, to have been the production of a much later-writer, bearing the same name as the reputed author; while, as for the former, the chief offence originated in a mistaken reading or interpretation of the text, where allusion is made to the Founder of Christianity. In fact, the brief allusions of the Greek satirist to the new faith seem to discover less hostility than is displayed in his ridicule of the rival Oriental creeds, of the established religion itself, or of the popular systems of philosophy and ethics.
If Lucian has been thus vilified by the ignorance or malice of critics of early days, on the other hand, from the first moment of his resurrection, at the restoration of learning—from the first appearance of the editio princeps, in 1496—he received an enthusiastic recognition of his rare merits from the best scholars of the time. Among them towers conspicuously the illustrious Erasmus, one of the earliest translators (1514), in conjunction with Sir Thomas More, of the great master of Ridicule, whom he himself so admirably imitates in his Encomium Morice
According to the text of Hemsterhuis and Lehmann, the especially significant and highly interesting passage in question—by many critics believed to have been purposely mutilated—reads as follows :—" At which time, he [Peregrinus] made himself thoroughly master of the wonderful philosophy of the Christians, associating, in Palestine, with their priests and scribes. And—for what need of details —in a short time he brought them to be all mere children in his hands, aspiring to the character of prophet, toibe president of their public services, and convener of their Assemblies and he was, in fact, all in all to them. Of their books some he interpreted and expounded, many of them even he himself wrote; and they regarded him in the light of some divine being, set him up as their legislator, and chose and publicly acknowledged him as their special patron [here occurs the suspected hiatus]. They, in fact, worship that great man who was crucified in Palestine, because of his introducing into the world this new religious mystery.—On the Death of Peregrinus, 11. His earlier Christian critics seem to have read ("magician"), a reading which is approved by Gesner; while to the epithet "wonderful" has been assigned an ironical meaning. Of Peregrinus a more favourable account is given by Gellius (no very high authority), and Ammianus Marcellinus (a late writer), as well as by the Christian writers Athenagoras and Tertullian. The Philopatris (in which satirical allusion is made to the visions of St. Paul) is assigned to the year 363, the date of the Emperor Julian's Persian expedition.
Omne tulit punctum qui miacuit utile dulci.
he protests:—"no one, if not Lucian, has succeeded in illustrating this truth. He has imitated the raillery, without copying the wantonness, of the Old Comedy. Gracious heaven! [deum immortalem is his strong expletive of admiration], with what sly humour, with what grace and elegance, he tonches everything! With what power of sarcasm he holds up every folly to ridicule, how he seasons everything with his wonderful wit—touching no absurdity that he does not cover with some irony or satire! Such grace," continues Erasmus, echoing the dictum of Archbishop Photius, "dominates in his style, there is so much felicity of invention, so much elegance in his wit, such pungency in his more serious assaults; he so tickles with his allusions, so mingles the grave with the gay, in such a way does he enunciate truth with a smile, so admirably does he picture the manners, the characters, the pursuits of men, as it were, with a painter's pencil; in such a manner does he display things which we can not only read but actually see, that whether one regards entertainment, or utility and instruction, there is no comedy, no satire, that has a right to be put in competition with his Dialogues." At the beginning of the sixteenth century, at least, this high eulogy was scarcely an exaggeration.
Among the Dialogues translated (into Latin) by Erasmus, it is interesting to note, are the Timon and the Alexander; by More (who, as an ecclesiastical zealot, and as Lord Chancellor, so soon forgot the spirit of his author, and the principles of his own Utopia), the Menippus, the Philopseudes ("The Lover of Lies"), and the Tyrannicide. Even Melancthon, the associate of Luther in the Reformation struggle in Germany, assisted in the work of annotating the great sceptic (1527). Rabelais, although there is no evidence that he took part in illustrating so congenial a mind, must have been greatly indebted to him. Early in the next century (1615) his most considerable French editor, Bourdelot, enthusiastically maintains that, "in proportion as the influence of Lucian's writings was diffused, the love of knowledge and virtue increased, which still resides in the hearts of a few;" and goes so far as to affirm that by such influence the culture, and even civilization, of the philosopher's native country perceptibly benefited in the succeeding age. A Dutch critic, Hoogstraaten, believes him to have been "not only the greatest genius of his own age, but even of all antiquity." These high eulogiums, for the most part, have been repeated by later critics to the days of Hemsterhuis and Keitz (whose judicious settlement of the text, and criticism and summary of the labours of preceding editors and annotators, respectively, first made to the world a worthy presentation of his genuine and attributed productions), and by competent judges of our own time. The English historian of Greek Literature, J. W. Donaldson, holds that "his merits can scarcely be over-estimated," and "considering him with reference to his own age, and to the Literature of Greece," justly adds the learned historian, "a position of the utmost importance must be assigned to him, both in regard to the systems of religion and of philosophy to which he gave the death-blow, and in respect to the cultivation of a purer Greek style, which he vainly taught and exemplified." During the sixteenth century sixty-five editions (in Greek or Latin), in the seventeenth twenty-two, in the eighteenth forty-four (besides translations), bore ample witness to the estimation in which he was held by the learned world. In England the first edition of him (and that only in part) did not appear till 1677. The first version (in part) in 1634. No English translation of any pretension appeared till that of Carr (1775-1798), a spirited, but extremely free, presentation of him, which was followed by that of Franklin, Professor of Greek at Cambridge (1780), and of Tooke (1820)—Franklin's, although not very faithful or accurate, being altogether the most valuable of the three chief English presentations of Lucian. Of French translations, Talbot's (1857) has the greatest repute. Of German versions, that of Wieland, the well-known poet and romancist (1788), is easily first; and, indeed, it is generally held to be entitled to the foremost place among all attempts at a modern representation of the Greek wit.
Lucian is almost encyclopaedic in the extent and rarity of his productions — critic, moralist, philosopher, politician, poet, romancist, litterateur. Of the eighty-four separate writings attributed to him, and published in the editions of his works, not a few find an undeserved place there. Some pieces of inferior merit are the production of his earlier rhetorical period, and show sufficiently evident traces of the stilted style characteristic of the fashionable declamatory essay, as well in matter as in manner. Of his undoubted productions, the shorter pieces—Dialogues of the Gods, of the Sea-Gods, and of the Dead—by reason of their popular subject-matter and peculiar graces of style, have always been most generally read. His more considerable masterpieces are Zeus the Tragedian, the Sale of Lives, the Timon, the Ferry Boat, the Twice Accused, the Fisherman, the Fugitives, the Banquet, the Convicted Zeus, the Convention of the Gods, the Charon, the Icaro-Menippus, the True History, the Prometheus, the Philopseudes, How History Ought to be Written (the first attempt at a philosophy of history, but not of sustained merit throughout), the Peregrinus, On Sacrifices, On Mourning, and the Alexander. In the Greek Anthology twenty Epigrams are ascribed to a writer bearing the name of Lucian. Whether the composition of the Lucian or not, they are by no means unworthy of his genius, and they are among the best in the whole extensive Collection.
The inimitable Hellenic arts of architecture and of sculpture which adorned, disguised, and, in some measure, served to redeem the character of the religion of Zeus, or Jupiter, had long shown symptoms of decay, the outward and visible sign of a corresponding coolness in the "religious" feeling of the upper classes; but the religion of Homer and Hesiod still kept fast hold of the affections of the body of the peoples (as it continued to do, in fact, throughout the country districts, long after the State recognition of Christianity), while the great majority of the educated or influential sections of society regarded it as a useful means of retaining the masses in subjection. To undermine this imposing structure of mingled fraud and imposture, the absurdities, the follies, and the hypocrisies of its various adherents, Lucian especially devoted his almost unrivalled powers of wit and sarcasm; and, if ridicule could inflict a mortal wound, he might have been well satisfied with his brilliant efforts. But reflection on the history of the Past must sometimes have inspired him with some misgiving, or even despair. For he was far from having been the first to expose the character of the orthodox Theology. In the drama, the most popular form of literature in Hellas—in Tragedy, Euripides (of the school of Sokrates) had, in the latter half of the fourth century, given expression to the more rational belief of the best-educated minds of the time: in Comedy, the conservative Aristophanes, in his inimitable dramas, whether purposely or not, had held up to the most open and undisguised contempt the most sacred objects of the national and popular worship. In the two next centuries Scepticism was rampant. In the lighter forms of literature, the Mimes ("parodies") of Sopbron of Syrakuse, and the bitter satires (silloi, as they were termed) of Timon of Phlius. a disciple of Pyrrho, whose name has given a synonym for the extremest scepticism, held up to derision the occupants of the national Pantheon. Such rationalistic writers, too, as Euhemerus, author of the Sacred Inscriptions; Palsephatus, author of the Incredible Legends; and, in particular, Menippus, were direct predecessors of the satirist of Samosata. But these more popular writers were not the only assailants of the Pagan Pantheon: and it is enough merely to mention the names of Anaxagoras, Xenophanes, Demokritus, Zeno (the founder of the Stoic School), Antisthenes (the founder of the most practical satirists, the Cynics), and, above all, Epikurus, to recall their wide divergences from, and sometimes direct assaults on, the Olympian theology. To Lucian, however, as to Voltaire, in the last century, was reserved, in very special degree, the work of popularizing and bringing within the reach of the most ordinary intelligence the various labours of his predecessors. Of his models in the Dialogue form of writing, Plato and Xenophon are most commonly quoted: but the eloquent founder of the Academy, and the author of the Economicus, rather improved than originated it. Sophron of Syracuse, and Zeno of Elea in Italy, had alreadybrought it into use. In the following century, Antisthenes also employed it.
As for the ethical character of Lucian, if we may trust to his own representation of himself, it deserves high praise. In the Dream, among the superior advantages offered by Paideia, he gives prominent place to the virtues of justice, mildness, and reasonableness. In his Revived Philosophers, he declares himself to be a hater of falsehood, of imposture, of arrogance, of pride, a lover of truth, of beauty, of sincerity, and all things lovely. He abandoned the profession of the Law from disgust for its iniquity, or for the fraudulent methods of its practisers. He engages, as he declares, in the war against Falsehood quite conscious that he is fighting a desperate battle—that the vast majority are against him (Fisherman, 20). In his biography of his friend, Demonax, his appreciation of that superior Cynic exhibits him as a sympathetic admirer of true worth. In one department of Morals—on the assumption of his having been the author of the scandalous Erotes ("Loves")—he has been made the subject of undeserved censure; for its tedious dulness and its frigid and sophisticated tone, alike foreign to Lucian's manner, prove it to be spurious.
It has been sometimes objected to Lucian"s philosophical claims, that he made no attempt to build anew upon the ruins of the religious system overthrown by him. But, in the first place, systems of "faith," or " morals," already abounded ad nauseam, and to have erected another system of "philosophy" would have been only to add to the existing confusion. The work immediately and urgently needed was that of complete destruction, and the clearing of the ground for the future dissemination of higher and nobler ideas. This he did—at all events, as far as religionism and metaphysical shams were concerned—with the persistent zeal of a sincere reformer. In the second place, if the charge be a substantial one, he shares the blame with almost every destructive critic of after ages, whose opportunities for establishing better faiths have been superior to his. The charge to which he is more justly open—and it is the only grave fault, perhaps, in his writings—is indiscrimination in his assaults on the philosophies of the day. His, apparently, contemptuous treatment, in particular, of Pythagoreanism, the parent of Platonism, and the philosophical school which was most productive of examples of the higher virtues as well as of intellectual ability, deserves censure. In his Sale of Lives, in the Revived Philosophers, and in one of the Dialogues of the Dead in particular, he seems to have yielded to the temptation—a sort of temptation to which great wits have always been liable—of utilizing matter so promising as the ridiculous fables which the enemies of Pythagoreanism abundantly supplied. That among the (self-styled) followers of Pythagoras were to be found some pretenders, aud not a few extravagant expositors of his teaching—as such are found in all societies or sects— is sufficiently probable; but to hold up indiscriminately to ridicule what was, in the main, a meritorious system of (ethical) philosophy—that, certainly, did not become the character of a just critic. He lived, indeed, before the appearance of the School of New or Newer Platonism,
In the Sale or Auction of Lives, Pythagoras, who responds to the inquiries of the bidder, as to his qualifications, that he does "not eat the flesh of animals, but everything else except beans," is sold at the price of forty pounds. Epikurus (to whose school, if to any, Lucian himself belonged), or rather an Epikurean. is sold for only eight pounds. Yet, in his Alexander he speaks of the founder of "The Garden" almost with the profound reverence and esteem of Lucretius.
Plotinus, Ammonias, and Porphyry (the most erudite of all the later Greek scholars), belong to the following century. Extravagant as may have been some of their speculations, the New-Platonists, by their noble, if hopelessly futile, attempts to reform and spiritualize the established religion, and by their noble protests against the gross practical Materialism of life, have deserved (equally with the early Christians), among the various contending sects of religion or philosophy, very high esteem. Had he witnessed their self-denying lives, and been acquainted with their exalted ideas and aspirations, we may with some confidence believe that he would have done justice to their real merits, as distinguished from the errors of judgment which lay on the surface, and which were the inevitable outcome of the scientific defects of the age.