λ The Lucian of Samosata Project

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Texts and Library: Lucian of Samosata Project

Divided between Dialogues and Essays & Expositions

Dialogues

Essays & Expositions

Below - General textual information sourced from the Introduction by Fowler.

Texts which use Lucian as a character (listed below). Often in an ironic way, Lucian used himself as a character in his works. His character represents the voice of reason and sound judgment:

Out of all of these autobiographical treatises, The Vision is Lucian's most manifestly personal narrative. Other narratives provide the reader with glimpses into Lucian's real life biography but mostly into his mind and thoughts.


One thing to keep in mind when reading Lucian is that he was a rhetorician by trade. Lucian could be considered to be part of the so-called Second Sophistic, a resurgence of rhetoric in the 2nd century CE. Rhetoricians in the ancient world held various responsibilities, among which are the following:

Amongst his most rhetorical pieces are:

The rhetorical pieces often tried to make a speech or exposition out of an extemporaneous subject. It is speculated that Lucian composed these rhetorical pieces early in his career before he turned to comic dialogue. The pieces are smart and witty nonetheless.


Is it possible that the following dialogues were used as a form of experimentation with the dialogue format?:

There is no trace in them of the characteristic use that he afterwards made of dialogue, for the purposes of satire


Eventually, Lucian made the leap into the full satire based dialogue. Save for Hermotimus, elements from the comedies of Aristophanes and Menander make an appearance and the satires of Menippus come to the forefront:


Later, Lucian further explored these motifs in a handful of dialogues and expositions:


Conjectures by Fowler on how to place the works of Lucian. It is highly speculative, but Fowler uses clever ways to try to infer the dates by using mentions in the text itself and the style. Trying to piece together any timeline is fraught with difficulty:

(i) About 145 to 160 A.D. Lucian a rhetorician in Ionia, Greece, Italy, and Gaul.

(ii) About 160 to 164 A.D. After Lucian's return to Asia.

(iii) About 165 A.D. At Athens.

The next eight groups, iv-xi, belong to the years from about 165 A.D. to about 175 A.D., when Lucian was at his best and busiest; iv-ix are to be regarded roughly as succeeding each other in time; x and xi being independent in this respect. Pieces are assigned to groups mainly according to their subjects.

(iv) About 165 A.D.

(v) Influence of the New Comedy writers.

(vi) Influence of the Menippean satire.

(vii) Influence of the Old Comedy writers: vanity of human wishes.

(viii) Influence of the Old Comedy writers: dialogues satirizing religion.

(ix) Influence of the Old Comedy writers: satire on philosophers.

(x) 165 - 175 A.D. Introductory lectures.

(xi) 165 - 175 A.D. Scattered pieces standing apart from the great dialogue series, but written during the same period.

(xii) After 180 A.D.

(xiii) In old age.