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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.

Charon Ferryman - Representative character in many of dialogues of Lucian

Charon: Representative character in many of Lucian's dialogues.

'I thought I should like to see what life is like; what men do with it, and what are these blessings of which they all lament the loss when they come down to us.'

Why read Lucian?

Who was Lucian? - Biographical Profile of Lucian of Samosata

Lucian of Samosata - Ancient writer and satirist

Solid Evidence

Evidence from Lucian's Writings

Other Evidence

Read the Complete Works of Lucian with Table of Contents

Read Lucian in Greek (Download PDF)

Luciani Samosatensis Opera - Ad Optimorum Librorum Fidem. Tauchnitz, 1829. Digitized by Google: 08/29/07.

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Lucian Ngram: 1800 - 2000

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The brief explanation is that it represents the percentage of books that are topically related to the search terms. It's so much more, but that's the brief answer.

Books from the webmaster of lucianofsamosata.info

Mênin Web and Print Publishing

Mênin Web and Print Publishing

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:
"I, Lucian, wrote this, I who am skilled in what is old and foolish;
For what men think wise is foolish.
So then nothing that the mind of man can conceive is certain;
What you admire, seems ridiculous to others."

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.

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  1. The True History
  2. The Way to Write History
  3. Dialogues of the Gods
  4. Phalaris, I
  5. Dialogues of the Dead
  6. The Death of Peregrine
  7. Dialogues of the Hetaerae
  8. Timon the Misanthrope
  9. Nigrinus
  10. Life of Demonax
  11. Menippus
  12. The Vision
  13. Herodotus and Aetion
  14. A Literary Prometheus
  15. Dialogues of the Sea-Gods
  16. The Liar
  17. Hermotimus, or the Rival Philosophies
  18. The Syrian Goddess
  19. Of Pantomime
  20. Saturnalia
  21. Zeuxis and Antiochus
  22. Anacharsis, a Discussion of Physical Training
  23. Sale of Creeds
  24. Toxaris: A Dialogue of Friendship
  25. A Feast of Lapithae
  26. Slander, a Warning
  27. Trial in the Court of Vowels
  28. Alexander the Oracle-Monger
  29. Charon
  30. Zeus Cross-Examined
  31. The Cynic
  32. The Fly, an Appreciation
  33. Cronosolon
  34. Heracles, an Introductory Lecture
  35. Phalaris, II
  36. Prometheus on Caucasus
  37. The Dependent Scholar
  38. The Fisher
  39. Remarks Addressed to an Illiterate Book-Fancier
  40. Voyage to the Lower World
  41. The Double Indictment
  42. The Rhetorician's Vade Mecum
  43. Zeus Tragoedus
  44. A Slip of the Tongue in Salutation
  45. Saturnalian Letters
  46. The Parasite, a Demonstration that Sponging is a Profession
  47. The Scythian
  48. A Portrait-Study
  49. The Rooster
  50. Of Mourning
  51. A Word with Hesiod
  52. Dionysus, an Introductory Lecture
  53. Lexiphanes
  54. Patriotism
  55. The Hall
  56. The Runaways
  57. Icaromenippus, an Aerial Expedition
  58. Of Sacrifice
  59. The Purist Purized
  60. The Ship: Or, the Wishes
  61. The Tyrannicide
  62. Toxaris: A Dialogue of Friendship
  63. Dipsas, the Thirst-Snake
  64. Swans and Amber
  65. Demosthenes
  66. Harmonides
  67. The Disinherited
  68. Defence of the 'Portrait-Study'
  69. The Gods in Council
  70. Apology for 'The Dependent Scholar'