To Lucian, the moon did not orbit the earth in a vacuum, but rather was just another realm where you could look down from and see the earth. To the ancients, to travel beyond the clouds is to take you to the realm of the gods, not the realm of Star Wars. Another writing, the True History , details a journey beyond the Pillars of Heracles, where Lucian travels out into the great ocean to visit many strange and wonderful islands.
The True History is clearly a take off of the Odyssey. At the beginning Lucian indicates that this is a fantastic tale, and that we are to take the story with a grain of salt. This also suggests that how Lucian views Odysseus' tale to Alcinous. He clearly suggests that the only person that knows the truth of this tale is Odysseus, and that he is hardly a trustworthy character. In fact, in his True History, Lucian meets Odysseus who turns out to regret leaving Calypso as she had offered him immortality and he had turned it down for Penelope, which while good at the time, when he was killed, he realises his mistake.
It is interesting to see how when we are looking at the Odyssey, the fantastic elements pretty much take place beyond the Italian Peninsula, a region in Homer's time that was not fully known. Granted, the Greeks were phenomenal sailors, and there are stories of one circumnavigating Africa, however it seems that when we want to move into the realm of fantasy, we move out of the known world. In Homer's time this was the Western Mediterranean, in Lucian's time this was beyond the Pillars of Heracles though it is interesting that Lucian was quite correct when he spoke of a continent on the other side of the ocean.
We see this tradition coming into our world, for as more of the world becomes known, the fewer unknown realms that there are left. In Jonathon Swift 's day there were the occasional unknown islands in the middle of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, while today we are restricted to the realms of outer space and fantasy land. It seems somewhat different in those days as Lucian's purpose in writing was to make a mockery of these fantasy novels.
However, these days we read them knowing them to be stories, though I must admit, from looking at the Star Wars and Star Trek mania, it appears that there are people that truly want to believe those stories to be true. While the unknown may be relegated to the dark corners of our world, in the late Roman Empire there was still a lot that was unknown to them. They did not really know what was beyond the forests to the North, the desert to the South, or India to the east.
Likewise there was not much known about what lay beyond the Ocean to the west, so any author could make up some fantastic tales set in those far off lands. People seemed to be a lot more gullible back then, particularly since an author's background could be hidden much better than it is today. However, from reading these dialogues, and there are a lot more than what is contained in this book, it is clear to note that Lucian, unlike the other writers of his day, has survived, and this is in addition to his name being added to the black list of the church.
That is probably one of the main reasons that his writings did survive, because when people are not allowed to have it, then they end up wanting it all the more. I don't think Lucian hated Christianity any more that all of the other weird and strange philosophies that made their way around the Roman world of his day. Rome was in decay, as Juvenal rather bluntly tried to put it a few decades earlier, though Lucian, using a mix of old and new comedy, was trying to open the eyes of those around him to see how close to falling his society was.
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Literary Fiction. About Lucian of Samosata. Lucian of Samosata. Lucian of Samosata was an Assyrian rhetorician, and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature. Taken from Wikipedia. Books by Lucian of Samosata. Trivia About Selected Dialogues.
For he is wont to gather the force of the words from the sentences in which they occur, especially in his study and translation of Greek.
This is not contrary to grammar, but above it, and an instinct of genius 2. Whether made in or or somewhat earlier, the Progymnasmata and Epigrammata at any rate contained the first translations of Lucian more correctly, of writings believed to be Lucian's that are known to have been made in England , and they are important for that reason. Thomas More and Erasmus had been fast friends from the date of their first meeting in In an oft-quoted letter written in that year Erasmus asks, Thomae Mori ingenio quid vnquam finxit natura vel mollius, vel dulcius, vel feliciusi?
In after years he never tired of praising the character and ac- complishments of his friend, whom he once addressed as More mortalium omnium mihi charissime 4. The names of these two humanists have always been linked by posterity. Sometime in the latter half of the year Erasmus paid his second visit to England. He remained there until the following June. Most of the time he spent in London, where he renewed the friendships he had made six years before and formed new ones as well. Since they had last met, More and Erasmus had both given themselves to study, the one to law and letters and the other to divinity and letters.
More had lived for about four years, without vow, in the Charterhouse. He had by now concluded his legal studies, had served in Parliament, and had married. He had been at Greek for at least four or five years, and with Lily had made translations therefrom. He was already a man marked for success at the bar, in public service, and in literature.
Erasmus, too, had made progress in those years. He had passed the time since his earlier visit in Paris and Louvain, in unremitting study. The translation of Euripides, however, was not yet published x. Erasmus may not have possessed More's remarkable quickness in languages, but he had industry and uncommon talent ; moreover, he was able to devote all or most of his time to his studies, as More, pressed by the law, was not.
Consequently the two men must have been about equal in their knowledge of Greek in the year Both were enthusiastic about Greek literature, and both had amused and improved themselves as students by the discipline of translation. Both had read Lucian, too. Whether or not More knew Lucian's dialo-. As for Erasmus, he had no doubt been familiar with Lucian's works for several years, and we know that he had attempted a translation of one of them, Tragodopo- dagra, a mock-tragedy on gout, then received as Lucian's but now reckoned spurious. Erasmus endeavoured to turn this jeu d'esprit into Latin verse, but was defeated by the prosodie difficulties involved.
The choruses, he discovered, could not happily be put into Latin without losing most of their attractions 1. He quotes examples, and adds : Haec atque id genus quum apud Graecos plurimum habeant gratiae ob facetis- simam imitationem, Latinus sermo nee vmbram horum possit redder e 2.
It is possible, if undemonstrable, that he read Lucian in the original before Erasmus did ; but on the other hand, Erasmus must have known Lucian in Latin as early as , for in February of that year he wrote to his pupil, Lord Mountjoy, of an occurrence so remarkable that Which of them knew Lucian first is not of capital importance. What is important is that in they decided to translate some of Lucian's dialogues.
Here one learnt how to controvert without heat, how to undermine the entrenchments of pedantry and ignorance by irony, and tease the adversary by raillery into some acknowledgment of the truth. Above all, one learnt to be daring in the invention of ingenious conceits x.
These translations may now. In addition, translations of Lucian made by Erasmus later than must be noticed, in order that the account be complete. Between the date of his attempt at Tragodopodagra and , Erasmus translated thirty-six of Lucian's writings 2. The eighteen short dialogues and ten longer ones, together with the four translated by More, were published in Paris by Badius late in For purposes of description they may be divided into two groups.
But the volume containing them was not given to the public until a second set of translations from Lucian not mentioned on the title-page , lately received from Erasmus, had been added to it.
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By 17 November Erasmus had translations of eighteen short dialogues from Dialogi Deorum, Dialogi Marini, and Dialogi Mortuorum, and of Hercules, Eunuchus, De Sacrificiis, and Convivium ready with which to supplement the translations he had given to Badius earlier in the year, after his return from England but before his departure for Italy.
He sent the additional ones to Paris from Italy, and they were added to those already in type 2. The title-page abbreviations expanded reads as follows :. Ex Erasmi interpretatione Toxaris siue de amicicia Luciani dialogus. Alexander qui et Pseudo- mantis eiusdem. Gallus siue Somnium eiusdem quoque luciani Timon seu Misanthropus. Tyrannicida seu pro tgrannicida eiusdem declamatio. Cum declamatione Erasmica eidem respondente. De iis qui mercede conducti degunt dialogus eiusdem. Declamatio Mori de eodem. Philopseudes seu incredulus Luciani ab eodem Moro in latinam linguam traductus : Ex aedibus Ascensianis 3.
The first translation in the volume is that of Toxaris, Lucian's dialogue between a Greek and a Scythian on the subject of friendship.
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Each speaker tells five stories of countrymen. Toxans was inscribed to Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester, onetime Chancellor of Cambridge and the future founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a college established for the express purpose of providing a home for the New Learning 2 , and, it might be added, the college whose late President, Dr. Allen, was the foremost of Erasmus scholars. Then comes Alexander. Luciani Pseudomantem misi, scelestissimum quidem illum, sed quo nemo sit vtilior ad depraehendendas coar- guendasque quorundam istorum imposturas, qui nunc quoque vel magicis miraculis, vel ficta religione, vel adsi- mulatis condonationibus aliisque id genus praestigiis, vulgo fucum facere solent 4.
Gallus has always been one of the most popular of Lucian's works, a fact easily accounted for in view of its good humour, its clever dialogue, and its underlying seriousness. It is one of the Lucianic dialogues certain to be known by anyone who knows Lucian at all. Erasmus dedicated his rendering of it to Christopher Urswick, and ecclesiastic who had been in the service of Henry VII, and he wrote that in it :.
Timon is another popular work ; in the fifteenth and six- teenth centuries it was one of the favorite Lucianic writings. Erasmus was not the first to translate it into Latin, but he considered his predecessors' efforts most unsatisfactory :. Is est Luciani dialogus quo vix alius lectu vel vtilior vel iucundior; versus quidem ille iampridem ab alio nescio quo, sed ita versus vt interpres hoc modo demonstrare voluisse videatur sese neque Graece scire neque Latine ; neque temere adeo quis suspicetur eum interpretem subor- natum ab iis qui Luciano male volunt 2. Latin versions of Timon had been published four times , , , before , but the names of the translators are unknown, so we cannot identify the interpres who was so woefuUy incapable of turning Lucian's Greek into Latin.
He was Chancellor of Cambridge in Then comes Tyrannicida, discussion of which I shall post- pone for the present, and after it De iis qui Mercede conducti degunt. This monologue-essay gives an interesting and vivid. Naturally this essay had an especial appeal for the literati of Erasmus' day, who not seldom deplored in their writings the poverty and neglect that the man of letters is heir to x. This translation Erasmus made when about to leave for Italy 2.
He inscribed it to his friend and occasional correspondent John Paludanus, Public Rhetor, and subsequently Scribe, of the University of Louvain. Evidently Paludanus must have had some taste of court life and was able to read the work with sympathy, for the dedicatory letter says :. In eo non sine voluptate tanquam in speculo videbis aulicae vitae incommoda ; quae tu mihi saepenumero commemorare solebas, nimirum expertus et veluti naufragio eiectus ac vix isti liberae litterariaeque vitae redditus 3.
These six translations comprise the first group by Erasmus in the volume. The second is made up of eighteen short dialogues and four longer compositions, Hercules, Eunuchus, De Sacrifiais, and Convivium. The translations were made, according to Erasmus, He was also a friend of More ; a letter from him to More was printed with Utopia. It was through Busleiden's bequest that the Collegium Trilingue at Louvain, one of the seminaries founded as a nursery of the New Learning, was established.
First among these translations are those of the eighteen. After them comes the version of Hercules Gallicus. Next is Eunuchus, a dialogue on a somewhat novel topic. It is now classed among the spurious writings. After Eunuchus comes De Sacrificiis, an essay on the ignorance and silly credulity of people who believe in the efficacy of sacrifice to the gods. There is nothing whatever in it about Christianity, of course, but this tongue-in-cheek author Lucian did not confine his gives to heathen and idolatrous religions ; he also attacked the true faith — in Mors Peregrini and Philopatris — as everyone knew.
Convivium, one of Lucian's most entertaining narratives, is a report of a wedding feast at which the philosophers — some of whom are uninvited guests — fall to quarreling and finally to fighting. Still another translation remains to be mentioned, although whether it was made in is not certain. In his letter to Botzheim, Erasmus enumerates his translations from Lucian and then adds : Verteramus et Longaeuos, dictantes tantum, sed notarius suffuratus libellum Montioio dicatum pro suo.
The secretary who pilfered the translation and published it as his own was Gervase Amoenus. It was printed by Badius in in Geruasii Ameni Drucensis. Lu- cubratiunculae quaedam non inuenustae That it was made between and is all we know of its date, but the fact that Erasmus refers to it just after writing about the translations published in suggests that it was made in that year or a short time afterwards.
Some were no doubt made even earlier and were laid by until there should be a sufficient number to publish together ; for instance, in De Duplici Copia Verborum ac Rerum, which was published in , Erasmus says he has translated Lucian's Abdicatus 3. This one was not printed in the Lucian volume, however, but the one was 5.
Satumalia is an agreeable dialogue in which Lucian's irony is less stinging than usual.
Lucian: Selected Dialogues (Oxford World’s Classics)
The arrivai of the annual festival, the Satumalia, raises a few questions of dogmatic theology in the mind of the priest of Cronus, who accordingly interrogates the superannuated god. The priest would like to know how. Cronus tells him as much as he ought to know and refuses to be troubled with further queries. After this we have Cronosolon, wherein the laws governing the holiday season are set forth by the priest Cronosolon.
These decrees turn the usual order of things topsy-turvy : all men, masters and slaves, rich and poor, are to be equal ; debts of poor men shall be discharged by the wealthy ; all people are to enjoy themselves, sharing food and drink with one another. The rich, he avers, are too niggardly with their goods. Cronus warns against supposing that the rich are happy, but he dispatches a letter to the wealthy citizens, enjoining them to be more generous.
De Luctu, an essay on the ridiculous custom of mourning for the dead, contains some valuable material for the student of ancient religion. Lucian makes fun of the funeral customs of the common people, and their beliefs about survival after death, as relies of superstition or as hypocrisy. Then we have Abdicatus, an imaginary speech to a jury by a young physician who has been disinherited by his father for ha ving failed to cure his step-mother of madness. Icaromenippus, which follows,is a vera historia telling of the wonderful journey of Menippus to the moon, the sun, and heaven, and of his adventures in those strange places.
This gives Lucian opportunity to relate most strange stories, and incidentally of inflicting some hard blows on his favourite enemies, the philosophers.
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