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Lucian of Samosata

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Lucian of Samosata

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Full Name: Lucian of Samosata
Born: Samosata, Syria, Roman Empire
Occupation: Rhetorician, Satirist
Nationality: Assyrian
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Biography

Lucian of Samosata c. AD 125 - after AD 180) was a rhetorician and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature. Although he wrote solely in Greek, mainly Attic Greek, he was ethnically Assyrian. Lucian claimed to be a native speaker of a "barbarian tongue" (Double Indictment, 27) which was most likely Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic.

Few details of Lucian's life can be verified with any degree of accuracy. He claimed to have been born in Samosata, in the former kingdom of Commagene, which had been absorbed by the Roman Empire and made part of the province of Syria. In his works, Lucian refers to himself as an "Assyrian", and "barbarian", perhaps indicating "he was from the Semitic and not the imported Greek population" of Samosata. There are more than eighty surviving works attributed to him - declamations, essays both laudatory and sarcastic, satiric epigrams, 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 lustre to any entertaining and sarcastic essay: more than 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, which he admits in his introduction to the story), 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. 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.


Works in the WWEnd Database

 Ron Miller Science Fiction Classics

 8. (1499)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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