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date: 25 January 2021


, of Samosata, b. c. 120 ce
  • Walter Manoel Edwards,
  • Robert Browning,
  • Graham Anderson
  •  and Ewen Bowie


Lucian (Λουκιανός) of *Samosata (b. around CE 120), accomplished and fluent composer of essays and dialogues, the majority satirical and witty, in relaxed and undemanding, moderately Atticizing Greek prose: his choice of Ionic for the quasi-Herodotean ‘On the Syrian Goddess’, and of iambic trimeters for the parodic tragedy ‘Gout’, are exceptions. Almost 80 works survive, thanks to a Byzantine readership that appreciated his style despite his much-lambasted attack on Christianity in ‘Peregrinus’ (cf. Phot. Bibl. cod.128). Much that Lucian presents as autobiographical has the ring of topoi, but he probably came from *Commagene's capital Samosata, possibly learned *Aramaic before Greek, and was early attracted by a sophistic career (‘Twice Accused’), though hardly (as ‘Dream’) choosing between that of a sophist and a sculptor. References to a forensic career (‘Twice Accused’ 32)—in Antioch, and a failure, writes the Suda—may attest not real pleading but simply court-focused declamations.

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