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Title: Works of Lucian of Samosata — Volume 01
Author: Lucian, of Samosata
Language: English
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Complete with exceptions specified in the preface




What work nobler than transplanting foreign thought into the barren
domestic soil? except indeed planting thought of your own, which the
fewest are privileged to do.--_Sarlor Resarlus_.

At each flaw, be this your first thought: the author doubtless said
something quite different, and much more to the point. And then you
may hiss _me_ off, if you will.--LUCIAN, _Nigrinus, 9_.

(LUCIAN) The last great master of Attic eloquence and Attic wit.--
_Lord Macaulay_.



The text followed in this translation is that of Jacobitz, Teubner,
1901, all deviations from which are noted.

In the following list of omissions, italics denote that the piece is
marked as spurious both by Dindorf and by Jacobitz. The other
omissions are mainly by way of expurgation. In a very few other
passages some isolated words and phrases have been excised; but it has
not been thought necessary to mark these in the texts by asterisks.

_Halcyon_; Deorum Dialogi, iv, v, ix, x, xvii, xxii, xxiii;
Dialogi Marini, xiii; Vera Historia, I. 22, II. 19; Alexander, 41,42;
Eunuchus; _De Astrologia_; _Amores_; _Lucius_ sive _Asinus_;
Rhetorum Preceptor, 23; _Hippias_; Adversus Indoctum, 23;
Pseudologista; _Longaevi_; Dialogi Meretricii, v, vi, x; De Syria
Dea; _Philopatris; Charidemus; Nero_; Tragodopodagra; Ocypus;

A word may be said about four pieces that seem to stand apart from the
rest. Of these, the _Trial in the Court of Vowels_ and _A Slip of the
Tongue_ will be interesting only to those who are familiar with Greek.
The _Lexiphanes_ and _A Purist Purized_, satirizing the pedants and
euphuists of Lucian's day, almost defy translation, and they must be
accepted at best as an effort to give the general effect of the

The _Notes explanatory_ at the end of vol. iv will be used by the
reader at his discretion. Reference is made to them at the foot of the
page only when it is not obvious what name should be consulted.

The translators take this opportunity of offering their heartiest
thanks to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press for undertaking this
work; and, in particular, to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University,
Dr. Merry, who has been good enough to read the proofs, and to give
much valuable advice both on the difficult subject of excision and on
details of style and rendering. In this connexion, however, it should
be added that for the retention of many modern phrases, which may
offend some readers as anachronistic, responsibility rests with the
translators alone.











i, ii, iii, vi, vii, viii, xi, xii, xiii, xiv, xv, xvi, xviii, xix,
xx, xxi, xxiv, xxv, xxvi.


i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi, vii, viii, ix, x, xi, xii, xiv, xv.










1. LIFE.




It is not to be understood that all statements here made are either
ascertained facts or universally admitted conjectures. The
introduction is intended merely to put those who are not scholars, and
probably have not books of reference at hand, in a position to
approach the translation at as little disadvantage as may be.
Accordingly, we give the account that commends itself to us, without
discussion or reference to authorities. Those who would like a more
complete idea of Lucian should read Croiset's _Essai sur la vie et
les oeuvres de Lucien_, on which the first two sections of this
introduction are very largely based. The only objections to the book
(if they are objections) are that it is in French, and of 400 octavo
pages. It is eminently readable.


With the exception of a very small number of statements, of which the
truth is by no means certain, all that we know of Lucian is derived
from his own writings. And any reader who prefers to have his facts at
first rather than at second hand can consequently get them by reading
certain of his pieces, and making the natural deductions from them.
Those that contain biographical matter are, in the order corresponding
to the periods of his life on which they throw light, _The Vision,
Demosthenes, Nigrinus, The Portrait-study_ and _Defence_ (in which
Lucian is _Lycinus_), _The Way to write History, The double ndictment_
(in which he is _The Syrian_), _The Fisher_ (_Parrhesiades_), _Swans
and Amber, Alexander_, Hermotimus_ (_Lycinus_), _Menippus and
Icaromenippus_ (in which _Menippus_ represents him), _A literary
Prometheus, Herodotus, Zeuxis, Harmonides, The Scythian_, The Death of
Peregrine, The Book-fancier, Demonax, The Rhetorician's Vade mecum,
Dionysus, Heracles, A Slip of the Tongue, Apology for 'The dependent
Scholar.'_ Of these _The Vision_ is a direct piece of autobiography;
there is intentional but veiled autobiography in several of the other
pieces; in others again conclusions can be drawn from comparison of
his statements with facts known from external sources.

Lucian lived from about 125 to about 200 A.D., under the Roman
Emperors Antoninus Pius, M. Aurelius and Lucius Verus, Commodus, and
perhaps Pertinax. He was a Syrian, born at Samosata on the Euphrates,
of parents to whom it was of importance that he should earn his living
without spending much time or money on education. His maternal uncle
being a statuary, he was apprenticed to him, having shown an aptitude
for modelling in the wax that he surreptitiously scraped from his
school writing-tablets. The apprenticeship lasted one day. It is clear
that he was impulsive all through life; and when his uncle corrected
him with a stick for breaking a piece of marble, he ran off home,
disposed already to think he had had enough of statuary. His mother
took his part, and he made up his mind by the aid of a vision that
came to him the same night.

It was the age of the rhetoricians. If war was not a thing of the
past, the shadow of the _pax Romana_ was over all the small states,
and the aspiring provincial's readiest road to fame was through words
rather than deeds. The arrival of a famous rhetorician to lecture was
one of the important events in any great city's annals; and Lucian's
works are full of references to the impression these men produced, and
the envy they enjoyed. He himself was evidently consumed, during his
youth and early manhood, with desire for a position like theirs. To
him, sleeping with memories of the stick, appeared two women,
corresponding to _Virtue_ and _Pleasure_ in Prodicus's _Choice of
Heracles_--the working woman _Statuary_, and the lady _Culture_. They
advanced their claims to him in turn; but before _Culture_ had
completed her reply, the choice was made: he was to be a rhetorician.
From her reminding him that she was even now not all unknown to him,
we may perhaps assume that he spoke some sort of Greek, or was being
taught it; but he assures us that after leaving Syria he was still a
barbarian; we have also a casual mention of his offering a lock of his
hair to the Syrian goddess in his youth.

He was allowed to follow his bent and go to Ionia. Great Ionian cities
like Smyrna and Ephesus were full of admired sophists or teachers of
rhetoric. But it is unlikely that Lucian's means would have enabled
him to become the pupil of these. He probably acquired his skill to a
great extent by the laborious method, which he ironically deprecates
in _The Rhetorician's Vade mecum_, of studying exhaustively the old
Attic orators, poets, and historians.

He was at any rate successful. The different branches that a
rhetorician might choose between or combine were: (1) Speaking in
court on behalf of a client; (2) Writing speeches for a client to
deliver; (3) Teaching pupils; (4) Giving public displays of his skill.
There is a doubtful statement that Lucian failed in (1), and took to
(2) in default. His surviving rhetorical pieces (_The Tyrannicide,
The Disinherited, Phalaris_) are declamations on hypothetical cases
which might serve either for (3) or (4); and _The Hall, The Fly,
Dipsas_, and perhaps _Demosthenes_, suggest (4). A common form of
exhibition was for a sophist to appear before an audience and let
them propose subjects, of which he must choose one and deliver an
impromptu oration upon it.

Whatever his exact line was, he earned an income in Ionia, then in
Greece, had still greater success in Italy, and appears to have
settled for some time in Gaul, perhaps occupying a professorial chair
there. The intimate knowledge of Roman life in some aspects which
appears in _The dependent Scholar_ suggests that he also lived some
time in Rome. He seems to have known some Latin, since he could
converse with boatmen on the Po; but his only clear reference (A Slip
of the Tongue,) implies an imperfect knowledge of it; and there is not
a single mention in all his works, which are crammed with literary
allusions, of any Latin author. He claims to have been during his time
in Gaul one of the rhetoricians who could command high fees; and his
descriptions of himself as resigning his place close about his lady's
(i.e. Rhetoric's) person, and as casting off his wife Rhetoric because
she did not keep herself exclusively to him, show that he regarded
himself, or wished to be regarded, as having been at the head of his

This brings us to about the year 160 A.D. We may conceive Lucian now
to have had some of that yearning for home which he ascribes in the
_Patriotism_ even to the successful exile. He returned home, we
suppose, a distinguished man at thirty-five, and enjoyed impressing
the fact on his fellow citizens in _The Vision_. He may then have
lived at Antioch as a rhetorician for some years, of which we have a
memorial in _The Portrait-study_. Lucius Verus, M. Aurelius's
colleague, was at Antioch in 162 or 163 A.D. on his way to the
Parthian war, and _The Portrait-study_ is a panegyric on Verus's
mistress Panthea, whom Lucian saw there.

A year or two later we find him migrating to Athens, taking his father
with him, and at Athens he settled and remained many years. It was on
this journey that the incident occurred, which he relates with such a
curious absence of shame in the _Alexander_, of his biting that
charlatan's hand.

This change in his manner of life corresponds nearly with the change
in habit of mind and use of his powers that earned him his
immortality. His fortieth year is the date given by himself for his
abandonment of Rhetoric and, as he calls it, taking up with Dialogue,
or, as we might say, becoming a man of letters. Between Rhetoric and
Dialogue there was a feud, which had begun when Socrates five
centuries before had fought his battles with the sophists. Rhetoric
appeals to the emotions and obscures the issues (such had been
Socrates's position); the way to elicit truth is by short question and
answer. The Socratic method, illustrated by Plato, had become, if not
the only, the accredited instrument of philosophers, who, so far as
they are genuine, are truth-seekers; Rhetoric had been left to the
legal persons whose object is not truth but victory. Lucian's
abandonment of Rhetoric was accordingly in some sort his change from a
lawyer to a philosopher. As it turned out, however, philosophy was
itself only a transitional stage with him.

Already during his career as a rhetorician, which we may put at
145-164 A.D., he seems both to have had leanings to philosophy, and to
have toyed with dialogue. There is reason to suppose that the
Nigrinus_, with its strong contrast between the noise and vulgarity of
Rome and the peace and culture of Athens, its enthusiastic picture of
the charm of philosophy for a sensitive and intelligent spirit, was
written in 150 A.D., or at any rate described an incident that
occurred in that year; and the _Portrait-study_ and its _Defence_,
dialogues written with great care, whatever their other merits, belong
to 162 or 163 A.D. But these had been excursions out of his own
province. After settling at Athens he seems to have adopted the
writing of dialogues as his regular work. The _Toxaris_, a collection
of stories on friendship, strung together by dialogue, the
_Anacharsis_, a discussion on the value of physical training, and the
_Pantomime_, a description slightly relieved by the dialogue form, may
be regarded as experiments with his new instrument. There is no trace
in them of the characteristic use that he afterwards made of dialogue,
for the purposes of satire.

That was an idea that we may suppose to have occurred to him after the
composition of the _Hermotimus_. This is in form the most philosophic
of his dialogues; it might indeed be a dialogue of Plato, of the
merely destructive kind; but it is at the same time, in matter, his
farewell to philosophy, establishing that the pursuit of it is
hopeless for mortal man. From this time onward, though he always
professes himself a lover of true philosophy, he concerns himself no
more with it, except to expose its false professors. The dialogue that
perhaps comes next, _The Parasite_, is still Platonic in form, but
only as a parody; its main interest (for a modern reader is outraged,
as in a few other pieces of Lucian's, by the disproportion between
subject and treatment) is in the combination for the first time of
satire with dialogue.

One more step remained to be taken. In the piece called _A literary
Prometheus_, we are told what Lucian himself regarded as his claim
to the title of an original writer. It was the fusing of Comedy and
Dialogue--the latter being the prose conversation hat had hitherto
been confined to philosophical discussion. The new literary form,
then, was conversation, frankly for purposes of entertainment, as in
Comedy, but to be read and not acted. In this kind of writing he
remains, though he has been often imitated, first in merit as clearly
as in time; and nearly all his great masterpieces took this form. They
followed in rapid succession, being all written, perhaps, between 165
and 175 A.D. And we make here no further comment upon them, except to
remark that they fall roughly into three groups as he drew inspiration
successively from the writers of the New Comedy (or Comedy of ordinary
life) like Menander, from the satires of Menippus, and from writers of
the Old Comedy (or Comedy of fantastic imagination) like Aristophanes.
The best specimens of the first group are _The Liar_ and the
_Dialogues of the Hetaerae;_ of the second, the _Dialogues of the
Dead_ and _of the Gods, Menippus_ and _Icaromenippus, Zeus
cross-examined;_ of the third, _Timon, Charon, A Voyage to the lower
World, The Sale of Creeds, The Fisher, Zeus Tragoedus, The Cock, The
double Indictment, The Ship_.

During these ten or more years, though he lived at Athens, he is to be
imagined travelling occasionally, to read his dialogues to audiences
in various cities, or to see the Olympic Games. And these excursions
gave occasion to some works not of the dialogue kind; the _Zeuxis_ and
several similar pieces are introductions to series of readings away
from Athens; The _Way to write History_, a piece of literary criticism
still very readable, if out of date for practical purposes, resulted
from a visit to Ionia, where all the literary men were producing
histories of the Parthian war, then in progress (165 A.D.). An
attendance at the Olympic Games of 169 A.D. suggested _The Death of
Peregrine_, which in its turn, through the offence given to Cynics,
had to be supplemented by the dialogue of _The Runaways. The True
History_, most famous, but, admirable as it is, far from best of his
works, presumably belongs to this period also, but cannot be
definitely placed. The _Book-fancier_ and _The Rhetorician's Vade
mecum_ are unpleasant records of bitter personal quarrels.

After some ten years of this intense literary activity, producing,
reading, and publishing, Lucian seems to have given up both the
writing of dialogues and the presenting of them to audiences, and to
have lived quietly for many years. The only pieces that belong here
are the _Life of Demonax_, the man whom he held the best of all
philosophers, and with whom he had been long intimate at Athens, and
that of Alexander, the Asiatic charlatan, who was the prince of
impostors as Demonax of philosophers. When quite old, Lucian was
appointed by the Emperor Commodus to a well-paid legal post in Egypt.
We also learn, from the new introductory lectures called _Dionysus_
and _Heracles_, that he resumed the practice of reading his dialogues;
but he wrote nothing more of importance. It is stated in Suidas that
he was torn to pieces by dogs; but, as other statements in the article
are discredited, it is supposed that this is the Christian revenge for
Lucian's imaginary hostility to Christianity. We have it from himself
that he suffered from gout in his old age. He solaced himself
characteristically by writing a play on the subject; but whether the
goddess Gout, who gave it its name, was appeased by it, or carried him
off, we cannot tell.


The received order in which Lucian's works stand is admitted to be
entirely haphazard. The following arrangement in groups is roughly
chronological, though it is quite possible that they overlap each
other. It is M. Croiset's, put into tabular form. Many details in it
are open to question; but to read in this order would at least be more
satisfactory to any one who wishes to study Lucian seriously than to
take the pieces as they come. The table will also serve as a rough
guide to the first-class and the inferior pieces. The names italicized
are those of pieces rejected as spurious by M. Croiset, and therefore
not placed by him; we have inserted them where they seem to belong; as
to their genuineness, it is our opinion that the objections made (not
by M. Croiset, who does not discuss authenticity) to the _Demosthenes_
and _The Cynic_ at least are, in view of the merits of these,

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

The Tyrannicide, a rhetorical exercise.

The Disinherited.

Phalaris I & II.

_Demosthenes_, a panegyric.

Patriotism, an essay.

The Fly, an essay.

Swans and Amber, an introductory lecture.

Dipsas, an introductory lecture.

The Hall, an introductory lecture.

Nigrinus, a dialogue on philosophy, 150 A.D.

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

The Portrait-study, a panegyric in dialogue, 162 A.D.

Defence of The Portrait-study, in dialogue.

A Trial in the Court of Vowels, a _jeu d'esprit_.

Hesiod, a short dialogue.

The Vision, an autobiographical address.

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

Pantomime, art criticism in dialogue.

Anacharsis, a dialogue on physical training.

Toxaris, stories of friendship in dialogue.

Slander, a moral essay.

The Way to write History, an essay in literary criticism.

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; but some are placed in groups that
do not seem at first sight the most appropriate, owing to specialties
in their treatment; e.g. _The Ship_ might seem more in place with vii
than with ix; but M. Croiset finds in it a maturity that induces him
to put it later.

(iv) About 165 A.D.

Hermotimus, a philosophic dialogue.

The Parasite, a parody of a philosophic dialogue.

(v) Influence of the New Comedy writers.

The Liar, a dialogue satirizing superstition.

A Feast of Lapithae, a dialogue satirizing the manners of

Dialogues of the Hetaerae, a series of short dialogues.

(vi) Influence of the Menippean satire.

Dialogues of the Dead, a series of short dialogues.

Dialogues of the Gods, a series of short dialogues.

Dialogues of the Sea-Gods, a series of short dialogues.

Menippus, a dialogue satirizing philosophy.

Icaromenippus, a dialogue satirizing philosophy and religion.

Zeus cross-examined, a dialogue satirizing religion.

_The Cynic_, a dialogue against luxury.

_Of Sacrifice_, an essay satirizing religion.

Saturnalia, dialogue and letters on the relation of rich and poor.

The True History, a parody of the old Greek historians,

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

A Voyage to the Lower World, a dialogue on the vanity of power.

Charon, a dialogue on the vanity of all things.

Timon, a dialogue on the vanity of riches.

The Cock, a dialogue on the vanity of riches and power,

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

Prometheus on Caucasus.

Zeus Tragoedus.

The Gods in Council.

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

The Ship, a dialogue on foolish aspirations.

The Life of Peregrine, a narrative satirizing the Cynics, 169 A.D.

The Runaways, a dialogue satirizing the Cynics.

The double Indictment, an autobiographic dialogue.

The Sale of Creeds, a dialogue satirizing philosophers.

The Fisher, an autobiographic dialogue satirizing philosophers.

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




The Scythian.

A literary Prometheus.

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

The Book-fancier, an invective. About 170 A.D.

_The Purist purized_, a literary satire in dialogue.

Lexiphanes, a literary satire in dialogue.

The Rhetorician's Vade-mecum, a personal satire. About 178 A.D.

(xii) After 180 A.D.

Demonax, a biography.

Alexander, a satirical biography,

(xiii) In old age.

Mourning, an essay.

Dionysus, an introductory lecture.

Heracles, an introductory lecture.

Apology for 'The dependent Scholar.'

A Slip of the Tongue.

In conclusion, we have to say that this arrangement of M. Croiset's,
which we have merely tabulated without intentionally departing from it
in any particular, seems to us well considered in its broad lines;
there are a few modifications which we should have been disposed to
make in it; but we thought it better to take it entire than to
exercise our own judgment in a matter where we felt very little


M. Aurelius has for us moderns this great superiority in interest over
Saint Louis or Alfred, that he lived and acted in a state of society
modern by its essential characteristics, in an epoch akin to our own,
in a brilliant centre of civilization. Trajan talks of "our
enlightened age" just as glibly as _The Times_ talks of it.' M.
Arnold, _Essays in Criticism, M. Aurelius_.

The age of M. Aurelius is also the age of Lucian, and with any man of
that age who has, like these two, left us a still legible message we
can enter into quite different relations from those which are possible
with what M. Arnold calls in the same essay 'classical-dictionary
heroes.' A twentieth-century Englishman, a second-century Greek or
Roman, would be much more at home in each other's century, if they had
the gift of tongues, than in most of those which have intervened. It
is neither necessary nor possible to go deeply into the resemblance
here [Footnote: Some words of Sir Leslie Stephen's may be given,
however, describing the welter of religious opinions that prevailed at
both epochs: 'The analogy between the present age and that which
witnessed the introduction of Christianity is too striking to have
been missed by very many observers. The most superficial acquaintance
with the general facts shows how close a parallel might be drawn by a
competent historian. There are none of the striking manifestations of
the present day to which it would not be easy to produce an analogy,
though in some respects on a smaller scale. Now, as then, we can find
mystical philosophers trying to evolve a satisfactory creed by some
process of logical legerdemain out of theosophical moonshine; and
amiable and intelligent persons labouring hard to prove that the old
mythology could be forced to accept a rationalistic interpretation--
whether in regard to the inspection of entrails or prayers for fine
weather; and philosophers framing systems of morality entirely apart
from the ancient creeds, and sufficiently satisfactory to themselves,
while hopelessly incapable of impressing the popular mind; and
politicians, conscious that the basis of social order was being sapped
by the decay of the faith in which it had arisen, and therefore
attempting the impossible task of galvanizing dead creeds into a
semblance of vitality; and strange superstitions creeping out of their
lurking-places, and gaining influence in a luxurious society whose
intelligence was an ineffectual safeguard against the most grovelling
errors; and a dogged adherence of formalists and conservatives to
ancient ways, and much empty profession of barren orthodoxy; and,
beneath all, a vague disquiet, a breaking up of ancient social and
natural bonds, and a blind groping toward some more cosmopolitan creed
and some deeper satisfaction for the emotional needs of mankind.'--
_The Religion of all Sensible Men_ in _An Agnostic's Apology_, 1893.];
all that need be done is to pass in review those points of it, some
important, and some trifling, which are sure to occur in a detached
way to readers of Lucian.

The Graeco-Roman world was as settled and peaceful, as conscious of
its imperial responsibilities, as susceptible to boredom, as greedy of
amusement, could show as numerous a leisured class, and believed as
firmly in money, as our own. What is more important for our purpose,
it was questioning the truth of its religion as we are to-day
questioning the truth of ours. Lucian was the most vehement of the
questioners. Of what played the part then that the Christian religion
plays now, the pagan religion was only one half; the other half was
philosophy. The gods of Olympus had long lost their hold upon the
educated, but not perhaps upon the masses; the educated, ill content
to be without any guide through the maze of life, had taken to
philosophy instead. Stoicism was the prevalent creed, and how noble a
form this could take in a cultivated and virtuous mind is to be seen
in the _Thoughts_ of M. Aurelius. The test of a religion, however, is
not what form it takes in a virtuous mind, but what effects it
produces on those of another sort. Lucian applies the test of results
alike to the religion usually so called, and to its philosophic
substitute. He finds both wanting; the test is not a satisfactory one,
but it is being applied by all sorts and conditions of men to
Christianity in our own time; so is the second test, that of inherent
probability, which he uses as well as the other upon the pagan
theology; and it is this that gives his writings, even apart from
their wit and fancy, a special interest for our own time. Our
attention seems to be concentrated more and more on the ethical, as
opposed to the speculative or dogmatic aspect of religion; just such
was Lucian's attitude towards philosophy.

Some minor points of similarity may be briefly noted. As we read the
_Anacharsis_, we are reminded of the modern prominence of athletics;
the question of football _versus_ drill is settled for us; light is
thrown upon the question of conscription; we think of our Commissions
on national deterioration, and the schoolmaster's wail over the
athletic _Frankenstein's_ monster which, like _Eucrates_ in _The
Liar_, he has created but cannot control. The 'horsy talk in every
street' of the _Nigrinus_ calls up the London newsboy with his 'All
the winners.' We think of palmists and spiritualists in the
police-courts as we read of Rutilianus and the Roman nobles consulting
the impostor Alexander. This sentence reads like the description of a
modern man of science confronted with the supernatural: 'It was an
occasion for a man whose intelligence was steeled against such
assaults by scepticism and insight, one who, if he could not detect
the precise imposture, would at any rate have been perfectly certain
that, though this escaped him, the whole thing was a lie and an
impossibility.' The upper-class audiences who listened to Lucian's
readings, taking his points with quiet smiles instead of the loud
applause given to the rhetorician, must have been something like
that which listens decorously to an Extension lecturer. When Lucian
bids us mark 'how many there are who once were but cyphers, but whom
words have raised to fame and opulence, ay, and to noble lineage too,'
we remember not only Gibbon's remark about the very Herodes Atticus of
whom Lucian may have been thinking ('The family of Herod, at least
after it had been favoured by fortune, was lineally descended from
Cimon and Miltiades'), but also the modern _carriere ouverte aux
talents_, and the fact that Tennyson was a lord. There are the
elements of a socialist question in the feelings between rich and poor
described in the _Saturnalia_; while, on the other hand, the fact
of there being an audience for the _Dialogues of the Hetaerae_ is an
illustration of that spirit of _humani nihil a me alienum puto_ which
is again prevalent today. We care now to realize the thoughts of other
classes besides our own; so did they in Lucian's time; but it is
significant that Francklin in 1780, refusing to translate this series,
says: 'These dialogues exhibit to us only such kind of conversation as
we may hear in the purlieus of Covent Garden--lewd, dull, and
insipid.' The lewdness hardly goes beyond the title; they are full of
humour and insight; and we make no apology for translating most of
them. Lastly, a generation that is always complaining of the modern
over-production of books feels that it would be at home in a state of
society in which our author found that, not to be too singular, he
must at least write about writing history, if he declined writing it
himself, even as Diogenes took to rolling his tub, lest he should be
the only idle man when Corinth was bustling about its defences.

As Lucian is so fond of saying, 'this is but a small selection of the
facts which might have been quoted' to illustrate the likeness between
our age and his. It may be well to allude, on the other hand, to a few
peculiarities of the time that appear conspicuously in his writings.

The Roman Empire was rather Graeco-Roman than Roman; this is now a
commonplace. It is interesting to observe that for Lucian 'we' is on
occasion the Romans; 'we' is also everywhere the Greeks; while at the
same time 'I' is a barbarian and a Syrian. Roughly speaking, the Roman
element stands for energy, material progress, authority, and the Greek
for thought; the Roman is the British Philistine, the Greek the man of
culture. Lucian is conscious enough of the distinction, and there is
no doubt where his own preference lies. He may be a materialist, so
far as he is anything, in philosophy; but in practice he puts the
things of the mind before the things of the body.

If our own age supplies parallels for most of what we meet with in the
second century, there are two phenomena which are to be matched rather
in an England that has passed away. The first is the Cynics, who swarm
in Lucian's pages like the begging friars in those of a historical
novelist painting the middle ages. Like the friars, they began nobly
in the desire for plain living and high thinking; in both cases the
thinking became plain, the living not perhaps high, but the best that
circumstances admitted of, and the class--with its numbers hugely
swelled by persons as little like their supposed teachers as a Marian
or Elizabethan persecutor was like the founder of Christianity--a pest
to society. Lucian's sympathy with the best Cynics, and detestation of
the worst, make Cynicism one of his most familiar themes. The second
is the class so vividly presented in _The dependent Scholar_--the
indigent learned Greek who looks about for a rich vulgar Roman to buy
his company, and finds he has the worst of the bargain. His
successors, the 'trencher chaplains' who 'from grasshoppers turn
bumble-bees and wasps, plain parasites, and make the Muses mules, to
satisfy their hunger-starved panches, and get a meal's meat,' were
commoner in Burton's days than in our own, and are to be met in
Fielding, and Macaulay, and Thackeray.

Two others of Lucian's favourite figures, the parasite and the
legacy-hunter, exist still, no doubt, as they are sure to in every
complex civilization; but their operations are now conducted with more
regard to the decencies. This is worth remembering when we are
occasionally offended by his frankness on subjects to which we are not
accustomed to allude; he is not an unclean or a sensual writer, but
the waters of decency have risen since his time and submerged some
things which were then visible.

A slight prejudice, again, may sometimes be aroused by Lucian's trick
of constant and trivial quotation; he would rather put the simplest
statement, or even make his transition from one subject to another, in
words of Homer than in his own; we have modern writers too who show
the same tendency, and perhaps we like or dislike them for it in
proportion as their allusions recall memories or merely puzzle us; we
cannot all be expected to have agreeable memories stirred by
insignificant Homer tags; and it is well to bear in mind by way of
palliation that in Greek education Homer played as great a part as the
Bible in ours. He might be taken simply or taken allegorically; but
one way or the other he was the staple of education, and it might be
assumed that every one would like the mere sound of him.

We may end by remarking that the public readings of his own works, to
which the author makes frequent reference, were what served to a great
extent the purpose of our printing-press. We know that his pieces were
also published; but the public that could be reached by hand-written
copies would bear a very small proportion to that which heard them
from the writer's own lips; and though the modern system may have the
advantage on the whole, it is hard to believe that the unapproached
life and naturalness of Lucian's dialogue does not owe something to
this necessity.


With all the sincerity of Lucian in _The True History_, 'soliciting
his reader's incredulity,' we solicit our reader's neglect of this
appreciation. We have no pretensions whatever to the critical faculty;
the following remarks are to be taken as made with diffidence, and
offered to those only who prefer being told what to like, and why, to
settling the matter for themselves.

Goethe, aged fourteen, with seven languages on hand, devised the plan
of a correspondence kept up by seven imaginary brothers scattered over
the globe, each writing in the language of his adopted land. The
stay-at-home in Frankfort was to write Jew-German, for which purpose
some Hebrew must be acquired. His father sent him to Rector Albrecht.
The rector was always found with one book open before him--a
well-thumbed Lucian. But the Hebrew vowel-points were perplexing, and
the boy found better amusement in putting shrewd questions on what
struck him as impossibilities or inconsistencies in the Old-Testament
narrative they were reading. The old gentleman was infinitely amused,
had fits of mingled coughing and laughter, but made little attempt at
solving his pupil's difficulties, beyond ejaculating _Er narrischer
Kerl! Er narrischer Junge_! He let him dig for solutions, however, in
an English commentary on the shelves, and occupied the time with
turning the familiar pages of his Lucian [Footnote: _Wahrheit und
Dichtung_, book iv. ]. The wicked old rector perhaps chuckled to think
that here was one who bade fair to love Lucian one day as well as he
did himself.

For Lucian too was one who asked questions--spent his life doing
little else; if one were invited to draw him with the least possible
expenditure of ink, one's pen would trace a mark of interrogation.
That picture is easily drawn; to put life into it is a more difficult
matter. However, his is not a complex character, for all the irony in
which he sometimes chooses to clothe his thought; and materials are at
least abundant; he is one of the self-revealing fraternity; his own
personal presence is to be detected more often than not in his work.
He may give us the assistance, or he may not, of labelling a character
_Lucian_ or _Lycinus_; we can detect him, _volentes volentem_, under
the thin disguise of _Menippus_ or _Tychiades_ or _Cyniscus_ as well.
And the essence of him as he reveals himself is the questioning
spirit. He has no respect for authority. Burke describes the majority
of mankind, who do not form their own opinions, as 'those whom
Providence has doomed to live on trust'; Lucian entirely refuses to
live on trust; he 'wants to know.' It was the wish of _Arthur
Clennam_, who had in consequence a very bad name among the _Tite
Barnacles_ and other persons in authority. Lucian has not escaped the
same fate; 'the scoffer Lucian' has become as much a commonplace as
'_fidus Achates_,' or 'the well-greaved Achaeans,' the reading of him
has been discountenanced, and, if he has not actually lost his place
at the table of Immortals, promised him when he temporarily left the
Island of the Blest, it has not been so 'distinguished' a place as it
was to have been and should have been. And all because he 'wanted to

His questions, of course, are not all put in the same manner. In the
_Dialogues of the Gods_, for instance, the mark of interrogation is
not writ large; they have almost the air at first of little stories
in dialogue form, which might serve to instruct schoolboys in the
attributes and legends of the gods--a manual charmingly done, yet a
manual only. But we soon see that he has said to himself: Let us put
the thing into plain natural prose, and see what it looks like with
its glamour of poetry and reverence stripped off; the Gods do human
things; why not represent them as human persons, and see what results?
What did result was that henceforth any one who still believed in the
pagan deities might at the cost of an hour's light reading satisfy
himself that his gods were not gods, or, if they were, had no business
to be. Whether many or few did so read and so satisfy themselves, we
have no means of knowing; it is easy to over-estimate the effect such
writing may have had, and to forget that those who were capable of
being convinced by exposition of this sort would mostly be those who
were already convinced without; still, so far as Lucian had any effect
on the religious position, it must have been in discrediting paganism
and increasing the readiness to accept the new faith beginning to make
its way. Which being so, it was ungrateful of the Christian church to
turn and rend him. It did so, partly in error. Lucian had referred in
the _Life of Peregrine_ to the Christians, in words which might seem
irreverent to Christians at a time when they were no longer an obscure
sect; he had described and ridiculed in _The Liar_ certain 'Syrian'
miracles which have a remarkable likeness to the casting out of
spirits by Christ and the apostles; and worse still, the _Philopatris_
passed under his name. This dialogue, unlike what Lucian had written
in the _Peregrine_ and _The Liar_, is a deliberate attack on
Christianity. It is clear to us now that it was written two hundred
years after his time, under Julian the Apostate; but there can be no
more doubt of its being an imitation of Lucian than of its not being
his; it consequently passed for his, the story gained currency that he
was an apostate himself, and his name was anathema for the church. It
was only partly in error, however. Though Lucian might be useful on
occasion ('When Tertullian or Lactantius employ their labours in
exposing the falsehood and extravagance of Paganism, they are obliged
to transcribe the eloquence of Cicero or the wit of Lucian' [Footnote:
Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_, cap. xv.]), the very word heretic is
enough to remind us that the Church could not show much favour to one
who insisted always on thinking for himself. His works survived, but
he was not read, through the Middle Ages. With the Renaissance he
partly came into his own again, but still laboured under the
imputations of scoffing and atheism, which confined the reading of him
to the few.

The method followed in the _Dialogues of the Gods_ and similar pieces
is a very indirect way of putting questions. It is done much more
directly in others, the _Zeus cross-examined_, for instance. Since the
fallen angels

  reasoned high
  Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate--
  Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute--
  And found no end, in wandering mazes lost,

these subjects have had their share of attention; but the questions
can hardly be put more directly, or more neatly, than in the _Zeus
cross-examined_, and the thirtieth _Dialogue of the Dead_.

He has many other interrogative methods besides these, which may be
left to reveal themselves in the course of reading. As for answering
questions, that is another matter. The answer is sometimes apparent,
sometimes not; he will not refrain from asking a question just because
he does not know the answer; his _role_ is asking, not answering. Nor
when he gives an answer is it always certain whether it is to be taken
in earnest. Was he a cynic? one would say so after reading _The
Cynic_; was he an Epicurean? one would say so after reading the
_Alexander_; was he a philosopher? one would say Yes at a certain
point of the _Hermotimus_, No at another. He doubtless had his moods,
and he was quite unhampered by desire for any consistency except
consistent independence of judgement. Moreover, the difficulty of
getting at his real opinions is increased by the fact that he was an
ironist. We have called him a self-revealer; but you never quite know
where to have an ironical self-revealer. Goethe has the useful phrase,
'direct irony'; a certain German writer 'makes too free a use of
direct irony, praising the blameworthy and blaming the praiseworthy--a
rhetorical device which should be very sparingly employed. In the long
run it disgusts the sensible and misleads the dull, pleasing only the
great intermediate class to whom it offers the satisfaction of being
able to think themselves more shrewd than other people, without
expending much thought of their own' (_Wahrheit und Dichtung_, book
vii). Fielding gives us in _Jonathan Wild_ a sustained piece of
'direct irony'; you have only to reverse everything said, and you get
the author's meaning. Lucian's irony is not of that sort; you cannot
tell when you are to reverse him, only that you will have sometimes to
do so. He does use the direct kind; _The Rhetorician's Vade mecum_ and
_The Parasite_ are examples; the latter is also an example (unless a
translator, who is condemned not to skip or skim, is an unfair judge)
of how tiresome it may become. But who shall say how much of irony and
how much of genuine feeling there is in the fine description of the
philosophic State given in the _Hermotimus_ (with its suggestions of
_Christian_ in _The Pilgrim's Progress_, and of the 'not many wise men
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble'), or in the
whimsical extravagance (as it strikes a modern) of the _Pantomime_, or
in the triumph permitted to the Cynic (against 'Lycinus' too) in the
dialogue called after him? In one of his own introductory lectures he
compares his pieces aptly enough to the bacchante's thyrsus with its
steel point concealed.

With his questions and his irony and his inconsistencies, it is no
wonder that Lucian is accused of being purely negative and
destructive. But we need not think he is disposed of in that way, any
more than our old-fashioned literary education is disposed of when it
has been pointed out that it does not equip its _alumni_ with
knowledge of electricity or of a commercially useful modern language;
it may have equipped them with something less paying, but more worth
paying for. Lucian, it is certain, will supply no one with a religion
or a philosophy; but it may be doubted whether any writer will supply
more fully both example and precept in favour of doing one's thinking
for oneself; and it may be doubted also whether any other intellectual
lesson is more necessary. He is _nullius addictus iurare in verba
magistri_, if ever man was; he is individualist to the core. No
religion or philosophy, he seems to say, will save you; the thing is
to think for yourself, and be a man of sense. 'It was but small
consolation,' says _Menippus_, 'to reflect that I was in numerous
and wise and eminently sensible company, if I was a fool still, all
astray in my quest for truth.' _Vox populi_ is no _vox dei_ for him;
he is quite proof against majorities; _Athanasius contra mundum_ is
more to his taste. "What is this I hear?" asked Arignotus, scowling
upon me; "you deny the existence of the supernatural, when there is
scarcely a man who has not seen some evidence of it?" "Therein lies my
exculpation," I replied; "I do not believe in the supernatural,
because, unlike the rest of mankind, I do not see it; if I saw, I
should doubtless believe, just as you all do."' That British
schoolboys should have been brought up for centuries on Ovid, and
Lucian have been tabooed, is, in view of their comparative efficacy in
stimulating thought, an interesting example of _habent sua fata

It need not be denied that there is in him a certain lack of feeling,
not surprising in one of his analytic temper, but not agreeable
either. He is a hard bright intelligence, with no bowels; he applies
the knife without the least compunction--indeed with something of
savage enjoyment. The veil is relentlessly torn from family affection
in the _Mourning_. _Solon_ in the _Charon_ pursues his victory so far
as to make us pity instead of scorning _Croesus_. _Menippus_ and his
kind, in the shades, do their lashing of dead horses with a
disagreeable gusto, which tempts us to raise a society for the
prevention of cruelty to the Damned. A voyage through Lucian in search
of pathos will yield as little result as one in search of interest in
nature. There is a touch of it here and there (which has probably
evaporated in translation) in the _Hermotimus_, the _Demonax_, and the
_Demosthenes_; but that is all. He was perhaps not unconscious of all
this himself. 'But what is your profession?' asks _Philosophy_. 'I
profess hatred of imposture and pretension, lying and pride...
However, I do not neglect the complementary branch, in which love
takes the place of hate; it includes love of truth and beauty and
simplicity, and all that is akin to love. _But the subjects for this
branch of the profession are sadly few_.'

Before going on to his purely literary qualities, we may collect here
a few detached remarks affecting rather his character than his skill
as an artist. And first of his relations to philosophy. The statements
in the _Menippus_ and the _Icaromenippus_, as well as in _The Fisher_
and _The double Indictment_, have all the air of autobiography
(especially as they are in the nature of digressions), and give us to
understand that he had spent much time and energy on philosophic
study. He claims _Philosophy_ as his mistress in _The Fisher_, and in
a case where he is in fact judge as well as party, has no difficulty
in getting his claim established. He is for ever reminding us that he
loves philosophy and only satirizes the degenerate philosophers of his
day. But it _will_ occur to us after reading him through that he has
dissembled his love, then, very well. There is not a passage from
beginning to end of his works that indicates any real comprehension of
any philosophic system. The external characteristics of the
philosophers, the absurd stories current about them, and the popular
misrepresentations of their doctrines--it is in these that philosophy
consists for him. That he had read some of them there is no doubt; but
one has an uneasy suspicion that he read Plato because he liked his
humour and his style, and did not trouble himself about anything
further. Gibbon speaks of 'the philosophic maze of the writings of
Plato, of which the dramatic is perhaps more interesting than the
argumentative part.' That is quite a legitimate opinion, provided you
do not undertake to judge philosophy in the light of it. The
apparently serious rejection of geometrical truth in the _Hermotimus_
may fairly suggest that Lucian was as unphilosophic as he was
unmathematical. Twice, and perhaps twice only, does he express hearty
admiration for a philosopher. Demonax is 'the best of all
philosophers'; but then he admired him just because he was so little
of a philosopher and so much a man of ordinary common sense. And
Epicurus is 'the thinker who had grasped the nature of things and been
in solitary possession of truth'; but then that is in the _Alexander_,
and any stick was good enough to beat that dog with. The fact is,
Lucian was much too well satisfied with his own judgement to think
that he could possibly require guidance, and the commonplace test of
results was enough to assure him that philosophy was worthless: 'It is
no use having all theory at your fingers' ends, if you do not conform
your conduct to the right.' There is a description in the _Pantomime_
that is perhaps truer than it is meant to pass for. 'Lycinus' is
called 'an educated man, and _in some sort_ a student of philosophy.'

If he is not a philosopher, he is very much a moralist; it is because
philosophy deals partly with morals that he thinks he cares for it.
But here too his conclusions are of a very commonsense order. The
Stoic notion that 'Virtue consists in being uncomfortable' strikes him
as merely absurd; no asceticism for him; on the other hand, no lavish
extravagance and _Persici apparatus_; a dinner of herbs with the
righteous--that is, the cultivated Athenian--, a neat repast of Attic
taste, is honestly his idea of good living; it is probable that he
really did sacrifice both money and fame to live in Athens rather than
in Rome, according to his own ideal. That ideal is a very modest one;
when _Menippus_ took all the trouble to get down to Tiresias in Hades
via Babylon, his reward was the information that 'the life of the
ordinary man is the best and the most prudent choice.' So thought
Lucian; and it is to be counted to him for righteousness that he
decided to abandon 'the odious practices that his profession imposes
on the advocate--deceit, falsehood, bluster, clamour, pushing,' for
the quiet life of a literary man (especially as we should probably
never have heard his name had he done otherwise). Not that the life
was so quiet as it might have been. He could not keep his satire
impersonal enough to avoid incurring enmities. He boasts in the
_Peregrine_ of the unfeeling way in which he commented on that
enthusiast to his followers, and we may believe his assurance that his
writings brought general dislike and danger upon him. His moralizing
(of which we are happy to say there is a great deal) is based on
Tiresias's pronouncement. Moralizing has a bad name; but than good
moralizing there is, when one has reached a certain age perhaps, no
better reading. Some of us like it even in our novels, feel more at
home with Fielding and Thackeray for it, and regretfully confess
ourselves unequal to the artistic aloofness of a Flaubert. Well,
Lucian's moralizings are, for those who like such things, of the right
quality; they are never dull, and the touch is extremely light. We may
perhaps be pardoned for alluding to half a dozen conceptions that have
a specially modern air about them. The use that Rome may serve as a
school of resistance to temptation (_Nigrinus_, 19) recalls Milton's
'fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that
never sallies out and seeks her adversary.' 'Old age is wisdom's
youth, the day of her glorious flower' (_Heracles_, 8) might have
stood as a text for Browning's _Rabbi ben Ezra_. The brands visible on
the tyrant's soul, and the refusal of Lethe as a sufficient punishment
(_Voyage to the lower World_, 24 and 28), have their parallels in our
new eschatology. The decision of _Zeus_ that _Heraclitus_ and
_Democritus_ are to be one lot that laughter and tears will go
together (_Sale of Creeds_, l3)--accords with our views of the
emotional temperament. _Chiron_ is impressive on the vanity of
fruition (_Dialogues of the Dead_, 26). And the figuring of _Truth_ as
'the shadowy creature with the indefinite complexion' (_The Fisher_,
16) is only one example of Lucian's felicity in allegory.

Another weak point, for which many people will have no more
inclination to condemn him than for his moralizing, is his absolute
indifference to the beauties of nature. Having already given him
credit for regarding nothing that is human as beyond his province, it
is our duty to record the corresponding limitation; of everything that
was not human he was simply unconscious; with him it was not so much
that the _proper_ as that the _only_ study of mankind is man. The
apparent exceptions are not real ones. If he is interested in the
gods, it is as the creatures of human folly that he takes them to be.
If he writes a toy essay with much parade of close observation on the
fly, it is to show how amusing human ingenuity can be on an unlikely
subject. But it is worth notice that 'the first of the moderns,'
though he shows himself in many descriptions of pictures quite awake
to the beauty manufactured by man, has in no way anticipated the
modern discovery that nature is beautiful. To readers who have had
enough of the pathetic fallacy, and of the second-rate novelist's
local colour, Lucian's tacit assumption that there is nothing but man
is refreshing. That he was a close enough observer of human nature,
any one can satisfy himself by glancing at the _Feast of Lapithae_,
the _Dialogues of the Hetaerae_, some of the _Dialogues of the Gods_,
and perhaps best of all, _The Liar_.

As it occurs to himself to repel the imputation of plagiarism in _A
literary Prometheus_, the point must be briefly touched upon. There
is no doubt that Homer preceded him in making the gods extremely, even
comically, human, that Plato showed him an example of prose dialogue,
that Aristophanes inspired his constructive fancy, that Menippus
provided him with some ideas, how far developed on the same lines we
cannot now tell, that Menander's comedies and Herodas's mimes
contributed to the absolute naturalness of his conversation. If any,
or almost any, of these had never existed, Lucian would have been more
or less different from what he is. His originality is not in the least
affected by that; we may resolve him theoretically into his elements;
but he too had the gift, that out of three sounds he framed, not a
fourth sound, but a star. The question of his originality is no more
important--indeed much less so--than that of Sterne's.

When we pass to purely literary matters, the first thing to be
remarked upon is the linguistic miracle presented to us. It is useless
to dwell upon it in detail, since this is an introduction not to
Lucian, but to a translation of Lucian; it exists, none the less. A
Syrian writes in Greek, and not in the Greek of his own time, but in
that of five or six centuries before, and he does it, if not with
absolute correctness, yet with the easy mastery that we expect only
from one in a million of those who write in their mother tongue, and
takes his place as an immortal classic. The miracle may be repeated;
an English-educated Hindu may produce masterpieces of Elizabethan
English that will rank him with Bacon and Ben Jonson; but it will
surprise us, when it does happen. That Lucian was himself aware of the
awful dangers besetting the writer who would revive an obsolete
fashion of speech is shown in the _Lexiphanes_.

Some faults of style he undoubtedly has, of which a word or two should
perhaps be said. The first is the general taint of rhetoric, which is
sometimes positively intolerable, and is liable to spoil enjoyment
even of the best pieces occasionally. Were it not that 'Rhetoric made
a Greek of me,' we should wish heartily that he had never been a
rhetorician. It is the practice of talking on unreal cases, doubtless
habitual with him up to forty, that must be responsible for the self-
satisfied fluency, the too great length, and the perverse ingenuity,
that sometimes excite our impatience. Naturally, it is in the pieces
of inferior subject or design that this taint is most perceptible; and
it must be forgiven in consideration of the fact that without the
toilsome study of rhetoric he would not have been the master of Greek
that he was.

The second is perhaps only a special case of the first. Julius Pollux,
a sophist whom Lucian is supposed to have attacked in _The
Rhetorician's Vade mecum_, is best known as author of an
_Onomasticon_, or word-list, containing the most important words
relating to certain subjects. One would be reluctant to believe that
Lucian condescended to use his enemy's manual; but it is hard to think
that he had not one of his own, of which he made much too good use.
The conviction is constantly forced on a translator that when Lucian
has said a thing sufficiently once, he has looked at his Onomasticon,
found that there are some words he has not yet got in, and forthwith
said the thing again with some of them, and yet again with the rest.

The third concerns his use of illustrative anecdotes, comparisons, and
phrases. It is true that, if his pieces are taken each separately, he
is most happy with all these (though it is hard to forgive Alexander's
bathe in the Cydnus with which _The Hall_ opens); but when they are
read continuously, the repeated appearances of the tragic actor
disrobed, the dancing apes and their nuts, of Zeus's golden cord, and
of the 'two octaves apart,' produce an impression of poverty that
makes us momentarily forget his real wealth.

We have spoken of the annoying tendency to pleonasm in Lucian's style,
which must be laid at the door of rhetoric. On the other hand let it
have part of the credit for a thing of vastly more importance, his
choice of dialogue as a form when he took to letters. It is quite
obvious that he was naturally a man of detached mind, with an
inclination for looking at both sides of a question. This was no doubt
strengthened by the common practice among professional rhetoricians of
writing speeches on both sides of imaginary cases. The
level-headedness produced by this combination of nature and training
naturally led to the selection of dialogue. In one of the preliminary
trials of _The double Indictment, Drink_, being one of the parties,
and consciously incapable at the moment of doing herself justice,
employs her opponent, _The Academy_, to plead for as well as against
her. There are a good many pieces in which Lucian follows the same
method. In _The Hall_ the legal form is actually kept; in the
_Peregrine_ speeches are delivered by an admirer and a scorner of the
hero; in _The Rhetorician's Vade mecum_ half the piece is an imaginary
statement of the writer's enemy; in the _Apology for 'The dependent
Scholar'_ there is a long imaginary objection set up to be afterwards
disposed of; the _Saturnalian Letters_ are the cases of rich and poor
put from opposite sides. None of these are dialogues; but they are all
less perfect devices to secure the same object, the putting of the two
views that the man of detached mind recognizes on every question. Not
that justice is always the object; these devices, and dialogue still
more, offer the further advantage of economy; no ideas need be wasted,
if the subject is treated from more than one aspect. The choice of
dialogue may be accounted for thus; it is true that it would not have
availed much if the chooser had not possessed the nimble wit and the
endless power of varying the formula which is so astonishing in
Lucian; but that it was a matter of importance is proved at once by
comparing the _Alexander_ with _The Liar_, or _The dependent Scholar_
with the _Feast of Lapithae_. Lucian's non-dialogue pieces (with the
exception of _The True History_) might have been written by other
people; the dialogues are all his own.

About five-and-thirty of his pieces (or sets of pieces) are in
dialogue, and perhaps the greatest proof of his artistic skill is that
the form never palls; so great is the variety of treatment that no one
of them is like another. The point may be worth dwelling on a little.
The main differences between dialogues, apart from the particular
writer's characteristics, are these: the persons may be two only, or
more; they may be well or ill-matched; the proportions and relations
between conversation and narrative vary; and the objects in view are
not always the same. It is natural for a writer to fall into a groove
with some or all of these, and produce an effect of sameness. Lucian,
on the contrary, so rings the changes by permutations and combinations
of them that each dialogue is approached with a delightful uncertainty
of what form it may take. As to number of persons, it is a long step
from the _Menippus_ to the crowded _dramatis personae_ of _The Fisher_
or the _Zeus Tragoedus_, in the latter of which there are two
independent sets, one overhearing and commenting upon the other. It is
not much less, though of another kind, from _The Parasite_, where the
interlocutor is merely a man of straw, to the _Hermotimus_, where he
has life enough to give us ever fresh hopes of a change in fortune, or
to the _Anacharsis_, where we are not quite sure, even when all is
over, which has had the best. Then if we consider conversation and
narrative, there are all kinds. _Nigrinus_ has narrative in a setting
of dialogue, _Demosthenes_ vice versa, _The Liar_ reported dialogue
inside dialogue; _Icaromenippus_ is almost a narrative, while _The
Runaways_ is almost a play. Lastly, the form serves in the _Toxaris_
as a vehicle for stories, in the _Hermotimus_ for real discussion, in
_Menippus_ as relief for narrative, in the _Portrait-study_ for
description, in _The Cock_ to convey moralizing, in _The double
Indictment_ autobiography, in the _Lexiphanes_ satire, and in the
short series it enshrines prose idylls.

These are considerations of a mechanical order, perhaps; it may be
admitted that technical skill of this sort is only valuable in giving
a proper chance to more essential gifts; but when those exist, it is
of the highest value. And Lucian's versatility in technique is only a
symbol of his versatile powers in general. He is equally at home in
heaven and earth and hell, with philosophers and cobblers, telling a
story, criticizing a book, describing a picture, elaborating an
allegory, personifying an abstraction, parodying a poet or a
historian, flattering an emperor's mistress, putting an audience into
good temper with him and itself, unveiling an imposture, destroying a
religion or a reputation, drawing a character. The last is perhaps the
most disputable of the catalogue. How many of his personages are
realities to us when we have read, and not mere labels for certain
modes of thought or conduct? Well, characterization is not the first,
but only the second thing with him; what is said matters rather more
than who says it; he is more desirous that the argument should advance
than that the person should reveal himself; nevertheless, nothing is
ever said that is out of character; while nothing can be better of the
kind than some of his professed personifications, his _Plutus_ or his
_Philosophy_, we do retain distinct impressions of at least an
irresponsible _Zeus_ and a decorously spiteful _Hera_, a well-meaning,
incapable _Helius_, a bluff _Posidon_, a gallant _Prometheus_, a one-
idea'd _Charon_; _Timon_ is more than misanthropy, _Eucrates_ than
superstition, _Anacharsis_ than intelligent curiosity, _Micyllus_ than
ignorant poverty, poor _Hermotimus_ than blind faith, and Lucian than
a scoffer.




When my childhood was over, and I had just left school, my father
called a council to decide upon my profession. Most of his friends
considered that the life of culture was very exacting in toil, time,
and money: a life only for fortune's favourites; whereas our resources
were quite narrow, and urgently called for relief. If I were to take
up some ordinary handicraft, I should be making my own living straight
off, instead of eating my father's meat at my age; and before long my
earnings would be a welcome contribution.

So the next step was to select the most satisfactory of the
handicrafts; it must be one quite easy to acquire, respectable,
inexpensive as regards plant, and fairly profitable. Various
suggestions were made, according to the taste and knowledge of the
councillors; but my father turned to my mother's brother, supposed to
be an excellent statuary, and said to him: 'With you here, it would be
a sin to prefer any other craft; take the lad, regard him as your
charge, teach him to handle, match, and grave your marble; he will do
well enough; you know he has the ability.' This he had inferred from
certain tricks I used to play with wax. When I got out of school, I
used to scrape off the wax from my tablets and work it into cows,
horses, or even men and women, and he thought I did it creditably; my
masters used to cane me for it, but on this occasion it was taken as
evidence of a natural faculty, and my modelling gave them good hopes
of my picking up the art quickly.

As soon as it seemed convenient for me to begin, I was handed over to
my uncle, and by no means reluctantly; I thought I should find it
amusing, and be in a position to impress my companions; they should
see me chiselling gods and making little images for myself and my
favourites. The usual first experience of beginners followed: my uncle
gave me a chisel, and told me to give a gentle touch to a plaque lying
on the bench: 'Well begun is half done,' said he, not very originally.
In my inexperience I brought down the tool too hard, and the plaque
broke; he flew into a rage, picked up a stick which lay handy, and
gave me an introduction to art which might have been gentler and more
encouraging; so I paid my footing with tears.

I ran off, and reached home still howling and tearful, told the story
of the stick, and showed my bruises. I said a great deal about his
brutality, and added that it was all envy: he was afraid of my being a
better sculptor than he. My mother was very angry, and abused her
brother roundly; as for me, I fell asleep that night with my eyes
still wet, and sorrow was with me till the morning.

So much of my tale is ridiculous and childish. What you have now to
hear, gentlemen, is not so contemptible, but deserves an attentive
hearing; in the words of Homer,

  To me in slumber wrapt a dream divine
  Ambrosial night conveyed,

a dream so vivid as to be indistinguishable from reality; after all
these years, I have still the figures of its persons in my eyes, the
vibration of their words in my ears; so clear it all was.

Two women had hold of my hands, and were trying vehemently and
persistently to draw me each her way; I was nearly pulled in two with
their contention; now one would prevail and all but get entire
possession of me, now I would fall to the other again, All the time
they were exchanging loud protests: 'He is mine, and I mean to keep
him;' 'Not yours at all, and it is no use your saying he is.' One of
them seemed to be a working woman, masculine looking, with untidy
hair, horny hands, and dress kilted up; she was all powdered with
plaster, like my uncle when he was chipping marble. The other had a
beautiful face, a comely figure, and neat attire. At last they invited
me to decide which of them I would live with; the rough manly one made
her speech first.

'Dear youth, I am Statuary--the art which you yesterday began to
learn, and which has a natural and a family claim upon you. Your
grandfather' (naming my mother's father) 'and both your uncles
practised it, and it brought them credit. If you will turn a deaf ear
to this person's foolish cajolery, and come and live with me, I
promise you wholesome food and good strong muscles; you shall never
fear envy, never leave your country and your people to go wandering
abroad, and you shall be commended not for your words, but for your

'Let not a slovenly person or dirty clothes repel you; such were the
conditions of that Phidias who produced the Zeus, of Polyclitus who
created the Hera, of the much-lauded Myron, of the admired Praxiteles;
and all these are worshipped with the Gods. If you should come to be
counted among them, you will surely have fame enough for yourself
through all the world, you will make your father the envy of all
fathers, and bring your country to all men's notice.' This and more
said Statuary, stumbling along in a strange jargon, stringing her
arguments together in a very earnest manner, and quite intent on
persuading me. But I can remember no more; the greater part of it has
faded from my memory. When she stopped, the other's turn came.

'And I, child, am Culture, no stranger to you even now, though you
have yet to make my closer acquaintance. The advantages that the
profession of a sculptor will bring with it you have just been told;
they amount to no more than being a worker with your hands, your whole
prospects in life limited to that; you will be obscure, poorly and
illiberally paid, mean-spirited, of no account outside your doors;
your influence will never help a friend, silence an enemy, nor impress
your countrymen; you will be just a worker, one of the masses,
cowering before the distinguished, truckling to the eloquent, living
the life of a hare, a prey to your betters. You may turn out a Phidias
or a Polyclitus, to be sure, and create a number of wonderful works;
but even so, though your art will be generally commended, no sensible
observer will be found to wish himself like you; whatever your real
qualities, you will always rank as a common craftsman who makes his
living with his hands.

'Be governed by me, on the other hand, and your first reward shall be
a view of the many wondrous deeds and doings of the men of old; you
shall hear their words and know them all, what manner of men they
were; and your soul, which is your very self, I will adorn with many
fair adornments, with self-mastery and justice and reverence and
mildness, with consideration and understanding and fortitude, with
love of what is beautiful, and yearning for what is great; these
things it is that are the true and pure ornaments of the soul. Naught
shall escape you either of ancient wisdom or of present avail; nay,
the future too, with me to aid, you shall foresee; in a word, I will
instill into you, and that in no long time, all knowledge human and

'This penniless son of who knows whom, contemplating but II now a
vocation so ignoble, shall soon be admired and envied of all, with
honour and praise and the fame of high achievement, respected by the
high-born and the affluent, clothed as I am clothed' (and here she
pointed to her own bright raiment), 'held worthy of place and
precedence; and if you leave your native land, you will be no unknown
nameless wanderer; you shall wear my marks upon you, and every man
beholding you shall touch his neighbour's arm and say, That is he.

'And if some great moment come to try your friends or country, then
shall all look to you. And to your lightest word the many shall listen
open-mouthed, and marvel, and count you happy in your eloquence, and
your father in his son. 'Tis said that some from mortal men become
immortal; and I will make it truth in you; for though you depart from
life yourself, you shall keep touch with the learned and hold
communion with the best. Consider the mighty Demosthenes, whose son he
was, and whither I exalted him; consider Aeschines; how came a Philip
to pay court to the cymbal-woman's brat? how but for my sake? Dame
Statuary here had the breeding of Socrates himself; but no sooner
could he discern the better part, than he deserted her and enlisted
with me; since when, his name is on every tongue.

'You may dismiss all these great men, and with them all glorious
deeds, majestic words, and seemly looks, all honour, repute, praise,
precedence, power, and office, all lauded eloquence and envied wisdom;
these you may put from you, to gird on a filthy apron and assume a
servile guise; then will you handle crowbars and graving tools,
mallets and chisels; you will be bowed over your work, with eyes and
thoughts bent earthwards, abject as abject can be, with never a free
and manly upward look or aspiration; all your care will be to
proportion and fairly drape your works; to proportioning and adorning
yourself you will give little heed enough, making yourself of less
account than your marble.'

I waited not for her to bring her words to an end, but rose up and
spoke my mind; I turned from that clumsy mechanic woman, and went
rejoicing to lady Culture, the more when I thought upon the stick, and
all the blows my yesterday's apprenticeship had brought me. For a time
the deserted one was wroth, with clenched fists and grinding teeth;
but at last she stiffened, like another Niobe, into marble. A strange
fate, but I must request your belief; dreams are great magicians, are
they not?

Then the other looked upon me and spoke:--'For this justice done me,'
said she, 'you shall now be recompensed; come, mount this car'--and
lo, one stood ready, drawn by winged steeds like Pegasus--, 'that you
may learn what fair sights another choice would have cost you.' We
mounted, she took the reins and drove, and I was carried aloft and
beheld towns and nations and peoples from the East to the West; and
methought I was sowing like Triptolemus; but the nature of the seed I
cannot call to mind--only this, that men on earth when they saw it
gave praise, and all whom I reached in my flight sent me on my way
with blessings.

When she had presented these things to my eyes, and me to my admirers,
she brought me back, no more clad as when my flight began; I returned,
methought, in glorious raiment. And finding my father where he stood
waiting, she showed him my raiment, and the guise in which I came, and
said a word to him upon the lot which they had come so near appointing
for me. All this I saw when scarce out of my childhood; the confusion
and terror of the stick, it may be, stamped it on my memory.

'Good gracious,' says some one, before I have done, 'what a longwinded
lawyer's vision!' 'This,' interrupts another, 'must be a winter dream,
to judge by the length of night required; or perhaps it took three
nights, like the making of Heracles. What has come over him, that he
babbles such puerilities? memorable things indeed, a child in bed, and
a very ancient, worn-out dream! what stale frigid stuff! does he take
us for interpreters of dreams?' Sir, I do not. When Xenophon related
that vision of his which you all know, of his father's house on fire
and the rest, was it just by way of a riddle? was it in deliberate
ineptitude that he reproduced it? a likely thing in their desperate
military situation, with the enemy surrounding them! no, the relation
was to serve a useful purpose.

Similarly I have had an object in telling you my dream. It is that the
young may be guided to the better way and set themselves to Culture,
especially any among them who is recreant for fear of poverty, and
minded to enter the wrong path, to the ruin of a nature not all
ignoble. Such an one will be strengthened by my tale, I am well
assured; in me he will find an apt example; let him only compare the
boy of those days, who started in pursuit of the best and devoted
himself to Culture regardless of immediate poverty, with the man who
has now come back to you, as high in fame, to put it at the lowest, as
any stonecutter of them all.



So you will have me a Prometheus? If your meaning is, my good sir,
that my works, like his, are of clay, I accept the comparison and hail
my prototype; potter me to your heart's content, though _my_ clay is
poor common stuff, trampled by common feet till it is little better
than mud. But perhaps it is in exaggerated compliment to my ingenuity
that you father my books upon the subtlest of the Titans; in that case
I fear men will find a hidden meaning, and detect an Attic curl on
your laudatory lips. Where do you find my ingenuity? in what consists
the great subtlety, the Prometheanism, of my writings? enough for me
if you have not found them sheer earth, all unworthy of Caucasian
clay-pits. How much better a claim to kinship with Prometheus have you
gentlemen who win fame in the courts, engaged in real contests; _your_
works have true life and breath, ay, and the warmth of fire. That is
Promethean indeed, though with the difference, it may be, that you do
not work in clay; your creations are oftenest of gold; [Section: 2] we
on the other hand who come before popular audiences and offer mere
lectures are exhibitors of imitations only. However, I have the
general resemblance to Prometheus, as I said before--a resemblance
which I share with the dollmakers--, that my modelling is in clay; but
then there is no motion, as with him, not a sign of life;
entertainment and pastime is the beginning and the end of my work. So
I must look for light elsewhere; possibly the title is a sort of
_lucus a non lucendo_, applied to me as to Cleon in the comedy:

  Full well Prometheus-Cleon plans--the past.

Or again, the Athenians used to call Prometheuses the makers of jars
and stoves and other, clay-workers, with playful reference to the
material, and perhaps to the use of fire in baking the ware. If that
is all your 'Prometheus' means, you have aimed your shaft well enough,
and flavoured your jest with the right Attic tartness; my productions
are as brittle as their pottery; fling a stone, and you may smash them
all to pieces.

But here some one offers me a crumb of comfort: 'That was not the
likeness he found between you and Prometheus; he meant to commend your
innovating originality: at a time when human beings did not exist,
Prometheus conceived and fashioned them; he moulded and elaborated
certain living things into agility and beauty; he was practically
their creator, though Athene assisted by putting breath into the clay
and bringing the models to life.' So says my some one, giving your
remark its politest possible turn. Perhaps he has hit the true
meaning; not that I can rest content, however, with the mere credit of
innovation, and the absence of any original to which my work can be
referred; if it is not good as well as original, I assure you I shall
be ashamed of it, bring down my foot and crush it out of existence;
its novelty shall not avail (with me at least) to save its ugliness
from annihilation. If I thought otherwise, I admit that a round dozen
of vultures would be none too many for the liver of a dunce who could
not see that ugliness was only aggravated by strangeness.

Ptolemy, son of Lagus, imported two novelties into Egypt; one was a
pure black Bactrian camel, the other a piebald man, half absolutely
black and half unusually white, the two colours evenly distributed; he
invited the Egyptians to the theatre, and concluded a varied show with
these two, expecting to bring down the house. The audience, however,
was terrified by the camel and almost stampeded; still, it _was_
decked all over with gold, had purple housings and a richly jewelled
bridle, the spoil of Darius' or Cambyses' treasury, if not of Cyrus'
own. As for the man, a few laughed at him, but most shrank as from a
monster. Ptolemy realized that the show was a failure, and the
Egyptians proof against mere novelty, preferring harmony and beauty.
So he withdrew and ceased to prize them; the camel died forgotten, and
the parti-coloured man became the reward of Thespis the fluteplayer
for a successful after-dinner performance.

I am afraid my work is a camel in Egypt, and men's admiration limited
to the bridle and purple housings; as to combinations, though the
components may be of the most beautiful (as Comedy and Dialogue in the
present case), that will not ensure a good effect, unless the mixture
is harmonious and well-proportioned; it is possible that the resultant
of two beauties may be bizarre. The readiest instance to hand is the
centaur: not a lovely creature, you will admit, but a savage, if the
paintings of its drunken bouts and murders go for anything. Well, but
on the other hand is it not possible for two such components to result
in beauty, as the combination of wine and honey in superlative
sweetness? That is my belief; but I am not prepared to maintain that
_my_ components have that property; I fear the mixture may only
have obscured their separate beauties.

For one thing, there was no great original connexion or friendship
between Dialogue and Comedy; the former was a stay-at-home, spending
his time in solitude, or at most taking a stroll with a few intimates;
whereas Comedy put herself in the hands of Dionysus, haunted the
theatre, frolicked in company, laughed and mocked and tripped it to
the flute when she saw good; nay, she would mount her anapaests, as
likely as not, and pelt the friends of Dialogue with nicknames--
doctrinaires, airy metaphysicians, and the like. The thing she loved
of all else was to chaff them and drench them in holiday impertinence,
exhibit them treading on air and arguing with the clouds, or measuring
the jump of a flea, as a type of their ethereal refinements. But
Dialogue continued his deep speculations upon Nature and Virtue, till,
as the musicians say, the interval between them was two full octaves,
from the highest to the lowest note. This ill-assorted pair it is that
we have dared to unite and harmonize-reluctant and ill--disposed for

And here comes in the apprehension of yet another Promethean analogy:
have I confounded male and female, and incurred the penalty? Or no--
when will resemblances end?--have I, rather, cheated my hearers by
serving them up bones wrapped in fat, comic laughter in philosophic
solemnity? As for stealing--for Prometheus is the thief's patron too--
I defy you there; that is the one fault you cannot find with me: from
whom should I have stolen? if any one has dealt before me in such
forced unions and hybrids, I have never made his acquaintance. But
after all, what am I to do? I have made my bed, and I must lie in it;
Epimetheus may change his mind, but Prometheus, never.



[Lucian to Nigrinus. Health.

There is a proverb about carrying 'owls to Athens'--an absurd
undertaking, considering the excellent supply already on the spot. Had
it been my intention, in presenting Nigrinus with a volume of my
composition, to indulge him of all people with a display of literary
skill, I should indeed have been an arrant 'owl-fancier in Athens.' As
however my object is merely to communicate to you my present
sentiments, and the profound impression produced upon me by your
eloquence, I may fairly plead Not Guilty, even to the charge of
Thucydides, that 'Men are bold from ignorance, where mature
consideration would render them cautious.' For I need not say that
devotion to my subject is partly responsible for my present hardihood;
it is not _all_ the work of ignorance. Farewell.]



_Lucian. A Friend_

_Fr_. What a haughty and dignified Lucian returns to us from his
journey! He will not vouchsafe us a glance; he stands aloof, and will
hold no further communion with us. Altogether a supercilious Lucian!
The change is sudden. Might one inquire the cause of this altered

_Luc_. 'Tis the work of Fortune.

_Fr_. Of Fortune!

_Luc_. As an incidental result of my journey, you see in me a happy
man; 'thrice-blest,' as the tragedians have it.

_Fr_. Dear me. What, in this short time?

_Luc_. Even so.

_Fr_. But what does it all mean? What is the secret of your elation? I
decline to rejoice with you in this abridged fashion; I must have
details. Tell me all about it.

_Luc_. What should you think, if I told you that I had exchanged
servitude for freedom; poverty for true wealth; folly and presumption
for good sense?

_Fr_. Extraordinary! But I am not quite clear of your meaning yet.

_Luc_. Why, I went off to Rome to see an oculist--my eyes had been
getting worse--

_Fr_. Yes, I know about that. I have been hoping that you would light
on a good man.

_Luc_. Well, I got up early one morning with the intention of paying a
long-deferred visit to Nigrinus, the Platonic philosopher. On reaching
his house, I knocked, and was duly announced and admitted to his
presence. I found him with a book in his hand, surrounded by various
statues of the ancient philosophers. Before him lay a tablet, with
geometrical figures described on it, and a globe of reeds, designed
apparently to represent the universe. He greeted me cordially, and
asked after my welfare. I satisfied his inquiries, and demanded, in my
turn, how he did, and whether he had decided on another trip to
Greece. Once on that subject, he gave free expression to his
sentiments; and, I assure you, 'twas a veritable feast of ambrosia to
me. The spells of the Sirens (if ever there were Sirens), of the
Pindaric 'Charmers,' of the Homeric lotus, are things to be forgotten,
after his truly divine eloquence. Led on by his theme, he spoke the
praises of philosophy, and of the freedom which philosophy confers;
and expressed his contempt for the vulgar error which sets a value
upon wealth and renown and dominion and power, upon gold and purple,
and all that dazzles the eyes of the world,--and once attracted my
own! I listened with rapt attention, and with a swelling heart. At the
time, I knew not what had come over me; my feelings were
indescribable. My dearest idols, riches and renown, lay shattered; one
moment I was ready to shed bitter tears over the disillusionment, the
next, I could have laughed for scorn of these very things, and was
exulting in my escape from the murky atmosphere of my past life into
the brightness of the upper air. The result was curious: I forgot all
about my ophthalmic troubles, in the gradual improvement of my
spiritual vision; for till that day I had grovelled in spiritual
blindness. Little by little I came into the condition with which you
were twitting me just now. Nigrinus's words have raised in me a joyous
exaltation of spirit which precludes every meaner thought. Philosophy
seems to have produced the same effect on me as wine is said to have
produced on the Indians the first time they drank it. The mere taste
of such potent liquor threw them into a state of absolute frenzy, the
intoxicating power of the wine being doubled in men so warm-blooded by
nature. This is my case. I go about like one possessed; I am drunk
with the words of wisdom.

_Fr_. This is not drunkenness, but sobriety and temperance. But I
should like to hear what Nigrinus actually said, if that may be. It is
only right that you should take that trouble for me; I am your friend,
and share your interests.

_Luc_. Enough! You urge a willing steed. I was about to bespeak your
attention. You must be my witness to the world, that there is reason
in my madness. Indeed, apart from this, the work of recollection is a
pleasure, and has become a constant practice with me; twice, thrice in
a day I repeat over his words, though there is none to hear. A lover,
in the absence of his mistress, remembers some word, some act of hers,
dwells on it, and beguiles hours of sickness with her feigned
presence. Sometimes he thinks he is face to face with her; words,
heard long since, come again from her lips; he rejoices; his soul
cleaves to the memory of the past, and has no time for present
vexations. It is so with me. Philosophy is far away, but I have heard
a philosopher's words. I piece them together, and revolve them in my
heart, and am comforted. Nigrinus is the beacon-fire on which, far out
in mid-ocean, in the darkness of night, I fix my gaze; I fancy him
present with me in all my doings; I hear ever the same words. At
times, in moments of concentration, I see his very face, his voice
rings in my ears. Of him it may truly be said, as of Pericles,

  In every heart he left his sting.

_Fr_. Stay, gentle enthusiast. Take a good breath, and start again; I
am waiting to hear what Nigrinus said. You beat about the bush in a
manner truly exasperating.

_Luc_. True, I must make a start, as you say. And yet... Tell me, did
you never see a tragedy (nay, the comedies fare no better) murdered by
bad acting, and the culprits finally hissed off the stage for their
pains? As often as not the play is a perfectly good one, and has
scored a success.

_Fr_. I know the sort of thing; and what about it?

_Luc_. I am afraid that before I have done you will find that I make
as sad work of it as they do,--jumbling things together pell-mell,
spoiling the whole point sometimes by inadequate expression; and you
will end by damning the play instead of the actor. I could put up with
my own share of the disgrace; but it would vex me indeed, that my
subject should be involved in my downfall; I cannot have _it_
discredited for my shortcomings. Remember, then: whatever the
imperfections in my speech, the author is not to be called to account;
he sits far aloof from the stage, and knows nothing of what is going
forward. The memory of the actor is all that you are invited to
criticize; I am neither more nor less than the 'Messenger' in a
tragedy. At each flaw in the argument, be this your first thought,
that the author probably said something quite different, and much more
to the point;--and then you may hiss me off if you will.

_Fr_. Bless me; here is quite a professional exordium! You are about
to add, I think, that 'your consultation with your client has been but
brief'; that you 'come into court imperfectly instructed'; that 'it
were to be desired that your client were here to plead his own cause;
as it is, you are reduced to such a meagre and inadequate statement of
the case, as memory will supply.' Am I right? Well then, spare
yourself the trouble, as far as I am concerned. Imagine all these
preliminaries settled. I stand prepared to applaud: but if you keep me
waiting, I shall harbour resentment all through the case, and hiss you

_Luc_. I should, indeed, have been glad to avail myself of the
arguments you mention, and of others too. I might have said, that mine
would be no set speech, no orderly statement such as that I heard;
that is wholly beyond me. Nor can I speak in the person of Nigrinus.
There again I should be like a bad actor, taking the part of
Agamemnon, or Creon, or Heracles' self; he is arrayed in cloth of
gold, and looks very formidable, and his mouth opens tremendously
wide; and what comes out of it? A little, shrill, womanish pipe of a
voice that would disgrace Polyxena or Hecuba! I for my part have no
intention of exposing myself in a mask several sizes too large for me,
or of wearing a robe to which I cannot do credit. Rather than play the
hero's part, and involve him in my discomfiture, I will speak in my
own person.

_Fr_. Will the man never have done with his masks and his stages?

_Luc_. Nay, that is all. And now to my subject. Nigrinus's first words
were in praise of Greece, and in particular of the Athenians. They are
brought up, he said, to poverty and to philosophy. The endeavours,
whether of foreigners or of their own countrymen, to introduce luxury
into their midst, find no favour with them. When a man comes among
them with this view, they quietly set about to correct his tendency,
and by gentle degrees to bring him to a better course of life. He
mentioned the case of a wealthy man who arrived at Athens in all the
vulgar pomp of retinue and gold and gorgeous raiment, expecting that
every eye would be turned upon him in envy of his lot; instead of
which, they heartily pitied the poor worm, and proceeded to take his
education in hand. Not an ill-natured word, not an attempt at direct
interference: it was a free city; he was at liberty to live in it as
he thought fit. But when he made a public nuisance of himself in the
baths or gymnasiums, crowding in with his attendants, and taking up
all the room, someone would whisper, in a sly aside, as if the words
were not meant to reach his ears: 'He is afraid he will never come out
from here alive; yet all is peace; there is no need of such an army.'
The remark would be overheard, and would have its educational effect.
They soon eased him of his embroidery and purple, by playful allusions
to flower and colour. 'Spring is early.'--'How did that peacock get
here?'--'His mother must have lent him that shawl,'--and so on. The
same with the rest, his rings, his elaborate coiffure, and his table
excesses. Little by little he came to his senses, and left Athens very
much the better for the public education he had received.

Nor do they scruple to confess their poverty. He mentioned a sentence
which he heard pronounced unanimously by the assembled people at the
Panathenaic festival. A citizen had been arrested and brought before
the Steward for making his appearance in coloured clothes. The
onlookers felt for him, and took his part; and when the herald
declared that he had violated the law by attending the festival in
that attire, they all exclaimed with one voice, as if they had been in
consultation, 'that he must be pardoned for wearing those clothes, as
he had no others.'

He further commended the Athenian liberty, and unpretentious style of
living; the peace and learned leisure which they so abundantly enjoy.
To dwell among such men, he declared, is to dwell with philosophy; a
single-hearted man, who has been taught to despise wealth, may here
preserve a pure morality; no life could be more in harmony with the
determined pursuit of all that is truly beautiful. But the man over
whom gold has cast its spell, who is in love with riches, and measures
happiness by purple raiment and dominion, who, living his life among
flatterers and slaves, knows not the sweets of freedom, the blessings
of candour, the beauty of truth; he who has given up his soul to
Pleasure, and will serve no other mistress, whose heart is set on
gluttony and wine and women, on whose tongue are deceit and hypocrisy;
he again whose ears must be tickled with lascivious songs, and the
voluptuous notes of flute and lyre;--let all such (he cried) dwell
here in Rome; the life will suit them. Our streets and market-places
are filled with the things they love best. They may take in pleasure
through every aperture, through eye and ear, nostril and palate; nor
are the claims of Aphrodite forgotten. The turbid stream surges
everlastingly through our streets; avarice, perjury, adultery,--all
tastes are represented. Under that rush of waters, modesty, virtue,
uprightness, are torn from the soul; and in their stead grows the tree
of perpetual thirst, whose flowers are many strange desires.

Such was Rome; such were the blessings she taught men to enjoy. 'As
for me,' he continued, 'on returning from my first voyage to Greece, I
stopped short a little way from the city, and called myself to
account, in the words of Homer, for my return.

  Ah, wretch! and leav'st thou then the light of day--
  the joyous freedom of Greece,
  And wouldst behold--

the turmoil of Rome? slander and insolence and gluttony, flatterers
and false friends, legacy-hunters and murderers? And what wilt thou do
here? thou canst not endure these things, neither canst thou escape
them! Thus reasoning, I withdrew myself out of range, as Zeus did

  Far from the scene of slaughter, blood and strife,

and resolved henceforth to keep my house. I lead the life you see--a
spiritless, womanish life, most men would account it--holding converse
with Philosophy, with Plato, with Truth. From my high seat in this
vast theatre, I look down on the scene beneath me; a scene calculated
to afford much entertainment; calculated also to try a man's
resolution to the utmost. For, to give evil its due, believe me, there
is no better school for virtue, no truer test of moral strength, than
life in this same city of Rome. It is no easy thing, to withstand so
many temptations, so many allurements and distractions of sight and
sound. There is no help for it: like Odysseus, we must sail past them
all; and there must be no binding of hands, no stopping of our ears
with wax; that would be but sorry courage: our ears must hear, our
hands must be free,--and our contempt must be genuine. Well may that
man conceive an admiration of philosophy, who is a spectator of so
much folly; well may he despise the gifts of Fortune, who views this
stage, and its multitudinous actors. The slave grows to be master, the
rich man is poor, the pauper becomes a prince, a king; and one is His
Majesty's friend, and another is his enemy, and a third he banishes.
And here is the strangest thing of all: the affairs of mankind are
confessedly the playthings of Fortune, they have no pretence to
security; yet, with instances of this daily before their eyes, men
will reach after wealth and power;--not one of them but carries his
load of hopes unrealized.

'But I said that there was entertainment also to be derived from the
scene; and I will maintain it. Our rich men are an entertainment in
themselves, with their purple and their rings always in evidence, and
their thousand vulgarities. The latest development is the _salutation
by proxy_; [Footnote: The _spoken_ salutation being performed by a
servant.] they favour us with a glance, and that must be happiness
enough. By the more ambitious spirits, an obeisance is expected; this
is not performed at a distance, after the Persian fashion--you go
right up, and make a profound bow, testifying with the angle of your
body to the self-abasement of your soul; you then kiss his hand or
breast--and happy and enviable is he who may do so much! And there
stands the great man, protracting the illusion as long as may be. (I
heartily acquiesce, by the way, in the churlish sentence which
excludes us from a nearer acquaintance with their _lips_.)

'But if these men are amusing, their courtiers and flatterers are
doubly so. They rise in the small hours of the night, to go their
round of the city, to have doors slammed in their faces by slaves, to
swallow as best they may the compliments of "Dog," "Toadeater," and
the like. And the guerdon of their painful circumambulations? A
vulgarly magnificent dinner, the source of many woes! They eat too
much, they drink more than they want, they talk more than they should;
and then they go away, angry and disappointed, grumbling at their
fare, and protesting against the scant courtesy shown them by their
insolent patron. You may see them vomiting in every alley, squabbling
at every brothel. The daylight most of them spend in bed, furnishing
employment for the doctors. Most of them, I say; for with some it has
come to this, that they actually have no time to be ill. My own
opinion is that, of the two parties, the toadies are more to blame,
and have only themselves to thank for their patron's insolence. What
can they expect him to think, after their commendations of his wealth,
their panegyrics on money, their early attendance at his doors, their
servile salutations? If by common consent they would abstain, were it
only for a few days, from this voluntary servitude, the tables must
surely be turned, and the rich come to the doors of the paupers,
imploring them not to leave such blessedness as theirs without a
witness, their fine houses and elegant furniture lying idle for want
of some one to use them. Not wealth, but the envy that waits on
wealth, is the object of their desire. The truth is, gold and ivory
and noble mansions are of little avail to their owner, if there is no
one to admire them. If we would break the power of the rich, and bring
down their pretensions, we must raise up within their borders a
stronghold of Indifference. As it is, their vanity is fostered by the
court that is paid to them. In ordinary men, who have no pretence to
education, this conduct, no doubt, is less to be blamed. But that men
who call themselves philosophers should actually outdo the rest in
degradation,--this, indeed, is the climax. Imagine my feelings, when I
see a brother philosopher, an old man, perhaps, mingling in the herd
of sycophants; dancing attendance on some great man; adapting himself
to the conversational level of a possible host! One thing, indeed,
serves to distinguish him from his company, and to accentuate his
disgrace;--he wears the garb of philosophy. It is much to be regretted
that actors of uniform excellence in other respects will not dress
conformably to their part. For in the achievements of the table, what
toadeater besides can be compared with them? There is an artlessness
in their manner of stuffing themselves, a frankness in their tippling,
which defy competition; they sponge with more spirit than other men,
and sit on with greater persistency. It is not an uncommon thing for
the more courtly sages to oblige the company with a song.'

All this he treated as a jest. But he had much to say on the subject
of those paid philosophers, who hawk about virtue like any other
marketable commodity. 'Hucksters' and 'petty traders' were his words
for them. A man who proposes to teach the contempt of wealth, should
begin (he maintained) by showing a soul above fees. And certainly he
has always acted on this principle himself. He is not content with
giving his services gratis to all comers, but lends a helping hand to
all who are in difficulties, and shows an absolute disregard for
riches. So far is he from grasping at other men's goods, that he could
anticipate without concern the deterioration of his own property. He
possessed an estate at no great distance from the city, on which for
many years he had never even set foot. Nay, he disclaimed all right of
property in it; meaning, I suppose, that we have no natural claim to
such things; law, and the rights of inheritance, give us the use of
them for an indefinite period, and for that time we are styled
'owners'; presently our term lapses, and another succeeds to the
enjoyment of a name.

There are other points in which he sets an admirable example to the
serious followers of philosophy: his frugal life, his systematic
habits of bodily exercise, his modest bearing, his simplicity of
dress, but above all, gentle manners and a constant mind. He urges his
followers not to postpone the pursuit of good, as so many do, who
allow themselves a period of grace till the next great festival, after
which they propose to eschew deceit and lead a righteous life; there
must be no shilly-shallying, when virtue is the goal for which we
start. On the other hand, there are philosophers whose idea of
inculcating virtue in their youthful disciples is to subject them to
various tests of physical endurance; whose favourite prescription is
the strait waistcoat, varied with flagellations, or the enlightened
process of scarification. Of these Nigrinus evidently had no opinion.
According to him, our first care should be to inure the _soul_ to
pain and hardship; he who aspired to educate men aright must reckon
with soul as well as body, with the age of his pupils, and with their
previous training; he would then escape the palpable blunder of
overtasking them. Many a one (he affirmed) had succumbed under the
unreasonable strain put upon him; and I met with an instance myself,
of a man who had tasted the hardships of those schools, but no sooner
heard the words of true wisdom, than he fled incontinently to
Nigrinus, and was manifestly the better for the change.

Leaving the philosophers to themselves, he reverted to more general
subjects: the din and bustle of the city, the theatres, the
race-course, the statues of charioteers, the nomenclature of horses,
the horse-talk in every side-street. The rage for horses has become a
positive epidemic; many persons are infected with it whom one would
have credited with more sense.

Then the scene changed to the pomp and circumstance attendant upon
funerals and testamentary dispositions. 'Only once in his life' (he
observed) 'does your thoroughbred Roman say what he means; and then,'
meaning, in his will, 'it comes too late for him to enjoy the credit
of it.' I could not help laughing when he told me how they thought it
necessary to carry their follies with them to the grave, and to leave
the record of their inanity behind them in black and white; some
stipulating that their clothes or other treasures should be burnt with
them, others that their graves should be watched by particular
servants, or their monuments crowned with flowers;--sapient end to a
life of sapience! 'Of their doings in this world,' said he, 'you may
form some idea from their injunctions with reference to the next.
These are they who will pay a long price for an entree; whose floors
are sprinkled with wine and saffron and spices; who in midwinter
smother themselves in roses, ay, for roses are scarce, and out of
season, and altogether desirable; but let a thing come in its due
course, and oh, 'tis vile, 'tis contemptible. These are they whose
drink is of costly essences.' He had no mercy on them here. 'Very
bunglers in sensuality, who know not her laws, and confound her
ordinances, flinging down their souls to be trampled beneath the heels
of luxury! As the play has it, Door or window, all is one to them.
Such pleasures are rank solecism.' One observation of his in the same
spirit fairly caps the famous censure of Momus. Momus found fault with
the divine artificer for not putting his bull's horns in front of the
eyes. Similarly, Nigrinus complained that when these men crown
themselves in their banquets, they put the garlands in the wrong
place; if they are so fond of the smell of violets and roses, they
should tie on their garlands as close as may be under their nostrils;
they could then snuff up the smell to their hearts' content.

Proceeding to the gentlemen who make such a serious work of their
dinner, he was exceedingly merry over their painful elaborations of
sauce and seasoning. 'Here again,' he cried, 'these men are sore put
to it, to procure the most fleeting of enjoyments. Grant them four
inches of palate apiece--'tis the utmost we can allow any man--and I
will prove to you that they have four inches of gratification for
their trouble. Thus: there is no satisfaction to be got out of the
costliest viands before consumption; and after it a full stomach is
none the better for the price it has cost to fill it. _Ergo_, the
money is paid for the pleasure snatched _in transitu_. But what are we
to expect? These men are too grossly ignorant to discern those truer
pleasures with which Philosophy rewards our resolute endeavours.'

The Baths proved a fertile topic, what with the insolence of the
masters and the jostlings of their men;--'they will not stand without
the support of a slave; it is much that they retain enough vitality to
get away on their own legs at all.' One practice which obtains in the
streets and Baths of Rome seemed to arouse his particular resentment.
Slaves have to walk on ahead of their masters, and call out to them to
'look to their feet,' whenever there is a hole or a lump in their way;
it has come to this, that men must be _reminded that they are
walking_. 'It is too much,' he cried; 'these men can get through their
dinner with the help of their own teeth and fingers; they can hear
with their own ears: yet they must have other men's eyes to see for
them! They are in possession of all their faculties: yet they are
content to be spoken to in language which should only be addressed to
poor maimed wretches! And this goes on in broad daylight, in our
public places; and among the sufferers are men who are responsible for
the welfare of cities!'

This he said, and much more to the same effect. At length he was
silent. All the time I had listened in awestruck attention, dreading
the moment when he should cease. And when it was all over, my
condition was like that of the Phaeacians. For a long time I gazed
upon him, spellbound; then I was seized with a violent attack of
giddiness; I was bathed in perspiration, and when I attempted to
speak, I broke down; my voice failed, my tongue stammered, and at last
I was reduced to tears. Mine was no surface wound from a random shaft.
The words had sunk deep into a vital part; had come with true aim, and
cleft my soul asunder. For (if I may venture to philosophize on my own
account) I conceive the case thus:-A well-conditioned human soul is
like a target of some soft material. As life goes on, many archers
take aim thereat; and every man's quiver is full of subtle and varied
arguments, but not every man shoots aright. Some draw the bow too
tight, and let fly with undue violence. These hit the true direction,
but their shafts do not lodge in the mark; their impetus carries them
right through the soul, and they pass on their way, leaving only a
gaping wound behind them. Others make the contrary mistake: their bows
are too slack, and their shafts never reach their destination; as
often as not their force is spent at half distance, and they drop to
earth. Or if they reach the mark, they do but graze its surface; there
can be no deep wound, where the archer lacks strength. But a good
marksman, a Nigrinus, begins with a careful examination of the mark,
in case it should be particularly soft,--or again too hard; for there
are marks which will take no impression from an arrow. Satisfied on
this point, he dips his shaft, not in the poisons of Scythia or Crete,
but in a certain ointment of his own, which is sweet in flavour and
gentle in operation; then, without more ado, he lets fly. The shaft
speeds with well-judged swiftness, cleaves the mark right through, and
remains lodged in it; and the drug works its way through every part.
Thus it is that men hear his words with mingled joy and grief; and
this was my own case, while the drug was gently diffusing itself
through my soul. Hence I was moved to apostrophize him in the words of

  So aim; and thou shalt bring (to some) salvation.

For as it is not every man that is maddened by the sound of the
Phrygian flute, but only those who are inspired of Cybele, and by
those strains are recalled to their frenzy,--so too not every man who
hears the words of the philosophers will go away possessed, and
stricken at heart, but only those in whose nature is something akin to

_Fr_. These are fearful and wonderful words; nay, they are divine. All
that you said of ambrosia and lotus is true; I little knew how
sumptuous had been your feast. I have listened to you with strange
emotion, and now that you have ceased, I feel oppressed, nay, in your
own language, 'sore stricken.' This need not surprise you. A person
who has been bitten by a mad dog not only goes mad himself, you know,
but communicates his madness to any one whom he bites whilst he is in
that state, so that the infection may be carried on by this means
through a long succession of persons.

_Luc_. Ah, then you confess to a tenderness?

_Fr_. I do; and beg that you will think upon some medicine for both
our wounded breasts.

_Luc_. We must take a hint from Telephus.

_Fr_. What is that?

_Luc_. We want a hair of the dog that bit us.



Archon, Aristarchus of Phalerum. Seventh Pyanepsion. Court of the
Seven Vowels. Action for assault with robbery. Sigma _v_. Tau.
Plaintiff's case--that the words in-pp-are wrongfully withheld from

Vowels of the jury.--For some time this Mr. Tau's trespasses and
encroachments on my property were of minor importance; I made no claim
for damages, and affected unconsciousness of what I heard; my
conciliatory temper both you and the other letters have reason to
know. His covetousness and folly, however, have now so puffed him up,
that he is no longer content with my habitual concessions, but insists
on more; I accordingly find myself compelled to get the matter settled
by you who know both sides of it. The fact is, I am in bodily fear,
owing to the crushing to which I am subjected. This evergrowing
aggression will end by ousting me completely from my own; I shall be
almost dumb, lose my rank as a letter, and be degraded to a mere

Justice requires then that not merely you, the jury in this case, but
the other letters also, should be on your guard against such attempts.
If any one who chooses is to be licensed to leave his own place and
usurp that of others, with no objection on your part (whose
concurrence is an indispensable condition of all writing), I fail to
see how combinations are to have their ancient constitutional rights
secured to them. But my first reliance is upon you, who will surely
never be guilty of the negligence and indifference which permits
injustice; and even if you decline the contest, I have no intention of
sitting down under that injustice myself.

It is much to be regretted that the assaults of other letters were not
repelled when they first began their lawless practices; then we should
not be watching the still pending dispute between Lambda and Rho for
possession of _kephalalgia_ or _kephalargia_, _kishlis_ or _kishris_:
Gamma would not have had to defend its rights over _gyaphalla_,
constantly almost at blows with Kappa in the debatable land, and _per
contra_ it would itself have dropped its campaign against Lambda (if
indeed it is more dignified than petty larceny) for converting _molis_
to _mogis_: in fact lawless confusion generally would have been nipped
in the bud. And it is well to abide by the established order; such
trespasses betray a revolutionary spirit.

Now our first legislators--Cadmus the islander, Palamedes, son of
Nauplius, or Simonides, whom some authorities credit with the
measure--were not satisfied with determining merely our order of
precedence in the alphabet; they also had an eye to our individual
qualities and faculties. You, Vowels of the jury, constitute the first
Estate, because you can be uttered independently; the semi-vowels,
requiring support before they can be distinctly heard, are the second;
and the lowest Estate they declared to consist of those nine which
cannot be sounded at all by themselves. The vowels are accordingly the
natural guardians of our laws.

But this--this Tau--I would give him a worse designation, but that is
a manifest impossibility; for without the assistance of two good
presentable members of your Estate, Alpha and Upsilon, he would be a
mere nonentity--he it is that has dared to outdo all injuries that I
have ever known, expelling me from the nouns and verbs of my
inheritance, and hunting me out of my conjunctions and prepositions,
till his rapacity has become quite unbearable. I am now to trace
proceedings from the beginning.

I was once staying at Cybelus, a pleasant little town, said to be an
Athenian colony; my travelling companion was the excellent Rho, best
of neighbours. My host was a writer of comedies, called Lysimachus; he
seems to have been a Boeotian by descent, though he represented
himself as coming from the interior of Attica. It was while with him
that I first detected Tau's depredations [Footnote: For the probably
corrupt passage Section 7 fin.--Section 8 init. I accept Dindorf's
rearrangement as follows: mechr men gar oligois epecheirei,
tettarakonta legein axioun, eti de taemeron kai ta homoia epispomenon,
sunaetheian thmaen idia tauti legein, kai oiston aen moi to akousma
kai ou panu ti edaknomaen ep autois. 8. hupote d ek touton arxamenon
etolmaese kattiteron eipein kai kattuma kai pittan, eita aperuthriasan
kai basilitgan onomazein, aposteroun me ton suggegenaemenun moi kai
suntethrammenun grammatun, ou metrius ipi toutois aganaktu.]. For some
earlier occasional attempts (as when he took to tettaroakonta for
tessarakonta, taemeron for saemeron, with little pilferings of that
sort) I had explained as a trick and peculiarity of pronunciation; I
had tolerated the sound without letting it annoy me seriously.

But impunity emboldened him; kassiteros became kattiteros, kassuma and
pissa shared its fate; and then he cast off all shame and assaulted
basigissa. I found myself losing the society in which I had been born
and bred [Footnote: For the probably corrupt passage Section 7 fin.--
Section 8 init. I accept Dindorf's rearrangement as follows: _mechr
men gar oligois epecheirei, tettarakonta legein axioun, eti de
taemeron kai ta homoia epispomenon, sunaetheian thmaen idia tauti
legein, kai oiston aen moi to akousma kai ou panu ti edaknomaen ep
autois_. 8. _hupote d ek touton arxamenon etolmaese kattiteron eipein
kai kattuma kai pittan, eita aperuthriasan kai basilitgan onomazein,
aposteroun me ton suggegenaemenun moi kai suntethrammenun grammatun,
ou metrius ipi toutois aganaktu.