Biographical sourcesLucian is not mentioned in any contemporary texts or inscriptions written by others and he is not included in Philostratus's ''Lives of the Sophists''. As a result of this, everything that is known about Lucian comes exclusively from his own writings. A variety of characters with names very similar to Lucian, including "Lukinos," "Lukianos," "Lucius," and "The Syrian" appear throughout Lucian's writings. These have been frequently interpreted by scholars and biographers as "masks", "alter-egos", or "mouthpieces" of the author. Daniel S. Richter criticizes the frequent tendency to interpret such "Lucian-like figures" as self-inserts by the author and argues that they are, in fact, merely fictional characters Lucian uses to "think with" when satirizing conventional distinctions between Greeks and Syrians. He suggests that they are primarily a literary Trope (literature), trope used by Lucian to deflect accusations that he as the Syrian author "has somehow outraged the purity of Greek idiom or genre" through his invention of the comic dialogue. British classicist Donald Russell (classicist), Donald Russell states, "A good deal of what Lucian says about himself is no more to be trusted than the voyage to the moon that he recounts so persuasively in the first person in ''True Stories''" and warns that "it is foolish to treat [the information he gives about himself in his writings] as autobiography."
Background and upbringingLucian was born in the town of Samosata on the banks of the Euphrates on the far eastern outskirts of the Roman Empire. Samosata had been the capital of the Kingdom of Commagene until 72 AD when it was annexed by Vespasian and became part of the Roman province of Syria. The population of the town was mostly Syrian and Lucian's native tongue was probably Syriac, a form of Middle Aramaic. During the time when Lucian lived, traditional Greco-Roman religion was in decline and its role in society had become largely ceremonial. As a substitute for traditional religion, many people in the Hellenistic world joined Greco-Roman mysteries, mystery cults, such as the Mysteries of Isis, Mithraism, the cult of Cybele, and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Superstition had always been common throughout ancient society, but it was especially prevalent during the second century. Most educated people of Lucian's time adhered to one of the various Hellenistic philosophy, Hellenistic philosophies, of which the major ones were Stoicism, Platonism, Peripatetic school, Peripateticism, Pyrrhonism, and Epicureanism. Every major town had its own university and these universities often employed professional travelling lecturers, who were frequently paid high sums of money to lecture about various philosophical teachings. The most prestigious center of learning was the city of Athens in Greece, which had a long intellectual history. According to Lucian's oration ''The Dream'', which classical scholar Lionel Casson states he probably delivered as an address upon returning to Samosata at the age of thirty-five or forty after establishing his reputation as a great orator, Lucian's parents were lower middle class and his uncles owned a local statue-making shop. Lucian's parents could not afford to give him a higher education, so, after he completed his elementary schooling, Lucian's uncle took him on as an apprentice and began teaching him how to sculpt. Lucian, however, soon proved to be poor at sculpting and ruined the statue he had been working on. His uncle beat him, causing him to run off. Lucian fell asleep and experienced a dream in which he was being fought over by the personifications of Statuary and of Culture. He decided to listen to Culture and thus sought out an education. Although ''The Dream'' has long been treated by scholars as a truthful autobiography of Lucian, its historical accuracy is questionable at best. Classicist Simon Swain calls it "a fine but rather apocryphal version of Lucian's education" and Karin Schlapbach calls it "ironical". Richter argues that it is not autobiographical at all, but rather a ''prolalia'' , or playful literary work, and a "complicated meditation on a young man's acquisition of ''paideia''" [i.e. education]. Russell dismisses ''The Dream'' as entirely fictional, noting, "We recall that Socrates too started as sculptor, and Ovid's vision of Elegy and Tragedy (''Amores (Ovid), Amores'' 3.1) is all too similar to Lucian's."
Education and careerIn Lucian's ''Double Indictment'', the personification of Rhetoric delivers a speech in which she describes the unnamed defendant, who is described as a "Syrian" author of transgressive dialogues, at the time she found him, as a young man wandering in Ionia in Anatolia "with no idea what he ought to do with himself". She describes "the Syrian" at this stage in his career as "still speaking in a barbarous manner and all but wearing a caftan [''kandys''] in the Assyrian fashion". Rhetoric states that she "took him in hand and... gave him ''paideia''". Scholars have long interpreted the "Syrian" in this work as Lucian himself and taken this speech to mean that Lucian ran away to Ionia, where he pursued his education. Richter, however, argues that the "Syrian" is not Lucian himself, but rather a literary device Lucian uses to subvert literary and ethnic norms. Ionia was the center of rhetorical learning at the time The most prestigious universities of rhetoric were in Ephesus and Smyrna, but it is unlikely that Lucian could have afforded to pay the tuition at either of these schools. It is not known how Lucian obtained his education, but somehow he managed to acquire an extensive knowledge of rhetoric as well as classical literature and philosophy. Lucian mentions in his dialogue ''The Fisherman'' that he had initially attempted to apply his knowledge of rhetoric and become a lawyer, but that he had become disillusioned by the deceitfulness of the trade and resolved to become a philosopher instead. Lucian travelled across the Empire, lecturing throughout Greece, Italy, and Gaul. In Gaul, Lucian may have held a position as a highly paid government professor. In around 160, Lucian returned to Ionia as a wealthy celebrity. He visited Samosata and stayed in the east for several years. He is recorded as having been in Antioch in either 162 or 163. In around 165, he bought a house in Athens and invited his parents to come live with him in the city. Lucian must have married at some point during his travels, because in one of his writings he mentions having a son at this point. Lucian lived in Athens for around a decade, during which time he gave up lecturing and instead devoted his attention to writing. It was during this decade that Lucian composed nearly all his most famous works. Lucian wrote exclusively in Greek,Eerdmans commentary on the Bible, By James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, p. 1105, . mainly in the Attic Greek popular during the Second Sophistic, but ''On the Syrian Goddess'', which is attributed to Lucian, is written in a highly successful imitation of Herodotus' Ionic Greek, leading some scholars to believe that Lucian may not be the real author. For unknown reasons, Lucian stopped writing around 175 and began travelling and lecturing again. During the reign of Emperor Commodus (180–92), the aging Lucian may have been appointed to a lucrative government position in Egypt. After this point, he disappears from the historical record entirely, and nothing is known about his death.
ViewsLucian's philosophical views are difficult to categorize due to his persistent use of irony and sarcasm. In ''The Fisherman'', Lucian describes himself as a champion of philosophy and throughout his other writings he characterizes philosophy as a morally constructive discipline, but he is critical of pseudo-philosophers, whom he portrays as greedy, bad-tempered, sexually immoral hypocrites. Lucian was not known to be a member of any of the major philosophical schools. In his ''Philosophies for Sale'', he makes fun of members of every school. Lucian was critical of Stoicism and Platonism, because he regarded them as encouraging of superstition. His ''Nigrinus'' superficially appears to be a "eulogy of Platonism", but may, in fact, be satirical, or merely an excuse to ridicule Roman society. Nonetheless, at other times, Lucian writes approvingly of individual philosophies. According to Turner, although Lucian makes fun of Philosophical skepticism, Skeptic philosophers, he displays a temperamental inclination towards that philosophy. Edwyn Bevan identifies Lucian as a Skeptic, and in his ''Hermotimus'', Lucian rejects all philosophical systems as contradictory and concludes that life is too short to determine which of them comes nearest to the truth, so the best solution is to rely on common sense, which was what the Pyrrhonism, Pyrrhonian Skeptics advocated. The maxim that "Eyes are better witnesses than ears" is echoed repeatedly throughout several of Lucian's dialogues. Lucian was skeptical of oracles, though he was by no means the only person of his time to voice such skepticism. Lucian rejected belief in the paranormal, regarding it as superstition. In his dialogue ''The Lover of Lies'', he probably voices some of his own opinions through his character Tychiades, perhaps including the declaration by Tychiades that he does not believe in ''daemon (classical mythology), daemones'', Apparitional experience, phantoms, or ghosts because he has never seen such things. Tychiades, however, still professes Theism, belief in the gods' existence: :''Dinomachus:'' 'In other words, you do not believe in the existence of the Gods, since you maintain that cures cannot be wrought by the use of holy names?' :''Tychiades:'' 'Nay, say not so, my dear Dinomachus,' I answered; 'the Gods may exist, and these things may yet be lies. I respect the Gods: I see the cures performed by them, I see their beneficence at work in restoring the sick through the medium of the medical faculty and their drugs. Asclepius, and his sons after him, compounded soothing medicines and healed the sick, – without the lion's-skin-and-field-mouse process.' According to Everett Ferguson, Lucian was strongly influenced by the Cynicism (philosophy), Cynics. ''The Dream or the Cock'', ''Timon the Misanthrope'', ''Charon or Inspectors'', and ''The Downward Journey or the Tyrant'' all display Cynic themes. Lucian was particularly indebted to Menippus, a Cynic philosopher and satirist of the third century BC. Lucian wrote an admiring biography of the philosopher Demonax, who was a philosophical Eclecticism, eclectic, but whose ideology most closely resembled Cynicism. Demonax's main divergence from the Cynics was that he did not disapprove of ordinary life. Paul Turner observes that Lucian's ''Cynicus'' reads as a straightforward defense of Cynicism, but also remarks that Lucian savagely ridicules the Cynic philosopher Peregrinus in his ''Passing of Peregrinus''. Lucian also greatly admired Epicurus, whom he describes in ''Alexander the False Prophet'' as "truly holy and prophetic". Later, in the same dialogue, he praises a book written by Epicurus:
What blessings that book creates for its readers and what peace, tranquillity, and freedom it engenders in them, liberating them as it does from terrors and apparitions and portents, from vain hopes and extravagant cravings, developing in them intelligence and truth, and truly purifying their understanding, not with torches and Drimia maritima, squills [i. e. sea onions] and that sort of foolery, but with straight thinking, truthfulness and frankness.Lucian had a generally negative opinion of Herodotus and his historiography, which he viewed as faulty.
WorksOver eighty works attributed to Lucian have survived. These works belong to a diverse variety of styles and genres, and include comic dialogues, rhetorical essays, and prose fiction. Lucian's writings were targeted towards a highly educated, upper-class Greek audience and make almost constant allusions to Greek cultural history, leading the classical scholar R. Bracht Branham to label Lucian's highly sophisticated style "the comedy of tradition". By the time Lucian's writings were rediscovered during the Renaissance, most of the works of literature referenced in them had been lost or forgotten, making it difficult for readers of later periods to understand his works.
''A True Story''Lucian was one of the earliest novelists in Western world, Western civilization. In ''True History, A True Story'' (), a fictional narrative work written in prose, he parodies some of the fantastic tales told by Homer in the ''Odyssey'' and also the not-so-fantastic tales from the historian Thucydides. He anticipated modern science fiction themes including voyages to the moon and Venus, extraterrestrial life, interplanetary warfare, and artificial life, nearly two millennia before Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. The novel is often regarded as the earliest known work of science fiction. The novel begins with an explanation that the story is not at all "true" and that everything in it is, in fact, a complete and utter lie. The narrative begins with Lucian and his fellow travelers journeying out past the Pillars of Heracles. Blown off course by a storm, they come to an island with a river of wine filled with fish and bears, a marker indicating that Heracles and Dionysus have traveled to this point, and trees that look like women. Shortly after leaving the island, they are caught up by a whirlwind and taken to the Moon, where they find themselves embroiled in a full-scale war between the king of the Moon and the king of the Sun over colonization of the Venus, Morning Star. Both armies include bizarre hybrid lifeforms. The armies of the Sun win the war by clouding over the Moon and blocking out the Sun's light. Both parties then come to a peace agreement. Lucian then describes life on the Moon and how it is different from life on Earth. After returning to Earth, the adventurers are swallowed by a 200-mile-long whale, in whose belly they discover a variety of fish people, whom they wage war against and triumph over. They kill the whale by starting a bonfire and escape by propping its mouth open. Next, they encounter a sea of milk, an island of cheese, and the Fortunate Isles, Island of the Blessed. There, Lucian meets the heroes of the Trojan War, other mythical men and animals, as well as Homer and Pythagoras. They find sinners being punished, the worst of them being the ones who had written books with lies and fantasies, including Herodotus and Ctesias. After leaving the Island of the Blessed, they deliver a letter to Calypso (mythology), Calypso given to them by Odysseus explaining that he wishes he had stayed with her so he could have lived eternally. They then discover a chasm in the Ocean, but eventually sail around it, discover a far-off continent and decide to explore it. The book ends abruptly with Lucian stating that their future adventures will be described in the upcoming sequels, a promise which a disappointed ''scholiast'' described as "the biggest lie of all".
Satirical dialoguesIn his ''Double Indictment'', Lucian declares that his proudest literary achievement is the invention of the "satirical dialogue", which was modeled on the earlier Platonic dialogue, but was comedic in tone rather than philosophical. The ''prolaliai'' to his ''Dialogues of the Courtesans'' suggests that Lucian acted out his dialogues himself as part of a comedic routine. Lucian's ''Dialogues of the Dead'' () is a satirical work centering around the Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosophers Diogenes of Sinope and his pupil Menippus, who lived modestly while they were alive and are now living comfortably in the abysmal conditions of the Underworld, while those who had lived lives of luxury are in torment when faced by the same conditions. The dialogue draws on earlier literary precursors, including the ''nekyia'' in Book XI of Homer's ''Odyssey'', but also adds new elements not found in them. Homer's ''nekyia'' describes transgressors against the gods being punished for their sins, but Lucian embellished this idea by having cruel and greedy persons also be punished. In his dialogue ''Lover of Lies, The Lover of Lies'' (), Lucian satirizes belief in the supernatural and paranormal through a framing story in which the main narrator, a skeptic named Tychiades, goes to visit an elderly friend named Eukrates. At Eukrates's house, he encounters a large group of guests who have recently gathered together due to Eukrates suddenly falling ill. The other guests offer Eukrates a variety of Traditional medicine, folk remedies to help him recover. When Tychiades objects that such remedies do not work, the others all laugh at him and try to persuade him to believe in the supernatural by telling him stories, which grow increasingly ridiculous as the conversation progresses. One of the last stories they tell is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", which the German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe later adapted into a famous ballad. Lucian frequently made fun of philosophers and no school was spared from his mockery. In the dialogue ''Philosophies for Sale'', Lucian creates an imaginary slave market in which Zeus puts famous philosophers up for sale, including Pythagoras, Diogenes, Heraclitus, Socrates, Chrysippus, and Pyrrho, each of whom attempts to persuade the customers to buy his philosophy. In ''The Banquet, or Lapiths'', Lucian points out the hypocrisies of representatives from all the major philosophical schools. In ''The Fisherman, or the Dead Come to Life'', Lucian defends his other dialogues by comparing the venerable philosophers of ancient times with their unworthy contemporary followers. Lucian was often particularly critical of people who pretended to be philosophers when they really were not and his dialogue ''The Runaways'' portrays an imposter Cynic as the antithesis of true philosophy. His ''Symposium'' is a parody of Plato's ''Symposium (Plato), Symposium'' in which, instead of discussing the nature of love, the philosophers get drunk, tell smutty tales, argue relentlessly over whose school is the best, and eventually break out into a full-scale brawl. In ''Icaromenippus'', the Cynic philosopher Menippus fashions a set of wings for himself in imitation of the mythical Icarus and flies to Heaven, where he receives a guided tour from Zeus himself. The dialogue ends with Zeus announcing his decision to destroy all philosophers, since all they do is bicker, though he agrees to grant them a temporary reprieve until spring. ''Nektyomanteia'' is a dialogue written in parallel to ''Icaromenippus'' in which, rather than flying to Heaven, Menippus descends to the underworld to consult the prophet Tiresias. Lucian wrote numerous dialogues making fun of traditional Greek stories about the gods. His ''Dialogues of the Gods'' () consists of numerous short vignettes parodying a variety of the scenes from Greek mythology. The dialogues portray the gods as comically weak and prone to all the foibles of human emotion. Zeus in particular is shown to be a "feckless ruler" and a serial adulterer. Lucian also wrote several other works in a similar vein, including ''Zeus Catechized'', ''Zeus Rants'', and ''The Parliament of the Gods''. Throughout all his dialogues, Lucian displays a particular fascination with Hermes, the messenger of the gods, who frequently appears as a major character in the role of an intermediary who travels between worlds. ''The Dialogues of the Courtesans'' is a collection of short dialogues involving various courtesans. This collection is unique as one of the only surviving works of Greek literature to mention female homosexuality. It is also unusual for mixing Lucian's characters from other dialogues with stock characters from New Comedy; over half of the men mentioned in ''Dialogues of the Courtesans'' are also mentioned in Lucian's other dialogues, but almost all of the courtesans themselves are characters borrowed from the plays of Menander and other comedic playwrights.
Treatises and lettersLucian's treatise ''Alexander the False Prophet'' describes the rise of Alexander of Abonoteichus, a charlatan who claimed to be the prophet of the serpent-god Glycon. Though the account is satirical in tone, it seems to be a largely accurate report of the Glycon cult and many of Lucian's statements about the cult have been confirmed through archaeological evidence, including coins, statues, and inscriptions. Lucian describes his own meeting with Alexander in which he posed as a friendly philosopher, but, when Alexander invited him to kiss his hand, Lucian bit it instead. Lucian reports that, aside from himself, the only others who dared challenge Alexander's reputation as a true prophet were the Epicureanism, Epicureans (whom he lauds as heroes) and the Christians. Lucian's treatise ''On the Syrian Goddess'' is a detailed description of the cult of the Syrian goddess Atargatis at Hierapolis (now Manbij). It is written in a faux-Ionic Greek and imitates the ethnographic methodology of the Greek historian Herodotus, which Lucian elsewhere derides as faulty. For generations, many scholars doubted the authenticity of ''On the Syrian Goddess'' because it seemed too genuinely reverent to have really been written by Lucian. More recently, scholars have come to recognize the book as satirical and have restored its Lucianic authorship. In the treatise, Lucian satirizes the arbitrary cultural distinctions between "Greeks" and "Assyrians" by emphasizing the manner in which Syrians have adopted Greek customs and thereby effectively become "Greeks" themselves. The anonymous narrator of the treatise initially seems to be a Greek Sophist, but, as the treatise progresses, he reveals himself to actually be a native Syrian. Scholars dispute whether the treatise is an accurate description of Syrian cultural practices because very little is known about Hierapolis other than what is recorded in ''On the Syrian Goddess'' itself. Coins minted in the late fourth century BC, municipal decrees from Seleucid Empire, Seleucid rulers, and a late Hellenistic relief carving have confirmed Lucian's statement that the city's original name was ''Manbog'' and that the city was closely associated with the cults of Atargatis and Hadad. A Jewish rabbi later listed the temple at Hierapolis as one of the five most important pagan temples in the Near East. ''Macrobii'' ("Long-Livers") is an essay about famous philosophers who lived for many years. It describes how long each of them lived, and gives an account of each of their deaths. In his treatises ''Teacher of Rhetoric'' and ''On Salaried Posts'', Lucian criticizes the teachings of master rhetoricians. His treatise ''On Dancing'' is a major source of information about Greco-Roman dance. In it, he describes dance as an act of ''mimesis'' ("imitation") and rationalizes the myth of Proteus as being nothing more than an account of a highly skilled Egyptian dancer. He also wrote about visual arts in ''Portraits'' and ''On Behalf of Portraits''. Lucian's biography of the philosopher Demonax eulogizes him as a great philosopher and portrays him as a hero of ''parrhesia'' ("boldness of speech"). In his treatise, ''How to Write History'', Lucian criticizes the historical methodology used by writers such as Herodotus and Ctesias, who wrote vivid and self-indulgent descriptions of events they had never actually seen. Instead, Lucian argues that the historian never embellish his stories and should place his commitment to accuracy above his desire to entertain his audience. He also argues the historian should remain absolutely impartial and tell the events as they really happened, even if they are likely to cause disapproval. Lucian names Thucydides as a specific example of a historian who models these virtues. In his satirical letter ''Passing of Peregrinus'' (), Lucian describes the death of the controversial Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosopher Peregrinus Proteus, who had publicly self-immolation, immolated himself on a pyre at the ancient Olympic Games, Olympic Games of AD 165. The letter is historically significant because it preserves one of the earliest pagan evaluations of Christianity. In the letter, one of Lucian's characters delivers a speech ridiculing Christians for their perceived credulity and ignorance, but he also affords them some level of respect on account of their morality.
Pseudo-LucianSome of the writings attributed to Lucian, such as the ''Amores (Lucian), Amores'' and the ''Ass'', are usually not considered genuine works of Lucian and are normally cited under the name of "Pseudo-Lucian". The ''Ass'' () is probably a summarized version of a story by Lucian, and contains largely the same basic plot elements as ''The Golden Ass'' (or ''Metamorphoses'') of Apuleius, but with fewer inset tales and a different ending. ''Amores'' is usually dated to the third or fourth centuries based on stylistic grounds.
Renaissance and ReformationLucian's writings were mostly forgotten during the Middle Ages. The ''Suda'', a tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia, concludes that Lucian's soul is burning in Hell for his negative remarks about Christians in the ''Passing of Peregrinus''. Lucian's writings were rediscovered during the Renaissance and almost immediately became popular with the Renaissance humanism, Renaissance humanists. By 1400, there were just as many Latin translations of the works of Lucian as there were for the writings of Plato and Plutarch. By ridiculing plutocracy as absurd, Lucian helped facilitate one of Renaissance humanism's most basic themes. His ''Dialogues of the Dead'' were especially popular and were widely used for moral instruction. As a result of this popularity, Lucian's writings had a profound influence on writers from the Renaissance and the Early modern Europe, Early Modern period. Many early modern European writers adopted Lucian's lighthearted tone, his technique of relating a fantastic voyage through a familiar dialogue, and his trick of constructing proper names with deliberately humorous etymological meanings. During the Reformation, Protestant Reformation, Lucian provided literary precedent for writers making fun of Holy orders in the Catholic Church, Catholic clergy. Desiderius Erasmus's ''In Praise of Folly, Encomium Moriae'' (1509) displays Lucianic influences. Perhaps the most notable example of Lucian's impact was on the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was on the French writer François Rabelais, particularly in his Pentalogy, set of five novels, ''Gargantua and Pantagruel'', which was first published in 1532. Rabelais also is thought to be responsible for a primary introduction of Lucian to the French Renaissance and beyond through his translations of Lucian's works. Lucian's ''True Story'' inspired both Sir Thomas More's ''Utopia (book), Utopia'' (1516) and Jonathan Swift's ''Gulliver's Travels'' (1726). Sandro Botticelli's paintings ''Calumny of Apelles (Botticelli), The Calumny of Apelles'' and ''Pallas and the Centaur'' are both based on descriptions of paintings found in Lucian's works. Lucian's prose narrative ''Timon the Misanthrope'' was the inspiration for William Shakespeare's tragedy ''Timon of Athens'' and the scene from ''Hamlet'' with the gravediggers echoes several scenes from ''Dialogues of the Dead''. Christopher Marlowe's famous verse "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships/And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?" is a paraphrase of a quote from Lucian. Francis Bacon called Lucian a "contemplative atheist".
Early modern periodHenry Fielding, the author of ''The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling'' (1749), owned a complete set of Lucian's writings in nine volumes. He deliberately imitated Lucian in his ''Journey from This World and into the Next'' and, in ''The Life and Death of Jonathan Wild, the Great'' (1743), he describes Lucian as "almost... like the true father of humour" and lists him alongside Miguel de Cervantes and Jonathan Swift as a true master of satire. In ''The Convent Garden Journal'', Fielding directly states in regard to Lucian that he had modeled his style "upon that very author". Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, François Fénelon, Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle, and Voltaire all wrote adaptations of Lucian's ''Dialogues of the Dead''. According to Turner, Voltaire's ''Candide'' (1759) displays the characteristically Lucianic theme of "refuting philosophical theory by reality". Voltaire also wrote ''The Conversation between Lucian, Erasmus and Rabelais in the Elysian Fields'', a dialogue in which he treats Lucian as "one of his masters in the strategy of intellectual revolution". Denis Diderot drew inspiration from the writings of Lucian in his ''Socrates Gone Mad; or, the Dialogues of Diogenes of Sinope'' (1770) and his ''Conversations in Elysium'' (1780). Lucian appears as one of two speakers in Diderot's dialogue ''Peregrinus Proteus'' (1791), which was based on ''The Passing of Peregrinus''. Lucian's ''True Story'' inspired Cyrano de Bergerac, whose writings later served as inspiration for Jules Verne. The German satirist Christoph Martin Wieland was the first person to translate the complete works of Lucian into German language, German and he spent his entire career adapting the ideas behind Lucian's writings for a contemporary German audience. David Hume admired Lucian as a "very moral writer" and quoted him with reverence when discussing ethics or religion. Hume read Lucian's ''Kataplous'' or ''Downward Journey'' when he was on his deathbed. Herman Melville references Lucian in Chapter 5 of The Confidence-Man, ''The Confidence-Man'' and Book 26 of Pierre: or, The Ambiguities, ''Pierre''.
Modern period''Kataplous, or Downward Journey'' also served as the source for Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the ''Übermensch'' or ''Overman''. Nietzsche's declaration of a "new and super-human way of laughing – at the expense of everything serious!" echoes the exact wording of Tiresias's final advice to the eponymous hero of Lucian's dialogue ''Menippus'': "Laugh a great deal and take nothing seriously." Professional philosophical writers since then have generally ignored Lucian, but Turner comments that "perhaps his spirit is still alive in those who, like Bertrand Russell, are prepared to flavor philosophy with wit." Many modern classicists viewed Lucian's works negatively. The German classicist Eduard Norden admitted that he had, as a foolish youth, wasted time reading the works of Lucian, but, as an adult, had come to realize that Lucian was nothing more than an "Oriental without depth or character... who has no soul and degrades the most soulful language". Rudolf Helm, one of the leading scholars on Lucian in the early twentieth century, labelled Lucian as a "thoughtless Syrian" who "possesses none of the soul of a tragedian" and compared him to the poet Heinrich Heine, who was known as the "mockingbird in the German poetry forest". In his 1906 publication ''Lukian und Menipp'' ("Lucian and Menippus"), Helm argued that Lucian's claims of generic originality, especially his claim of having invented the comic dialogue, were actually lies intended to cover up his almost complete dependence on Menippus, whom he argued was the true inventor of the genre. Lucian's Syrian identity received renewed attention in the early twenty-first century as Lucian became seen as what Richter calls "a sort of Second Sophistic answer to early twenty-first-century questions about cultural and ethnic hybridity". Richter states that Postcolonialism, Postcolonial critics have come to embrace Lucian as "an early imperial paradigm of the 'ethno-cultural hybrid.'"
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