Lucian of Samosata

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Lucian of Samosata (b. 120 AD, Samosata – d. 180 AD, Athens) was an ancient Greek rhetorician, pamphleteer, and satirist.[1] Lucian is known today for writing up to 70 ancient works, including Phalaris, Dionysus, Voyage to the Lower World, The Fisher and many others.[2]


All our information on the life of Lucian comes from Lucian himself. However, the events he tells us about himself are not always true and are in no chronological order, and so historians are forced to reconstruct what they can with the details available.

Lucian was raised speaking Aramaic, and at a young age, showed interest in working with clay. His uncle was a sculptor, and so he was apprenticed by his sculptor. However, he did not have a positive relationship with his uncle, and so left his home for Asia Minor, where he received a Greek education and learned and mastered the Greek language. He became a public speaker and toured throughout many cities giving public lectures and displaying his sophistication and eloquence at the same time. Although he was a successful rhetorician, he eventually settled in Athens and begun studying Greek literature. He then began writing critical and satirical essays, maintaining his reputation as a rhetorician, and eventually returned to public speaking, but continued to write.

Lucian wrote about a number of things, including critiquing the philosophy and intellect of his day, often known to have done so with an unparalleled wit. The greatest think Lucian disliked was a philosopher who did not practice what he preached, mocking them in works like his Banquet and Fisher. Lucian always claimed he was not attacking the true creators of the art of philosophy, but was rather attacking the pitiful successors of these men in his own day.

List of Selected Works

Some of the works of Lucian include the following;

  • Phalaris
  • Alexander The Oracle-monger
  • Of Pantomime
  • Lexiphanes
  • Life Of Demonax
  • Zeus Tragoedus
  • The Hall
  • Patriotism
  • Dipsas, the Thirst-Snake
  • A Word With Hesiod
  • The Ship: Or, The Wishes
  • Dialogues of the Hetaerae
  • The Death of Peregrine
  • The Runaways
  • Saturnalia
  • Cronosolon
  • Saturnalian Letters
  • A Feast of Lapithae
  • Demosthenes, An Encomium
  • The Gods in Council
  • The Cynic
  • The Purist Purized


  1. Encyclopedia Britannica Lucian | Greek writer
  2. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Lucian of Samosata