The Greek book of the week – The Works of Lucian of Samosata
The civilization of Ancient Greece continue to fascinate the modern mind. It’s remote in time, and yet still close to us. This is partly because we owe to the classical world so many of the values and ideas which shape our society, literature and art, partly because many of the important moral and political issues which continue to exercise twenty-first century man were first addressed in the ancient world.
Lucian of Samosata (c. 120 AD – c. 200 AD) was the author of more than 70 known dialogues & treatises and is considered the supreme Ancient Greek satirist.
Throughout his writings, Lucian interconnects the stories of gods and men, rich and poor, philosopher and skeptic, tyrant and subject, all with an eye for entertainment and humor.
Lucian, an Assyrian by birth, held a strong command over the Greek language and his style harkens back to dialogues by Plato, writings by Attic writers in the Classical Age, and cynical satire by Menippus.
The writings of Lucian are outstanding for their mordant and malicious wit, embodying a sophisticated and often embittered critique of the shams and follies of the literature, philosophy, and intellectual life of his day.
Lucian left us a treasure trove (Thesaurus) of delightful writings, a commentary on the universal aspects of human behavior, that will challenge and amuse his readers for centuries to come.
In exploring the ancients we learn something about ourselves as well because the emotions generated and the dilemmas of judgment forced upon the characters are timeless and integral parts of the human condition.
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