Barry Baldwin ~ I Love Lucian

Reprinted with kind permission of Barry Baldwin himself, who years ago had to endure yours truly as a student. Errors in transcription naturally accrue to the latter.

(But not Lucy – American readers will understand)

Steve Moore’s splendid article [FT276: 46-51] is my cue to offer more on Lucian (below), the author whom Lord Macaulay dubbed “The Voltaire of Antiquity” and Samuel Bristoe in his 1711 English translation as “The Darling Pleasure of Men of sense in every Nation”.

The Suda, a Byzantine dictionary-cum-encyclopedia (c. AD 1000, cf. my “Aspects of The Suda”. Byzantion 86, 2006, pp11-31) obituarises thus:

“Lucian of Samosata nicknamed blasphemer or slanderer, or rather godless, because in his dialogues be ridiculed everything to do with divinity. Early in his career, this fellow was a lawyer in Syrian Antioch, but, after failing in this, he turned to writing and churned out reams of stuff. It is said that he was killed by dogs, because he aimed his savage pen at The Truth, for in his ‘Life of Peregrinus’ he attacked Christianity and slandered Christ himself, the scum. Consequently, he paid an appropriate penalty for his ranting in this life, but in the life to come he will inherit with Satan a share of the Everlasting Fire” – early example of the killer review.

Being a dogs’ dinner was also the alleged fate of another irreverent Greek, the tragedian Euripides, noted with fortean details of the fates of Aeschylus and Sappho by Virginia Woolf in her essay “On Not Knowing Greek”.

Various Byzantine commentators amassed a total of 39 scurrilous epithets against him (cf. my “The Scholiasts’ Lucian”, Helikon 20/21, 1980/81, pp219-34, for complete inventory and references), ranging from ‘atheist’ to ‘boy buggerer’ to ‘the thrice-accursed’, this list frequently used of the ancient Greeks and others by Fort himself (eg Books, pp55, 151)

His supposed blasphemies earned Lucian place in the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books also evoking a Jesuit Opera  Lucianus Samosatenus Infelix Atheus, produced on 3 September 1766 at Regensburg by the Lyceum und Gymnasium Societatis Jesu – there’s a copy in the British Library.

An image problem, then, in pious quarters. Mainly because of his pamphlet (comparable in viciousness to Alexander) aimed at Peregrinus Proteus. This worthy (cf. my Studies in Lucian, Toronto, 1973. passim), after a career in adultery, boy-fucking, strangling his sexagenarian father “for living too long” – shades of the Stones’ ” What a drag it is. getting old” in “Mother’s Little Helper” — fomenting Greek anti-Roman uprisings, exposing his cock Diogenes-style to a crowd (penis mightier than the sword?), and other sundry activities, he with maximum advance publicity burned himself alive as a postlude to the AD 165 Olympic Games – something like that would much enliven our modern ones, though not sure how you’d decide the winner.

Lucian devotes most space to Peregrinus’s duping of Christians – he is intriguingly said to have written some of their books — a sect mocked for worshipping “a sophist crucified in Palestine” (one pagan evidence for Jesus’s historicity . FT228.25) and as “morons who think they live forever”.

In his Philopseudes (Lover of Lies), Lucian pokes fun at tales of ghosts, poltergeists, and pest-death experiences. This is satire, but satire aimed at contemporary beliefs and claims, some of which might have appeared in Rome’s daily news gazette, the Acta Diurna,  known to have carried tabloid sensations; cf. my article in Chiron 9, 1979, pp.89 203, plus forthcoming FT column. One of his anecdotes herein is the direct ancestor of Faust’s Der Zauberlehring and thence in Disney’s Fantasia.

His True Story, albeit in Baron Munchausen vein, is an early, perhaps the earliest, science fiction novel — cf. my “Ancient SF?” [FT278-45-47) – along with philosophical dialogues which have his Cynic hero Menippus variously descending to Hades and ascending to Olympian heaven –  latter not the medal winners’ podium.

And, if by now I’ve put you to sleep, there’s in alarming awakener in this unique mention (Hippias, or the Bath,ch8) of a water-clock “that bellows like a bull”– I’ll stick to my retro Teasmade, while working out the Greek for “Wakey-Wakey”.

Classical Corner 141: Fortean Times 279 (September, 2011), p. 19.

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#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio for September 20, 2019

Hodie est a.d. XII Kal. Octobres 2772 AUC ~  22 Boedromion in the third year of the 699th Olympiad

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Laura joins David to talk about Greek Myth Comix, which started when she made an pact with one of her Classical Civilisation students to get back into drawing. She discusses her favourite graphic novel authors and writers, the difficulties in adapting the ancient world for modern audiences (and why she wasn’t a fan of the BBC show Atlantis), and when Greek Myth Comix got onto the front page of Reddit. Laura also chats about her work on the Amarantus and his Neighbourhood project from Cambridge School Latin, which aims to teach kids about life among the lower-classes of Pompeii

‘Natural and man-made geography exerts its influence on warfare, determining the passage of whole armies and fleets, sometimes allowing a single soldier to hold up an entire host.’

The team discuss Ancient Warfare Magazine XIII.2 ‘Hunting for good ground: The role of geography in warfare’.

Octona milia passuum cotidie. Cur?

 

Book Reviews

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Alia

‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it should thunder today, it portends a long-standing dispute and for the majority, extreme suffering out of the conflict.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)

#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio for September 19, 2019

Hodie est a.d. XIII Kal. Octobres 2772 AUC ~  21 Boedromion in the third year of the 699th Olympiad

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We return to our narrative of Rome’s history of its foundation with some surprising Sabines. It’s still 460 BCE, which is an indication of just how complicated Rome’s history is becoming when we read our sources. Both Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus are very focused on the ongoing conflict between the Roman elites and the emerging claims to power from the plebeians. We wouldn’t would to give too many spoilers away, but while the Romans are busy trying to figure out what their internal politics will look like, there might just be an enemy on the horizon!‎

Since the Ice Age, humans have been using their imaginations to create objects of great artistry and skill, many of them destined for spiritual or religious functions.  Exploring the stories these objects tell and the shared narratives they reflect helps us to understand the nature of belief and the complex relationship between faith and society. In this episode, former British Museum director, Neil MacGregor, discusses these ideas, which are the topic of his recent book Living with the Gods: On Beliefs and Peoples.

Book Reviews

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Alia

‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it should thunder today, it portends the downfall of a ruler or the overthrow of a king, but also portends discord among the people and prosperity.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)

#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio for September 18, 2019

Hodie est a.d. XIV Kal. Octobres 2772 AUC ~  20 Boedromion in the third year of the 699th Olympiad

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Alia

‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it should thunder today, it portends both famines and war.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)

#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio For September 17, 2019

Hodie est a.d. XV Kal. Octobres 2772 AUC ~  19 Boedromion in the third year of the 699th Olympiad

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“What if women ended the Peloponnesian War, am I right?” asks Aristophanes in his classic comedy Lysistrata. Famous for its depiction of a sex strike that brings the warring Greek states to their unsexed knees, the play has been remixed countless times as generations of artists adapt its core conceit to their own times. So we figured we’d go back to the old Prince of Comedy himself to see what all the fuss is about.

The scholar Michael Schmidt, in the book The First Poets, calls Pindar “the most careful architect that poetry has ever had.” Pindar was active around fifth century BCE and was the master of victory odes, or epinikia, which honored athletes and Olympic crown winners. He most likely wrote these songs on the lyre or the aulos, ancient pipes with double-reeds like oboes. 45 of these victory songs survive today; the first written for a winner of the 400-yard dash and last for a wrestling champion. It seems that Pindar was one of the first artists to see a way of cashing-in on the “cult of sportsmanship” that sprung up in Greek society

Book Reviews

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Alia

‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it should thunder today, it portends a shortage of necessities.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)