Philosophers in Lucian

Alice Sparberg Alexiou, Fordham University


Lucian, a representative writer of the Second Sophistic, utilized many $\rm \tau\acute o\pi o\iota$ pertaining to philosophers, which were undoubtedly familiar to his audiences. The philosopher appears very often in Lucian's writings, especially in the satiric dialogues, and Lucian apparently was intrigued by them. However, the reader is often in doubt as to whether Lucian identified with philosophers, or whether he, on the other hand, despised them, for his portraits of them are not at all consistent. Sometimes he outright praises them, sometimes he outright condemns them; but most often he makes fun of them, and whether he does so with or without malicious intent is often not clear. All of the works in which philosophers appear are studied thoroughly, and compared with each other, in order to reach a conclusion about Lucian's technique. The philosopher is examined in other authors, to the extent that this is possible, and then compared with Lucian's. Many scholars have noted and discussed Lucian's different portrayals of philosophers, and thus their work and conclusions have also been consulted and taken into account in this study. Lucian found much upon which to fault philosophers, except for those few, such as Demonax, who remained true to their ideals. For the most part his criticisms are presented in the form of satire, and often it is hard to tell to what extent Lucian is serious in his attacks upon a particular philosopher or philosophic sect. The reader is often left unsure whether Lucian intends for him to laugh at philosophers. This thesis examines Lucian's treatment of philosophers in light of this ambiguity and reaches the conclusion that it is a deliberate part of Lucian's technique as a comic writer.

Subject Area

Classical studies

Recommended Citation

Alexiou, Alice Sparberg, "Philosophers in Lucian" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9025024.