In this week’s Dispatches from the Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle looks at the work of the master of the comic dialogue, Lucian of Samosata
It all started with a Syrian writer about whom he know virtually nothing. He was born in around AD 120 and died in 180, or thereabouts. His hometown was Samosata, on the bank of the Euphrates in what is now Turkey but was at the time part of the Roman province of Syria. He is known as ‘Lucian of Samosata’ – or, more frequently, Lucian – and he has a claim to being the inventor of two literary genres, though his claim to one is somewhat more robust than the other.
The first is easy enough to make a case for. When Lucian was writing, the fashion among Greek writers was to draw on older literary styles from some five or six centuries earlier…
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