Lucian As An Epicurean

  • There's a lot of debate as to whether Lucian was an actual Epicurean himself. I personally think he probably was in at least most respects, but I haven't put together a list of similarities or a list of quotes on the point. '


    And I don't have time to do that in this post either, but I see this article crossed my email today which might help: Lucian of Samosata on Religion and Reason: An Epicurean In Hiding.

  • I need to get back to work on The Greek Anthology, as he has several epigrams in there.


    The difficulty is that he made a name for himself as a satirist, and cleaving to one doctrine or philosophy does not position one well to write good satire. A satirist must float more nebulously. The moment he sets his foot on solid ground, he exposes himself to ridicule and charges of hypocrisy—in other words, to satire. He becomes an apologist, and ceases to be a satirist. Those who believe in the infallible truth of revelation and who attempt satire are for this reason unfailingly absurd.


    A more Epicurean literary style at that time was the pastoral, as in Horace's Epodes, or in Virgil's Eclogues. Epic poetry was more generally a civic-minded affair, and in Virgil's case a more stoical one. The Lucretian synthesis of a cultural Epic with rich pastoral imagery and strongly individualistic philosophy is a factor in the success of his poem.


    Consider how differently we would look on Shakespeare if he only wrote tragedies. Lucian may well have been an Epicurean through and through, but it would have done him no favors in his satires.