Read Ware verhalen by Lucian of Samosata Boukje Verheij Tijn Cuypers Online


Widely hailed as the first science fiction story, A True Story, by Lucian of Samosata is a voyage to the edges of the universe and reason. The title is the first clue that this will be a tall tale. As much a predecessor of Douglas Adams as Jules Verne, Lucian's fantasy explores not only outer space (where he brokers war and peace between the inhabitants of the sun and moonWidely hailed as the first science fiction story, A True Story, by Lucian of Samosata is a voyage to the edges of the universe and reason. The title is the first clue that this will be a tall tale. As much a predecessor of Douglas Adams as Jules Verne, Lucian's fantasy explores not only outer space (where he brokers war and peace between the inhabitants of the sun and moon), but also the Elysian fields, the geography of the Odyssey, and the interior of a giant whale. We get to meet Homer, Pythagoras, Socrates, and other immortals, as well as a host of bizarre creatures. The text is riddled with puns, innuendo, parody and satire; however most of this humor will escape the modern reader. Suffice it to say that this was considered pretty funny in the second century [AD]. The narrative breaks off in the second book. Whether there were more adventures or Lucian just ran out of ideas is unknown....

Title : Ware verhalen
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789025331368
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 110 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ware verhalen Reviews

  • Gregsamsa
    2019-02-21 09:34

    I can think of no other book containing a lesson in rhetoric, a screed against contemporary scholarship, a lecture on the proper mission of the historian, a battle chronicle, a parody of both philosophy and gods, and a sci-fi/fantasy space adventure. Btw, it's written by a Syrian guy born in 120 A.D. You read that right.What an odd thing this is.This book includes three quite different samples from the work of Lucian of Samosata: "Instructions for Writing History," The True Story, and "Icaro-Menippus. A Dialogue."Instructions for Writing History takes the form of a letter to his friend Philo. It seems Lucian has recently been on the ancient equivalent of a lecture tour and has returned home mightily hacked off at the state of contemporary history composition. Not only is its practice inept, but teaching of the art is all but non-existent:"There are many, I know, who think there is no necessity for instruction at all with regard to this business, any more than there is for walking, seeing, or eating, and that it is the easiest thing in the world for a man to write history if he can but say what comes uppermost."Needless to say, Lucian disagrees: "... if there be anything in the whole circle of literature that requires more than ordinary care and attention, it is undoubtedly this."Utmost among his cares is the concern for posterity--making sure future generations receive truthful accounts--so highest on his shit-list are historians whose only sense of duty is to flattery, lavishing praise upon leaders with an eye only on immediate gain, while they might well not even score that: "... it is mere adulation, which they have not art enough to conceal, but heap up together, naked, uncovered, and totally incredible, so that they seldom gain what they expected from it; for the person flattered, if he has anything noble or manly in him, only abhors and despises them for it as mean parasites."His complaints continue: about the self-aggrandizement of the historian; too much cataloging of details and emphasis on the tangential ("The emperor’s shield takes up a whole book to describe") and lacking proper scope ("From inability, and ignorance of everything useful, these men are driven to descriptions of countries and caverns, and when they come into a multiplicity of great and momentous affairs, are utterly at a loss."); a style too elevated or too coarse ("Besides this, after setting out in delicate Ionic, he drops, I know not how, into the most vulgar style and expressions, used only by the very dregs of the people."); disproportionate structure, such as an overblown or underdone preface ("...everything should be alike and of the same colour; the body fitted to the head, not a golden helmet, with a ridiculous breast-plate made of stinking skins, shreds, and patches, a basket shield, and hog-skin boots; and yet numbers of them put the head of a Rhodian Colossus on the body of a dwarf, whilst others show you a body without a head, and step directly into the midst of things"); too much argument (and conclusions) rather than leaving judgement to the reader.And of course there's the little issue of accuracy, his complaints about which contain the surprising fact that even back then people gossiped while they got their hair done:All this, however, with regard to style and composition, may be borne with, but when they misinform us about places, and make mistakes, not of a few leagues, but whole day’s journeys, what shall we say to such historians?  One of them, who never, we may suppose, so much as conversed with a Syrian, or picked up anything concerning them in the barbers’ shop, when he speaks of Europus, tells us, "it is situated in Mesopotamia, two days’ journey from Euphrates, and was built by the Edessenes.”  Not content with this, the same noble writer has taken away my poor country, Samosata, and carried it off, tower, bulwarks, and all, to Mesopotamia.Not content only to find fault with others, Lucian then sets out to provide a guide to what makes a good historian. Part of this is appropriate real-life experience and temperment (someone "who does not stay at home and trust to the reports of others: but, above all, let him be of a noble and liberal mind") and what we would call objectivity, reiterating his concern for posterity:[The historian,] though he may have private enmity against any man, will esteem the public welfare of more consequence to him, and will prefer truth to resentment; and, on the other hand, be he ever so fond of any man, will not spare him when he is in the wrong; for this, as I before observed, is the most essential thing in history, to sacrifice to truth alone, and cast away all care for everything else.  The great universal rule and standard is, to have regard not to those who read now, but to those who are to peruse our works hereafter.After giving some helpful tips on style and composition, he sums up "let it be, in short, what the lowest may understand; and, at the same time, the most learned cannot but approve.  The whole may be adorned with figure and metaphor, provided they are not turgid or bombast, nor seem stiff and laboured, which, like meat too highly seasoned, always give disgust." He also delves into issues regarding quotation and conjecture whose controversies remain unsettled today.He closes by emphasizing once again the importance of regard for future readers, offering a little story as illustration:Recollect the story of the Cnidian architect, when he built the tower in Pharos, where the fire is kindled to prevent mariners from running on the dangerous rocks of Parætonia, that most noble and most beautiful of all works; he carved his own name on a part of the rock on the inside, then covered it over with mortar, and inscribed on it the name of the reigning sovereign: well knowing that, as it afterwards happened, in a short space of time these letters would drop off with the mortar, and discover under it this inscription: “Sostratus the Cnidian, son of Dexiphanes, to those gods who preserve the mariner.”  Thus had he regard not to the times he lived in, not to his own short existence, but to the present period, and to all future ages, even as long as his tower shall stand, and his art remain upon earth.Lucian would likely take issue with my disproporionate emphasis on this first piece but I couldn't help myself, being a rhetoric nerd from way back. After learning from Lucian how to write what is fair and true, we may start in on his narrative The True Story which he immediately admits is not: "Know ye, therefore, that I am going to write about what I never saw myself, nor experienced, nor so much as heard from anybody else, and, what is more, of such things as neither are, nor ever can be.  I give my readers warning, therefore, not to believe me."What follows is a wild parody of contemporary histories and travelogues whose faults the previous essay so snarkily catalogued. The narrator and fifty travel companions set out on a ship bound for adventure, only to get swept up by a storm and left beached on an island. There, a weathered Greek pillar and gigantic footprints testify that this isle was once tread by gods. They discover rooted vine-women whose fingers branch into tendrils bearing grapes, near a river of wine filled with fish that intoxicate. They load up on both and set sail again, until the ship is taken up by a whirlwind which transports them across the skies for a week before they discover another land inhabited by men who ride three-headed vultures. It turns out this new world is the moon, whose citizens are at war with those of the sun. The castaways agree to join in the fight amongst these warriors on the giant winged creatures, while others ride gigantic fleas "as big as twelve elephants."But that's not all: "They have spiders, you must know, in this country, in infinite numbers, and of pretty large dimensions, each of them being as big as one of the islands of the Cyclades..."Those are some serious spiders.The enemy armies of the sun boast a bestiary equally unreal, including two-acre-sized ants with wings and horns, soldiers with slingshots whipping out fatal toxic radishes, and dog-headed infantry mounted on winged acorns. I won't tell you who wins.After negotiations a satirical treaty detailing the terms of such truces is drawn up, freeing the travelers to explore the moon and beyond, discovering a long roster of wonders that convinces us that Jonathan Swift has definitely read his Lucian.Icaro-Menippus. A Dialogue is a short conversation between the satirist Menippus, fresh from a trip to (guess where) the moon, and a credulous friend. It sends up the ancient dieties and philosophers, lampooning the ambition of metaphysics and the pettinesses of the gods.This book is available from The Gutenberg Project for free.

  • Steve
    2019-03-13 07:43

    Now, this is what I call a tall story...Lucian of Samosata (c. 120 - c. 200) was born in the Roman province of Syria. His mother tongue was probably some form of Aramaic, but he wrote his works in a Greek influenced by the Attic classics. He was a rhetorician, a philosopher of sorts and, after the age of approximately 40, a man of letters, writing in a form of his own making - a kind of comedic dialogue meant to be read instead of performed, though he did travel around reading his dialogues to audiences (after all, a man must eat). Lucian had a real interest in philosophy, but the Hermotimos was his farewell to philosophy. Thereafter, he developed his comedic dialogues and viewed himself as a writer, though many of these dialogues do involve philosophy one way or another. However, he also wrote this story - A True Story - whose truth he flatly denies.Some fifteen hundred years before Swift, Lucian has his heroes fly to islands in the sky, participate in a war between the inhabitants of the moon and those of the sun, and then get swallowed by a whale who wouldn't even have noticed Jonah's miniscule fishy-wishy.But then it gets good.The heroes land at the Isle of the Blessed, where Homer and Ulysses and Achilles live with Socrates and his crowd of beautiful boys. Prominent among the missing: Plato (in his own private Utopia), all of the Stoics (still climbing the mountain of Virtue), all of the Academics (unable to admit the truth of the Isle), etc. Pythagoras and Empedocles are present, though in a rather unfortunate state. Lucian manages to interview Homer, who clears up all of the controversies about Homeric literature...Priceless. But the heroes had to leave because they were still living. Lucian is not happy about leaving, of course, but he is assured that he will perish soon enough and that, as long as he "abstain[s] from stirring fire with a knife, from lupines and from the society of boys over eighteen" he could expect to return to an honored seat at the banquets on the Isle of the Blessed. In this inverted Divine Comedy our heroes return to the living but must first pass the isles where the evil are punished. Naturally, they land on one of them, and we are treated to Lucian's version of Hell. Not unexpectedly, the worst torments are reserved for those who lie and who present false histories.(*) Continuing the long voyage back to Earth, they come to the Isle of Dreams, where Lucian puffs with pride that he can be the first to supplement Homer's vague description with details... And so it goes, island after improbable island until a storm takes them and dashes them onto a real shore. Ah, but not yet the right shore...I don't know why the words "science fiction" are brought into play when discussing this text - is Gulliver's Travels science fiction? Not a bit of it. Like Gulliver's Travels Lucian's text is a satirical fantasy, though of a more modest scope. And, like Gulliver's Travels, it is quite entertaining. I wonder if Swift had read Lucian's story.[Read in the translation by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler from 1905: which is available gratis online.](*) Earlier in the text Herodotus and a number of the less famous fabulists historians have their legs thoroughly pulled. Rating

  • Ana Rînceanu
    2019-03-05 01:46

    A witty treatise against fake historians and philosophers composed of mostly lies, Trips to the Moon is an early example of science fiction and a satire of travel tales (a kind of Gulliver's Travels). The author and his companions seek out adventures, sailing westward through the Pillars of Hercules. They meet men of different species, even Moon people who were at war with the king of the Sun, were swallowed by a great whale and reached a sea of milk, an island of cheese and the isle of the blessed. There they meets the heroes of the Trojan War, other mythical men and animals, and even Homer. They find Herodotus being eternally punished for the "lies" he published in his The Histories.P.S: the author does not hold Thucydides in high esteem either.

  • Zadignose
    2019-02-23 08:43

    This is a collection of three or four works (depending on how you count) by Lucian. I will approach them in the reverse order from how they are presented in the book, as I found the book got better and better, and thus the best material comes last.The last work in the collection is Icaro-Menippus. Wikipedia gives a very fair and succinct summary: "Imitating Icarus, Menippus makes himself a pair of wings and flies up to the gods where he learns that Zeus has decided to destroy all philosophers as useless." Of course, along the way, Menippus (the Cynic after whom the "Menippean satire" is named) makes a stop on the moon so as to look down and observe our earth with it's petty problems and concerns, and discovers what a great mess the philosophers make of everything. This book is written as a dialog, it's entertaining and maturely written, even as Lucian is probably guilty of some lousy philosophizing himself. I almost missed reading this, because my main interest had been to read his "True History", which I happen to have gotten another translation of in a different collection... but, I am glad that I went ahead and read Icaro-Menippus, which is perhaps less fanciful than the True History, but it's more pointed.The "True History", in two "books," is what Lucian is most famous for, and this is most likely because it's his most exotic work. The second book is a better reading experience than the first, but not to a large degree, and together they're a continuous work. The book is about as far out and fanciful as one can get. It suffers a bit from the fact that Lucian wrote it mainly as a lark, and did not fully embrace his own effort until he had gotten up a bit of steam and started to discover that he need not only mock the excesses of other authors... he can actually have fun with and make something of this inventive literary style. But the startling thing about the book is mainly its place in literary history. It is a surviving work from an age whose literature is mainly lost, and it seems a prototype of so much of the later inventive works of geniuses in other ages. One can see Rabelais, Cyrano de Bergerac, Swift, Voltaire, Calvino... even looking a bit further afield you can see Roussel and Jary in this book. I believe the later wits and aesthetes were more accomplished, but here we have their prototype. Cyrano, by the way, is the one who seems most directly influenced by Lucian, as their moon-travel stories intersect at multiple points, yet they remain quite distinct works in both style and substance.The first work in the collection is Lucian's instructions for writing history, which he titled "Instructions for Writing History." It is a letter to a friend in which Lucian first points out the faults of many contemporary and earlier historians, then lays out his ideas for how history should actually be written. As a critic, he certainly has his points, though his wit is not quite as sharp and entertaining as his reputation would have it. This is more like the kinds of quibbles and snipes he would most likely have preferred to post to his blog, if he'd had one. For example, he gets rather snooty about issues of dialect. But, surely one must appreciate the absurdity of his one contemporary who believed that "Parthian Dragons" were actual giant serpents carried upon poles which could be unleashed to destroy the enemy, when in fact they were pennants used for signaling, which represented military units of 1000 soldiers. Anyway, when Lucian goes on to disclose his own theories on how history should be written, they turn out to be quite good and reasonable. They also would be regarded as more controversial in his day, whereas they now represent the standard way we think of history: historians should write what actually happened, rather than lionizing, flattering, condemning, praising, and fabricating for the purpose of making a more thrilling or inspirational tale. Historians should not be self-serving either, but rather they should write for the benefit of posterity. These are the ideals which are generally espoused today, even if our own historians may often fall short of reaching the ideal, and even while there may be legitimate argument to support a different approach to history.In summation, I would say that anyone curious about Lucian would do well to read Icaro-Menippus... and True History next... and probably everything if you're of a mind to. But now you have my take.Oh yeah, one more thing. The freebie translation on Gutenberg is a good read, while the translator Thomas Francklin writes many notes which... well, he may just be the kind of commenter that inspired Kinbote in Nabokov's Pale Fire. I.e., he's just a bit nutty. He somewhat inappropriately inserts his own opinions and interpretations from time to time... okay not all that crazy, but I imagine Nabokov may have been frustrated by guys like him... and I can imagine what a bizarre meta-novel would have occurred if Lucian could have written a parody of the work of his own translator/commenter.

  • Angelo Giardini
    2019-03-06 06:44

    A edição da Ateliê é linda. Capa dura, ilustrada. Mas há algo na tradução que, a despeito de não conhecer latim, me soa como excessiva modernização. O texto não se assemelha a uma obra da antiguidade e, sendo a idade e origem os principais atrativos da História Verdeira, algo se perdeu irremediavelmente.

  • Philip Grace
    2019-03-11 01:54

    I listened to the librivox audiobook of the edition. Written in the 2nd century, it describes a sea voyage by a crew of Greeks. After finding a monument to Hercules, they are carried up into the sky by a storm, and then make landfall on the moon, whose inhabitants are currently at war with those who live on the sun. After that, it starts to get weird...I found this a remarkable entry in the tall-tale genre with tons of vivid details ready to be plundered for new stories or role-playing games. I especially like that it is not "steam-punk" nor "1950s future", but rather "Greek-punk" if you will; that is, it is classical-world flavored sci-fi. They encounter fantasy races, but they interact as though they're both from a polis. I suppose it's somewhat akin to Arabian Nights. I also love the original purpose of this story: the early part of the treatise is a diatribe about how Greek historians add in a bunch of florid, implausible details. He then offers this as an example of how *not* to do it; he assures the reader at the outset that he promises not to say a single thing that's true. And then he just pushes that envelope with a twinkle in his eye: the sizes he describes make no kind of sense, and he gleefully borrows (and butchers) a bunch of what were to him pop-culture references--he just takes stuff from Odysseus, etc. and screws around with it. In all, this is the most unmotivated, low-brow kind of narrative buffoonery, mixed with flagrant braggadoccio by the narrator. This is first-rate, head-shaking, classical era B.S. It's hilarious, and all the more because it's from so long ago.

  • Chris
    2019-03-06 09:33

    I'm just imagining this old school homie with his quill and ink laughing to himself as he writes this in 120 AD. LUCIAN: AYO B, I'm writing this new story that's gonna blow your knickers right off your toesies.LUCIAN'S SQUAD MEMBER #1: Ahhhh shiiiit yo, you gotta put down that wild ass weed. LUCIAN'S SQUAD MEMBER #2: What's this one about?LUCIAN: [Snickering] THE FUTURE MAN. THE FUCKING FUTURE.LUCIAN'S SQUAD MEMBER #1: ...wutLUCIAN: Islands made outta cheese. The cheese game in the future is unreal. Not even on that Gouda or Pepperjack. This is some next level Caciocavallo Podolico $700 a pound shit.LUCIAN'S SQUAD MEMBER #1: Dawg, you are fucking crazy.LUCIAN: There's like, no bitches in the future either. The only titties out there are tryina fuckin kill you Siren style. Homies on the moon don't even fuck. Kids be popping out some big ass steroided out man calves and shit.LUCIAN'S SQUAD MEMBER #2: Man, I like you but you're fucking crazy.LUCIAN: This is a 100% true story too homie.LUCIAN'S SQUAD MEMBER #2: Fuck it, pass that grass and let me hit this rough drafts with some eyes.LUCIAN: For sure, for sure mang. Lemme tell you about some of these mushroom men too....

  • Steve Morrison
    2019-03-21 04:46

    One of the weirdest things I've ever read, and I read some weird stuff. An ancestor of both Gargantua and Gulliver. The episode that stays with me is when they land on the island and decide to eat the ground beneath their feet to see if the island is made of cheese. It is.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-19 09:36

    If I have to point out of the most influential books I've ever encountered, it was a book I got as a gift when I was 15 or 16 called the Dictionary of Imaginary Places. It was there that I found out about Jarry, Calvino, Eco, Karinthy, Bruno Schulz, and countless other literary oddballs, as well as Lucian and his odd fictional journeys, and whose DNA is integral to those aforementioned oddballs' work. Here was this completely bizarre picaresque that travels around our world and others, getting stuck inside whales and what not, using that travel as a framework to satirize the pressing issues of his day (most of which are lost on the modern reader), written on the Syrian fringe of Greek civilization by an outspoken cynic. This is some out-there shit, and for that alone is worth the hour or so it'll take you to read.

  • Baylee
    2019-03-16 08:41

    Si tratta di uno dei libri più divertenti e arguti dell'antichità classica che abbia mai letto. Luciano non risparmia nessuno nella sua Storia Vera, nemmeno Omero, mito e orgoglio dei greci, che confesserà di essere babilonese e di chiamarsi in realtà Tigrane!E nel prendere in giro illustri personaggi dell'antichità (Platone, Socrate, Esopo, Erodoto...), Luciano crea l'antesignano, l'archetipo del romanzo fantastico e fantascientifico. Sono presenti il viaggio sulla luna, una balena che inghiotte la nave, il viaggio nell'aldilà, l'incontro con essere fantastici, a volte benigni, a volte estremamente pericolosi.Per apprezzare a fondo quest'opera, comunque, consiglierei un rapido ripasso/studio dell'antichità classica, perché i riferimenti sono davvero tanti e, anche con l'ausilio delle note, si rischia di perdere parte del fascino del piccolo capolavoro di Luciano.

  • Kristi Delgado
    2019-02-22 03:26

    A lot of fun to translate. It's so ridiculous at points you can't help but fall over in laughter. I mean, dog-sparrows? spiders as big as islands? cork-people? islands of cheese? And don't even get me STARTED on the moon men ^^ We can deduce from what we have of ancient works of literature that he was a satirical genius :)

  • Sol
    2019-03-11 05:38

    Disfruto leyendo libros así porque reflejan fórmulas que siguen reproduciéndose, la sátira y la fabulación fantástica. Mi interés por estos libros también está unido a un interés histórico y mitológico que se ve reflejado de una forma real. Leer libros de una etapa siempre me pareció una buena forma de acercarse realmente a ese periodo histórico, quizás de una forma menos técnica o rigurosa, pero como complemento y entendiendo el contexto la encuentro más humana.De este libro sobre todo me han gustado Relatos verídicos e Icaromenipo. Realmente los encuentro divertidos e interesantes, aunque el estilo simple y poco construido se aleja mucho de como puede ser el estilo narrativo actual, cosa que podría chocar a mucha gente.

  • Gitta
    2019-03-19 08:34

    When someone suggests you should read 'the first work to feature space travel, aliens and intergalactic warfare', it's nigh impossible to resist. With a little voice in the back of my head saying "he might be overselling it. After all, he wants you to read it.", I picked up his recommendation: Paul Turner's translation.From the first page onwards, Lucian's introduction, I knew this was going to be precious. If you are in any way familiar with stories of epic, and often fantastical, voyages, whether it's The Odyssey, Gulliver's Travels, The Hobbit, or Jason and the Golden Fleece, you will enjoy the rich literary genre that Lucian is satirising."I have found that a similar disregard for truth is quite common even among professional philosophers. My chief reaction is astonishment - that anyone should tell such lies and expect to get away with it. But if other people can do it, why should not I? For I too am vain enough to wish to leave some record of myself to posterity, and as no interesting experiences have ever come my way in real life, I have nothing true to write about. In one respect, however, I shall be a more honest liar than my predecessors, for I am telling you frankly, here an now, that I have no intention whatever of telling the truth. [...] I am writing about things entirely outside my own experience or anyone else's, things that have no reality whatever and never could have. So mind you do not believe a word I say."Turner's translation is has a remarkable contemporary feel to it and he has found a way to retain Lucian's puns by translating them into the English (making them easy to understand for those who do not possess Latin). He talks of 'salad-fowls' and 'a species of mermaid known as Assfeetida'."There was no sign of Plato, and I was told later that he had gone to live in his Republic, where he was cheerfully submitting to his own Laws. [...] None of the Stoics were present. Rumour had it that they were still clambering up the steep hill of Virtue [...]. As for the Sceptics, it appeared that they were extremely anxious to get there, but still could not quite make up their minds whether or not the island really existed."Contrary to what you would expect from an almost 2000-year-old piece of 'science fiction', Lucian's satire contains nothing what would now be seen as seriously outdated. Leaving aside the fact that Neil Armstrong would disagree about a thing or two claims Lucian made and we modern readers now thing back to 20 July 1969 as 'long ago' (my parents were six at the time!). True History (or Trips to the Moon) is ridiculing epic voyages with a sense of humour that has stood the test of time.QuotesSome of which contain explicit content."They see nothing indecent in sexual intercourse, whether heterosexual or homosexual, and indulge in it quite openly, in full view of everyone. The only exception was Socrates, who was always swearing that his relations with young men were purely Platonic, but nobody believed him for a moment, and Hyacinthus and Narcissus gave first-hand evidence to the contrary.""But as so often happens, this apparent change for the better was only the prelude to something infinitely worse. [...] [W]e suddenly saw a school of whales approaching from the East. The largest was about a hundred and seventy miles long, and he started coming towards us with his mouth open [...] We kissed one another goodbye and waited for the inevitable. The next moment he had gobbled us up, ship and all; but he never got a chance of chewing us, for the ship had slipped through one of the gaps between his teeth and sailed straight into his stomach."RatingThough Turner's translation is beautifully written, I have not taken language into account when I rated this - it remains a translated work. The structure too can only be judged fairly if compared with similar works: the epic or in this case pseudo-epic. The erratic, linear nature of this genre allows little to be said about. Yes, there is little to no character development. Yes, the characters disappear from the narrative. But that is all normative for this type of plot-driven adventure. It is not a character driven quest, like The Hobbit or Harry Potter. Thus, this work mainly has to be evaluated based on the ideas explored by the author. And for that alone, Lucian gets 4.5 stars.I knew Jules Verne had innovative ideas, but I never would have though an author of the second century CE would dare to write about space-travel, aliens, and intergalactic warfare. Nor did I guess that Carlo Collodi would have borrowed from Lucian when he wrote Pinocchio. All in all, Lucian's proto-science-fiction has influenced many if not, indirectly, all writers of the genre, which makes it a must read for readers of science fiction, adventure, the epic, and satire (did I leave anyone out?)

  • AdamMcPhee
    2019-03-09 01:26

    Introduction for Writing History was okay. Some useful advice like 'don't confuse history with poetry' and 'no one likes when a writer sucks up to his patron too much–it's not history. Have you tried not having a patron?' Then True History is uses the prior criticisms to create a story to show how not to write a history. Then the last part is a dialogue between one Menippus and a friend. Menippus relates how he contrived a Daedalusesque contraption to do some flying of his own. He goes to the Moon and the Moon complains about all the philosophers (they end up there in the afterlife), so Menippus agrees to take the Moon's complaints to Jupiter, who comes up with a compromise. It's a terrible translation bordering on unreadable. Thanks a lot, Thomas Francklin, 1780. The worst is in True History, when the names of the fantastic creatures are given in transliterated Greek with minimal description and you have to go to the footnotes (not added until 1887!) to get an explanation. Though I did like learning the word pismire, an old word for anthill, from the words 'piss' (which apparently is what anthills smell like, according to the Oxford dictionary built into my kindle? I've never noticed, but then I try not to spend too much time around anthills; or maybe with the bad sanitation back in the day people used to piss in them and so they stank, and now they don't smell so bad because we have indoor plumbing) and 'mire', an old word for ant. So there you have it.His tips for writing history aren't very useful almost two millennia on, but here he reminds us not to fall for Fake News: (view spoiler)[All this, however, with regard to style and composition, may be borne with, but when they misinform us about places, and make mistakes, not of a few leagues, but whole day’s journeys, what shall we say to such historians? One of them, who never, we may suppose, so much as conversed with a Syrian, or picked up anything concerning them in the barbers’ {40} shop, when he speaks of Europus, tells us, “it is situated in Mesopotamia, two days’ journey from Euphrates, and was built by the Edessenes.” Not content with this, the same noble writer has taken away my poor country, Samosata, and carried it off, tower, bulwarks, and all, to Mesopotamia, where he says it is shut up between two rivers, which at least run close to, if they do not wash the walls of it. After this, it would be to no purpose, my dear Philo, for me to assure you that I am not from Parthia, nor do I belong to Mesopotamia, of which this admirable historian has thought fit to make me an inhabitant. (hide spoiler)](view spoiler)[Others there are who, from ignorance and want of skill, not knowing what should be mentioned, and what passed over in silence, entirely omit or slightly run through things of the greatest consequence, and most worthy of attention, whilst they most copiously describe and dwell upon trifles; which is just as absurd as it would be not to take notice of or admire the wonderful beauty of the Olympian Jupiter, {43} and at the same time to be lavish in our praises of the fine polish, workmanship, and proportion of the base and pedestal.I remember one of these who despatches the battle at Europus in seven lines, and spends some hundreds in a long frigid narration, that is nothing to the purpose, showing how “a certain Moorish cavalier, wandering on the mountains in search of water, lit on some Syrian rustics, who helped him to a dinner; how they were afraid of him at first, but afterwards became intimately acquainted with him, and received him with hospitality; for one of them, it seems, had been in Mauritania, where his brother bore arms.” Then follows a long tale, “how he hunted in Mauritania, and saw several elephants feeding together; how he had like to have been devoured by a lion; and how many fish he bought at Cæsarea.” This admirable historian takes no notice of the battle, the attacks or defences, the truces, the guards on each side, or anything else; but stands from morning to night looking upon Malchion, the Syrian, who buys cheap fish at Cæsarea: if night had not come on, I suppose he would have supped there, as the chars {44} were ready. If these things had not been carefully recorded in the history we should have been sadly in the dark, and the Romans would have had an insufferable loss, if Mausacas, the thirsty Moor, could have found nothing to drink, or returned to the camp without his supper; not to mention here, what is still more ridiculous, as how “a piper came up to them out of the neighbouring village, and how they made presents to each other, Mausacas giving Malchion a spear, and Malchion presenting Mausacas with a buckle.” Such are the principal occurrences in the history of the battle of Europus. One may truly say of such writers that they never saw the roses on the tree, but took care to gather the prickles that grew at the bottom of it. (hide spoiler)]I liked this: (view spoiler)[The only business of the historian is to relate things exactly as they are: this he can never do as long as he is afraid of Artaxerxes, whose physician {55a} he is; as long as he looks for the purple robe, the golden chain, or the Nisæan horse, {55b} as the reward of his labours; but Xenophon, that just writer, will not do this, nor Thucydides. The good historian, though he may have private enmity against any man, will esteem the public welfare of more consequence to him, and will prefer truth to resentment; and, on the other hand, be he ever so fond of any man, will not spare him when he is in the wrong; for this, as I before observed, is the most essential thing in history, to sacrifice to truth alone, and cast away all care for everything else. The great universal rule and standard is, to have regard not to those who read now, but to those who are to peruse our works hereafter.To speak impartially, the historians of former times were too often guilty of flattery, and their works were little better than games and sports, the effects of art. (hide spoiler)]An anecdote about longterm thinking, which Lucian says a is a good attribute of historians: (view spoiler)[Recollect the story of the Cnidian architect, when he built the tower in Pharos, where the fire is kindled to prevent mariners from running on the dangerous rocks of Parætonia, that most noble and most beautiful of all works; he carved his own name on a part of the rock on the inside, then covered it over with mortar, and inscribed on it the name of the reigning sovereign: well knowing that, as it afterwards happened, in a short space of time these letters would drop off with the mortar, and discover under it this inscription: “Sostratus the Cnidian, son of Dexiphanes, to those gods who preserve the mariner.” Thus had he regard not to the times he lived in, not to his own short existence, but to the present period, and to all future ages, even as long as his tower shall stand, and his art remain upon earth.Thus also should history be written, rather anxious to gain the approbation of posterity by truth and merit, than to acquire present applause by adulation and falsehood. (hide spoiler)]Bird's-eye view: (view spoiler)[when after all, to me, who looked from above, Greece was but four fingers in breadth, and Attica a very small portion of it indeed. I could not but think how little these rich men had to be proud of; he who was lord of the most extensive country owned a spot that appeared to me about as large as one of Epicurus’s atoms. When I looked down upon Peloponnesus, and beheld Cynuria, {176a} I reflected with astonishment on the number of Argives and Lacedemonians who fell in one day, fighting for a piece of land no bigger than an Egyptian lentil; and when I saw a man brooding over his gold, and boasting that he had got four cups or eight rings, I laughed most heartily at him: whilst the whole Pangæus, {176b} with all its mines, seemed no larger than a grain of millet. (hide spoiler)]Myrmidon origin story gets even more sordid: (view spoiler)[recollect, if you please, the ancient Thessalian fables, and you will find that the Myrmidons, {177} a most warlike nation, sprung originally from pismires. (hide spoiler)]Two fantastic footnotes from the 1780 translation, with an update from the 1887 edition: (view spoiler)[{83a} Modern astronomers are, I, think, agreed, that we are to the moon just the same as the moon is to us. Though Lucian’s history may be false, therefore his philosophy, we see, was true (1780). (The moon is not habitable, 1887.){83b} This I am afraid, is not so agreeable to the modern system; our philosophers all asserting that the sun is not habitable. As it is a place, however, which we are very little acquainted with, they may be mistaken, and Lucian may guess as well as ourselves, for aught we can prove to the contrary. (hide spoiler)]

  • Chris
    2019-03-02 04:47

    The most common title for this work is actually "True History". "A True Story" and "Trips to the Moon" are lesser-used titles.The Gutenberg English translation (translation by Thomas Francklin, intro by Henry Morley) is here: although another reviewer notes that it may not be accurate. I have not yet read this.Nearly all of what I can find sold as an individual book (eBook or print) under the title "Trips to the Moon" is actually the Francklin translation.After doing some more research, I've found that there are of course a lot of translations. I found a very good list at the top of this page at University of Pennsylvania. Some I found on my own on Google Books:Francklin (no need to post, see Gutenberg link above)WielandFowler & FowlerHickesOf these, Fowler & Fowler seems to be the most pleasant to read and it was reprinted by Kessinger Publishing as part of "Works Volume 2" in 2004, although I have no idea how accurate it is compared to the others. Perhaps it's time to learn Greek and read the original. (ha!)The cheapest way I've found to obtain the Fowler & Fowler translation of "True History" is to read it for free online. (For $0.99 here's the Kindle eBook.)For print there are lots of options, just search your favorite store for "samosata fowler". For example: The Works of Lucian of Samosata: Complete with Exceptions Specified in the Preface, currently $21.95 on Amazon's US site. Still looking to see if I can find it in print for less...

  • RJ
    2019-03-02 02:42

    Very witty, very well-written, and very true. It's amazing how advanced in thinking these ancient civilizations were - and then how utterly and completely backwards society was within a few thousand years. Crazy how we're just now beginning to think the same things within the last few centuries... imagine how much progress the human race could have made if there hadn't been such destruction of knowledge by rival empires.

  • Michael Yourshaw
    2019-03-09 09:51

    For an SF satire almost 2000 years old, this is a fun read. The translation (by David Lear? Firestone Books, Early Science Fiction Series) seems to be faithful to the original Greek and much more readable than the older translations that are in the public domain. Also the naughty bits have not been bowdlerized.My son is reading this in the original Greek and finds the language and weird imagination of the story to be delightful.

  • Patrick Day
    2019-03-13 05:27

    I really liked the first half when the travelers were going to places that could be deemed humorous by themselves, but by the second half to the end, all of it was referring to and mocking other tales from the times, of which are lost presently. Short but enjoyable read.

  • Arax Miltiadous
    2019-02-26 08:48

    ιστορίες θαυμάσιες που αν είναι αλήθεια η ψέματα δεν ξέρει κανείς και ούτε και έχει και καμία σημασία.

  • Tasha
    2019-03-03 07:36

    The more things change, the more elitist d-bags stay the same. Apparently.

  • Michel Moura
    2019-02-27 01:55

    "Ctésias? Escreveu um tratado sobre a Índia sem nunca ter pisado lá. ... Iâmbulo? Deslumbrou a todos contando o que encontrou no Grande Mar, num texto tão delicioso quanto absolutamente falso. ... E, assim como eles, muitos outros nos legaram o relato de suas 'viagens'. ... O grande mentor de toda essa palhaçada foi Ulisses, de Homero, ao entreter a corte de Alcínoo com ventos aprisionados, ciclopes, canibais,criaturas de muitas cabeças... E, claro, não serei o único a renunciar à liberdade ficcional da qual todos vêm se aproveitando... lá vou eu também. Rumo à falsidade. Falsidade, contudo muito mais honesta que as demais. Pois, ao menos, há nela a verdade: assumo estar mentindo."Com este pretexto, Luciano de Samósata, no século II, por volta de 180 d.C., escreve uma ficção fantástica, descrevendo uma viagem que iniciou querendo descobrir onde acaba o mar navegando pelo Oceano Ocidental, mas passou por terras com seres incríveis, viajou até a Lua e participou de uma guerra desta contra o Sol, foi engolido e viveu um tempo dentro de uma baleia (Moby Dyck??), conviveu com heróis da mitologia (Aquiles, Teseu, ...), passou por um lugar parecido com um purgatório onde pecadores pagavam seus pecados (onde os maiores tormentos eram aplicados àqueles que, em vida, tinham mentido) e por uma Terra de Sonhos.Esta obra é considerada precursora do gênero ficção científica, nunca tendo sido escrito antes desta história um texto tão surreal e fantástico, tendo Luciano influenciado vários escritores medievais e modernos.A história é relativamente curta e simples, quando comparada a obras posteriores, mas vale pela originalidade e importância da obra.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-18 03:34

    I've read a variety of Lucian's works, some in Greek, most in translation. I'm not entirely certain that the True History, as this book is most commonly called, is not some sort of bizarre fever dream I had after studying Homer too long. Lucian is a strange author to work with- he wrote tons and tons of things, most of it satire in perfectly regular Attic Greek, all of it with a charming sense of humor.At this point I honestly think it's best to let Lucian speak for himself, because I don't think I can present this story any better than he does. In part of the True History, the narrator goes to the moon. On the moon are gay moon people, who give birth out of their legs. Alright, well, that's not entirely true. Some of them grow off of trees planted from each man's right testicle. The trees happen to be penis-shaped, and made of flesh.If that doesn't entice you, well. Perhaps Lucian is not for you.

  • Bob
    2019-03-10 05:33

    That was utterly bonkers! Satire, obviously, as there is nothing true in it. Not quite as far-fetched as the Leave Campaign but getting there. But science fiction, too. A cross between The Odyssey and Gulliver's Travels. Men who carry babies to term in their calves (did Will Self nick that?), wars fought by throwing spears of asparagus, mushroom shields, islands of cheese, seas of milk, a two hundred mile long whale with a forest and an old man and his son living in a cottage, birds with lettuce leaf wings, dog-faced men who fight on the back of winged acorns, and a wall built in space to keep the sun from shining on the moon people... I could go on, and probably have. Written in the second century, I think it's fair to say that it is unique.

  • Deke
    2019-02-24 01:55

    Considered by some to be the first work of science fiction, I would describe it more precisely as "The Odyssey on acid."

  • Aceber Anilom
    2019-03-04 04:29

    Nice ;)

  • Winterdragon
    2019-02-19 03:32

    Allegedly the original space opera. Although some of the satirical references were no doubt lost on me, this was an entertaining read.

  • Jono Mcdermott
    2019-03-16 09:36

    An absolute diamond of comedy, easily accessible to the modern reader.

  • Árni Geirsson
    2019-03-18 02:53

    Góð þýðing

  • Sarah
    2019-02-24 05:44

    I would like to find a better translation of these works, because the one I have (from Project Gutenberg) is not trustworthy. My copy of Trips to the Moon includes an essay about how it's important to write history as it is rather than how you wish it had been. However, the introduction talks about how the translator (Francklin, I believe) expurgated the text to remove all the naughty bits that are no longer relevant. The irony of that was lost on the introduction writer though, because he claimed that this was the best translation out there. Personally, I'd rather read a translation that stays as true to the original as possible--let the reader decide what has value and what doesn't.Despite my distaste for the translation, I have been enjoying these works. Fiction must have been such a strange concept to Lucian's contemporaries. He spent a lot of time trying to defend the value in writing and reading something that wasn't true and repeatedly emphasizing that the sights in the story are totally made up. There's no real plot or character development in Trips to the Moon. Our narrator and his nameless crew travel from one bizarre place to the next, get involved in unexplained wars, and we never really find out why he's going on this adventure in the first place. Fiction has evolved greatly since Lucian first started dabbling in it. I wonder if he'd enjoy what people are writing now?

  • Sidharth Vardhan
    2019-03-17 07:52

    The title 'True History' is is used very much in the sense of Barney Stinson's catch phrase 'true story'. The reading experience is something like tall tales of Baron Munchausen (the temptation to do a parody review was too strong) -there is same humor caused by the obvious nature of the lies. Except unlike Baron Munchausen, our narrator doesn't do great things, great things keep happening to him.A lot of the things in here are now science-fiction elements - flying ships, aliens, liquid air etc. In that way, it is quite ahead of its age. FOr example, sun and moon are treated as bodies having aliens - which is probably not true but far better than most writers of his time who treated them as individual gods. That is why I read it. I thought it was (oldest) science fiction. Most of world is reading 'The Martin' - I'm only 2200 years behind. However I'm not sure if it is science fiction. The expressed aim is satirizing famous Greek tall-tale tellers like Homer. Narrator's journey is a beck-benchor's parody of all that was ancient Greek including of famous Greek personalities like Socrates (who is constantly playing fool), Aristotle, Homer, Ulysses, Helen (she runs away - again) etc. It is good to see that ancient Greeks weren't without sense of humor.