Who is Luke of Samsat (Lucianus)?

Who is Luke of Samsat (Lucianus)?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Lukianos of Samsat was a philosopher, rhetorician and satirist who lived between 125 and 180 AD.

He was born in Samosata, which was within the borders of the Kingdom of Commagene at first, and which was later captured by the Roman Empire and made a part of the province of Syria, and which is now within the borders of Adıyaman province, approximately in 125 AD, as a member of a middle-class sculptor family. Lukianos is a native of Samosata, a deep-rooted Syriac settlement, and his mother tongue is Syriac. He also dealt with sculpture for a while like his family. After working with his sculptor uncle for a while, he immigrated to Western Anatolia. Having mastered Greek and rhetoric in Western Anatolia (Ionia), Lukianos worked especially on the works of Homer and Plato and gained a reputation as a good speaker.

After traveling to Greece, Italy and Gaul, he settled in Athens around 165. He studied Greek literature and philosophy. He was influenced by the works of the Cynic philosopher Menippos. In the last period of his life, he was appointed to a high position in Alexandria with the help of his fellow Roman rulers.

Lucian wrote about eighty works in prose, poetry and dialogue. He placed his stories mostly in a setting reflecting the heyday of the Roman Empire. In these, he denounced the hypocrisy, superstitions, weaknesses of some philosophers and the faulty aspects of theories. Among his works are books on the murder of his friend, the cynic thinker Peregrinus, on a false prophet, and on historiography. There is also an interesting story about the journey to the moon called “True History”. The works of Lucianus influenced satirist writers such as Rabelais and Voltaire.

Lukianos, who went to Antakya and became a lawyer in his youth, later went to Athens and became a sophist. Lukianos, who traveled from city to city and told his views to the audience, met the Platonist philosopher Nigrinos in Rome, where he went for an eye disease. Settling in Athens, Lukianos left sophism and wrote critical and humorous works about Hellenic intellectual life. He criticized all philosophers and mythological paganism.

He gained many enemies for being critical of the current philosophical movements. When he suffered from financial difficulties, he went to Egypt and took various positions in the state service and died in this country in 192 at the age of 67.

In his work called A True Story, known as the first science fiction work in the history of world literature, he tells about the extraordinary imaginary events that he went through along this road, the imaginary beings he saw, and the sea voyage he set out to explore distant lands with 50 brave men.

In “How History Should Be Written”, he again criticizes the biased, exaggerated, false historiography and writers of his period.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook