Lucian: Alexander Or The False Prophet

ISBN : 9780198868248

Peter Thonemann
256 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
May 2021
Clarendon Ancient History Series
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Lucian's Alexander Or The False Prophet is a satiric biography of the religious entrepreneur and career fraudster Alexander of Abonouteichos. It recounts how, during the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161), Alexander succeeded in setting up a fraudulent new oracular cult of the snake-god Glykon in his home-town of Abonouteichos in Paphlagonia. In the Alexander, Lucian sets out to debunk the oracle as a scam, its founder as a debauched crook, and its clients as gullible idiots. The Alexander is an extraordinary and unclassifiable work: part biography, part invective, part Epicurean critique of divination. It casts a uniquely vivid light on social mores and religious beliefs in the Antonine age, and was a major influence on Erasmus, Ben Jonson, and Henry Fielding. The present volume is the first full-length treatment of the Alexander in English, and includes an extended historical and literary introduction, a new English translation, and a detailed commentary on the text. The volume also includes a translation of the surviving fragments of Oinomaos of Gadara's The Exposure of Sorcerers, a contemporary Cynic attack on oracular divination. All Greek is translated throughout.


Note on the Text
Appendix 1: Oinomaos of Gadara, The Exposure of Sorcerers
Appendix 2: Lucian's Works

About the author: 

Peter Thonemann teaches Greek and Roman history at Wadham College, Oxford. His books include The Birth of Classical Europe (2010, with Simon Price), The Maeander Valley (2011, winner of the Runciman Prize 2012), The Hellenistic Age (Oxford, 2016) and An Ancient Dream Manual (Oxford, 2020). He writes regularly on all aspects of the ancient world for The Times Literary Supplement and The Wall Street Journal.

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