New page titleLUCIAN, a satire showing the common belief absurd
Mark Twain: 5 short humorous blasts at religion
Lucian's satire on Zeus
Zeus the Pedophile
THE ANTICHRIST--Freidrich Nietzsche

Lucian the best satirist of the ancient world takes aim at the beliefs of the common people on the nature of the gods.  Zeus is troubled by the success of an Epicurean philosopher in debate with a believer. 

Eros and Zeus


EROS. But, Zeus, even if Ive done something wrong, youve got to forgive me. Im still just a thoughtless little boy.


Zeus. Little boy? You? You're older than Father Time! Youve spent a lifetime making trouble but, just because you dont have gray hairs and a beard, youve got the idea that everyone should treat you like an infant.


EROS. Well, what's the old man done to you that is so terrible its making you talk about locking me up?


ZEUS. Damn you, do you think its nothing to play around with me the way you do? There isnt a thing you haven't made me turn intosatyr, bull, gold, swan, eagle.

What's more, youve never made any girls fall in love with me, and I dont recall one single time that youve made me attractive to women. No, Ive always got to use magic on them and hide my looks. It's the bull or the swan they make love to; if they catch sight of me theyre scared to death.


EROS. Of course, they are only mortal. They set eyes on Zeus? Impossible!


ZEUS. Then how is it Branchus1 and Hyacinth can make love to Apollo?


EROS. Yes, but Daphne2 ran away from him. That fancy hair-do and boyish look didn't do him much good with her. Zeus, if you want women to fall in love with you, stop waving your shield around and put down that thunderbolt. Spruce yourself up a bit. Let your hair grow. Have it curled, and wear a headband. Get your­self some purple robes and gold-embroidered shoes. Get a flutist and drummer and step along to the music. You'll see. Youll have more girls running after you than Diony­sus has Maenads.3


ZEUS. Oh no. Im not interested in having women fall in love with me if I have to do things like that.


EROS. Then forget about having love affairs. Matter of fact, thats the easier thing to do.


ZEUS. No. I like having love affairs. I just want to have them with less fuss. If you promise me this, Ill let you go.





1 exceptionally good-looking young boys with whom Apollo had had love a It airs.

2 The lady who fled the amorous Apollo and prayed to be saved.  She was turned into an olive tree, which thereafter was the sacred tree of Apollo.  The scene of the chase with her metamorphosing into an olive tree has been repeated depicted in art. 

3 The fanatical female devotees of Dionysus.


Lucian (circa 120-after 180), Greek writer and rhetorician, famed for his development of the satiric dialogue. He was born in Samosata (now Samsat, Turkey) and early devoted himself to the study of rhetoric and philosophy. He traveled throughout the Roman Empire as far as Gaul as a lecturer on literary-philosophical themes and orator and then settled in Athens, turning to the writing of dialogues. His oeuvre runs some 80 pieces, most of which are genuine.  They are literary dialogues that fuse Old Comic and popular and/or literary philosophy to produce a novel blend of comic prose dialogue (for which I have supplied 3 of his best).  His satire is directed chiefly at superstitious beliefs and false philosophical doctrines.  He is also an accomplished miniaturist, essayist, and raconteur exploring the art of prose paraphrase of verse of classics from Homer to Theocritus.  Among the best known of his dialogues are Dialogues of the Gods, Dialogues of the Dead, and The Sale of Lives.  His fantastic tale, True History, is a parody of the fictions put forward as facts by early poets and historians. This work contains a journey to the moon and adventures within the belly of a huge sea monster; it is thus the precursor of such works as Pantagruel by the 16th-century French satirist François Rabelais and Gulliver's Travels by the 18th-century English satirist Jonathan Swift.  Lucian wrote in an easy, fluent Greek prose.[1]  His attack on  the oracle monger Alexander of Abonuteichos (Alexander or the False Prophet) is  the first, detailed expose of a skeptic exposing a religious fraud, one who had a sizeable following around Black Sea and in the Balkans.--JK 

[1]"Lucian," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


There are several gems of satire in the 5 volumes (LOEB Library) of the surviving works of Lucian. His influence was great since his Latin was widely read by educated Europeans.  Swift inspired by a tavel tale by Lucian produced in similar style Gulliver's travels.