Lucian (lōˈshən) [key], b. c.120, d. after 180, Greek writer, also called Lucianus, b. Samosata, Syria. In late life he held a government position in Egypt. Lucian wrote an easy, masterly Attic prose, which he turned to satirical use. His wit and characterizations give his satires a vigor and an interest that have made him highly admired and often imitated. The most important and characteristic are his dialogues (e.g., Dialogues of the Gods, Dialogues of the Dead, The Sale of Lives ), which deal with ancient mythology (the Olympian fables, which he satirizes) and with contemporary philosophers (whose ineptitude he exposes). The True History, a fantastic tale parodying incredible adventure stories, influenced such later writers as Rabelais and Swift. Lucian also wrote poems and rhetorical, critical, and biographical works.
See C. R. Robinson, Lucian and His Influence in Europe (1979); C. P. Jones, Culture and Society in Lucian (1986).