Lucian: Alexander Or The False Prophet

9780198868248 3

By Professor Peter Thonemann

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. Find more here.