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Lucian


Satirist and philosopher, born at Samosata in the Syrian province of the Roman Empire, but in later life resident in Athens.
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Lucian
The good historian, then, must be thus described: he must be fearless, uncorrupted, free, the friend of truth and of liberty; one who, to use the words of the comic poet, calls a fig a fig, and a skiff a skiff, neither giving nor withholding from any, from favour or from enmity, not influenced by pity, by shame, or by remorse; a just judge, so far benevolent to all as never to give more than is due to any in his work; a stranger to all, of no country, bound only by his own laws, acknowledging no sovereign, never considering what this or that man may say of him, but relating faithfully everything as it happened.
Lucian quotes
The historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened.
Lucian
If the brave should fly, he who pursues must be braver.




Lucian quotes
In history, nothing fabulous can be agreeable.
Lucian
The truth is hidden from us. Even if a mere piece of luck brings us straight to it, we shall have no grounded conviction of our success; there are so many similar objects, all claiming to be the real thing.
Lucian quotes
History, when she adds pleasure to utility, may attract more admirers; though as long as she is possessed of that greatest of perfections, truth, she need not be anxious concerning beauty.
Lucian
The effort only shifted me from the frying-pan into the fire.
Lucian quotes
I now make the only true statement you are to expect that I am a liar. This confession is, I consider, a full defence against all imputations. My subject is, then, what I have neither seen, experienced, nor been told, what neither exists nor could conceivably do so. I humbly solicit my readers' incredulity.
Lucian
The body of the history is only a long narrative, and as such it must go on with a soft and even motion, alike in every part, so that nothing should stand too forward, or retreat too far behind.
Lucian
Criticism is twofold: that which teaches us what we are to choose, and that which teaches us what to avoid.
Lucian
For history, I say again, has this and this only for its own: if a man will start upon it, he must sacrifice to no God but Truth; he must neglect all else; his sole rule and unerring guide is this to think not of those who are listening to him now, but of the yet unborn who shall seek his converse.




Lucian quotes
He is unpardonable, therefore, who cannot distinguish one from the other; but lays on history the paint of poetry, its flattery, fable, and hyperbole: it is just as ridiculous as it would be to clothe one of our robust wrestlers, who is as hard as an oak, in fine purple, or some such meretricious garb, and put paint on his cheeks; how would such ornaments debase and degrade him!
Lucian
Everything has a beauty peculiar to itself; but if you put one instead of another, the most beautiful becomes ugly, because it is not in its proper place.
Lucian quotes
These men seem not to know that poetry has its particular rules and precepts; and that history is governed by others directly opposite.
Lucian
I say, therefore, that he who would write history well must be possessed of these two principal qualifications, a fine understanding and a good style: one is the gift of nature, and cannot be taught; the other may be acquired by frequent exercise, perpetual labour and an emulation of the ancients.
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