Lucian and the Latins : Humor and Humanism in the Early Renaissance 9780472108466, 0472108468

The reception and influence of Lucian in the early Renaissance.

319 49 7MB

English Pages [246] Year 2001

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Lucian and the Latins : Humor and Humanism in the Early Renaissance
 9780472108466, 0472108468

  • Commentary
  • OCRed, paginated, cleaned up and bookmarked by the uploader.

Table of contents :
Timeline of Works Discussed
CHAPTER 1: Lucian in the Quattrocento
Imitation and Influence
The Renaissance Diffusion of Lucian
Latin Translations of Lucian to 1450
The Anonymous Version of Charon
Bertholdus's Translation of Timon
Guarino of Verona
Giovanni Aurispa
Demand and Distortion in the Renaissance
Lapo da Castigliochio
Rinuccio da Castiglione
Poggio Bracciolini
Lilius Tifernas
CHAPTER 2: The Dialogue of the Dead
The Descent to the Underworld
Lucian, Menippus
Lucian, The Downward Journey
Alberti, The Deceased
Alberti, The Cynic
Maffeo Vegio, Palinurus
Rabelais, Pantagruel 30
CHAPTER 3: The Dialogue of the Gods 1: The Scene in Heaven
Divine Perspectives: Myth to Morality
Lucian, Icaromenippus
Alberti, Virtue
Alberti, The Clouds
Alberti, The Dream
Ariosto, Orlando Furioso 34
Rabelais, Pantagruel 1 and Fourth Book, Prologue
CHAPTER 4: The Dialogue of the Gods 2: The Scene on Earth
Lucian, Charon
Maffeo Vegio, Philalethes
Alberti, Momus
Pontano, Charon
Pandolfo Collenuccio, Agenoria
Erasmus, Charon
CHAPTER 5: The Paradoxical Encomium
Lucian, The Fly
Lucian, The Parasite
Alberti and Encomium
Alberti, My Dog
Alberti, The Fly
Alberti, Momus 2: Praise of the Vagabound
Maffeo Vegio, Debate between Earth, Sun, and Gold
Erasmus, Praise of Folly
Rabelais, Third Book 3-4: The Praise of Debt
CHAPTER 6: The Fantastic Voyage
Lucian, True Story
The Ironic Narrator
The Voyage of Discovery
Thomas More, Utopia
Rabelais, Fourth and Fifth Books
Epilogue: Further Flights of the Imagination
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources

Citation preview

lt!Ct!l:1IOJIU lATttl tA'flS rnn,; & COSTI S.Tj


RE i\lSSil 'C:



James J. O'Donnell, Series Editor Editorial Board Paula Fredriksen, Boston University James W. Halpom, Indiana University E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania Carol Neel, The Colorado College Stephen G. Nichols, The Johns Hopkins University Ma1y Wack, Washington State University

Poet,y and the Cult of the Martyrs: The Liber Peristephanon of Prudentius by Michael Roberts Dante's Epistle to Cangrande by Robert Hollander Macaronic Sermons: Bilingualism and Preaching in Late-Medieval England by Siegfried Wenzel Writing Ravenna: The Liber Pontificalis ofAndreas Agnellus by Joaqufn Martfnez Pizarro Anacreon redivivus: A Study ofAnacreontic Translation in Mid-SixteenthCentury France by John O'Brien The Whole Book: Cultural Perspectives on the Medieval Miscellany edited by Stephen G. Nichols and Siegfried Wenzel Parody in the Middle Ages: The Latin Tradition by Martha Bayless A Comedy Called Susenbrotus edited and translated by Connie McQuillen The Poet,y and Paintings of the First Bible of Charles the Bald by Paul Edward Dutton and Herbert L. Kessler Rereading the Renaissance: Petrarch, Augustine, and the Language of Humanism by Carol Everhart Quillen Lucian and the Latins: Humor and Humanism in the Early Renaissance by David Marsh


LUCIAN AND THE LATINS Humor and Humanism in the Early Renaissance

David Marsh

Ann Arbor THE liNivERSITY OF

MicmGAN PR.Ess

Copyright© by the University of Michigan 1998 All rights reserved Published in the United States of America by The University of Michigan Press Manufactured in the United States of America @) Printed on acid-free paper 2001 2000 1999 1998

4 3 2

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher. A CIP catalog recordfor this book is availablefrom the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Marsh, David, 1950 Sept. 25Lucian and the Latins : humor and humanism in the early Renaissance / David Marsh. p. cm. - (Recentiores) ) and index. Includes bibliographical references (p. ISBN 0-472-10846-8 (acid-free paper) 1. Lucian, ofSamosata-Criticism and interpretation-History. 2. Dialogues, Latin (Medieval and modern)-Greek influences. 3. Lucian, ofSamosata-Translations-History and criticism. 4. Greek wit and humor-Appreciation-Italy. 5. Dialogues, Greek-Appreciation-Italy. 6. Satire, Greek-Appreciation-Italy. 7. Lucian, ofSamosata-Influence. 8. Humanists-Italy. 9. Renaissance. I. Title. II. Series. 1998 PA4236 .Ml9 888'.0109-dc21 98-25390 CIP

For Diana and Christina


This book was originally a much longer study, but editorial constraints reduced it considerably. This smaller-but-better policy recalls my years in Ann Arbor and those colleagues to whom words cannot do justice: M. Beckmesser, 0. Budella, F. Cazzo, R. Phraser, and E. Pogrom. Special thanks are owed to Pascale Bourgain and Keith Sidwell, who kindly shared their research on Lucian. R. Bracht Branham generously read the entire manuscript and made numerous invaluable suggestions. I also thank Concetta Bi.anca, John Coakley, Alejandro Coroleu, Maria Fabricius Hansen, Riccardo Fubini, Francesco Furlan, Anthony Grafton, Tia Kolbaba, Jill Kraye, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Luisa Lopez Grigera, Diana Robin, and the late J. H. Whitfield. I am grateful to the copy editor of the University of Michigan for making many improvements in the text. I thank the publishers for permission to reprint the following material that has appeared in previous articles: "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules: Voyage and Veracity in Exploration Narratives," Annali d'Italianistica 10 (1992): 134-49; "Guarino of Verona's Translation of Lucian's Parasite," Bibliatheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance 56 (1994):419-44; "Alberti's Momus: Sources and Contexts," in Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Hafniensis: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, ed. Rhoda Schnur (Binghamton: State University of New York), 619-32. And I thank various publishers for permission to quote from translated texts: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, Tempe, AZ (Alberti, Dinner Pieces); Penguin Books (Ariosto and Rabelais); and the estate of Craig R. Thompson (Erasmus). I cite Lucian's works by the titles of the Loeb edition, with the exception of Zeus the Tragic Actor for Zeus Rants and The Syrian Goddess for The Goddess of Surrye. Lucian is reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Loeb Classical Library from Lucian with an



English Translation, translated by A.M. Harmon, K. Kilburn, and M.D. Macleod, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1913-67. Several libraries offered hospitality and photocopies: Alexander Library, Rutgers University; Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Biblioteca Marciana, Venice; Biblioteca Riccardiana, Florence; Firestone Library, Princeton University; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Newberry Library, Chicago; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York; Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago; Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania; and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. I dedicate this book to my two daughters, Diana and Christina.


Timeline of Works Discussed Chapter 1. Lucian in the Quattrocento



Chapter 2. The Dialogue of the Dead


Chapter 3. The Dialogue of the Gods 1: The Scene in Heaven


Chapter 4. The Dialogue of the Gods 2: The Scene on Earth


Chapter 5. The Paradoxical Encomium


Chapter 6. The Fantastic Voyage






Timeline of Works Discussed

(adapted in part from Sidwell 1975) 1400 ca. anonymous trans. Charon; Bertholdus, trans. Timon 1403-8 Guarino of Verona, trans. Slander and The Fly Guarino, trans. The Parasite 1418 1415-23 Rinuccio da Castiglione, trans. Dialogue of the Dead 20 1425 Giovanni Aurispa, trans. Dialogue of the Dead 25 1430 ca. Aurispa, tt·ans. Toxaris 1434 ca. Leon Battista Alberti, Virtue, The Deceased 1434-38 Lapo da Castiglionchio, trans. On Funerals, The Dream, Octogenarians, My Native Land, Demonax, Slander, On Sacrifices, and The Tyrannicide 1438-40 ca. Alberti, various Dinner Pieces 1441 Alberti, The Fly, My Dog 1440-43 Rinuccio, trans. Charon, Philosophies for Sale 1441 Lilius Tifernas, trans. True Story 1444 Maffeo Vegio, Philalethes 1445 Maffeo Vegio, Palinurus 1446 Guarino, letter to Tobia Borghi (after How to Write History) 1450 ca. Poggio Bracciolini, trans. Zeus Catechized, The Ass 1452 Alberti, M01nus; Vegio, Debate between Earth, Sun, and Gold 1467 Giovanni Pontano, Charon 1470 ca. First Latin edition of various works by Lucian


1490 ca. 1496 1506 1509 1516 1516 1520 1523 1525 ca. 1532 1546 1552-53 1562 1570 1650 1726 1759 1838 1881 1954

Lucian and the Latins

Matteo Maria Boiardo, Timone Pandolfo Collenuccio, Apologues Erasmus and More, first edition of Latin trans. Desiderius Erasmus, Praise of Folly Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (first edition) Thomas More, Utopia Roman editions of Alberti, Momus Erasmus, Charon Dosso Dossi, Jupiter, Mercury, and Virtue Frarn;ois Rabelais, Pantagruel Rabelais, Third Book Rabelais, Fourth Book Rabelais, Fifth Book (posthumous) Antonio Lulio, De arte oratoria Cyrano de Bergerac, Comic History of the Moon and the Sun Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels Voltaire, Candide Edgar Allan Poe, Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard et Pecuchet Thomas Mann, The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man


Lucian in the Quattrocento Ce Lucien est nai:f, ii fait penser ses lecteurs, et on est toujours tente d'ajouter a ses dialogues. -Voltaire, Letter to Frederick the Great, 17 51

Lucian was born around A.O. 125 in Samosata, the capital of the Roman province of Commagene on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria. Lucian pursued a career as an itinerant lecturer, touring provinces of the Roman Empire as far as Gaul. What little is known about the chronology of his life must be deduced from allusions in his works, which date them to the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-80). By 156, Lucian had settled in Athens, and beginning in 157 he' regularly attended the Olympic Games. In 162 he traveled to Antioch, and between 171 and 175 he lived in Egypt, where he was a Roman official in Alexandria. The latest historical fact mentioned by Lucian, in Alexander 48, is the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180. Most scholars believe that Lucian died shortly thereafter, during the early years of Commodus's reign (180-92). 1 Many of Lucian's extant works, which number about eighty, give evidence of his career as an itinerant rhetorician. They consist principally of short essays and dialogues that, declaimed before the literate audiences of his day, display the themes and concerns of the period now known as the Voltaire, Letter of 5 June 1751, no. 3907 in Voltaire 1953-65, 19,166, and cited in Zagona 1985, 25n30: "J'envoye avotre majeste ce dialogue de Marc-Aurele. J'ay tache de l'ecrire a la maniere de Lucien. Ce Lucien est naff, ii fait penser ses lecteurs, et on est toujours tente d'ajouter a ses dialogues. II ne veut point avoir d'esprit. Le defaut de Fontenelle est qu'il en veut toujours avoir, c'est toujours luy qu'on voit etjamais ses heros." The work mentioned in the letter, Voltaire's Dialogue entre Marc-Aurele et 1111 recollet, is summarized by Robinson 1979, 157, who also translates this passage. I. For Lucian's biography, see Schwartz 1965; Robinson 1979, 1-4; Hall 1981, 1-63; Jones 1986, 6--23; and Lucian 1991, 1-5. The most important studies of Lucian are Croiset 1882; Helm 1906; Helm 1927; Caster 1937; and Bompaire 1958. See Anderson 1994 for a critical survey ofLucianic criticism from 1930 to 1990.


Lucian and the Latins

Second Sophistic. 2 Covering a wide spectrum of topics, Lucian's writings include both serious and parodic samples of various literary genres. For the sake of convenience, we may group most of his works according to their subject matter: (1) works on philosophical themes, (2) rhetorical exercises, (3) fictional narratives, and (4) works on literary topics. hnitation and Influence During his lifetime, Lucian's parodic humor presupposed the sophistication of his Greek audience, which could easily recognize allusions to its rich cultural past. By contrast, during the early Renaissance the heritage of classical Greece appeared remote and unfamiliar even to persons of great learning. Although Lucian's realm of allusion is popular rather than esoteric, few readers in the Quattrocento were able to appreciate fully the Lucianic sophistication that Branham has aptly called "the comedy oftraditions."3 If we ask, then, why Lucian attracted so many readers and translators of the early Renaissance, we find that his work was initially valued for the very qualities that he himself vaunted. First and foremost, he was a master of rhetoric, and Renaissance translators call him eloquentissimus, disertissimus, facundissimus. 4 Manuscript evidence shows that Lucian was also valued as a moral philosopher. The early Latin translations of Charon, Timon, and Dialogues of the Dead 20 and 25 generally appear with shorter prose works by classical and humanistic authors. In particular, Lucian's underworld dialogues were read for their moral instruction and were often copied with more explicitly didactic texts and even treatises on education. To cite a typical case, a codex in Padua contains the following humanist texts dating from 1400 and 1440: St. Basil, On Reading Pagan Literature, translated by Leonardo Bruni; Bruni, Against the Hypocrites; Isocrates, To Nicocles, translated by Bernardo Giustiniani; Lucian, Dialogue of the Dead 25, translated by Giovanni Aurispa; Isocrates, Nicocles, translated by Lapo da Castiglionchio; Pier Paolo Vergerio, On Liberal Education; Xenophon, On the Tyrant, translated 2. For the Second Sophistic, see Bowersock 1969; Reardon 1971, esp. 155-80 on Lucian; and Anderson 1993. 3. Branham 1989. 4. Sidwell 1975, 75.

Lucian in the Quattrocento


by Leonardo Bruni; Plutarch, On the Education of Children, translated by Guarino of Verona; and Leonardo Bruni, Introduction to Moral Philosophy. 5 With the possible exception of Bruni's invective against hypocrites, all these works can be read as contributing to the "formation" of a ruling elite. Together with the classical essays on education by Basil and Plutarch, we find humanist treatises by Vergerio and Bruni. The opuscules of Xenophon and Isocrates contain precepts of particular interest to future rulers. Even more specifically, Lucian's Dialogue of the Dead 25, a debate between the great generals of antiquity, deals with the excellence of the military commander. The selection in this manuscript is by no means unique. Many other humanist codices group similar texts with Lucian's other underworld dialogues, such as Timon and Dialogue of the Dead 20 (Charon and Mercury). 6 If the scribal context of Lucian's works suggests that he found favor with princes and prelates, his popularity among humanist translators reflects something like a professional affinity. Like the sophists of Lucian's day, Italian humanists parleyed their book learning into careers as orators and diplomats and often led an itinerant life in various cities and courts. It is hardly a coincidence that the first literary success of Leonardo Bruni, his Panegyric to the City of Florence of 1403-4, was in large part an adaptation of the Panathenaic Oration of Lucian's contemporary Aelius Aristides. 7 As part of the movement that might be termed the Third Sophistic, Italian humanists were naturally fascinated by Lucian's career as a man of letters and were often inspired by his literary success. In 1434, Lapo da Castiglionchio made Latin translations of Lucian's On Funerals and The Dream or Lucian's Career, which he dedicated to Pope Eugenius IV. In his dedicatory epistle to the pontiff, Lapo praises On Funerals rather briefly as an antidote to superstition: 5, Padua, Biblioteca de! Seminario, MS 165 (Kristeller 1963-92, 2:9). On Isocrates and the humanists, see Gualdo Rosa 1984, esp. 41; for Bruni, see Bruni 1987. 6. To cite two examples: Bergamo, Biblioteca Civica, Delta VI 33 (Kristeller 1963-92, 1:12), includes Vergerio's 011 Liberal Education, Basil's 011 the Value of Pagan Literature in Bruni's translation, Bruni's Against the Hypocrites, Plutarch's 011 the Education of Children in Guarino's translation, and Lucian's Timon in Bertholdus's version; Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS 676 (Kristeller 1963-92, I: 197) contains among other things Bruni's I11troductio11 to Moral Philosophy, Lucian's Dialogue of the Dead 20 in Rinuccio's version, and Dialogue of the Dead 25 in Aurispa's version. 7. For Bruni's Laudatio, see Kohl and Witt 1978, 121-75.


Lucian and the Latins

In the first of the two works, Lucian most wittily reproaches the superstitious beliefs which ignorant men generally observe during funerals. Since I knew that in your great wisdom and remarkable piety you strongly detest such beliefs, I thought that a condemnation of them would not displease you. 8 By contrast, Lapo introduces Lucian's The Dream with a lengthy autobiographical digression in which he compares himself to the self-made Syrian: In the second piece, Lucian writes how he came to literary studies and what success he had. This seemed to me a significant encouragement to literary studies, especially for poor men. Now, as you show remarkable love for men of learning, I think that you will read this piece with pleasure. But I would have you read it not only for your own sake but for mine as well. For in it you will behold not only Lucian's fortunes but mine too, in a way. Just as Lucian rose from lowly and poor origins to devote himself to literary studies, so did I; although I was not, like him, oflowly and poor descent, I was driven to these straits by the grave and bitter misfortunes of my city. Indeed, my condition is worse than Lucian's, for he says that he has won the greatest renown and glory from his studies, while mine have brought me nothing but vain exertion and poverty. Still, I hope that, by virtue of your humanity and singular generosity to all worthy men, you will relieve my troubles, so that I shall regret my studies and labors no more than did Lucian. 9 8. Cited in Luiso 1899, 277; and Mattioli 1980, 62: "In altero urbanissime eas superstitiones reprehendit que ab imperitis hominibus in funeribus obseruari solent; quas, quod scirem te pro tua summa sapientia singularique religione uehementer detestari, existimaui earum tibi improbationem haud ingratam futuram." As Luiso notes, the preface is excerpted in Angelo Maria Bandini 1774-77, 3:364. 9. Luiso 1899, 277: "At in altero quoniam scribit ille quo pacto ad studia litterarum accesserit quantumque in illis profecerit, non mediocris ad studia exhortatio, praesertim inopibus, contineri uisa est. Quam etsi opinor te pro tuo singulari erga studiosos homines amore libenter lecturum, tamen id non tua solum causa sed etiam mea uelim facias. Intuebere enim in ilia non modo Luciani fortunam sed etiam quodam modo meam. Nam quemadmodum ille tenui inopique principio profectus ad hec studia se contulit, ita et nos, non tamen ut ille ex genere tenues et obscuri, sed grauissimis et acerbissimis casibus nostre ciuitatis in has difficultates compulsi. Atque hoc deterior est nostra quam Luciani conditio, quod ille ait sibi ab his studiis splendorem maximum et gloriam comparasse. Mihi uero adhuc ea nihil praeterquam laborem inanem et inopiam attulerunt. Sed tuam spero humanitatem et praecipuam in omnes bonos beneficentiam his meis incommodis subuenturam, ut non magis me quam Luciani horum studiorum laborisque paeniteat."

Lucian in the Quattrocento


Lapo is no doubt exaggerating his own misfortunes to arouse the pontiff's sympathy. But in touting literary culture as security against economic uncertainty, Lapo indeed echoes Lucian's conclusion, which twice exhorts his readers to pursue their studies without fear of poverty. In Lapo's translation, this passage reads: So it was with me, and I told you this dream so that those who are young may take the better direction and cleave to education, above all if poverty is making any one of them fainthearted and inclining him toward the worse, to the detriment of a noble nature. He will be strengthened, I am very sure, by hearing the tale, if he takes me as an adequate example, reflecting what I was when I aspired to all that is finest and set my heart on education, showing no weakness in the face ofmy poverty at that time, and what I am now, on my return to youif nothing more, at least quite as highly thought of as any sculptor. 10 Greece and Rome had, of course, produced many outstanding writers who combined eloquence with ethical teaching. The distinguishing feature of Lucian's work lay in his use of satirical wit, and many Renaissance readers turned to Lucian for his iconoclastic side. Their vision of Lucian as a provocative satirist offers a salutary contrast to the trivial hack posited by the nineteenth-century philologists. As a satirist, Lucian discusses fields that were of paramount importance to humanists: philosophy, history, rhetoric, and poetry. And as a proponent of Cynic morality, he offers a commonsense approach to ethical reflections, one that readily appealed to humanists averse to the metaphysical speculations of the Scholastics. Indeed, Lucian's observations on moral philosophy had already won the approval of some church fathers. Whereas Lactantius found Lucian disturbihgly iconoclastic, John Chrysostom found such Cynic critiques of human behavior fully compatible with Christian homiletics. In his second 10. The Dream 18: Lucian 1913-67, 3:231-33. In Lapo's version (Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS 149, fols. 6v-7): "Ita nunc et ego eius rei causa hoc uobis somnium exponendum putaui, ut iuuenes ad meliora se studia conuertant, in disciplinasque liberales sibi · omni studio incumbendum putent, ac maxime si quis eorum impeditus inopia rei familiaris ad deteriorem aliquam artem deferatur, nature bona haud ingenerosa corrumpens, se ipsum colligat atque confirmet. Nee uero dubito quin ille que hanc fabellam audierit, sufficiens me sibi exemplum esse arbitretur, secum ipse memoria repetens quantum ego ab initio facultatibus copiisque munitus hanc optimorum studiorum rationem sim ingressus, a qua me summa discendi cupiditate incensum haud eius temporis inopia absterrere potuit, quibusque ad uos preditus ornamentis redierim. Qui si nil aliud peperi aut assecutus sum, sculptorum profecto me nullus gloria antecellit."


Lucian and the Latins

sermon on Lazarus, Chrysostom adapts Lucian's traditional metaphor of the world as a stage in comparing the present world with the afterlife. 11 During the Renaissance, Chrysostom was a favorite author of humani_sts like Poggio Bracciolini, who quoted Lucian and eventually translated his Zeus Catechized and The Ass. In 1506 when Thomas More dedicated his Latin versions of Lucian to Thomas Ruthall, English royal secretary, he mistakenly claimed that Chrysostom borrowed from The Cynic in a homily on Saint John, most likely because More confused works by the two closely associated Greek moralists. 12 By impugning the authority of the Hellenic past, moreover, Lucian offered a salutary reevaluation of classical canons. In the mid-fourteenth century, Petrarch rejected the medieval concept of auctoritas and addressed "familiar" Latin epistles to great men of antiquity like Cicero and Seneca. Initiated by Petrarch, the gradual relativization of classical authorities during the Renaissance was accelerated by Lucian's irreverent treatment of such figures as Pythagoras and Aristotle. In his Adages 1.7.77, Erasmus eulogized Lucian as an "adamantine persecutor of all superstition." One of Lucian's most cherished literary ideals is that of parrhesia, or outspokenness-a trait that links Lucian with two of the most outspoken humanists of the Renaissance, Lorenzo Valla and Desiderius Erasmus. In his Divine Institutions 1.9.8, Lactantius, the Christian Cicero, condemned Lucian in a phrase that was to resonate with nearly Scriptural authority during the Renaissance, Lucianus, qui neque diis pepercit neque hominibus: "Lucian, who spared neither the gods nor men." 13 The pious Lactantius was clearly referring to Lucian's pervasive use of parody, which most often satirizes the most prominent cultural authorities of classical antiquity, the Olympian gods and the Greek philosophers. 14 In a 1444 letter, Lorenzo 11. Fubini 1990, 240, cites Chrysostom's De Lazaro II, 3 (Migne 1857-66, 48:986), 12. Concerning this reference, Thompson in More 1974, 138-39, notes that More's remark was repeated in the 1563 Elogia Luciani edited by Erasmus's former secretary, Gilbertus Cognatus, but concludes: "I find nothing of Lucian in any of Chrysostom's homilies." Branham 1985, 26-28, notes that More misses the ironic tone of Lucian's Cynic when he describes it "as praising Christian simplicity, temperance, and frugality and denouncing luxury." 13. Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 1.9.8. 14. See Branham 1989, 133-34: "The types of characters parodied are usually those routinely idealized in the most influential and authoritative traditions, which, in Lucian's case, means those derived from Homer and the major schools of moral philosophy. Not surprisingly, Lucian's favorite targets for caricature are gods and their earthly rivals, the philosophers."

Lucian in the Quattrocento


Valla described himself (paraphrasing Lactantius's strictures on Lucian) as having spared neither gods nor men-a phrase that Poggio and others later turned against Valla. 15 Evidently, Lactantius's animadversion had by the 1440s placed the name of Lucian in a context of suspicious heterodoxy, one that the iconoclastic Valla could apparently savor despite, or rather because of, the negative connotations of Lucianism. As radical critics of religious texts and traditions, Valla and Erasmus were soon associated with Lucian as enemies of the new Roman order. Opponents of their ideas, echoing the orthodox censures of Byzantine ideologues, now branded them followers of Lucian, which meant impious atheists. 16 The fervent Reformers likewise adopted Lucian's name as a catchword for heterodoxy and disbelief. Thus, in a 1526 letter addressed to the elector John of Saxony, Erasmus complains that Luther has branded him an "atheistic Lucian." 17 Despite such strictures, Lucian offered much that appealed to humanist pedagogues. Born a Syrian, Lucian had to learn Attic Greek in much the same way as did European scholars of the Renaissance. Lucian in fact attained an enviable mastery of the language: his vocabulary is Attic and idiomatic, and his style supple and limpid. That Lucian furnished varied examples of rhetorical set pieces warmly commended him to Renaissance secretaries and orators who earned their bread by writing. Renaissance teachers and students of Greek found in his dialogues an easy aditus to a mine of conversational Attic, rich in lively proverbs and vivid figures of speech. During the Renaissance, Lucian's importance was often pedagogical in nature, as it remains in today's universities. In 1397, when the Byzantine scholar Manuel Chrysoloras began to teach Greek in Florence, Lucian was the first Greek author taught in the Renaissance classroom. A century later, the Dutch humanist Erasmus, who had already translated several of Lucian's works into Latin, published a series of Latin dialogues that he titled Colloquia. Indebted to Lucian's themes and intended as a conversa15. In a letter of 21 January 1444, to Cardinal Gerardo Landriani, Valla writes: "Since I seem to have spared neither men nor gods, as Lactantius says of Lucian, there is no lack of material for those who wish to attack me": Cum . .. nee hominibus nee diis pepercisse videarquod de Luciano ait Lactantius-non deest volentibus carpendi materia. See Valla 1984, 255; and Zappala 1990, 43-44. 16. Lauvergnat-Gagniere 1988_. Zappala 1990, 22, aptly characterizes the Byzantine scholiasts: "In these scholia, literature is engulfed by ideology." 17. Erasmus 1906-58, 6:269: "Verum his non contentus subinde me facit Lucianum atheon, quod nullum credam esse Deum." See also Zappala 1990, 115.


Lucian and the Latins

tional introduction to advanced Latin, these dialogues were to enjoy widespread and lasting popularity as a textbook throughout western Europe. 18 Like the humanists, Lucian lived in a world far removed from that of fifth-century Athens. Indeed, his playful attitude toward the culture of ancient Greece may have cornrnended him to Renaissance scholars who were aware of the gap separating them from classical antiquity. As an adoptive Hellenist, Lucian never tires of rehearsing the essentials of Greek history and literature as a badge of his acculturation, a trait that often makes his works a convenient compendium of ancient civilization. Lucian's use of Greek references and motifs facilitated the adaptation of his works to the new contexts of the Western Renaissance. In Quattrocento Italy, Lucian's works represented a real discovery in the Latin West, a distinctly novel viewpoint compared to that of authors like Plato and Aristotle, who were familiar, at least indirectly, to Latin readers of the Middle Ages. When in 1397 Manuel Chrysoloras began to teach Greek in Florence, his choice of Lucian for the classroom in part reflected the literary taste of contemporary Byzantines. 19 At the same tirne, Lucian's works proved eminently suitable for beginning students of Greek. Used as a textbook, Lucian provides, in short and entertaining pieces, a readable Attic prose that beginning students can easily handle. Moreover, Lucian fills his writings with classical allusions that, as badges of his acquired Hellenism, provide a compendium of Greek culture for the beginning student. That Lucian wears his learning lightly probably rendered him more accessible to Italian humanists, whose knowledge of Greek antiquity was often limited to allusions found in Roman authors. The quantity, brevity, and variety of Lucian's works cornrnended him to Quattrocento humanists. The extant corpus, dating from Byzantine compilations, embraces some eighty-six pieces averaging a dozen pages in length and treating the most disparate topics in prose, verse, and dialogue. While some readers admired his wit and satire, others valued his serious treatises on friendship, history, and slander and his encomia of the historian Herodotus and the philosopher Demonax. (By the later sixteenth cen18. The Colloquia are edited in Erasmus 1972; Thompson's English version is found in Erasmus 1965. On the Colloquia and their debt to Lucian, see Heep 1927; for Lucian and Erasmus in English schools, see Mack 1984. 19. On Lucian's fortune in late Byzantine culture, see Robinson 1979, 68-81; Mattioli 1980, 9-38; and Zappala 1990, 20-31. Praised or maligned, Lucian was popular enough to inspire several Byzantine forgeries, including Ti111ario11 and Philopatris.

Lucian in the Quattrocento


tury, readers intent on the higher lessons of history and philosophy often neglected Lucian as a shallow and derivative writer. The essayist Montaigne, for example, makes only one explicit reference to Lucian, an allusion to the minor dialogue The Consonants at Law. 20 Of course, as a devotee of the pious Plutarch, Montaigne may have resented Lucian's scorn for the Boeotian oracle of Trophonius, which Plutarch celebrated in several works.) The vast store of Greek culture found in Lucian's works, ranging from myths and legends to proverbs and quotations, may also account for his popularity. This is not to say that he was regarded solely as a primer for novices but rather as one of the newly discovered Greek authors whose disparate perspectives and positions rapidly widened the horizons of Western thought during the fifteenth century. 21 Encouraging the Renaissance bent toward relativism was the ludic quality of Lucian's works, his playful approach to the serious traditions of Hellenic history and philosophy. Quattrocento references to Lucian and his works often employ the noun lusus, "an amusing trifle," or the verb ludo, "to write for amusement." (Using a similar word, Giovanni Aurispa referred to a complete collection of Lucian's works as "all of Lucian's comic and serious writings," Luciani risus et seria omnia.) 22 In 1440, Guarino of Verona called his Latin version of The Fly, "a youthful diversion written when I was beginning to study Greek": opusculum quod, dum linguae graecae rudimenta pridem exercere coepi, iuvenilis quondam lusit aetas. 23 In his preface to the 1469 Rome edition of Apuleius, Giovanni Andrea Bussi, bishop of Aleria, describes Lucian's Lucius or The Ass as the model for Apuleius's Metamorphoses: The famed Lucian of Syria, who was a very witty and elegant sophist or philosopher (as the Greeks all say in his favor) or a satirist (as other's say) wrote many witty attacks on the philosophers, more in play 20. Montaigne, Essays 1.46. Montaigne's reference in Essays 1.20 to Chiron's refusal of immortality may derive from Dialogues of the Dead 8 [26]. 21. Fubini 1982, 18 (= Fubini 1990, 235) aptly describes how the skepticism of Poggio and others was "fueled by the expanding knowledge of the ancient world, and especially by the infusion of Greek culture, that is, of historical and intellectual views and traditions which defied assimilation to a common discipline or direction." 22. Aurispa 1931, 13 (cited in Sidwell 1975, 2; Franceschini 1976, 49; and Mattioli 1980, 58): "Luciani risus et seria omnia." Aurispa's expression echoes the antithesis lusus et seria in Pliny the Younger, Epistles 7.9.10. 23. Guarino Veronese 1915-19, 2:406, cited in Sidwell 1975, 18.


Lucian and the Latins

(/usu) than as slander, and spared not a single one of them. Among other works, the same Lucian playfully wrote (lusit) his The Golden Ass, imagining that he had been changed into one. 24

By the same token, Erasmus consistently refers to his own writings, from translations of Lucian to original works like his Praise of Folly, as a form of playful composition. 25 Of course, some humanists (like later German philologists) read Lucian as a shallow mocker of established conventions and values from whose text one could at best glean meager evidence about the realia oflate antiquity. But many appreciated his literary Cynicism as a useful heuristic stance and in their own conflict with textual and institutional authorities shared his sympathy with enlightened skepticism. The skeptical element in Lucian does not of course preclude his value as a school text. Indeed, his resistance to canons of belief is strikingly offset by his conformity to linguistic standards. For Renaissance students of Greek, Lucian offered limpid and correct models of Attic prose, and his predilection for rehearsing the fundamentals of Hellenic culture made him a rich, if not inexhaustible, mine of mythological and historical information about the ancient Greeks. But Lucian's contribution to Renaissance literature has a more generic origin. Lucian supplied an important lacuna in classical literature by providing a model of prose satire. Classical Latin literature of course is celebrated for its verse satirists Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal. But while their poetry resists facile imitation, Lucian provides a more accessible model. Since his works are written in straightforward and colloquial prose, he could be easily translated and assimilated by humanist students. 26 His methods of viewing the world likewise proved more congenial and adaptable than those of Roman satire. Lucian clearly provided a middle path between Horace's autobiographical equanimity 24. Botfield 1861, 70, and Bussi 1978, 13 (italics added): "Lucianus ille Syrus, argutulus imprimis atque elegans, vel sophista, vel philosophus, ut omnes Greci suffragantur, satyrus tamen quidam, in philosophos, !usu verius quam calumnia, multa scribens cum gratia, nemini philosophorum pepercit omnino. Hie Lucianus asinum, inter cetera, aureum lusit seque in eum finxit esse commutatum." 25. See, for example, the preface to his 1506 imitation of Lucian's Tyrannicide in Erasmus 1969, 514: "Nostram declamationem ita leges, ut earn me pauculis diebus !usisse cogites, non scripsisse." On the Praise of Folly, see chap. 5. 26. Wilson 1992, 17: "Refugee Greeks teaching their language in Italy ... may have realised that [Lucian's] language would not be difficult for beginners to master and that his rhetorical skill in handling even the most humdrum and unpromising subject matter would not be entirely lost when presented in Latin dress."

Lucian in the Quattrocento


and Juvenal's impersonal virulence. In part, Lucian's use of dialogue negotiated this middle ground by presenting his personal skepticism through personae like Lycinus and Parrhesiades and by caricaturing human folly in parodies of stock dramatic types. Lucian was not of course the only Greek prose writer to offer works that were both edifying and amusing. Like Aristophanes, he owed a debt to the popular moralism of the Aesopic tradition. As soon as they had learned Greek, Quattrocento humanists like Rinuccio da Castiglione and Lorenzo Valla lost no time in translating and imitating Aesop's fables, whose Latin counterparts had always been popular school texts in the West. In 1437, Alberti wrote a hundred Apologi in the space often days. Thereafter, composing brief Latin apologues in the Aesopic manner soon became a humanist pastime, especially in Florence. In the 1480s, the humanist chancellor of Florence, Bartolomeo Scala, wrote two sets of a hundred Latin apologues which he dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici. And the great Platonist Marsilio Ficino composed two apologues, On Pleasure ( De voluptate) and On the Apologue ( De apologo). 27 In this climate, many of Lucian's imitators-most prominently, Alberti and Pandolfo Collenuccio-readily incorporated elements of Aesopic fable into their works. 28 Educated in a curriculum that emphasized the strict imitation of Latin models, Renaissance humanists clearly felt an acute need for novel modes of literary expression. In his Latin prose, Petrarch had employed allegory and invective as vehicles for offering a critique of the contemporary scene, and these genres have left their mark on works by Quattrocento humanists like Poggio and Alberti. By contrast, the discovery of Lucian in turn pointed the way toward new forms of imaginative fictions-hybrids of satirical narrative and comedic dialogue that gave humanists a greater freedom of invention in Latin and vernacular prose. 29 The autobiographical dimension of Lucian's dialogues was obvious to Renaissance humanists. When Sir Thomas More translated the Lucianic 27. On fable and apologue in the Quattrocento, see Filosa 1952, 74-114. Scala's first hundred apologues are discussed in Alison Brown 1979, 279; Brown is now editing the unpublished second set. I cite Ficino's apologues from Ficino 1576, 847,921. 28. On Alberti and Aesop, see Marsh 1983, 208-11; on Alberti's newly discovered apologue Apes (Simiae), see Furlan and Matton 1993. For Collenuccio, see Filosa 1952, 95-97, and chaps. 3 and 4. 29. In his study of classical satire, Van Rooy 1965 notes that the Greeks had no word for satire and referred instead to laughter as the hallmark of satirical literature. Nevertheless, Van Rooy (110) dismisses Lucian's writings as "spurious satire, because for the most part the spo11dafo11 in his works is a sham seriousness."


Lucian and the Latins

dialogue The Cynic, he called the main speaker Lucianus rather than Lycinus.30 In his Dinner Pieces, Leon Battista Alberti created a literary double whom he called Lepidus, a Latin name meaning "witty" that seems to echo that of Lucian's Lycinus. More important, the writings of Lucian gave the individual humanist a model for rhetoric that addresses, and possibly redresses, the public scourges of war and tyranny, which ravaged Europe more violently in the Renaissance than during the Second Sophistic. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries witnessed a veritable explosion of Lucianic translations and imitations, including works by the most significant writers of the Renaissance. 31 In the Quattrocento, Lucian was praised both as a stylist and as a moralist, since most of his works feature both critiques of human behavior and witty and amusing observations. As a moralist, Lucian addressed many aspects of the human condition that were traditional themes in Latin verse satire: wealth and power, philosophy and religion, and death and the afterlife. And the legacy of Ciceronian and Petrarchan humanism made Lucian's essays and dialogues a more flexible model for ethical inquiry than, say, the verse satires of Horace, Persius, and Juvenal. As a versatile rhetorician, Lucian was an able practitioner of both serious and seriocomic genres. His more serious rhetorical works-traditional exercises like declamation and ecphrasis-enjoyed great popularity with the Byzantine scholars who became the mentors of fifteenth-century Italian humanists. And his comic works embraced paradoxical set pieces, like the mock encomium and the fantastic journey, and revived the dramatic form ofMenippean satire with its amusing farrago of men, gods, and myths. The stylistic appeal of Lucian lay partly in his use of colloquial speech, to which he himself alludes in several disclaimers. In The Double Indictment 28, when Lucian confesses that he writes in a simpler style, he is promptly taken to task by the personified figure of Rhetoric. But if Greek rhetoricians of the Second Sophistic judged Lucian's prose a trivial echo of the grand style, Renaissance Latinist~ were receptive to any classical text that offered colloquial language. In the early Renaissance, humanists valued the lively style of Plautus and Terence (whose comedies many thought were written in prose), and Latin translators and imitators of 30. See Thompson's note in More 1974, 141; and Fox 1982, 41. 31. Lauvergnat-Gagniere 1988, 352-431, prints an exhaustive bibliography of editions of Lucian printed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. She lists 134 in Greek, 154 in Latin, and 38 bilingual editions. For an overview of Lucian's popularity from 1470 to 1550, see Mayer 1984, 31-34.

Lucian in the Quattrocento


Lucian often borrowed the vocabulary and idiom of Roman comedy as the closest approximation to his conversational Greek. Models of colloquial Latin and Greek were also indispensable teaching tools, since even after the arrival of printed books, literary instruction was firmly grounded in spoken exercises. Since the classical languages were taught as spoken tongues, any text offering patterns of colloquial speech recommended itself. When Erasmus composed his educational Latin dialogues called the Colloquia, he borrowed heavily from Lucian in creating lively dramatic exchanges. 32 Through Lucian's inspiration, this Berlitz-like phrase book of conversational Latin developed into one of the masterpieces of Renaissance literature. The Renaissance Diffusion of Lucian

The preeminence of Florence in reviving Greek studies in the West has long been recognized. In 1396, the government of Florence, at the instigation of chancellor Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406), invited the Byzantine scholar Manuel Chrysoloras to teach ancient Greek in a public seminar. 33 Chrysoloras arrived in Florence on 2 February 1397 and remained there until 10 March 1400, when he was called away permanently by his diplomatic duties. Until recently, it was not clear what ancient authors Chrysoloras used in class. As an introductory grammar, he himself devised a set of Questions, or Eri5temata, that expounds the rudiments of ancient Greek in a catechistic style. But Ernesto Berti's research has now shown that works of Lucian provided important texts for the Florentine seminar. 34 When Chrysoloras was summoned to Florence to teach Greek, he brought with him a large codex-the present-day Vaticanus graecus 87---containing nearly all of Lucian's works. He probably owned a shorter working copy of selected Lucianic texts as well, and the present-day Urbinas graecus 121 belonged to one of his Italian students in the seminar. This codex contains six works by Lucian-Charon, Slander, The Fisher, Icaromenippus, Timon, and Zeus the Tragic Actor. Between the lines of the Greek text, the student has written Latin glosses in Latin that he presumably took down from Chrysoloras's lectures. Only the last work, Zeus the

32. On Erasmus's imitation of Lucian's dramatic technique, see Heep 1927, esp. 21--49. 33. On Chrysoloras, see Cammelli 1942. 34. Berti 1985, 1987a and 19876.

Lucian and the Latins


Tragic Actor, remains unglossed, which suggests that it was never discussed in class. Unlike most Greek manuscripts of Lucian, Chrysoloras's codex begins with a series of Lucian's underworld dialogues: Charon, The Downward Voyage, Menippus, and the Dialogues of the Dead. The primacy of these texts, which is unique to Vaticanus graecus 87, probably reflects Chrysoloras's own predilection for Lucian's amusing dramatizations of the memento mori theme-a taste clearly shared by Quattrocento humanists, who soon translated these works. The notes of his anonymous student, in turn, offer several insights into Chrysoloras's pedagogical methods. Predictably, these lecture notes largely record the word-by-word commentary that Chrysoloras provided in Latin for his students. Unfortunately, the anonymous student of Urbinas graecus 121 was not a prize pupil, and his interlinear comments are full of mistakes and misunderstandings. 35 In part, we may blame this on the classroom setting, in which the Florentine novice had to scribble hasty notes recording the imperfect Latin of the elderly Byzantine scholar. In such a class, only the quickest minds and hands could master the material. Beyond the classroom, Chrysoloras no doubt encouraged his more ambitious students to undertake more complete and more elegant Latin translations of Lucian: the anonymous versions of Charon and Timon apparently originated in the same seminar. Chrysoloras's interest in Lucian was not limited to his underworld dialogues. A few years later, after returning to Constantinople, he proposed that his houseguest Guarino of Verona translate the essay Slander into Latin. New light has also recently been shed on the historical context of Guarino of Verona's texts and translations. Guarino translated Lucian's Slander and The Fly during his first stay with Chrysoloras in Constantinople (1403-8) but brought no codex back when he returned to Italy. Still, his interest in Lucian continued, and he was soon engaged in translating Lucian's Parasite. In this he was encouraged by another distinguished Byzantine prelate, Isidore of Kiev (ca. 1380-1463), who had already copied several works of Xenophon for him. In the fall of 1410, Isidore promised to send Guarino a copy of Lucian's works by the next spring. 36 He clearly kept his word, for a codex of works by Lucian, written in 35. Berti 1987b, 7-13. 36. Bandini 1988, 275n25.

Lucian in the Quattrocento


Isidore's hand and bearing Guarino's ex libris, is now found in the Herzog-August Library in Wolfenbiittel.3 7 Significantly, the first two works in the codex are Lucian's Parasite and Slander, both of which Guarino translated into Latin. A dozen years later, when the Sicilian humanist Giovanni Aurispa returned to Italy from Constantinople in 1423, he brought with him 238 Greek codices, including Lucian's complete works, both comic and serious, Luciani risus et seria omnia. 38 (As we shall see, Aurispa later demonstrated his special interest in Lucian by translating Toxaris or Friendship and Dialogue of the Dead 25.) A few years later, Francesco Filelfo returned from a similar trip to the East and wrote to Traversari on 13 June 1428 that he had brought back some dialogues of Lucian, aliqui sennones Luciani. But although there were two manuscripts of Lucian's works in Filelfo's possession when he died in 1481, he never translated any of them into Latin. Later in the century, when Cardinal Bessarion's library passed to the library of San Marco in Venice in 1468, it included six codices of Lucian, one of which contained the complete works. During the papacy of Nicholas V (1447-55), records show that the Vatican Library possessed four manuscripts of Lucian, and by 1475, under Sixtus IV, the Vatican collection had added another three codices, including the Vaticanus graecus 90 once owned by Isidore of Kiev. 39 Latin Translations of Lucian to 1450

The early diffusion of Lucian's works was largely the result of Latin translations, of which the earliest date from around 1400. By 1470, there were Latin versions of twenty-six different works, or roughly one-third of the extant corpus. Of these, only four had been translated more than once: the essays Slander and On Sacrifices and the dialogues of the dead Charon and Philosophies for Sale. By 1500, thirty-four works had been translated into Latin, but only fourteen of these versions were available in print. 40 37. For Wolfenbiittel, Herzog-August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 86.7 Aug. 2°, see Harlfinger 1978, 49-52; and Sidwell 1975, 2n6. As a copyist of Lucian, Isidore also added supplements to Vat. gr. 90 and 947 and copied Vat. gr. 914: see Wittek 1952, 316-17 (nos. 136, 143, 146); and Sidwell 1975, 6. 38. Letter to Ambrogio Traversari of27 August 1424. 39. Sidwell 1975, 2-4. 40. Brief survey in Robinson in Erasmus 1972, 363-64; fuller details in Sidwell 1975, 1-45.


Lucian and the Latins

The Anonymous Version of Charon We have seen that an anonymous Florentine pupil of Chrysoloras annotated five works in his personal copy of Lucian. Since Lucian's Charon appears first in this copy as well as in Chrysoloras's original codex, it seems likely that it was the first Greek text discussed in the Florentine seminar. As Italians familiar with Dante's Comedy, Chrysoloras's students must have been fascinated by Lucian's portrayal of the philosophical Charon-so different from Dante's demonic ferryman-and by his survey of humankind from a mountaintop. Working from his class notes, our anonymous Florentine now undertook to render the dialogue Charon into Latin. Begun as a private exercise, his translation soon circulated in manuscript and must initially have aroused some interest, for at least six manuscript copies survive today. 41 But within a generation, this crudely literal rendering of Lucian was supplanted by Rinuccio's version, which surpassed it both in accuracy and in idiom, and thus the anonymous version was never printed during the Renaissance. 42 Still, from this modest beginning, Lucian's Charon exercised an enormous influence on Renaissance literature, as we shall see in chapter 4, "The Dialogue of the Gods 2." Bertholdus's Translation of Timon Another product of Chrysoloras's seminar was the Timon attributed to an Italian known only by the Latin name of Bertholdus. It survives in a Florentine manuscript dated 26 May 1403 (together with the anonymous Charon) and was printed later in the century in four incunabula. Like the dialogue Charon, it betrays a beginner's imperfect mastery of Greek. Just as Rinuccio was to criticize the early translation of Charon when he published his own, Erasmus later condemned this crude version of Timon when in 1506 he printed his own. 43 The choice of Charon and Timon as the. first translations reveals some41. The manuscripts are described in Hemeryck 1972, 141-51 and listed in Sidwell 1975, 14n58. There are four copies of the complete version (Florence, Laur. Plut. 25.9; Paris, Bibi. Nat. lat. 6142; Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ottob. 1267 and Vat. lat. 989), and two ofan abridged version (Vat. lat. 3171, and Venice, Bib!. Marc. XIV.220 [4496]). 42. On Rinuccio's version, see Lockwood 1913, 94-97; Hemeryck 1972, 151-64; and Sidwell 1975, 25-26. 43. Sidwell 1975, 12-15; Sidwell 1986; and Bourgain 1973, 12-13. For the printed editions, see Mattioli 1980, 40n2; and Mayer 1984, 30-31; and Lauvergnat-Gagniere 1988, 370-73.

Lucian in the Quattrocento


thing about the common values of Chrysoloras and his Quattrocento pupils. To be sure, it might at first seem odd that the pious Chrysoloras had his students translate works by a pagan author condemned in the Byzantine lexicon Suidas. Thus, when Chrysoloras's most distinguished pupil, Leonardo Bruni, began to translate Greek texts, he chose a more orthodox and defensible work, Saint Basil's apology for pagan literature. By contrast, Lucian's dialogues present the Athenian misanthrope Timon of Athens and the underworld ferryman Charon as iconoclasts who view the world of human affairs from an unusual perspective. The two dialogues balance each other in several respects. Timon is an old curmudgeon who has personally suffered from the greed and folly of mankind, whereas Charon is an ingenue who views human society for the first time. In Timon, the Olympian gods descend from heaven to earth, while in Charon the infernal deities ascend from the underworld to an observation post atop the mountains of Greece. Both dialogues feature Hermes as the link between things human and divine. As a central figure in Lucianic satire, Hermes and his Roman counterpart Mercury will become an important character in Renaissance Lucianism. It is not difficult to understand the attraction of Lucian's Timon for Renaissance authors and readers. First, the protagonist of Lucian's dialogue was in fact a historical figure, the fifth-century Athenian recluse Timon whose misanthropy soon made him a legend. 44 Like Charon, he is an outsider whose observations on human society presuppose a certain critical detachment. And he is particularly vehement about the corrupting power of wealth, a topic about which impoverished humanists were particularly sensitive. At the beginning of Lucian's dialogue, Timon addresses the king of the gods, Zeus, and reproaches his moral laxity in chastising the wicked, especially th'e swindlers who have stolen Timon's fortune with impunity and now live in luxury. Stung by these reproaches, Zeus orders Hermes to escort Wealth, Ploutos, back to Timon. At first, Wealth, having once been ill-treated by Timon, is reluctant to obey, but he eventually yields to Hermes' arguments. The two gods descend to earth and find Timon working the soil with a mattock, aided by the goddess Poverty (Penia). Timon is reluctant to regain his fortune and praises the self-sufficiency that Poverty has taught him. But he is finally persuaded by Wealth and welcomes him back. Hermes now urges Timon to continue digging, and Timon soon 44. On the legend of Timon, see Hertel 1969, esp. 48-62.

7 18

Lucian and the Latins

uncovers a large treasure (personified as Thesauros): Restored to financial independence, Timon frames his own misanthropic constitution, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created contemptible, a11d he vows to treat all mankind with anger and incivility. Timon is now approached by four former friends who wish to regain the favor of the man they had spurned in his poverty. They are the moocher Gnathonides ("Jawson"), the flatterer Philiades ("McFriend"), the orator Demeas ("Folkman"), and the philosopher Thrasycles ("Boldfame"). Timon insults each one and chases them off with blows of his mattock. Lucian's characterization of Timon is partly indebted to the comic hero of Menander's The Curmudgeon ( Duskolos), a play whose text was recently rediscovered. 45 The figure of Wealth (Plutus) in turn reflects Aristophanes' last surviving comedy, Plutus, which depicts the blind deity visiting various Athenians. In the fifteenth century, Aristophanes' Plutus aroused the interest of Leonardo Bruni, who around 1440 translated the first act into Latin. 46 Later, Lucian's dialogue inspired several Latin and Italian plays and eventually furnished material for Shakespeare's Timon of Athens. 47 Lucian's Timon offered Renaissance readers a number of important satirical themes, several of which were adapted by Alberti in his Dinner Pieces and Momus. For example, in Lucian's Timon human prayers are treated like physical messages that can be interrupted-a satirical topos that Lucian uses in several dialogues. Thus, Zeus complains that mankind's prayers are drowned out by the din of wrangling philosophers. This detail furnished the inspiration for a central episode in Alberti's Momus, which is discussed in chapter 4. Furthermore, Lucian follows Aristophanes in portraying the god of wealth Plutus as blind and lame. Indeed, the god's disabilities occasion the wonder of Hermes: Hermes: Let's go, Plutus. What's this? You're limping? My dear fellow, I didn't notice that you are not only blind, but lame as well. 45. On Lucian's debt to Menander, see Macleod 1994, 1394-95. 46. Bruni's Plutus is edited in Bruni 1965. Pfeiffer 1976, 28-29, notes that it may have had some connection with a paraphrase of Pltttus 400----626 called "Penias fabula" made by Rinuccio da Castiglione in 1416 or 1417. The influence of Bruni's Plutus on Maffeo Vegio's 1452 Debate between S1111, Earth, and Gold is discussed in chap. 5. 47. Robinson 1979, 99-103.

Lucian in the Quattrocento


Plutus: Not always, Hermes, but when I am sent by Zeus to visit someone, I somehow become slow and lame in both legs .... But when I must leave them, you'll see me winged and swifter than a dream ... Hermes: What you say isn't true. I could tell you of many who yesterday had not a penny ... but who today are suddenly rich and affluent ... Plutus: That's a different matter, Hermes. In such cases I don't walk on my own legs, nor is it Zeus who sends me, but Pluto, who is a bestower of wealth (ploutodotes) and a generous benefactor, as his name indicates. (Timon 20-21)

The Quattrocento translator has aptly rendered this play on names by associating Dis as god of the underworld with Divitiae as goddess of wealth: "Non Iouis sed Ditis imperio, qui est magnificus divitiarum elargitor, accedo; quod ex ipso nomine liquere potest." 48 This association may have led Alberti to call the god of wealth Pluto, rather than Plutus, in his dinner pieces Pluto, Discord, and The Clouds. In the conclusion of Rabelais's Fifth Book, the association of the underworld with wealth is invoked by Bacbuc, priestess of the subterranean Oracle of the Bottle. 49 As the archetype of the virtuous individual unjustly rejected by society, Lucian's Timon inspired several Quattrocento dialogues. For example, Alberti's The Orphan features an autobiographical persona who laments his mistreatment at the hands of cruel kinsmen, and his popular allegory Virtue, which passed for a work of Lucian, relates how the title goddess was assailed and banished by ungrateful mortals. In Maffeo Vegio's Philalethes, the goddess Truth recounts the physical violence that she has suffered at the hands of an entire society. As the prototype of the outsider, Timon offered a particular model for Alberti, who experienced rejection both as an illegitimate son and as a brash intellectual. Hence, it is not surprising that in his Dinner Pieces Alberti twice quotes from the brief sketch of Timon in Plutarch's Life of 48. Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 989, fol. 84v. 49. Rabelais 1955, 888: "Partant est equitablement le souverain Dominateur presque en toutes langues nomme par epithete de richesses"; English version in Rabelais 1982, 713: "It is only right therefore that, in almost all languages, the Ruler of the Underworld has been known by epithets implying riches."


Lucian and the Latins

Mark Antony, a work available in Bruni's Latin translation of 1405. Indeed, Alberti's dialogue Religion opens with an allusion to Timon's fig tree, which the misanthrope generously offered to anyone who wished to hang himself. But Alberti's identification with Lucian's Timon went even deeper than classical anecdotes. In his Dinner Pieces, Alberti created two personae for himself: the outcast Philoponius and the sarcastic Lepidus. The earnest scholar Philoponius resembles Timon as he appears at the beginning of Lucian's dialogue. Both figures voice their disillusionment with mankind and a Stoic belief in the intrinsic reward of his assiduous labors. Even the name Philoponius owes something to Lucian. The Greek adjective philoponos (literally a "lover of labor") is found in several authors, including Diogenes Laertius's Lives of the Philosophers. But it is striking that Lucian's Timon uses the same word to describe himself as a hardworking farmer. 50 In The Orphan, Alberti's persona Philoponius, who has been maltreated and abandoned by his relatives, decries the injustice of his plight and prays the gods that all other orphans may know the same cruelty and perfidy. Inspired by bitter experience, this soliloquy imitates the two long speeches of Lucian's misanthrope. Timon's opening address to Zeus likewise recounts his ill-treatment at the hands of men. And the climax of Lucian's dialogue, in which Timon proclaims his bitter manift;sto of inhumanity, apanthropia, anticipates the vindictive prayer of Alberti's orphan: "Let the name Misanthrope be sweetest to him, and the signs of his character be peevishness, boorishness, anger, and inhumanity." 51 Alberti's Lepidus, in turn, resembles Timon as he appears at the end of Lucian's dialogue, when he triumphs over his enemies by assaulting them verbally and physically. Stung by insults, the parasite Gnathonides calls Timon a "snappish fellow," philoskommon, a description that Bertholdus translated in Latin as amator mordacitatis, "fond of snapping. " 52 The element of mordacity likewise characterizes Lepidus, as the goddess Envy observes in Garlands: Envy: What is your name? Lepidus: Mine? Lepidus. 50. Lucian, Timon 37: "ton agron toutoni philoponos ergazomenos," which Bertholdus translates as "agrum hunc libenti cum labore colo" (Vat. lat 989, fol. 86v). 51. Lucian, Timon 44; in Bertholdus's translation: "nomenque predulce sit osor hominum, et morum insigne difficultas, asperitas, rusticitas, ira, inhumanitas" (Vat. Lat. 989, fol. 88). 52. Lucian, Timon 46 (Vat. lat. 989, fol. 88): "Semper fuisti amator mordacitatis."

Lucian in the Quattrocento


Envy: Lepidus? "The witty one?" You should rather be called snappish (mordax) or bitter or mocker. 53

Guarino of Verona The influential translations of the pedagogue Guarino da Verona (1374----1460) demonstrate the continued role of Manuel Chrysoloras in making Lucian known to the Latin West. In 1403, Guarino set out for Constantinople to study Greek, departing from Venice, which had become the principal gateway to the East since the Fourth Crusade of 1204. On his arrival, Guarino was received in Constantinople as a guest in the Chrysoloras household, where he remained for five years. During his stay, he undertook several Latin translations of Greek texts, and when he returned to Italy in 1408, he brought with him with some fifty-four Greek codices. 54 Like the anonymous Florentine translator of Lucian's Charon, Guarino was presumably encouraged by Chrysoloras to cut his teeth on a short work by Lucian. He chose the essay Slander for his first Latin translation, which he dedicated to the Venetian patrician Giovanni Quirini in 1405 or 1406. During his stay in Constantinople, Guarino also translated two of Lucian's other works, The Parasite and The Fly, which he only published years later, after returning to Italy. Finally, in 1446, when he was seventytwo, Guarino paraphrased parts of Lucian's essay How to Write History in a Latin epistle written to his student Tobia Borghi. 55 Of all the Lucianic works translated during the Quattrocento, the essay Slander exercised the greatest influence on both letters and the arts. Guarino's version survives in a dozen manuscripts. Later in the century, the 0

53. Alberti 1964, 150 (translated in Alberti 1987, 73):

Invidia: Quid tibi nominis? Lepidus: Mihin? Lepido. Invidia: Tu Lepidus? Quin immo mordax et asper atque irrisor?



54. On Guarino's translations of Lucian, see Sidwell 1975, 16---19; Mattioli 1980, 44-53; and Lauvergnat-Gagniere 1988, 26---28. On his stay in Constantinople, see Sabbadini 1891, I 1-15; Sabbadini 1896, 10-16; and Cammelli 1942, 131-42; for his manuscripts, see Sabbadini 1905-14, 1:44. For the role of Venice in Renaissance Greek studies, see Geanakoplos 1976, 1988, and 1989. 55. On Guarino's version of Slander, see Sabbadini 1896, 125; Guarino Veronese 1915-19, 1:6---7 (preface); Bourgain 1973, 268---69; Sidwell 1975, 16; Mattioli 1980, 44-48; and Gualdo Rosa 1984, 19-28. The other works are discussed later in this volume.


Lucian and the Latins

essay was also translated by Lapo da Castiglionchio, by Francesco Griffolini, and by an anonymous humanist whose version was printed in Venice in 1494. 56 Since humanists were often involved in court intrigues and scholarly polemics, they naturally found Lucian's observations both congenial and instructive. The invidious atmosphere of cmirtly and learned circles was, of course, by no means limited to Quattrocento Italy. In 1516, Dietrich von Plieningen published his German translations of two works that warn against malicious calumny: Lucian's Slander, which von Plieningen translated from Lapo's Latin version; and Poggio Bracciolini's Against Informers, a Latin invective written in the papal Curia in 1426. 57 Yet the most fascinating aspect of Lucian's Slander did not lie in its observations about rivalry at court. Instead, it derived from Lucian's rhetorical description, or ecphrasis, of the Hellenistic painting known as the Calumny of Apelles, a lost masterpiece that can be virtually reconstructed from Lucian's essay. According to Lucian's account in Slander 2-3, the painting was the result of intrigue at the court of Ptolemy I. A rival artist named Antiphilus accused the popular and successful Apelles of complicity in a recent plot against the king, who raged against Apelles until at length one of the conspirators testified to his innocence. Although Ptolemy sought to apologize by offering Apelles a sizable gift, the artist resolved to leave a lesson for posterity in an allegorical painting. In the picture, a king with Midas-like donkey ears is seated at the right and motions toward the approaching figure of Slander. At the king's side stand two figures, who represent Ignorance and Suspicion. Slander is an attractive woman who bears a torch in one hand, while with the other she drags an innocent youth before the king. Slander is led before the king by Envy, a shrunken and beady-eyed man, and she is attended by Malice and Deceit. Behind Slander appears the mournful figure of Remorse, who glances back at the figure ofTruth. 58 In Greek rhetoric, ecphrasis, or the detailed description of a work of art, constituted an important exercise in prose composition and enjoyed particular prominence during the Second Sophistic. 59 But Lucian's descrip56. For Quattrocento versions of Lucian's Slander, see Bourgain 1973, 268-78; Mattioli 1980, 66---67; and Sidwell 1975, 16--44. 57. For this volume, see Harlfinger 1989, 209-10; and Fubini 1990, 170-72. Its title page

reads: "Von Klaffern. Hernachvolgen zway puechlein,