Trips to the Moon

Part 2 out of 2

the wrath of Achilles; he said it was all by chance. I desired
likewise to know whether, as it was generally reported, he wrote the
"Odyssey" before the "Iliad." He said, no. It is commonly said he
was blind, but I soon found he was not so; for he made use of his
eyes and looked at me, so that I had no reason to ask him that
question. Whenever I found him disengaged, I took the opportunity
of conversing with him, and he very readily entered into discourse
with me, especially after the victory which he obtained over
Thersites, who had accused him of turning him into ridicule in some
of his verses. The cause was heard before Rhadamanthus, and Homer
came off victorious. Ulysses pleaded for him.

I met also Pythagoras the Samian, who arrived in these regions after
his soul had gone a long round in the bodies of several animals,
having been changed seven times. All his right side was of gold,
and there was some dispute whether he should be called Pythagoras or
Euphorbus. Empedocles came likewise, who looked sodden and roasted
all over. He desired admittance, but though he begged hard for it,
was rejected.

A little time after the games came on, which they call here
Thanatusia. {126} Achilles presided for the fifth time, and Theseus
for the seventh. A narrative of the whole would be tedious; I shall
only, therefore, recount a few of the principal circumstances in the
wrestling match. Carus, a descendant of Hercules, conquered Ulysses
at the boxing match; Areus the Egyptian, who was buried at Corinth,
and Epeus contended, but neither got the victory. The Pancratia was
not proposed amongst them. In the race I do not remember who had
the superiority. In poetry Homer was far beyond them all; Hesiod,
however, got a prize. The reward to all was a garland of peacock's

When the games were over word was brought that the prisoners in
Tartarus had broken loose, overcome the guard, and were proceeding
to take possession of the island under the command of Phalaris the
Agrigentine, {127a} Busiris of Egypt, {127b} Diomede the Thracian,
{128a} Scyron, {128b} and Pityocamptes. As soon as Rhadamanthus
heard of it he despatched the heroes to the shore, conducted by
Theseus, Achilles, and Ajax Telamonius, who was now returned to his
senses. A battle ensued, wherein the heroes were victorious, owing
principally to the valour of Achilles. Socrates, who was placed in
the right wing, behaved much better than he had done at Delius
{128c} in his life-time, for when the enemy approached he never
fled, nor so much as turned his face about. He had a very
extraordinary present made him as the reward of his courage, no less
than a fine spacious garden near the city; here he summoned his
friends and disputed, calling the place by the name of the Academy
of the Dead. They then bound the prisoners and sent them back to
Tartarus, to suffer double punishment. Homer wrote an account of
this battle, and gave it me to show it to our people when I went
back, but I lost it afterwards, together with a great many other
things. It began thus--

"Sing, Muse, the battles of the heroes dead--"

The campaign thus happily finished, they made an entertainment to
celebrate the victory, which, as is usual amongst them, was a bean-
feast. Pythagoras alone absented himself on that day, and fasted,
holding in abomination the wicked custom of eating beans.

Six months had now elapsed, when a new and extraordinary affair
happened. Cinyrus, the son of Scintharus, a tall, well-made,
handsome youth, fell in love with Helen, and she no less desperately
with him. They were often nodding and drinking to one another at
the public feasts, and would frequently rise up and walk out
together alone into the wood. The violence of his passion, joined
to the impossibility of possessing her any other way, put Cinyrus on
the resolution of running away with her. She imagined that they
might easily get off to some of the adjacent islands, either to
Phellus or Tyroessa. He selected three of the bravest of our crew
to accompany them; never mentioning the design to his father, who he
knew would never consent to it, but the first favourable
opportunity, put it in execution; and one night when I was not with
them (for it happened that I stayed late at the feast, and slept
there) carried her off.

Menelaus, rising in the middle of the night, and perceiving that his
wife was gone, made a dreadful noise about it, and, taking his
brother along with him, proceeded immediately to the king's palace.
At break of day the guards informed him that they had seen a vessel
a good distance from land. He immediately put fifty heroes on board
a ship made out of one large piece of the asphodelus, with orders to
pursue them. They made all the sail they possibly could, and about
noon came up with and seized on them, just as they were entering
into the Milky Sea, close to Tyroessa; so near were they to making
their escape. The pursuers threw a rosy chain over the vessel and
brought her home again. Helen began to weep, blushed, and hid her
face. Rhadamanthus asked Cinyrus and the rest of them if they had
any more accomplices: they told him they had none. He then ordered
them to be chained, whipped with mallows, and sent to Tartarus.

It was now determined that we should stay no longer on the island
than the time limited, and the very next day was fixed for our
departure. This gave me no little concern, and I wept to think I
must leave so many good things, and be once more a wanderer. They
endeavoured to administer consolation to me by assuring me that in a
few years I should return to them again; they even pointed out the
seat that should be allotted to me, and which was near the best and
worthiest inhabitants of these delightful mansions. I addressed
myself to Rhadamanthus, and humbly entreated him to inform me of my
future fate, and let me know beforehand whether I should travel. He
told me that, after many toils and dangers, I should at last return
in safety to my native country, but would not point out the time
when. He then showed me the neighbouring islands, five of which
appeared near to me, and a sixth at a distance. "Those next to
you," said he, "where you see a great fire burning, are the
habitations of the wicked; the sixth is the city of dreams; behind
that lies the island of Calypso, which you cannot see yet. When you
get beyond these you will come to a large tract of land inhabited by
those who live on the side of the earth directly opposite to you,
{132} there you will suffer many things, wander through several
nations, and meet with some very savage and unsociable people, and
at length get into another region."

Having said thus, he took a root of mallow out of the earth, and
putting it into my hand, bade me remember, when I was in any danger,
to call upon that; and added, moreover, that if, when I came to the
Antipodes, I took care "never to stir the fire with a sword, and
never to eat lupines," I might have hopes of returning to the Island
of the Blessed.

I then got everything ready for the voyage, supped with, and took my
leave of them. Next day, meeting Homer, I begged him to make me a
couple of verses for an inscription, which he did, and I fixed them
on a little column of beryl, at the mouth of the harbour; the
inscription was as follows:

"Dear to the gods, and favourite of heaven,
Here Lucian lived: to him alone 'twas given,
Well pleased these happy regions to explore,
And back returning, seek his native shore."

I stayed that day, and the next set sail; the heroes attending to
take their leave of us; when Ulysses, unknown to Penelope, slipped a
letter into my hand for Calypso, at the island of Ogygia.
Rhadamanthus was so obliging as to send with us Nauplius the pilot,
that, if we stopped at the neighbouring islands, and they should lay
hold on us, he might acquaint them that we were only on our passage
to another place.

As soon as we got out of the sweet-scented air, we came into another
that smelt of asphaltus, pitch, and sulphur burning together, with a
most intolerable stench, as of burned carcases: the whole element
above us was dark and dismal, distilling a kind of pitchy dew upon
our heads; we heard the sound of stripes, and the yellings of men in

We saw but one of these islands; that which we landed on I will give
you some description of. Every part of it was steep and filthy,
abounding in rocks and rough mountains. We crept along, over
precipices full of thorns and briers, and, passing through a most
horrid country, came to the dungeon, and place of punishment, which
we beheld with an admiration full of horror: the ground was strewed
with swords and prongs, and close to us were three rivers, one of
mire, another of blood, and another of fire, immense and impassable,
that flowed in torrents, and rolled like waves in the sea; it had
many fish in it, some like torches, others resembling live coals;
which they called lychnisci. There is but one entrance into the
three rivers, and at the mouth of them stood, as porter, Timon of
Athens. By the assistance, however, of our guide, Nauplius, we
proceeded, and saw several punished, {135a} as well kings as private
persons, and amongst these some of our old acquaintance; we saw
Cinyrus, {135b} hung up and roasting there. Our guides gave us the
history of several of them, and told us what they were punished for;
those, we observed, suffered most severely who in their lifetimes
had told lies, or written what was not true, amongst whom were
Ctesias the Cnidian, Herodotus, and many others. When I saw these I
began to conceive good hopes of hereafter, as I am not conscious of
ever having told a story.

Not able to bear any longer such melancholy spectacles, we took our
leave of Nauplius, and returned to our ship. In a short time after
we had a view, but confused and indistinct, of the Island of Dreams,
which itself was not unlike a dream, for as we approached towards
it, it seemed as it were to retire and fly from us. At last,
however, we got up to it, and entered the harbour, which is called
Hypnus, {136a} near the ivory gates, where there is a harbour
dedicated to the cock. {136b} We landed late in the evening, and
saw several dreams of various kinds. I propose, however, at
present, to give you an account of the place itself, which nobody
has ever written about, except Homer, whose description is very

Round the island is a very thick wood; the trees are all tall
poppies, or mandragorae, {136c} in which are a great number of bats;
for these are the only birds they have here; there is likewise a
river which they call Nyctiporus, {136d} and round the gates two
fountains: the name of one is Negretos, {137a} and of the other
Pannychia. {137b} The city has a high wall, of all the colours of
the rainbow. It has not two gates, as Homer {137c} tells us, but
four; two of which look upon the plain of Indolence, one made of
iron, the other of brick; through these are said to pass all the
dreams that are frightful, bloody, and melancholy; the other two,
fronting the sea and harbour, one of horn, the other, which we came
through, of ivory; on the right hand, as you enter the city, is the
temple of Night, who, together with the cock, is the principal
object of worship amongst them. This is near the harbour; on the
left is the palace of Somnus, for he is their sovereign, and under
him are two viceroys, Taraxion, {138a} the son of Mataeogenes, and
Plutocles, {138b} the son of Phantasion. In the middle of the
market-place stands a fountain, which they call Careotis, {138c} and
two temples of Truth and Falsehood; there is an oracle here, at
which Antiphon presides as high-priest; he is inventor of the
dreams, an honourable employment, which Somnus bestowed upon him.

The dreams themselves are of different kinds, some long, beautiful,
and pleasant, others little and ugly; there are likewise some golden
ones, others poor and mean; some winged and of an immense size,
others tricked out as it were for pomps and ceremonies, for gods and
kings; some we met with that we had seen at home; these came up to
and saluted us as their old acquaintance, whilst others putting us
first to sleep, treated us most magnificently, and promised that
they would make us kings and noblemen: some carried us into our own
country, showed us our friends and relations, and brought us back
again the same day. Thirty days and nights we remained in this
place, being most luxuriously feasted, and fast asleep all the time,
when we were suddenly awaked by a violent clap of thunder, and
immediately ran to our ship, put in our stores, and set sail. In
three days we reached the island of Ogygia. Before we landed, I
broke open the letter, and read the contents, which were as follows:


"This comes to inform you, that after my departure from your coasts
in the vessel which you were so kind as to provide me with, I was
shipwrecked, and saved with the greatest difficulty by Leucothea,
who conveyed me to the country of the Phaeacians, and from thence I
got home; where I found a number of suitors about my wife, revelling
there at my expense. I destroyed every one of them, and was
afterwards slain myself by Telegonus, a son whom I had by Circe. I
still lament the pleasures which I left behind at Ogygia, and the
immortality which you promised me; if I can ever find an
opportunity, I will certainly make my escape from hence, and come to

This was the whole of the epistle except, that at the end of it he
recommended us to her protection.

On our landing, at a little distance from the sea, I found the cave,
as described by Homer, and in it Calypso, spinning; she took the
letter, put it in her bosom, and wept; then invited us to sit down,
and treated us magnificently. She then asked us several questions
about Ulysses, and inquired whether Penelope was handsome and as
chaste as Ulysses had reported her to be. We answered her in such a
manner as we thought would please her best; and then returning to
our ship, slept on board close to the shore.

In the morning, a brisk gale springing up, we set sail. For two
days we were tossed about in a storm; the third drove us on the
pirates of Colocynthos. These are a kind of savages from the
neighbouring islands, who commit depredations on all that sail that
way. They have large ships made out of gourds, six cubits long;
when the fruit is dry, they hollow and work it into this shape,
using reeds for masts, and making their sails out of the leaves of
the plant. They joined the crews of two ships and attacked us,
wounding many of us with cucumber seeds, which they threw instead of
stones. After fighting some time without any material advantage on
either side, about noon we saw just behind them some of the
Caryonautae, {141a} whom we found to be avowed enemies to the
Colocynthites, {141b} who, on their coming up, immediately quitted
us, and fell upon them. We hoisted our sail, and got off, leaving
them to fight it out by themselves; the Caryonautae were most
probably the conquerors, as they were more in number, for they had
five ships, which besides were stronger and better built than those
of the enemy, being made of the shells of nuts cut in two, and
hollowed, every half-nut being fifty paces long. As soon as we got
out of their sight, we took care of our wounded men, and from that
time were obliged to be always armed and prepared in case of sudden
attack. We had too much reason to fear, for scarce was the sun set
when we saw about twenty men from a desert island advancing towards
us, each on the back of a large dolphin. These were pirates also:
the dolphins carried them very safely, and seemed pleased with their
burden, neighing like horses. When they came up, they stood at a
little distance, and threw dried cuttle-fish and crabs'-eyes at us;
but we, in return, attacking them with our darts and arrows, many of
them were wounded; and, unable to stand it any longer, they
retreated to the island.

In the middle of the night, the sea being quite calm, we
unfortunately struck upon a halcyon's nest, of an immense size,
being about sixty stadia in circumference; the halcyon was sitting
upon it, and was herself not much less; as she flew off, she was
very near oversetting our ship with the wind of her wings, and, as
she went, made a most hideous groaning. As soon as it was day we
took a view of the nest, which was like a great ship, and built of
trees; in it were five hundred eggs, each of them longer than a
hogshead of Chios. We could hear the young ones croaking within;
so, with a hatchet we broke one of the eggs, and took the chicken
out unfledged; it was bigger than twenty vultures put together.

When we were got about two hundred stadia from the nest, we met with
some surprising prodigies. A cheniscus came, and sitting on the
prow of our ship, clapped his wings and made a noise. Our pilot
Scintharus had been bald for many years, when on a sudden his hair
came again. But what was still more wonderful, the mast of our ship
sprouted out, sent forth several branches, and bore fruit at the top
of it, large figs, and grapes not quite ripe. We were greatly
astonished, as you may suppose, and prayed most devoutly to the gods
to avert the evil which was portended.

We had not gone above five hundred stadia farther before we saw an
immensely large and thick wood of pines and cypresses; we took it
for a tract of land, but it was all a deep sea, planted with trees
that had no root, which stood, however, unmoved, upright, and, as it
were, swimming in it. Approaching near to it, we began to consider
what we could do best. There was no sailing between the trees,
which were close together, nor did we know how to get back. I got
upon one of the highest of them, to see how far they reached, and
perceived that they continued for about fifty stadia or more, and
beyond that it was all sea again; we resolved therefore to drag the
ship up to the top boughs, which were very thick, and so convey it
along, which, by fixing a great rope to it, with no little toil and
difficulty, we performed; got it up, spread our sails, and were
driven on by the wind. It put me in mind of that verse of
Antimachus the poet, where he says--

"The ship sailed smoothly through the sylvan sea."

We at length got over the wood, and, letting our ship down in the
same manner, fell into smooth clear water, till we came to a horrid
precipice, hollow and deep, resembling the cavity made by an
earthquake. We furled our sails, or should soon have been swallowed
up in it. Stooping forward, and looking down, we beheld a gulf of
at least a thousand stadia deep, a most dreadful and amazing sight,
for the sea as it were was split in two. Looking towards our right
hand, however, we saw a small bridge of water that joined the two
seas, and flowed from one into the other; we got the ship in here,
and with great labour rowed her over, which we never expected.

From thence we passed into a smooth and calm sea, wherein was a
small island with a good landing place, and which was inhabited by
the Bucephali: a savage race of men, with bulls' heads and horns,
as they paint the minotaur. As soon as we got on shore we went in
search of water and provision, for we had none left; water we found
soon, but nothing else; we heard, indeed, a kind of lowing at a
distance, and expected to find a herd of oxen, but, advancing a
little farther, perceived that it came from the men. As soon as
they saw us, they ran after and took two of our companions; the rest
of us got back to the ship as fast as we could. We then got our
arms, and, determined to revenge our friends, attacked them as they
were dividing the flesh of our poor companions: they were soon
thrown into confusion and totally routed; we slew about fifty of
them, and took two prisoners, whom we returned with. All this time
we could get no provision. Some were for putting the captives to
death, but not approving of this, I kept them bound till the enemy
should send ambassadors to redeem them, which they did; for we soon
heard them lowing in a melancholy tone, and most humbly beseeching
us to release their friends. The ransom agreed on was a quantity of
cheeses, dried fish, and onions, together with four stags, each
having three feet, two behind and one before. In consideration of
this, we released the prisoners, stayed one day there, and set sail.

We soon observed the fish swimming and the birds flying round about
us, with other signs of our being near the land; and in a very
little time after saw some men in the sea, who made use of a very
uncommon method of sailing, being themselves both ships and
passengers. I will tell you how they did it; they laid themselves
all along in the water, they fastened to their middle a sail, and
holding the lower part of the rope in their hands, were carried
along by the wind. Others we saw, sitting on large casks, driving
two dolphins who were yoked together, and drew the carriage after
them: these did not run away from, nor attempt to do us any injury;
but rode round about us without fear, observing our vessel with
great attention, and seeming greatly astonished at it.

It was now almost dark, when we came in sight of a small island
inhabited by women, as we imagined, for such they appeared to us,
being all young and handsome, with long garments reaching to their
feet. The island was called Cabalusa, and the city Hydamardia.
{147a} I stopped a little, for my mind misgave me, and looking
round, saw several bones and skulls of men on the ground; to make a
noise, call my companions together, and take up arms, I thought
would be imprudent. I pulled out my mallow, {147b} therefore, and
prayed most devoutly that I might escape the present evil; and a
little time afterwards, as one of the strangers was helping us to
something, I perceived, instead of a woman's foot, the hoof of an
ass. Upon this I drew my sword, seized on and bound her, and
insisted on her telling me the truth with regard to everything about
them. She informed me, much against her will, that she and the rest
of the inhabitants were women belonging to the sea, that they were
called Onoscileas, {148} and that they lived upon travellers who
came that way. "We make them drunk," said she, "and when they are
asleep, make an end of them." As soon as she had told me this, I
left her bound there, and getting upon the house, called out to my
companions, brought them together, showed them the bones, and led
them in to her; when on a sudden she dissolved away into water, and
disappeared. I dipped my sword into it by way of experiment, and
the water turned into blood.

We proceeded immediately to our vessel and departed. At break of
day we had a view of that continent which we suppose lies directly
opposite to our own. Here, after performing our religious rites,
and putting up our prayers, we consulted together about what was to
be done next. Some were of opinion that, after making a little
descent on the coast, we should turn back again; others were for
leaving the ship there, and marching up into the heart of the
country, to explore the inhabitants. Whilst we were thus disputing
a violent storm arose, and driving our ship towards the land, split
it in pieces. We picked up our arms, and what little things we
could lay hold on, and with difficulty swam ashore.

Such were the adventures which befell us during our voyage, at sea,
in the islands, in the air, in the whale, amongst the heroes, in the
land of dreams, and lastly, amongst the Bucephali, and the
Onoscileae. What we met with on the other side of the world, shall
be related in the ensuing books. {149}


This Dialogue, which is also called by the commentators [Greek], or,
"Above the Clouds," has a great deal of easy wit and humour in it,
without the least degree of stiffness or obscurity; it is equally
severe on the gods and philosophers; and paints, in the warmest
colours, the glaring absurdity of the whole pagan system.



Three thousand stadia {153} from the earth to the moon, my first
resting-place; from thence up to the sun about five hundred
parasangas; and from the sun to the highest heaven, and the palace
of Jupiter, as far as a swift eagle could fly in a day.


What are you muttering to yourself, Menippus, talking about the
stars, and pretending to measure distances? As I walk behind you, I
hear of nothing but suns and moons, parasangas, stations, and I know
not what.


Marvel not, my friend, if I utter things aerial and sublime; for I
am recounting the wonders of my late journey.


What! tracing your road by the stars, as the Phoenicians {154} do!


Not so, by Jove! I have been amongst the stars themselves.


You must have had a long dream, indeed, to travel so many leagues in


It is no dream, I assure you; I am just arrived from Jupiter.


How say you? Menippus let down from heaven?


Even so: this moment come from thence, where I have seen and heard
things most strange and miraculous. If you doubt the truth of them,
the happier shall I be to have seen what is past belief.


How is it possible, most heavenly and divine Menippus, that a mere
mortal, like me, should dispute the veracity of one who has been
carried above the clouds: one, to speak in the language of Homer,
of the inhabitants {155} of heaven? But inform me, I beseech you,
which way you got up, and how you procured so many ladders; for, by
your appearance, I should not take you for another Phrygian boy,
{156} to be carried up by an eagle, and made a cup-bearer of.


You are an old scoffer, I know, and therefore I am not surprised
that an account of things above the comprehensions of the vulgar
should appear like a fable to you; but, let me tell you, I wanted no
ladders, nor an eagle's beak, to transport me thither, for I had
wings of my own.


This was beyond Daedalus himself, to be metamorphosed thus into a
hawk, or jay, and we know nothing of it.


You are not far from the mark, my friend; for my wings were a kind
of Daedalian contrivance.


Thou art a bold rogue indeed, and meant no doubt, if you had chanced
to fall into any part of the ocean, to have called it, as Icarus
{157a} did, by your own name, and styled it the Menippean Sea.


Not so; his wings were glued on with wax, and when the sun melted
it, could not escape falling; but mine had no wax in them.


Indeed! now shall I quickly know the truth of this affair.


You shall: I took, you must know, a very large eagle {157b} and a
vulture also, one of the strongest I could get, and cut off their
wings; but, if you have leisure, I will tell you the whole
expedition from beginning to end.


Pray do, for I long to hear it: by Jove the Friendly, I entreat
thee, keep me no longer in suspense, for I am hung by the ears.


Listen, then, for I would by no means baulk an inquisitive friend,
especially one who is nailed by the ears, as you are. Finding, on a
close examination, that everything here below, such as riches,
honours, empire, and dominion, were all ridiculous and absurd, of no
real value or estimation, considering them, withal, as so many
obstacles to the study of things more worthy of contemplation, I
looked up towards nobler objects, and meditated on the great
universe before me; doubts immediately arose concerning what
philosophers call the world; nor could I discover how it came into
existence, its creator, the beginning or the end of it. When I
descended to its several parts, I was still more in the dark: I
beheld the stars, scattered as it were by the hand of chance, over
the heavens; I saw the sun, and wished to know what it was; above
all, the nature of the Moon appeared to me most wonderful and
extraordinary; the diversity of its forms pointed out some hidden
cause which I could not account for; the lightning also, which
pierces through everything, the impetuous thunder, the rain, hail,
and snow, {159} all raised my admiration, and seemed inexplicable to
human reason. In this situation of mind, the best thing I thought
which I could possibly do was to consult the philosophers; they, I
made no doubt, were acquainted with the truth, and could impart it
to me. Selecting, therefore, the best of them, as well as I could
judge from the paleness and severity of their countenances, and the
length of their beards (for they seemed all to be high-speaking and
heavenly-minded men), into the hands of these I entirely resigned
myself, and partly by ready money, partly by the promise of more,
when they had made me completely wise, I engaged them to teach me
the perfect knowledge of the universe, and how to talk on sublime
subjects; but so far were they from removing my ignorance, that they
only threw me into greater doubt and uncertainty, by puzzling me
with atoms, vacuums, beginnings, ends, ideas, forms, and so forth:
and the worst of all was, that though none agreed with the rest in
what they advanced, but were all of contrary opinions, yet did every
one of them expect that I should implicitly embrace his tenets, and
subscribe to his doctrine.


It is astonishing that such wise men should disagree, and, with
regard to the same things, should not all be of the same opinion.


You will laugh, my friend, when I shall tell you of their pride and
impudence in the relation of extraordinary events; to think that
men, who creep upon this earth, and are not a whit wiser, or can see
farther than ourselves, some of them old, blind, and lazy, should
pretend to know the limits and extent of heaven, measure the sun's
circuit, and walk above the moon; that they should tell us the size
and form of the stars, as if they were just come down from them;
that those who scarcely know how many furlongs it is from Athens to
Megara, should inform you exactly how many cubits distance the sun
is from the moon, should mark out the height of the air, and the
depth of the sea, describe circles, from squares upon triangles,
make spheres, and determine the length and breadth of heaven itself:
is it not to the last degree impudent and audacious? When they talk
of things thus obscure and unintelligible, not merely to offer their
opinions as conjectures, but boldly to urge and insist upon them:
to do everything but swear, that the sun {161} is a mass of liquid
fire, that the moon is inhabited, that the stars drink water, and
that the sun draws up the moisture from the sea, as with a well-
rope, and distributes his draught over the whole creation? How
little they agree upon any one thing, and what a variety of tenets
they embrace, is but too evident; for first, with regard to the
world, their opinions are totally different; some affirm that it
hath neither beginning nor end; some, whom I cannot but admire,
point out to us the manner of its construction, and the maker of it,
a supreme deity, whom they worship as creator of the universe; but
they have not told us whence he came, nor where he exists; neither,
before the formation of this world, can we have any idea of time or


These are, indeed, bold and presumptuous diviners.


But what would you say, my dear friend, were you to hear them
disputing, concerning ideal {162} and incorporeal substances, and
talking about finite and infinite? for this is a principal matter of
contention between them; some confining all things within certain
limits, others prescribing none. Some assert that there are many
worlds, {163a} and laugh at those who affirm there is but one;
whilst another, {163b} no man of peace, gravely assures us that war
is the original parent of all things. Need I mention to you their
strange opinions concerning the deities? One says, that number
{163c} is a god; others swear by dogs, {164} geese, and plane-trees.
Some give the rule of everything to one god alone, and take away all
power from the rest, a scarcity of deities which I could not well
brook; others more liberal, increased the number of gods, and gave
to each his separate province and employment, calling one the first,
and allotting to others the second or third rank of divinity. Some
held that gods were incorporeal, and without form; others supposed
them to have bodies. It was by no means universally acknowledged
that the gods took cognisance of human affairs; some there were who
exempted them from all care and solicitude, as we exonerate our old
men from business and trouble; bringing them in like so many mute
attendants on the stage. There are some too, who go beyond all
this, and deny that there are any gods at all, but assert that the
world is left without any guide or master.

I could not tell how to refuse my assent to these high-sounding and
long-bearded gentlemen, and yet could find no argument amongst them
all, that had not been refuted by some or other of them; often was I
on the point of giving credit to one, when, as Homer says,

"To other thoughts,
My heart inclined." {165a}

The only way, therefore, to put an end to all my doubts, was, I
thought, to make a bird of myself, and fly up to heaven. This my
own eager desires represented as probable, and the fable-writer
AEsop {165b} confirmed it, who carries up, not only his eagles, but
his beetles, and camels thither. To make wings for myself was
impossible, but to fit those of a vulture and an eagle to my body,
might, I imagined, answer the same purpose. I resolved, therefore,
to try the experiment, and cut off the right wing of one, and the
left of the other; bound them on with thongs, and at the extremities
made loops for my hands; then, raising myself by degrees, just
skimmed above the ground, like the geese. When, finding my project
succeed, I made a bold push, got upon the Acropolis {166a} and from
thence slid down to the theatre. Having got so far without danger
or difficulty, I began to meditate greater things, and setting off
from Parnethes or Hymettus {166b} flew to Geranea, {166c} and from
thence to the top of the tower at Corinth; from thence over Pholoe
{166d} and Erymanthus quite to Taygetus. And now, resolving to
strike a bold stroke, as I was already become a high flyer, and
perfect in my art, I no longer confined myself to chicken flights,
but getting upon Olympus, and taking a little light provision with
me, I made the best of my way directly towards heaven. The extreme
height which I soared to brought on a giddiness at first, but this
soon went off; and when I got as far the Moon, having left a number
of clouds behind me, I found a weariness, particularly in my vulture
wing. I halted, therefore, to rest myself a little, and looking
down from thence upon the earth, like Homer's Jupiter, beheld the

"Where the brave Mycians prove their martial force,
And hardy Thracians tame the savage horse;
Then India, Persia, and all-conquering Greece." {167}

which gave me wonderful pleasure and satisfaction.


Let me have an exact account of all your travels, I beseech you,
omit not the least particular, but give me your observations upon
everything; I expect to hear a great deal about the form and figure
of the earth, and how it all appeared to you from such an eminence.


And so you shall; ascend, therefore, in imagination with me to the
Moon, and consider the situation and appearance of the earth from
thence: suppose it to seem, as it did to me, much less than the
moon, insomuch, that when I first looked down, I could not find the
high mountains, and the great sea; and, if it had not been for the
Rhodian Colossus, {168} and the tower of Pharos, should not have
known where the earth stood. At length, however, by the reflection
of the sunbeams, the ocean appeared, and showed me the land, when,
keeping my eyes fixed upon it, I beheld clearly and distinctly
everything that was doing upon earth, not only whole nations and
cities, but all the inhabitants of them, whether waging war,
cultivating their fields, trying causes, or anything else; their
women, animals, everything, in short, was before me.


Most improbable, all this, and contradictory; you told me but just
before, that the earth was so little by its great distance, that you
could scarce find it, and, if it had not been for the Colossus, it
would not have appeared at all; and now, on a sudden, like another
Lynceus, you can spy out men, trees, animals, nay, I suppose, even a
flea's nest, if you chose it.


I thank you for putting me in mind of what I had forgot to mention.
When I beheld the earth, but could not distinguish the objects upon
it, on account of the immense distance, I was horribly vexed at it,
and ready to cry, when, on a sudden, Empedocles {169} the
philosopher stood behind me, all over ashes, as black as a coal, and
dreadfully scorched: when I saw him, I must own I was frightened,
and took him for some demon of the moon; but he came up to me, and
cried out, "Menippus, don't be afraid,

"I am no god, why call'st thou me divine?" {170}

I am Empedocles, the naturalist: after I had leaped into the
furnace, a vapour from AEtna carried me up hither, and here I live
in the moon and feed upon dew: I am come to free you from your
present distress." "You are very kind," said I, "most noble
Empedocles, and when I fly back to Greece, I shall not forget to pay
my devotions to you in the tunnel of my chimney every new moon."
"Think not," replied he, "that I do this for the sake of any reward
I might expect for it; by Endymion, {171} that is not the case, but
I was really grieved to see you so uneasy: and now, how shall we
contrive to make you see clear?" "That, by Jove," said I, "I cannot
guess, unless you can take off this mist from my eyes, for they are
horribly dim at present." "You have brought the remedy along with
you." "How so?" "Have you not got an eagle's wing?" "True, but
what has that to do with an eye?" "An eagle, you know, is more
sharp-sighted than any other creature, and the only one that can
look against the sun: your true royal bird is known by never
winking at the rays, be they ever so strong." "So I have heard, and
I am sorry I did not, before I came up, take out my own eyes and put
in the eagle's; thus imperfect, to be sure, I am not royally
furnished, but a kind of bastard bird." "You may have one royal
eye, for all that, if you please; it is only when you rise up to
fly, holding the vulture's wing still, and moving the eagle's only;
by which means, you will see clearly with one, though not at all
with the other." "That will do, and is sufficient for me; I have
often seen smiths, and other artists, look with one eye only, to
make their work the truer." This conversation ended, Empedocles
vanished into smoke, and I saw no more of him. I acted as he
advised me, and no sooner moved my eagle's wing, than a great light
came all around me, and I saw everything as clear as possible:
looking down to earth, I beheld distinctly cities and men, and
everything that passed amongst them; not only what they did openly,
but whatever was going on at home, and in their own houses, where
they thought to conceal it. I saw Lysimachus betrayed by his son;
{172a} Antiochus intriguing with his mother-in-law; {172b} Alexander
the Thessalian slain by his wife; and Attalus poisoned by his son:
in another place I saw Arsaces killing his wife, and the eunuch
Arbaces drawing his sword upon Arsaces; Spartim, the Mede, dragged
by the heels from the banquet by his guards, and knocked on the head
with a cup. In the palaces of Scythia and Thrace the same
wickedness was going forward; and nothing could I see but murderers,
adulterers, conspirators, false swearers, men in perpetual terrors,
and betrayed by their dearest friends and acquaintance.

Such was the employment of kings and great men: in private houses
there was something more ridiculous; there I saw Hermodorus the
Epicurean forswearing himself for a thousand drachmas; Agathocles
the Stoic quarrelling with his disciples about the salary for
tuition; Clinias the orator stealing a phial out of the temple; not
to mention a thousand others, who were undermining walls, litigating
in the forum, extorting money, or lending it upon usury; a sight,
upon the whole, of wonderful variety.


It must have been very entertaining; let us have it all, I desire.


I had much ado to see, to relate it to you is impossible; it was
like Homer's shield, {173} on one side were feasting and nuptials,
on the other haranguing and decrees; here a sacrifice, and there a
burial; the Getae at war, the Scythians travelling in their
caravans, the Egyptians tilling their fields, the Phoenicians
merchandising, the Cilicians robbing and plundering, the Spartans
flogging their children, and the Athenians perpetually quarrelling
and going to law with one another.

When all this was doing, at the same time, you may conceive what a
strange medley this appeared to me; it was just as if a number of
dancers, or rather singers, were met together, and every one was
ordered to leave the chorus, and sing his own song, each striving to
drown the other's voice, by bawling as loud as he could; you may
imagine what kind of a concert this would make.


Truly ridiculous and confused, no doubt.


And yet such, my friend, are all the poor performers upon earth, and
of such is composed the discordant music of human life; the voices
not only dissonant and inharmonious, but the forms and habits all
differing from each other, moving in various directions, and
agreeing in nothing; till at length the great master {175a} of the
choir drives everyone of them from the stage, and tells him he is no
longer wanted there; then all are silent, and no longer disturb each
other with their harsh and jarring discord. But in this wide and
extensive theatre, full of various shapes and forms, everything was
matter of laughter and ridicule. Above all, I could not help
smiling at those who quarrel about the boundaries of their little
territory, and fancy themselves great because they occupy a
Sicyonian {175b} field, or possess that part of Marathon which
borders on Oenoe, or are masters of a thousand acres in Acharnae;
when after all, to me, who looked from above, Greece was but four
fingers in breadth, and Attica a very small portion of it indeed. I
could not but think how little these rich men had to be proud of; he
who was lord of the most extensive country owned a spot that
appeared to me about as large as one of Epicurus's atoms. When I
looked down upon Peloponnesus, and beheld Cynuria, {176a} I
reflected with astonishment on the number of Argives and
Lacedemonians who fell in one day, fighting for a piece of land no
bigger than an Egyptian lentil; and when I saw a man brooding over
his gold, and boasting that he had got four cups or eight rings, I
laughed most heartily at him: whilst the whole Pangaeus, {176b}
with all its mines, seemed no larger than a grain of millet.


A fine sight you must have had; but how did the cities and the men


You have often seen a crowd of ants running to and fro in and out of
their city, some turning up a bit of dung, others dragging a bean-
shell, or running away with half a grain of wheat. I make no doubt
but they have architects, demagogues, senators, musicians, and
philosophers amongst them. Men, my friend, are exactly like these:
if you approve not of the comparison, recollect, if you please, the
ancient Thessalian fables, and you will find that the Myrmidons,
{177} a most warlike nation, sprung originally from pismires.

When I had thus seen and diverted myself with everything, I shook my
wings and flew off,

"To join the sacred senate of the skies." {178a}

Scarce had I gone a furlong, when the Moon, in a soft female voice,
cried out to me, "Menippus, will you carry something for me to
Jupiter, so may your journey be prosperous?" "With all my heart,"
said I, "if it is nothing very heavy." "Only a message," replied
she, "a small petition to him: my patience is absolutely worn out
by the philosophers, who are perpetually disputing about me, who I
am, of what size, how it happens that I am sometimes round and full,
at others cut in half; some say I am inhabited, others that I am
only a looking-glass hanging over the sea, and a hundred conjectures
of this kind; even my light, {178b} they say, is none of my own, but
stolen from the Sun; thus endeavouring to set me and my brother
together by the ears, not content with abusing him, and calling him
a hot stone, and a mass of fire. In the meantime, I am no stranger
to what these men, who look so grave and sour all day, are doing o'
nights; but I see and say nothing, not thinking it decent to lay
open their vile and abominable lives to the public; for when I catch
them thieving, or practising any of their nocturnal tricks, I wrap
myself up in a cloud, that I may not expose to the world a parcel of
old fellows, who, in spite of their long beards, and professions of
virtue, are guilty of every vice, and yet they are always railing at
and abusing me. I swear by night I have often resolved to move
farther off to get out of reach of their busy tongues; and I beg you
would tell Jupiter that I cannot possibly stay here any longer,
unless he will destroy these naturalists, stop the mouths of the
logicians, throw down the Portico, burn the Academy, and make an end
of the inhabitants of Peripatus; so may I enjoy at last a little
rest, which these fellows are perpetually disturbing." "It shall be
done," said I, and away I set out for heaven, where

"No tracks of beasts or signs of men are found." {179}

In a little time the earth was invisible, and the moon appeared very
small; and now, leaving the sun on my right hand, I flew amongst the
stars, and on the third day reached my journey's end. At first I
intended to fly in just as I was, thinking that, being half an
eagle, I should not be discovered, as that bird was an old
acquaintance of Jupiter's, but then it occurred to me that I might
be found out by my vulture's wing, and laid hold on: deeming it,
therefore, most prudent not to run the hazard, I went up, and
knocked at the door: Mercury heard me, and asking my name, went off
immediately, and carried it to his master; soon after I was let in,
and, trembling and quaking with fear, found all the gods sitting
together, and seemingly not a little alarmed at my appearance there,
expecting probably that they should soon have a number of winged
mortals travelling up to them in the same manner: when Jupiter,
looking at me with a most severe and Titanic {180a} countenance,
cried out,

"Say who thou art, and whence thy country, name
Thy parents--" {180b}

At this I thought I should have died with fear; I stood motionless,
and astonished at the awfulness and majesty of his voice; but
recovering myself in a short time, I related to him everything from
the beginning, how desirous I was of knowing sublime truths, how I
went to the philosophers, and hearing them contradict one another,
and driven to despair, thought on the scheme of making me wings,
with all that had happened in my journey quite up to heaven. I then
delivered the message to him from the Moon, at which, softening his
contracted brow, he smiled at me, and cried, "What were Otus and
Ephialtes {181} in comparison of Menippus, who has thus dared to fly
up to heaven; but come, we now invite you to supper with us; to-
morrow we will attend to your business, and dismiss you." At these
words he rose up and went to that part of heaven where everything
from below could be heard most distinctly; for this, it seems, was
the time appointed to hear petitions. As we went along, he asked me
several questions about earthly matters, such as, "How much corn is
there at present in Greece? had you a hard winter last year? and did
your cabbages want rain? is any of Phidias's {182} family alive now?
what is the reason that the Athenians have left off sacrificing to
me for so many years? do they think of building up the Olympian
temple again? are the thieves taken that robbed the Dodonaean?"
When I had answered all these, "Pray, Menippus," said he, "what does
mankind really think of me?" "How should they think of you," said
I, "but with the utmost veneration, that you are the great sovereign
of the gods." "There you jest," said he, "I am sure; I know well
enough how fond they are of novelty, though you will not own it.
There was a time, indeed, when I was held in some estimation, when I
was the great physician, when I was everything, in short--

"When streets, and lanes, and all was full of Jove." {183a}

Pisa {183b} and Dodona {183c} were distinguished above every place,
and I could not see for the smoke of sacrifices; but, since Apollo
has set up his oracle at Delphi, and AEsculapius practises physic at
Pergamus; since temples have been erected to Bendis {183d} at
Thrace, to Anubis in Egypt, and to Diana at Ephesus, everybody runs
after them; with them they feast, to them they offer up their
hecatombs, and think it honour enough for a worn-out god, as I am,
if they sacrifice once in six years at Olympia; whilst my altars are
as cold and neglected as Plato's laws, {184} or the syllogisms of

With this and such-like chat we passed away the time, till we came
to the place where the petitions were to be heard. Here we found
several holes, with covers to them, and close to every one was
placed a golden chair. Jupiter sat down in the first he came to,
and lifting up the lid, listened to the prayers, which, as you may
suppose, were of various kinds. I stooped down and heard several of
them myself, such as, "O Jupiter, grant me a large empire!" "O
Jupiter, may my leeks and onions flourish and increase!" "Grant
Jupiter, that my father may die soon!" "Grant I may survive my
wife!" "Grant I may not be discovered, whilst I lay wait for my
brother!" "Grant that I may get my cause!" "Grant that I may be
crowned at Olympia!" One sailor asked for a north wind, another for
a south; the husbandman prayed for rain, and the fuller for
sunshine. Jupiter heard them all, but did not promise everybody--

"--some the just request,
He heard propitious, and denied the rest." {185a}

Those prayers which he thought right and proper he let up through
the hole, and blew the wicked and foolish ones back, that they might
not rise to heaven. One petition, indeed, puzzled him a little; two
men asking favours of him directly contrary to each other, at the
same time, and promising the same sacrifice; he was at a loss which
to oblige; he became immediately a perfect Academic, and like
Pyrrho, {185b} was held in suspense between them. When he had done
with the prayers, he sat down upon the next chair, over another
hole, and listened to those who were swearing and making vows. When
he had finished this business, and destroyed Hermodorus, the
Epicurean, for perjury, he removed to the next seat, and gave
audience to the auguries, oracles, and divinations; which having
despatched, he proceeded to the hole that brought up the fume of the
victims, together with the name of the sacrificer. Then he gave out
his orders to the winds and storms: "Let there be rain to-day in
Scythia, lightning in Africa, and snow in Greece; do you, Boreas,
blow in Lydia, and whilst Notus lies still, let the north wind raise
the waves of the Adriatic, and about a thousand measures of hail be
sprinkled over Cappadocia."

When Jupiter had done all his business we repaired to the feast, for
it was now supper-time, and Mercury bade me sit down by Pan, the
Corybantes, Attis, and Sabazius, a kind of demi-gods who are
admitted as visitors there. Ceres served us with bread, and Bacchus
with wine; Hercules handed about the flesh, Venus scattered myrtles,
and Neptune brought us fish; not to mention that I got slyly a
little nectar and ambrosia, for my friend Ganymede, out of good-
nature, if he saw Jove looking another way, would frequently throw
me in a cup or two. The greater gods, as Homer tells us {187a}
(who, I suppose, had seen them as well as myself,) never taste meat
or wine, but feed upon ambrosia and get drunk with nectar, at the
same time their greatest luxury is, instead of victuals, to suck in
the fumes that rise from the victims, and the blood of the
sacrifices that are offered up to them. Whilst we were at supper,
Apollo played on the harp, Silenus danced a cordax, and the Muses
repeated Hesiod's Theogony, and the first Ode of Pindar. When these
recreations were over we all retired tolerably well soaked, {187b}
to bed,

"Now pleasing rest had sealed each mortal eye,
And even immortal gods in slumber lie,
All but myself--" {187c}

I could not help thinking of a thousand things, and particularly how
it came to pass that, during so long a time Apollo {188a} should
never have got him a beard, and how there came to be night in
heaven, though the sun is always present there and feasting with
them. I slept a little, and early in the morning Jupiter ordered
the crier to summon a council of the gods, and when they were all
assembled, thus addressed himself to them.

"The stranger who came here yesterday, is the chief cause of my
convening you this day. I have long wanted to talk with you
concerning the philosophers, and the complaints now sent to us from
the Moon make it immediately necessary to take the affair into
consideration. There is lately sprung up a race of men, slothful,
quarrelsome, vain-glorious, foolish, petulant, gluttonous, proud,
abusive, in short what Homer calls,

"An idle burthen to the ground." {188b}

These, dividing themselves into sects, run through all the
labyrinths of disputation, calling themselves Stoics, Academics,
Epicureans, Peripatetics, and a hundred other names still more
ridiculous; then wrapping themselves up in the sacred veil of
virtue, they contract their brows and let down their beards, under a
specious appearance hiding the most abandoned profligacy; like one
of the players on the stage, if you strip him of his fine habits
wrought with gold, all that remains behind is a ridiculous spectacle
of a little contemptible fellow, hired to appear there for seven
drachmas. And yet these men despise everybody, talk absurdly of the
gods, and drawing in a number of credulous boys, roar to them in a
tragical style about virtue, and enter into disputations that are
endless and unprofitable. To their disciples they cry up fortitude
and temperance, a contempt of riches and pleasures, and, when alone,
indulge in riot and debauchery. The most intolerable of all is,
that though they contribute nothing towards the good and welfare of
the community, though they are

"Unknown alike in council and in field;" {189}

yet are they perpetually finding fault with, abusing, and reviling
others, and he is counted the greatest amongst them who is most
impudent, noisy, and malevolent; if one should say to one of these
fellows who speak ill of everybody, 'What service are you of to the
commonwealth?' he would reply, if he spoke fairly and honestly, 'To
be a sailor or a soldier, or a husbandman, or a mechanic, I think
beneath me; but I can make a noise and look dirty, wash myself in
cold water, go barefoot all winter, and then, like Momus, find fault
with everybody else; if any rich man sups luxuriously, I rail at,
and abuse him; but if any of my friends or acquaintance fall sick,
and want my assistance, I take no notice of them.'

"Such, my brother gods, are the cattle {190} which I complain of;
and of all these the Epicureans are the worst, who assert that the
gods take no care of human affairs, or look at all into them: it is
high time, my brethren, that we should take this matter into
consideration, for if once they can persuade the people to believe
these things, you must all starve; for who will sacrifice to you,
when they can get nothing by it? What the Moon accuses you of, you
all heard yesterday from the stranger; consult, therefore, amongst
yourselves, and determine what may best promote the happiness of
mankind, and our own security." When Jupiter had thus spoken, the
assembly rung with repeated cries, of "thunder, and lightning! burn,
consume, destroy! down with them into the pit, to Tartarus, and the
giants!" Jove, however, once more commanding silence, cried out,
"It shall be done as you desire; they and their philosophy shall
perish together: but at present, no punishments must be inflicted;
for these four months to come, as you all know, it is a solemn
feast, and I have declared a truce: next year, in the beginning of
the spring, my lightning shall destroy them.

"As to Menippus, first cutting off his wings that he may not come
here again, let Mercury carry him down to the earth."

Saying this, he broke up the assembly, and Mercury taking me up by
my right ear, brought me down, and left me yesterday evening in the
Ceramicus. And now, my friend, you have heard everything I had to
tell you from heaven; I must take my leave, and carry this good news
to the philosophers, who are walking in the Poecile.


{17} One of Alexander's generals, to whose share, on the division of
the empire, after that monarch's death, fell the kingdom of Thrace,
in which was situated the city of Abdera.

{18a} A small fragment of this tragedy, which has in it the very
line here quoted by Lucian, is yet extant in Barnes's edition of

{18b} This story may afford no useless admonition to the managers of
the Haymarket and other summer theatres, who, it is to be hoped,
will not run the hazard of inflaming their audiences with too much
tragedy in the dog days.

{19a} This alludes to the Parthian War, in the time of Severian; the
particulars of which, except the few here occasionally glanced at,
we are strangers to. Lucian, most probably, by this tract totally
knocked up some of the historians who had given an account of it,
and prevented many others, who were intimidated by the severity of
his strictures, attempting to transmit the history of it to

{19b} This saying is attributed to Empedocles.

{20a} The most famous of the Pontic cities, and well known as the
residence of the renowned Cynic philosopher. It is still called by
the same name, and is a port town of Asiatic Turkey, on the Euxine.

{20b} A kind of school or gymnasium where the young men performed
their exercises. The choice of such a place by a philosopher to
roll a tub in heightens the ridicule.

{21} See Homer's "Odyssey," M 1. 219.

{23} Alluding to the story he set out with.

{24a} [Greek]. Gr. The Latin translation renders it "octava
duplici." See Burney's "Dissertation on Music," Sect. 1.

{24b} Gr. [Greek], aspera arteria, or the wind-pipe. The comparison
is strictly just and remarkably true, as we may all recollect how
dreadful the sensation is when any part of our food slips down what
is generally called "the wrong way."

{25a} See Homer's "Iliad," [Greek] 1. 227, and Virgil's "Camilla,"
in the 7th book of the "AEneid."

{25b} See Homer's "Iliad," [Greek] 1. 18. One of the blind bard's
speciosa miracula, which Lucian is perpetually laughing at.

{26} [Greek], or cerussa. Painting, we see, both amongst men and
women, was practised long ago, and has at least the plea of
antiquity in its favour. According to Lucian, the men laid on
white; for the [Greek] was probably ceruse, or white lead; the
ladies, we may suppose, as at present, preferred the rouge.

{29} Dinocrates. The same story is told of him, with some little
alteration, by Vitruvius. Mention is made of it likewise by Pliny
and Strabo.

{35} "His buckler's mighty orb was next displayed;
Tremendous Gorgon frowned upon its field,
And circling terrors filled the expressive shield.
Within its concave hung a silver thong,
On which a mimic serpent creeps along,
His azure length in easy waves extends,
Till, in three heads, th' embroidered monster ends."
See Pope's "Homer's Iliad," book xi., 1. 43.
Lucian here means to ridicule, not Homer, but the historian's absurd
imitation of him.

{39} The Greek expression was proverbial. Horace has adopted it:
"Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus."

{40} Lucian adds, [Greek], ut est in proverbio, by which it appears
that barbers and their shops were as remarkable for gossiping and
tittle-tattle in ancient as they are in modern times. Aristophanes
mentions them in his "Plutus," they are recorded also by Plutarch,
and Theophrastus styles them [Greek].

{41} See Thucydides, book ii., cap. 34.

{42} Who fell upon his sword. See the "Ajax" of Sophocles.

{43} For a description of this famous statue, see Pausanias.

{44} The [Greek], or scarus, is mentioned by several ancient
authors, as a fish of the most delicate flavour, and is supposed to
be of the same nature with our chars in Cumberland, and some other
parts of this kingdom. I have ventured, therefore, to call it by
this name, till some modern Apicius can furnish me with a better.

{45} Dragons, or fiery serpents, were used by the Parthians, and
Suidas tells us, by the Scythians also, as standards, in the same
manner as the Romans made use of the eagle, and under every one of
these standards were a thousand men. See Lips. de Mil. Rom., cap.

{46} See Arrian.

{47} The idea here so deservedly laughed at, of a history of what
was to come, if treated, not seriously, as this absurd writer
treated it, but ludicrously, as Lucian would probably have treated
it himself, might open a fine field for wit and humour. Something
of this kind appeared in a newspaper a few years ago, which, I
think, was called "News for a Hundred Years Hence;" and though but a
rough sketch, was well executed. A larger work, on the same ground,
and by a good hand, might afford much entertainment.

{49} This kind of scholastic jargon was much in vogue in the time of
Lucian, and it is no wonder he should take every opportunity of
laughing at it, as nothing can be more opposite to true genius, wit,
and humour, than such pedantry.

{50} Milo, the Crotonian wrestler, is reported to have been a man of
most wonderful bodily strength, concerning which a number of lies
are told, for which the reader, if he pleases, may consult his
dictionary. He lost his life, we are informed, by trying to rend
with his hands an old oak, which wedged him in, and pressed him to
death; the poet says--
"--he met his end,
Wedged in that timber which he strove to rend."

Titornus was a rival of Milo's, and, according to AElian, who is not
always to be credited, rolled a large stone with ease, which Milo
with all his force could not stir. Conon was some slim Macaroni of
that age, remarkable only for his debility, as was Leotrophides
also, of crazy memory, recorded by Aristophanes, in his comedy
called The Birds.

{51} The Broughtons of antiquity; men, we may suppose, renowned in
their time for teaching the young nobility of Greece to bruise one
another secundum artem.

{53a} See Diodorus Siculus, lib. vii., and Plutarch.

{53b} Concerning some of these facts, even recent as they were then
with regard to us, historians are divided. Thucydides and Plutarch
tell the story one way, Diodorus and Justin another. Well might our
author, therefore, find fault with their uncertainty.

{55a} Lucian alludes, it is supposed, to Ctesias, the physician to
Artaxerxes, whose history is stuffed with encomiums on his royal
patron. See Plutarch's "Artaxerxes."

{55b} The Campus Nisaeus, a large plain in Media, near the Caspian
mountains, was famous for breeding the finest horses, which were
allotted to the use of kings only; or, according to Xenophon, those
favourites on whom the sovereign thought proper to bestow them. See
the "Cyropaed.," book viii.

{56} This fine picture of a good historian has been copied by Tully,
Strabo, Polybius, and other writers; it is a standard of perfection,
however, which few writers, ancient or modern, have been able to
reach. Thuanus has prefixed to his history these lines of Lucian;
but whether he, or any other historian, hath answered in every point
to the description here given, is, I believe, yet undetermined.

{57a} The saying is attributed to Aristophanes, though I cannot find
it there. It is observable that this proverbial kind of expression,
for freedom of words and sentiments, has been adopted into almost
every language, though the image conveying it is different. Thus
the Greeks call a fig a fig, etc. We say, an honest man calls a
spade a spade; and the French call "un chat un chat." Boileau says,
"J'appelle un chat un chat, et Rolet un fripon."

{57b} Herodotus's history is comprehended in nine books, to each of
which is prefixed the name of a Muse; the first is called Clio, the
second Euterpe, and so on. A modern poet, I have been told, the
ingenious Mr. Aaron Hill, improved upon this thought, and christened
(if we may properly so call it), not his books, but his daughters by
the same poetical names of Miss Cli, Miss Melp-y, Miss Terps-y, Miss
Urania, etc.

{58} Both Thucydides and Livy are reprehensible in this particular;
and the same objection may be made to Thuanus, Clarendon, Burnet,
and many other modern historians.

{59} How just is this observation of Lucian's, and at the same time
how truly poetical is the image which he makes use of to express it!
It puts us in mind of his rival critic Longinus, who, as Pope has
observed, is himself the great sublime he draws.

{60} By this very just observation, Lucian means to censure all
those writers--and we have many such now amongst us--who take so
much pains to smooth and round their periods, as to disgust their
readers by the frequent repetition of it, as it naturally produces a
tiresome sameness in the sound of them; and at the same time
discovers too much that laborious art and care, which it is always
the author's business as much as possible to conceal.

{61} See Homer's "Iliad," bk. xiii., 1. 4.

{62a} The famous Lacedaemonian general. The circumstance alluded to
is in Thucydides, bk. iv.

{62b} Gr. [Greek], a technical term, borrowed from music, and
signifying that tone of the voice which exactly corresponds with the
instrument accompanying it.

{66a} A coarse fish that came from Pontus, or the Black Sea.--
Saperdas advehe Ponto. See Pers. Sat. v. 1. 134.

{66b} Here doctors differ. Several of Thucydides's descriptions are
certainly very long, many of them, perhaps, rather tedious.

{67} Lucian is rather severe on this writer. Cicero only says, De
omnibus omnia libere palam dixit; he spoke freely of everybody.
Other writers, however, are of the same opinion with our satirist
with regard to him. See Dions. Plutarch. Cornelius Nepos, etc.

{69} Alluding to the story of Diogenes, as related in the beginning.

{75} See Homer's "Odyssey."--The strange stories which Lucian here
mentions may certainly be numbered, with all due deference to so
great a name, amongst the nugae canorae of old Homer. Juvenal
certainly considers them in this light when he says:--

Tam vacui capitis populum Phaeaca putavit.

Some modern critics, however, have endeavoured to defend them.

{77} Here the history begins, what goes before may be considered as
the author's preface, and should have been marked as such in the

{79} Among the Greek wines, so much admired by ancient Epicures,
those of the islands of the Archipelago were the most celebrated,
and of these the Chian wine, the product of Chios, bore away the
palm from every other, and particularly that which was made from
vines growing on the mountain called Arevisia, in testimony of which
it were easy, if necessary, to produce an amphora full of classical

The present inhabitants of that island make a small quantity of
excellent wine for their own use and are liberal of it to strangers
who travel that way, but dare not, being under Turkish government,
cultivate the vines well, or export the product of them.

{81a} In the same manner as Gulliver's island of Laputa.--From this
passage it is not improbable but that Swift borrowed the idea.

{81b} The account which Lucian here gives us of his visit to the
moon, perhaps suggested to Bergerac the idea of his ingenious work,
called "A Voyage to the Moon."

{82a} Equi vultures, horse vultures; from [Greek], a horse: and
[Greek], a vulture.

{82b} Lucian, we see, has founded his history on matter of fact.
Endymion, we all know, was a king of Elis, though some call him a
shepherd. Shepherd or king, however, he was so handsome, that the
moon, who saw him sleeping on Mount Latmos, fell in love with him.
This no orthodox heathen ever doubted: Lucian, who was a
freethinker, laughs indeed at the tale; but has made him ample
amends in this history by creating him emperor of the moon.

{83a} Modern astronomers are, I, think, agreed, that we are to the
moon just the same as the moon is to us. Though Lucian's history
may be false, therefore his philosophy, we see, was true (1780).
(The moon is not habitable, 1887.)

{83b} This I am afraid, is not so agreeable to the modern system;
our philosophers all asserting that the sun is not habitable. As it
is a place, however, which we are very little acquainted with, they
may be mistaken, and Lucian may guess as well as ourselves, for
aught we can prove to the contrary.

{84} Horse ants, from [Greek], a horse; and [Greek], an ant.

{85a} From [Greek], olus, any kind of herb; and [Greek], penna, a

{85b} Millii jaculatores, darters of millet; millet is a kind of
small grain.--A strange species of warriors!

{85c} Alliis pugnantes, garlic fighters: these we are to suppose
threw garlic at the enemy, and served as a kind of stinkpots.

{85d} Pulici sagittarii, flea-archers.

{85e} Venti cursores, wind courser.

{86a} Passeres glandium, acorn sparrows.

{86b} Equi grues, horse-cranes.

{87a} Air-flies.

{87b} Gr. [Greek], air-crows; but as all crows fly through the air,
I would rather read [Greek], which may be translated air-dancers,
from [Greek], cordax, a lascivious kind of dance, so called.

{88a} Gr. [Greek], Caulo fungi, stalk and mushroom men.

{88b} Gr. [Greek], cani glandacii, acorn-dogs.

{88c} Gr. [Greek], nubicentauri, cloud-centaurs.

{88d} The reason for this wish is given a little farther on in the

{89} See Hom. Il. II.. 1, 459.

{90a} Some authors tell us that Sagittarius was the same as Chiron
the centaur; others, that he was Crocus, a famous hunter, the son of
Euphemia, who nursed the Muses, at whose intercession, he was, after
his death, promoted to the ninth place in the Zodiac, under the name
of Sagittarius.

{90b} The inhabitants of the moon.

{92} A good burlesque on the usual form and style of treaties.

{93} Gr. [Greek], ignens, fiery, [Greek], flaming, [Greek],
nocturnus, nightly, [Greek], menstruus, monthly, [Greek], multi
lucius, many lights. These all make good proper names in Greek, and
sound magnificently, but do not answer so well in English. I have
therefore preserved the original words in the translation.

{94} Here Lucian, like other story-tellers, is a little deficient in
point of memory. If they eat, as he tells us, nothing but frogs,
what use could they have for cheese?

{96} Of which we shall see an account in the next adventure.

{97} The city of Lamps.

{98a} The cloud cuckoo.

{98b} See his comedy of the Birds.

{104a} Salsamentarii: Salt-fish-men.

{104b} Triton-weasels.

{104c} Greek, [Greek], cancri-mani, crab's hands.

{104d} Thynno-cipites, tunny-heads, i.e., men with heads like those
of the tunny-fish.

{105a} Greek, [Greek], crab-men.

{105b} [Greek], sparrow-footed, from [Greek], passer marinus.

{109} Maris potor, the drinker up of the sea. AEolocentaurus and
Thalassopotes were, I suppose, two Leviathans.

{113} One of the fifty Nereids, or Sea-Nymphs; so called, on account
of the fairness of her skin: from [Greek], gala, milk; of the milky
island, therefore, she was naturally the presiding deity.

{114a} Tyro, according to Homer, fell in love with the famous river
Enipeus, and was always wandering on its banks, where Neptune found
her, covered her with his waves, and throwing her into a deep sleep,
supplied the place of Enipeus. Lucian has made her amends, by
bestowing one of his imaginary kingdoms upon her. His part of the
story, however, is full as probable as the rest.

{114b} Suberipedes, cork-footed.

{116a} This description of the Pagan Elysium, or Island of the
Blessed, is well drawn, and abounds in fanciful and picturesque
imagery, interspersed with strokes of humour and satire. The second
book is, indeed, throughout, more entertaining and better written
than the first.

{116b} See the Ajax Flagellifer of Sophocles. Lucian humorously
degrades him from the character of a hero, and gives him hellebore
as a madman.

{118} It is not improbable but that Voltaire's El Dorado in his
"Candide," might have been suggested to him by this passage.

{119} I.e. Their appearance is exactly like that of shadows made by
the sun at noonday, with this only difference, that one lies flat on
the ground, the other is erect, and one is dark, the other light or
diaphanous. Our vulgar idea of ghosts, especially with regard to
their not being tangible, corresponds with this of Lucian's.

{121a} A famous musician. Clemens Alexandrinus gives us a full
account of him, to whom I refer the curious reader.

{121b} This poet, we are told, wrote some severe verses on Helen,
for which he was punished by Castor and Pollux with loss of sight,
but on making his recantation in a palinodia, his eyes were
graciously restored to him. Lucian has affronted her still more
grossly by making her run away with Cinyrus; but he, we are to
suppose, being not over superstitious, defied the power of Castor
and Pollux.

{122a} Nothing appears more ridiculous to a modern reader than the
perpetual encomiums on the musical merit of swans and swallows,
which we meet with in all the writers of antiquity. A proper
account and explanation of this is, I think, amongst the desiderata
of literature. There is an entertaining tract on this subject in
the "Hist. de l'Acad." tom. v., by M. Morin.

{122b} Who ravished Cassandra, the daughter of Priam and priestess
of Minerva, who sent a tempest, dispersed the Grecian navy in their
return home, and sunk Ajax with a thunder-bolt.

{123a} A scholar of Pythagoras.

{123b} The second king of Rome.

{123c} One of the seven sages, but excepted against by Lucian,
because he was king of Corinth and a tyrant.

{123d} See his Treatise "de Republica." His quitting Elysium, to
live in his own republic, is a stroke of true humour.

{124a} Alluding to a passage in Hesiod already quoted.

{124b} Lucian laughs at the sceptics, though he was himself one of

{126} Death-games, or games after death, in imitation of wedding-
games, funeral-games, etc.

{127a} The famous tyrant of Agrigentum, renowned for his ingenious
contrivance of roasting his enemies in a brazen bull, and not less
memorable for some excellent epistles, which set a wit and scholar
together by the ears concerning the genuineness of them. See the
famous contest between Bentley and Boyle.

{127b} Who sacrificed to Jupiter all the strangers that came into
his kingdom. "Hospites violabat," says Seneca, "ut eorum sanguine
pluviam eliceret, cujus penuria AEgyptus novem annis laboraverat."
A most ingenious contrivance.

{128a} A king of Thrace who fed his horses with human flesh.

{128b} Scyron and Pityocamptes were two famous robbers, who used to
seize on travellers and commit the most horrid cruelties upon them.
They were slain by Theseus. See Plutarch's "Life of Theseus."

{128c} Where he ran away, but, as we are told, in very good company.
See Diog. Laert. Strabo, etc.

{132} The Antipodes. We never heard whether Lucian performed this
voyage. D'Ablancourt, however, his French translator, in his
continuation of the "True History," has done it for him, not without
some humour, though it is by no means equal to the original.

{135a} Voltaire has improved on this passage, and given us a very
humorous account of "les Habitans de l'Enfer," in his wicked

{135b} Who, the reader will remember, had just before run off with

{136a} Greek, [Greek], sleep.

{136b} As herald of the morn.

{136c} A root which, infused, is supposed to promote sleep,
consequently very proper for the Island of Dreams.

"Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the East,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou ow'dst yesterday."
See Shakespeare's "Othello."

{136d} Night wanderer.

{137a} Gr. [Greek], inexperrectus, unwaked or wakeful.

{137b} Gr. [Greek], pernox, all night.

{137c} "Two portals firm the various phantoms keep;
Of ev'ry one; whence flit, to mock the brain,
Of winged lies a light fantastic train;
The gate opposed pellucid valves adorn,
And columns fair, encased with polished horn;
Where images of truth for passage wait."
See Pope's Homer's "Odyssey," bk. xix., 1.
See also Virgil, who has pretty closely imitated his master.

{138a} Gr. [Greek], terriculum vanipori: fright, the son of vain
hope, or disappointment.

{138b} Gr. [Greek], divitiglorium, the pride of riches--i.e.,
arising from riches; son of phantasy, or deceit.

{138c} Gr. [Greek], gravi-somnem, heavy sleep.

{141a} Nut sailors; or, sailors in a nut-shell.

{141b} Those who sailed in the gourds.

{147a} Cabalusa and Hydamardia are hard words, which the
commentators confess they can make nothing of. Various, however,
are the derivations, and numerous the guesses made about them. The
English reader may, if he pleases, call them not improperly,
especially the first, Cabalistic.

{147b} Which the reader will remember was given him by way of charm,
on his departure from the Happy Island.

{148} Gr. [Greek], asini-eruras, ass-legged.

{149} The ensuing books never appeared. The "True History," like

--"the bear and fiddle,
Begins, but breaks off in the middle."

D'Ablancourt, as I observed above, has carried it on a little
farther. There is still room for any ingenious modern to take the
plan from Lucian, and improve upon it.

{153} The ancient Greek stadium is supposed to have contained a
hundred and twenty-five geometrical paces, or six hundred and
twenty-five Roman feet, corresponding to our furlong. Eight stadia
make a geometrical, or Italian mile; and twenty, according to
Dacier, a French league. It is observed, notwithstanding, by
Guilletiere, a famous French writer, that the stadium was only six
hundred Athenian feet, six hundred and four English feet, or a
hundred and three geometrical paces.

The Greeks measured all their distances by stadia, which, after all
we can discover concerning them, are different in different times
and places.

{154} The Phoenicians, it is supposed, were the first sailors, and
steered their course according to the appearance of the stars.

{155} Greek, [Greek], coelicoloe, Homer's general name for the gods.

{156} Ganymede, whom Jupiter fell in love with, as he was hunting on
Mount Ida, and turning himself into an eagle, carried up with him to
heaven. "I am sure," says Menippus's friend, archly enough, "you
were not carried up there, like Ganymede, for your beauty."

{157a} "Icarus Icariis nomina fecit aquis." The story is too well
known to stand in need of any illustration. This accounts for the
title of Icaro-Menippus.

{157b} See Bishop Wilkins's "Art of Flying," where this ingenious
contrivance of Menippus's is greatly improved upon. For a humorous
detail of the many advantages attending this noble art, I refer my
readers to the Spectator.

{159} Even Lucian's Menippus, we see, could not reflect on the works
of God without admiration; but with how much more dignity are they
considered by the holy Psalmist!--

"O praise the Lord of heaven, praise Him in the height. Praise Him,
sun and moon; praise Him, all ye stars; praise the Lord upon earth,
ye dragons and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and vapours, wind and
storm fulfilling His word."--Psalm cxlviii.

{161} This was the opinion of Anaxagoras, one of the Ionic
philosophers, born at Clazomene, in the first year of the seventieth
Olympiad. See Plutarch and Diogenes Laert.

{162} Alluding to the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle.

{163a} This was the opinion of Democritus, who held that there were
infinite worlds in infinite space, according to all circumstances,
some of which are not only like to one another, but every way so
perfectly and absolutely equal, that there is no difference betwixt
them. See Plutarch, and Tully, Quest. Acad.

{163b} Empedocles, of Agrigentum, a Pythagorean; he held that there
are two principal powers in nature, amity and discord, and that

"Sometimes by friendship, all are knit in one,
Sometimes by discord, severed and undone."
See Stanley's "Lives of the Philosophers."

{163c} Alluding to the doctrine of Pythagoras, according to whom,
number is the principle most providential of all heaven and earth,
the root of divine beings, of gods and demons, the fountain and root
of all things; that which, before all things, exists in the divine
mind, from which, and out of which, all things are digested into
order, and remain numbered by an indissoluble series. The whole
system of the Pythagoreans is at large explained and illustrated by
Stanley. See his "Lives of Philosophers."

{164} See our author's "Auction of Lives," where Socrates swears by
the dog and the plane-tree.

This was called the [Greek], or oath of Rhadamanthus, who, as
Porphyry informs us, made a law that men should swear, if they needs
must swear, by geese, dogs, etc. [Greek], that they might not, on
every trifling occasion, call in the name of the gods. This is a
kind of religious reason, the custom was therefore, Porphyry tells
us, adopted by the wise and pious Socrates. Lucian, however, who
laughs at everything here (as well as the place above quoted),
ridicules him for it.

{165a} See Homer's "Odyssey," book ix. 1. 302. Pope translates it

"Wisdom held my hand."

Homer says nothing but--my mind changed.

{165b} One of the fables here alluded to is yet extant amongst those
ascribed to AEsop, but that concerning the camel I never met with.

{166a} That part of Athens which was called the upper city, in
opposition to the lower city. The Acropolis was on the top of a
high rock.

{166b} Mountains near Athens.

{166c} A mountain between Geranea and Corinth.

{166d} A high mountain in Arcadia, to the west of Elis. Erymanthus
another, bordering upon Achaia. Taygetus another, reaching
northwards, to the foot of the mountains of Arcadia.

{167} See Homer's "Iliad," book xiii. 1. 4

{168} See note on this in a former dialogue.

{169} It is reported of Empedocles, that he went to AEtna, where he
leaped into the fire, that he might leave behind him an opinion that
he was a god, and that it was afterwards discovered by one of his
sandals, which the fire cast up again, for his sandals were of
brass. See Stanley's "Lives of the Philosophers." The manner of
his death is related differently by different authors. This was,
however, the generally received fable. Lucian, with an equal degree
of probability, carries him up to the moon.

{170} See Homer's Odyssey, b. xvi. 1. 187. The speech of Ulysses to
his son, on the discovery.

{171} When Empedocles is got into the moon, Lucian makes him swear
by Endymion in compliment to his sovereign lady.

{172a} Agathocles.

{172b} Stratonice.

{173} Of Achilles. See the 18th book of the "Iliad."

{175a} Greek, [Greek].

{175b} Sicyon was a city near Corinth, famous for the richness and
felicity of its soil.

{176a} The famous Ager Cynurius, a little district of Laconia, on
the confines of Argolis; the Argives and Spartans, whom it laid
between, agreed to decide the property of it by three hundred men of
a side in the field: the battle was bloody and desperate, only one
man remaining alive, Othryades, the Lacedaemonian, who immediately,
though covered with wounds, raised a trophy, which he inscribed with
his own blood, to Jupiter Tropaeus. This victory the Spartans, who
from that time had quiet possession of the field, yearly celebrated
with a festival, to commemorate the event.

{176b} A mountain of Thrace. Dion Cassius places it near Philippi.
It was supposed to have abounded in golden mines in some parts of

{177} When AEacus was king of Thessaly, his kingdom was almost
depopulated by a dreadful pestilence; he prayed to Jupiter to avert
the distemper, and dreamed that he saw an innumerable quantity of
ants creep out of an old oak, which were immediately turned into
men; when he awoke the dream was fulfilled, and he found his kingdom
more populous than ever; from that time the people were called
Myrmidons. Such is the fable, which owed its rise merely to the
name of Myrmidons, which it was supposed must come from [Greek], an
ant. To some such trifling circumstances as these we are indebted
for half the fables of antiquity.

{178a} See Homer's "Iliad," book i. 1. 294.

{178b} This was the opinion of Anaxagoras, and is confirmed by the
more accurate observations of modern philosophy.

{179} See Pope's Homer's "Odyssey," book x. 1. 113.

{180a} I.e. Such a countenance as he put on when he slew the
rebellious Titans.

{180b} See Homer's "Odyssey," A. v. 170

{181} Otus and Ephialtes were two giants of an enormous size; some
of the ancients, who, no doubt, were exact in their measurement,
assure us that, at nine years old, they were nine cubits round, and
thirty-six high, and grew in proportion, till they thought proper to
attack and endeavour to dethrone Jupiter; for which purpose they
piled mount Ossa and Pelion upon Olympus, made Mars prisoner, and
played several tricks of this kind, till Diana, by artifice, subdued
them, contriving, some way or other, to make them shoot their arrows
against, and destroy each other, after which Jupiter sent them down
to Tartarus. Some attribute to Apollo the honour of conquering
them. This story has been explained, and allegorised, and tortured
so many different ways, that it is not easy to unravel the
foundation of it.

{182} Jupiter thought himself, we may suppose, much obliged to
Phidias for the famous statue which he had made of him, and
therefore, in return, complaisantly inquires after his family.

{183a} From Aratus.

{183b} A city of Elis, where there was a temple dedicated to
Olympian Jupiter, and public games celebrated every fifth year.

{183c} A city of Thessaly, where there was a temple to Jove; this
was likewise the seat of the famous oracle.

{183d} A goddess worshipped in Thrace. Hesychius says this was only
another name for Diana. See Strabo.

{184} Alluding to his Republic, which probably was considered by
Lucian and others as a kind of Utopian system.

{185a} See Homer's "Iliad," book xvi. 1. 250.

{185b} Of Elis, founder of the Sceptic sect, who doubted of
everything. He flourished about the hundred and tenth Olympiad.

{187a} [Greek]
"--Not the bread of man their life sustains,
Nor wine's inflaming juice supplies their veins."
See Pope's Homer's "Iliad," book v. 1. 425.

{187b} Greek, [Greek].

{187c} See the beginning of the second book of the "Iliad."

{188a} Apollo is always represented as imberbis, or without a beard,
probably from a notion that Phoebus, or the sun, must be always

{188b} See Homer's "Iliad," book xviii. 1. 134.

{189} See Homer's "Iliad," book ii. 1. 238.

{190} Greek, [Greek], what Virgil calls, ignavum pecus.


Back to Full Books