chapter
The summation of fantasy
Lucian’s True Histories
WithAnderson Graham
Pages 9

Lucian, then, begins his voyage narrative. It is from the Pillars of Heracles westwards; in that direction there will have been little by way of accounts against which to check his own narrative, and he can expect little fear of contradiction. His motives are intellectual curiosity, including finding the ending of the Ocean and the people on the other side. The narrative fragments a little before the next major episode. Lucian visits a miniature town of lamps, a traditionally ‘animate’ community because of the popular idea of living flames. The sketch offers a demonstration of how a whole community can be imagined, complete with social hierarchy, courts empowered to put out delinquent lamps—and a conversation between Lucian and his own lamp. The crew land on the Isle of the Blest where amid a locus amoenus they can consort with heroes of the Trojan War, as well as celebrated philosophers and literary men.