Satire and Verisimilitude: Christianity in Lucian’s Peregrinus
Lucian's narrative of his brief flirtation with Christianity lacks the circumstantial embellishments which compel one to believe the later episode of his quarrel with the great sophist Herodes Atticus, a figure whose enmity to Peregrinus is in any case attested in other sources. The treatise On the Death of Peregrinus tells one merely how the Church received the charlatan when the better sort disowned him, how they ministered to his comforts in adversity and how at last they expelled him for some slight but sufficient wrong. In Lucian's Peregrinus, Theagenes fears that comparison with Socrates' death would belittle this modern Heracles, and is ready to flaunt the name of Zeus himself. Mistaking him for a public benefactor, the populace hails Peregrinus as "the one patriot, the one sage, the one partisan of Diogenes", erroneously conferring philosophic honours upon him in a form of words appropriate to the acclamation of a saviour God.