Very Short Stories: Lucian's Close Encounters With Some Paintings


  • Alain Billault


As paintings play an important part in Hercules, Herodotus sive Aetion and Zeuxis sive Antiochos, those three texts form a particular group in Lucian’s prolaliai. Lucian, who is about to perform as a sophist before an audience, describes pictures he happened to see and expresses feelings and ideas he had, and decisions he made as he was watching or remembering them. His encounters with them do not only provide him with opportunities to display his eloquence. He relates them as significant moments in his rhetorical career. They are episodes in his own story. Thus, the three prolaliai can be read as fragments of an autobiographical novel featuring Lucian, the artist of language, as the hero.

Alain Billault is Professor of Greek at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. His main fields of research are the Greek novel, the Greek literature of the imperial period, the Hellenistic poetry and the posterity of Greek authors and works after Antiquity. He has published La creation romanesque dans la littérature grecque à l’époque impériale (Paris 1991), L’univers de Philostrate (Brussels 2000), and Littérature grecque (Paris 2000).