Narcissistic Fraud in the Ancient World: Lucian's Account of Alexander of Abonuteichos and the Cult of Glycon


  • Stephen A. Kent


Based upon Lucian of Samosata’s account of Alexander of Abonuteichos, who is the founder of the Glycon cult in second centuryAsia Minor, I argue that Alexander likely is a malignant narcissist. I construct this argument by summarizing Alexander’s behaviours, and then showing how those behaviours seemingly relate to modern psychiatric descriptions of narcissists. As such, Alexander’s behaviours have parallels with several modern cult leaders. Moreover, Alexander’s attempts to kill his critics suggests that he is a particular type of narcissist—a malignant narcissist—making him a dangerous and vengeful personality.

Stephen A. Kent, PhD, is a Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, University of Alberta (Canada), specializing in the study of ‘cults’ and alternative religions. He has published articles in numerous sociology and religious studies journals on a variety of topics, including Valentinian Gnosticism, ancient Hindu philosophy, Mahayana Buddhism, Puritanism, Quakerism, fundamentalist Mormon polygamy, and new religions.