aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Lucian, Peregrinus’ Death 1

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Lucian announces the self-immolation of the philosopher Peregrinus, alias Proteus.

ὁ κακοδαίμων Περεγρῖνος, ἢ ὡς αὐτὸς ἔχαιρεν ὀνομάζων ἑαυτόν, Πρωτεύς, αὐτὸ δὴ ἐκεῖνο τὸ τοῦ Ὁμηρικοῦ Πρωτέως ἔπαθεν· ἅπαντα γὰρ δόξης ἕνεκα γένομενος καὶ μυρίας τροπὰς τραπόμενος, τὰ τελευταῖα ταῦτα καὶ πῦρ ἐγένετο· τοσούτῳ ἄρα τῷ ἔρωτι τῆς δόξης εἴχετο. καὶ νῦν ἐκεῖνος ἀπηνθράκωταί σοι ὁ βέλτιστος κατὰ τὸν Ἐμπεδοκλέα, παρ‘ ὅσον ὁ μὲν κἂν διαλαθεῖν ἐπειράθη ἐμβαλὼν ἑαυτὸν εἰς τοὺς κρατῆρας, ὁ δὲ γεννάδας οὗτος, τὴν πολυανθρωποτάτην τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν πανηγύρεων τηρήσας, πυρὰν ὅτι μεγίστην νήσας ἐνεπήδησεν ἐπὶ τοσούτων μαρτύρων, καὶ λόγους τινὰς ὑπὲρ τούτου εἰπὼν πρὸς τοὺς Ἕλληνας οὐ πρὸ πολλῶν ἡμερῶν τοῦ τολμήματος.

Ill-starred Peregrinus (or, as he was glad to call himself, Proteus), has done that very thing that happened to Proteus in Homer! For, after transforming himself into everything for the sake of notoriety, and turning himself into countless different forms, he has now finally become fire, possessed as he was by such a love of notoriety. Now that excellent fellow of yours has got himself turned into a cinder, in the manner of Empedocles – except that Empedocles tried to throw himself into the crater without anyone noticing. But this gentleman waited until the best-attended of the Greek festivals, piled up the most massive pyre, and leapt on top of it in front of so many witnesses. He also made a speech on the subject before the Greeks a few days before his daredevil act!

Empedocles was alleged to have jumped into Mount Etna, seemingly in an attempt to make people think he had been taken up bodily into heaven and become immortal. Lucian has more to say about him in Icaromenippus.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Lucian

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