Lucian’s True Story: a seminal work of meninist literature

Lucian of Samosata’s second-century True Story is a fantastic, seminal work of meninist literature. Lucian dared to imagine a society in which men conceived and carried to birth children via their bodies, theirselves.[1] Men were thus not biologically subject to the fundamental gender inequality in paternity knowledge. Moreover, men weren’t exposed to acute gender bias in child custody and “child support” rulings. In this men-only society, men couldn’t be subject to gender bias in criminal justice such as is starkly evident today in highly gender disproportionate incarceration of men. The elimination of these gender biases is as fantastic as men walking on the moon without any women overlooking their steps. Lucian dared to imagine gynocentric society subverting itself and permitting, even just temporarily, an alternate place of gender justice in the heavens.

man giving birth to child

Lucian imagined men’s penises as not just partnering to transmit life into a new generation, but also as a strong, independent aid to propulsion. Odysseus had himself bound to a ship’s mast to repress his sexuality in the circumstances of Sirens singing. That’s like men castrating themselves to avoid the risk of forced financial fatherhood. Men liberating themselves sexually with their own hands can be more enjoyable. Consider men in the ocean, transcending the socially constructed, technologically genderlessness of modern windsurfing:

They lie on their backs on the water, and erecting their penises, which are very large, they spread sails on them, holding the sheets in their hands, and as soon as the wind strikes them, away they sail.

{ ὕπτιοι κείμενοι ἐπὶ τοῦ ὕδατος ὀρθώσαντες τὰ αἰδοῖα – μεγάλα δὲ φέρουσιν – ἐξ αὐτῶν ὀθόνην πετάσαντες καὶ ταῖς χερσὶν τοὺς ποδεῶνας κατέχοντες ἐμπίπτοντος τοῦ ἀνέμου ἔπλεον. }[2]

“Men need women like fish need fins.” No, that’s not right, it’s this: “men need women like fish need wind.” Lucian was prescient in affirming the value of men’s sexuality. Lucian’s True Story challenges deeply entrenched castration culture.

woman windsurfing

Modern classical philology, subservient to dominant gynocentric ideology, has obscured Lucian’s figure of men’s strong, independent sexuality. Early in the seventeenth-century, Francis Hickes, a reclusive scholar-farmer who was the son of an English tapestry weaver, provided a reasonably good English translation of men’s sexual windsurfing in Lucian’s True Story:

As they lie upon their backs in the water and their privy members standing upright, which are of a large size and fit for such a purpose, they fasten thereto a sail, and holding their cords in their hands, when the wind has taken it, are carried up and down as please themselves.[3]

In the original Greek, the word αἰδοῖᾰ clearly means in context “penises.” That’s the most progressive translation in our time of oppressive gynocentrism. The relevant, direct sense of the singular Greek substantive is “honored, respected part.” Hickes translated αἰδοῖᾰ as “privy members.” In early modern English, privy meant “private, exclusive,” yet carried honor through terms such as the king’s “privy chamber {private room}.” Hickes’s translation is acceptable, particularly given that he was a reclusive rustic unaware of historically entrenched systemic sexism.

Across the past three centuries, translations of Lucian’s True Story have refused to acknowledge the extensive value of men’s penises, even out at sea. In 1780, Thomas Francklin, Doctor of Divinity and Greek professor at the University of Cambridge, ended medieval appreciation of incarnated human life and lowered the curtain on men’s sexual windsurfing:

they fastened to their middle a sail, and holding the lower part of the rope in their hands, were carried along by the wind.[4]

These men sailed without anything functioning as a mast. That’s a ridiculous fantasy, one characteristic of castration culture. Francklin, not only a prude but also a pedant, added a footnote:

their middle] Lucian says ὀρθώσαντες τὰ αἰδοῖα, ἐξ αὐτῶν ὀθόνην πετάσαντεςm &c. which the learned reader, if he thinks proper, may interpret for himself.

Nothing is improper about men’s penises, which are a vital part of the cosmos. In 1820, another English translation suggested the horrible fate of Sincopus by engaging in periphrasis: the man “erects his middle mast.” A translation in 1899 similarly dehumanized men.[5] Men do not have masts. Meninism is the radical notion that men are human beings. Men should not be socially constructed as ships that serve women in commodity trade for exotic luxury goods.

The status of men’s sexual windsurfing continued to worsen across the modern era. In 1879, a scholar at Trinity College, Oxford, authored through Oxford University’s Clarendon Press an edition of the original text of Lucian’s True Story. This text was “edited with introduction and notes for the use of middle forms in schools.”[6] It excised from Lucian’s ancient Greek text the sentence concerning men’s sexual windsurfing. A castrated, ignorance-promoting ancient Greek text of Lucian’s True Story was thus distributed to schools under the authority of an elite educational institution.

Subsequent English translations cut more specifically men’s penises. An influential, scholarly translation for Oxford’s Clarendon Press in 1905 created an implicit gender gap:

they float on their backs, erect a sail, and then, holding the sheets with their hands, catch the wind.[7]

On what did these men erect their sails? That’s a socially constructed gender gap in this translation’s description. A recent commentator aptly observed that this translation works to “reduce the Phallonauts to Phallonots.” Moreover, the authors excised passages describing men having sexual freedom and reproductive autonomy. The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University himself proofread this translation. The authors even explicitly thanked the Vice-Chancellor for valuable advice on “the difficult subject of excision.” Making this subject difficult is ideological obfuscation. It’s simple. Excising men’s genitals reflects castration culture and systemic sexism.

Another widely disseminated translation of Lucian’s True Story shows repressive anxiety about representing men’s penises. The 1913 translation for the Loeb Classical Library described the sexually windsurfing men as having “hoisted their never-mind-whats.” Never mind what? Men’s penises are at the center of their human being! The reprinting of this translation in 1921 substituted “jury-masts” for “never-mind-whats.”[8] That obscures the anxiety about men’s sexuality with a poor figure. A jury-mast is a low-quality, hastily constructed mast. Men’s penises, in contrast, have been finely crafted through biological evolution for millennia. To this day, “jury-masts” deplorably represents men’s penises in the influential Loeb edition of Lucian’s True Story.

Men students having a fully functional sense of their own gender identity deserve to be affirmed and allowed to stand erect, protected from shame. The most recent translation of Lucian’s True Story, published in 2005, describes the men engaging in sexual windsurfing as “erecting their organs.”[9] A tongue is an organ. A toe is an organ. So too is the liver. These men weren’t windsurfing with just any organ. They were windsurfing with their erect penises. All professors should profess nothing less than philological correctness in teaching classics.

In 1962, New York University classics professor Lionel Casson erected himself above the modern, anti-meninist practice of translation. Professor Casson provided a scintillating translation of men’s sexual windsurfing in Lucian’s True Story:

a man would lie on his back in the water, induce an erection, hoist a sail on it (their penises were enormous), and holding the sheets in his hands, bowl along before the wind.[10]

Not pandering to prurient tastes, Casson followed the ancient Greek in not describing explicitly how a man would “induce an erection.” At the same time, Casson evoked Lucian’s sense of classical pastoral with “bowl along before the wind.” Bowling requires balls, which these men surely had and enjoyed. Living within gynocentric society, Casson credited his wife for reviewing his translation in manuscript. With admirable meninist respect for forefathers, Casson also credited his father:

My father, as always, read and reread every page of the manuscript. The dialogue throughout has profited from his fine feeling for idiom and the exposition from his uncompromising insistence on clarity.

Classical philology’s gender failures must be relegated to the past. Moving forward, all professors teaching Lucian’s True Story should offer students an English translation at least as true and beautiful as Lionel Casson’s.

Underscoring the importance of truthful representation in translation, Lucian’s account of men’s sexual windsurfing leads into an account of women’s violence against men. Women’s violence against men tends to be socially sophisticated. In this case, Lucian and his men had endured hunger, captivity, and brutal battles before they landed on an island. What appeared to be beautiful young women like Nausicaa and her servant-girls came to welcome them. But unlike Nausicaa and her servant-girls, these young women dressed and acted like courtesans. Each woman paired off with a man and brought him back to her home as her guest. Before a woman took him home, Lucian noticed human bones and skulls piled on the ground. He prayed for his safety and the safety of his men. Then he went with the woman to her home. Men must learn to be more wary of women.

Lucian at least believed his eyes and was unafraid to question a woman. That’s necessary to ensure men’s safety:

A little while later, as my hostess was serving me, I got a glimpse of her legs. They weren’t a woman’s limbs but a donkey’s shanks. Drawing my sword, I seized her and tied her up. Then I interrogated her thoroughly. She very reluctantly admitted to me that she and the others were women of the sea called Ass-legs and that that their food was the strangers who came to the island. “We get them drunk,” she explained, “go to bed with them, and then attack them in their sleep.”

{ μετ’ ὀλίγον δὲ τῆς ξένης διακονουμένης εἶδον τὰ σκέλη οὐ γυναικός, ἀλλ’ ὄνου ὁπλάς: καὶ δὴ σπασάμενος τὸ ξίφος συλλαμβάνω τε αὐτὴν καὶ δήσας περὶ τῶν ὅλων ἀνέκρινον. ἡ δέ, ἄκουσα μέν, εἶπεν δὲ ὅμως, αὐτὰς μὲν εἶναι θαλαττίους γυναῖκας Ὀνοσκελέας προσαγορευομένας, τροφὴν δὲ ποιεῖσθαι τοὺς ἐπιδημοῦντας ξένους. “ἐπειδὰν γάρ,” ἔφη, “μεθύσωμεν αὐτούς, συνευνηθεῖσαι κοιμωμένοις ἐπιχειροῦμεν.” }[11]

In short, these Ass-legs women raped and murdered men. Yet this story has deeper significance than merely drawing needed attention to women raping men and violence against men. Why did Lucian draw his sword before he seized this criminal woman and tied her up? Holding a sword would have impeded those manual acts.

Lucian’s drawn sword affirms the value of men’s penises against the murderous Ass-legs women. Lucian’s preceding description of men’s sexual windsurfing depicts the autonomous value of men’s penises. But by the grace of God, human sexuality can also bring women and men together in pleasure and fruitfulness. Lucian raised his sword in strong protest against the Ass-legs women exploiting men’s sexuality and murdering men. After Lucian alerted his men and saved their lives, he returned to the criminal Ass-legs woman he had seized. She had dissolved into water. What was reality here? Lucian thrust his sword into the water. It turned into blood, the true remains of that blood-thirsty woman. Lucian’s sword indicates the revelatory importance of the penis’s action.[12] Eliminating men and their penises promotes a world of deceptions and lies.

Lucian revealing truth with sword

Earlier Lucian and his men came across what seemed to be a place of men’s delightful dreams. A river flowed with wine rather than water. Its source was the roots of beautiful, naked women growing like grapevines. They had grapes growing out of their fingers. Instead of hair, they had branches flourishing with leaves and grapes. These women, some exotic beauties but most merely local women, warmly welcomed Lucian and his men:

The women called out to welcome us as we came up, some in Lydian, some in Indian, but most in Greek. They also started kissing us on the lips. Everyone they kissed immediately became drunk and began to stagger. We weren’t able to pick the grapes because, as we pulled them off, the women would cry out in pain. They were burning with desire to have sexual intercourse with us. Two of my men tried it. They couldn’t be pried loose, because they were held fast by their penises. Their penises had grow into and become grafted onto the vines. Soon the two men became entwined in a network of tendrils, sprouted shoots from their fingers, and looked as if they themselves were ready to bear fruit.

{ ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν δακτύλων ἄκρων ἐξεφύοντο αὐταῖς οἱ κλάδοι καὶ μεστοὶ ἦσαν βοτρύων. καὶ μὴν καὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς ἐκόμων ἕλιξί τε καὶ φύλλοις καὶ βότρυσι. προσελθόντας δὲ ἡμᾶς ἠσπάζοντο καὶ ἐδεξιοῦντο, αἱ μὲν Λύδιον, αἱ δ᾽ Ἰνδικήν, αἱ πλεῖσται δὲ τὴν Ἑλλάδα φωνὴν προϊέμεναι. καὶ ἐφίλουν δὲ ἡμᾶς τοῖς στόμασιν· ὁ δὲ φιληθεὶς αὐτίκα ἐμέθυεν καὶ παράφορος ἦν. δρέπεσθαι μέντοι οὐ παρεῖχον τοῦ καρποῦ, ἀλλ᾽ ἤλγουν καὶ ἐβόων ἀποσπωμένου. αἱ δὲ καὶ μίγνυσθαι ἡμῖν ἐπεθύμουν· καὶ δύο τινὲς τῶν ἑταίρων πλησιάσαντες αὐταῖς οὐκέτι ἀπελύοντο, ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ τῶν αἰδοίων ἐδέδεντο· συνεφύοντο γὰρ καὶ συνερριζοῦντο. καὶ ἤδη αὐτοῖς κλάδοι ἐπεφύκεσαν οἱ δάκτυλοι, καὶ ταῖς ἕλιξι περιπλεκόμενοι ὅσον οὐδέπω καὶ αὐτοὶ καρποφορήσειν ἔμελλον. }[13]

Men’s delightful dreams turn into nightmares when sexually ravenous women insist on taking permanent possession of men’s bodies. Men typically respect women’s feelings and try to avoid causing women pain. Women should do likewise for men. More fundamentally, women must understand that men’s sexuality is a time-bounded gift to them.[14] Assimilating men into women isn’t in truth fruitful.

Unlike public discourse today, medieval literature openly and honestly depicted the systemic repression of men’s sexuality. For example, early in the ninth century, Methodius became the patriarch of Constantinople. That great Byzantine city was the capital of what remained of the Roman Empire. Amid intense political conflict over icons, one’s woman’s unsubstantiated accusation of rape was enough to threaten to topple the eminent Methodius and subject him to harsh penal punishment. Methodius, however, had a biological defense against unjust penal persecution:

The man most worthy of all reverence and honor in everyone’s sight bared his genitals. No one could not notice that his genitals had withered from disease and were deprived of all natural strength. This fact filled his evil-celebrating slanderers with shame. Pious persons, on the other hand, were glad. Surrounding him with enormous joy, they congratulated and hugged Methodius, who had no means of satisfying his sexual desire.

{ Homo omni reverentia atque honore dignissimus, in conspectu omnium pudenda nudavit: quae nemo non videbat morbo quodam emarcuisse, omnique naturali vi esse privata. pudore hoc factum opplevit calumniatores et malis gaudentes, pios autem laetitia: qui ingenti cum gaudio Methodium cingentes salutabant atque amplectebantur, neque habebant quo modo voluptati suae satisfacerent. }[15]

Sadly learning from Methodius’s horrifying experience of persecution, some men sought what seemed to be the only effective defense against a false accusation of rape:

And from this with greater understanding some men quietly solicited where a man might seek for this means of withering his genitals.

{ et quidam notioribus placide aggressus ex eo quaesivit quonam modo virilia eius ita emarcuissent. }

Grotesquely unjust persecution of men for alleged sexual crimes tends to cause men to droop with fear. Castration culture damages men’s sexuality and promotes the development of a barren, cruel society. That harm to men should be a serious social concern, for such a society is ultimately bad for women.

Literature that affirms the goodness of men’s sexuality is vital for overcoming the deeply entrenched injustices of castration culture. Achieving social justice depends on meninist literary critics recovering and celebrating obscured masterpieces of meninist consciousness. With his True Story, Lucian wrote a wonderful, seminal work of meninist literature. Lucian’s True Story deserves to be treated with philological correctness and taught to every student who aspires to be educated and truly enlightened.[16]

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Read more:

Notes:

[1] Lucian’s True Story might be more accurately called True Stories {Ἀληθῆ διηγήματα}. It’s also called True History {Vera Historia} or True Histories {Verae historiae}. The title True Story seems to me to best reflect the play of Lucian’s text. On Lucian’s concern for truth, see e.g. Whitmarsh (2001), pp. 71-87, and Parrett (2013).

In the society of men on the moon, men engage in same-sex marriage and have sexual intercourse by thrusting one spouse’s penis into the other spouse’s hollow of the knee. Men themselves bear children:

Indeed it is not females but males that do the child-bearing. Marriage is between males, and there isn’t even a word for “women.” Men under twenty-five are the wives; men over twenty-five, the husbands. The embryo is carried not in the belly but in the man’s calf. Once conception takes place, the calf swells up. After a course of time, it is cut open and the child, not yet alive, is extracted. Life is induced by placing the child, mouth wide open, toward the wind.

{ μὲν τὸ μὴ ἐκ γυναικῶν γεννᾶσθαι αὐτούς, ἀλλ᾽ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀρρένων· γάμοις γὰρ τοῖς ἄρρεσι χρῶνται καὶ οὐδὲ ὄνομα γυναικὸς ὅλως ἴσασι. μέχρι μὲν οὖν πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι ἐτῶν γαμεῖται ἕκαστος, ἀπὸ δὲ τούτων γαμεῖ αὐτός· κύουσι δὲ οὐκ ἐν τῇ νηδύϊ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ταῖς γαστροκνημίαις· ἐπειδὰν γὰρ συλλάβῃ τὸ ἔμβρυον, παχύνεται ἡ κνήμη, καὶ χρόνῳ ὕστερον ἀνατεμόντες ἐξάγουσι νεκρά, θέντες δὲ αὐτὰ πρὸς τὸν ἄνεμον κεχηνότα ζῳοποιοῦσιν. }

Lucian of Samosata, True Story 1.22, ancient Greek text from Casey, Nimis & Hayes (2014), English translation (with minor changes) from Casson (1962) p. 23. Ancient Greek myth describes Athena and Dionysus being born from the male god Zeus’s head and thigh, respectively. Lucian satirically referred to these myths in Dialogi Deorum 12.1. Deriu (2017) pp. 5-6. Lucian seems in part to be satirizing the classical Socratic model of men teaching boys. Id. pp. 15-7. The Socratic model certainly isn’t the only possible model of male society.

Another race of men on the moon reproduces differently, but also with gender autonomy. Among these men, called Arboreals (tree-men):

A man’s right testicle testicle is cut off and planted in the ground. This produces a huge tree of flesh with a trunk like a penis. It has branches and leaves and as fruit bears eighteen-inch acorns. When ripe, these are gathered, the shells cracked open, and men are hatched from them.

{ ὄρχιν ἀνθρώπου τὸν δεξιὸν ἀποτεμόντες ἐν γῇ φυτεύουσιν, ἐκ δὲ αὐτοῦ δένδρον ἀναφύεται μέγιστον, σάρκινον, οἷον φαλλός· ἔχει δὲ καὶ κλάδους καὶ φύλλα· ὁ δὲ καρπός ἐστι βάλανοι πηχυαῖοι τὸ μέγεθος. ἐπειδὰν οὖν πεπανθῶσιν, τρυγήσαντες αὐτὰς ἐκκολάπτουσι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. }

Lucian, True Story 1.22, sourced similarly.

[2] Lucian, True Story 2.45, ancient Greek text from Casey, Nimis & Hayes (2014), English trans. from Costa (2005) p. 232, with “penises” substituted for “organs.” All subsequent quotes from Lucian’s True Story have ancient Greek text from Casey, Nimis & Hayes (2014), which includes helpful reading notes.

[3] Lucian, True Story 2.45, English trans. from Hickes (1634), spelling modernized. Francis Hickes died in 1630. His son Thomas Hickes had his father’s translations of Lucian published. Thomas dedicated this book to “the Right Worshipful Dr. Duppa, Dean of Christ-Church, and Vice-Chancellor of the famous University in Oxford” (spelling modernized). He implored the Vice-Chancellor for patronage. On the life of Francis Hickes, see Thomas Hickes’s prefatory note “To the honest and judicious reader” and the introduction to Hickes et al. (1894).

On early English translations of Lucian, Craig (1921) and Sheldon (1919). Id. p. 21, misspelled Hickes’s name and failed to acknowledge his 1634 publication. Referring to Sheldon (1901) by title without mentioning its author, Sheldon went on review his own translation of Lucian:

It is literal, in the sense that it reproduces the author’s thought with conscientious exactness. At the same time the style is idiomatic and vivacious. The translator has been at no little pains to preserve the life and warmth, the bouquet, of the original, halting not at the use of familiar, colloquial language when the text seemed to warrant it. … Here and there in this version the colloquial tone is, perhaps, somewhat overdone, a fault, however, in the right direction; but the liveliness of the style is uniformly maintained without resort to such doubtful devices. Preceding the translation there is a clear, practical, and notably complete study of Lucian, as man and author. … Full notes — too full, perhaps, but interesting and illuminating for the general reader — are placed at the foot of the page, where they ought to be, if they ought to be at all. The London Saturday Review said of this version as a whole: “It has all the attractiveness of an original work.”

Sheldon (1919) pp. 24-5. Sheldon’s translation of Lucian’s works doesn’t include Lucian’s True Story. Here’s a historical perspective on faithful translation.

As part of a proposed, multi-translator project to publish all of Lucian’s works in English translation, John Dryden in 1696 wrote a life of Lucian. Dryden died in 1700. But Dryden’s life of Lucian was included in the posthumous Dryden (1711). That work includes Thomas Brown’s translation of Lucian’s Vera Historia. Brown’s translation of men’s sexual windsurfing was similar to Hickes’s:

they lay flat on their backs in the water, with their privities that are said to be of an extraordinary size, standing erect, to which they fastened the sail, and then holding the string in their hands, sailed as the wind carried them.

Dryden (1711) vol. 3, p. 184. Brown died in 1704, so his translation certainly was completed before then. Craig (1921) pp. 157-8.

[4] Lucian, True Story 2.45, English trans. from Francklin (1780) v. 1, p. 447. The subsequent quote is from id. A translation in 1901 similarly obliterated men’s penises:

Soon we perceived men sailing in the water, after a new fashion, by means of a sail fastened round their bodies. They hold the rope in their hands, and so are driven onward by the wind.

Campbell Davidson (1901) p. 170. Men windsurfing by means of a sail “fastened round their bodies” is completely unrealistic.

[5] For men’s sexual windsurfing, Tooke translated:

The man lays himself flat on his back upon the water, then erects his middle mast*, fastens a sail to it, holding the rope at the lower end of it in his hand, and thus sails before the wind.

Tooke (1820) vol. 2, p. 123. The asterisk appended to “mast” indicates a footnote: “Lucian says ὀρθώσαντες τὰ αἰδοῖα, (μεγάλα δὲ φέρουσιν), ἐξ αὐτῶν ὀθόνην πετάσαντες, &c.” Tooke was an Englishman who became an Anglican priest and served English merchants as a chaplain in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 1774 to 1792. His translation of Lucian is based on the German translation of Wieland (1788). For the men’s sexual windsurfing, Willson (1899), p. 147, similarly has “hoist a mast in their middle to which they attach a sail.”

[6] Jerram (1879). This book lamentably has been reprinted many times in subsequent years.

[7] Fowler & Fowler (1905) vol. 2, p. 136. The subsequent quote is from vol. 1, Preface. Fowler & Fowler’s translation of Lucian’s Vera Historia omitted almost all of sections 1.22 and 2.19. In 1981, the Great Ideas Today series of Encyclopedia Britannica (a follow-up to the Great Books canon) reproduced, without correction or attribution, Fowler & Fowler’s translation. See Adler (1981) p. 254. Redmond (2013) uses Fowler & Fowler’s translation, but silently adds in some of the expurgated text.

[8] Harmon (1913) vol. 1, p. 353 (“never-mind-whats”); reprinting in 1921 (“jury-masts”). Here’s an incorrectly dated, alternate version of a 1921 or later reprinting.

[9] Costa (2005) p. 232.

[10] Casson (1962) p. 52. The subsequent quote is from the preface to id. Reviewing id., Pearson castigated Casson for including a translation of Lucius, the Ass (Asinus):

It is a tale of neither taste nor point. Casson’s willingness to call a spade a spade leads to frequently graceless English expressions. We applaud clarity; what is most clear is that though the authenticity may be disputed, the singular vulgarity of this story cannot.

Pearson (1963) p. 140. Irrespective of whether Lucian authored it, Asinus is a magnificent classic with great relevance today. For his fine translation of that tale, Casson deserves thanks.

The Lucian of Samosata Project provides online many translations of Lucian over time, but no critical perspective on the various translations. The select bibliography of Costa (2005) mentions Harmon’s Loeb translation and declares that “two others are worth noting.” These are Fowler & Fowler (1905) and Turner (1961). Here’s how the latter translated men’s sexual windsurfing in Lucian’s True Story:

You float on your back in the water, elevate the appropriate organ — which in their case is surprisingly large — to an angle of ninety degrees, attach a sail to this improvised mast, and go scudding along before the wind, holding the sheet in one hand.

Turner (1961) p. 293. That wordy, quasi-engineering translation lacks the joyful vitality and whimsy of Lucian’s text. Turner’s translation is far less noteworthy than Casson’s.

[11] Lucian, True Story 2.46, English translation from Casson (1962), with my minor changes. Lucian’s account of the sexually alluring, men-killing donkey-footed women seems to draw upon Jason and the Argonaut’s experience with the Lemnian women, Odysseus and his men’s experience with the goddess Circe, and Odysseus’s difficulty with the Sirens. Men being strongly attracted to women, even women who treat them badly, is well-recognized in myth as well as in reality. On the mythic context of Lucian’s men-killing donkey-footed women, Newman (2017).

[12] Lucian “wields his figurative phallus, his sword, with penetrating efficiency.” Ní Mheallaigh (2009) p. 19, Ní Mheallaigh (2014) p. 215. A man does not have a phallus. In reality, he has a penis. For another academic failure to recognize the important distinction between “phallus” and “penis,” see note [3] in my post on Bernardus Silvestris’s Cosmographia. For a text-centered interpretation of Lucian’s sword figuring his penis, Larmour (1997) p. 143.

[13] Lucian, True Story 1.8, English translation from Casson (1962), with my minor changes. In his account of the sexually ravenous, men-killing vine-women, Lucian seems to have built upon Dio Chrysostom’s Libyan Myth. Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 5. On that intertextuality, Georgiadou & Larmour (1997).

[14] The account of picking grapes seems deliberately contradictory. The men didn’t pick grapes, because when they picked grapes, it caused the women pain. In accordance in dominant anti-meninist ideology, ambiguity must be resolved so as to promote even more gender-disproportionate penal incarceration of men. Picking grapes, whether or not it actually occurred, thus “hints at rape.” Ní Mheallaigh (2009) p. 18, Ní Mheallaigh (2014) p. 214.

Affirming dominant ideological obfuscation of violence against men, Ní Mheallaigh interprets Lucian’s account of the sexually ravenous, men-killing vine-women as expressing “patriarchal anxiety about female sexuality, especially the fear of entrapment.” Ní Mheallaigh (2009) p. 19, Ní Mheallaigh (2014) p. 215, drawing on Larmour (1997) p. 144. Newman applies this absurd, boiler-plate academic cant to Lucian’s account of the donkey-footed women murdering men. Newman (2017) p. 93. Enlightened thinkers recognize the reality of violence against men and women raping men.

Even while debunking the modern myth of misogyny, authorities today cannot refrain from creating substitute myths in support of the gynocentric order. Here’s a blunt declaration of the truth:

The best data from contemporary social science … suggest that the very persistence of the pervasive misogyny narrative is itself a manifestation of the opposite: society is largely biased in favor of women.

Clark & Winegard (2020). But then there’s the propitiatory substitute myth:

This does not mean, of course, that there are no biases against women. For a long time, women in the West were treated as property and were considered emotional, irrational, and incapable of contributing significantly to higher culture.

Id. Given Empress Theodora’s strong, independent sexuality, the medieval requirement for a conjugal partnership in marriage, sexual feudalism and medieval men’s life expectancy shortfall, the bureaucratic reality of marriage, the sad fate of Margery Kempe’s husband, Anne of France’s advice to her daughter, and on and on, one can only marvel that the myth “women in the West were treated as men’s property” can be solemnly affirmed as truth. Since no latter than 1992, the work of evolutionary psychologists Margo Wilson and Martin Daly has promoted this ridiculous myth. For additional relevant evidence and analysis, see my post on primatology and vegetarianism, particularly note [4], and my post on medieval women choosing whether and to whom to marry.

Of course, writers have long sought to flatter their readers. This article debunking the myth of misogyny features the epigram, “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition. ~Timothy Leary.” Let’s build a glorious future of female supremacy. The future is female!

[15] Latin text from a translation of the mid-eleventh-century Synopsis historion of the Byzantine historian Georgius Cedrenus. Bekker & Niebuhr (1837) pp. 147-8, my English translation. The subsequent quote is similarly from id. Versions of this story also appear in the Acta Sanctorum 23 (June 14) and in the twelfth-century Byzantine historian Johannes Zonaras’s Epitome Historiarum 16.1, 4:3. Murray (2019) p. 105, notes 42-3.

Murray (2019) describes Methodius as participating in a “battle for chastity” without any regard for gynocentric suppression of men’s sexuality. Men’s sexual struggles will become much less intense when men gain reproductive rights equal to women, when adjudication of accusations of rape become gender-neutral and are judged with due process, and rape libel no longer functions as an effective political tool for promoting penal incarceration of men.

[16] Academic failures have contributed significantly to the gender injustices that Lucian’s True Story concerns and its reception reflects. One academic declared that Lucian’s True Story is “conspicuously male dominated.” Deriu (2017) p. 11. That’s like referring to a women’s caucus as “conspicuously female dominated.” According to another academic, “True Stories represents the ultimate victory of the world of the book over the world of reality.” Ní Mheallaigh (2014) p. 208. Books and reality aren’t strictly separate worlds. The ultimate victory of Lucian’s True Story would be to bring gender equality from the world of myth to the world of reality.

[images] (1) Man giving birth to a child from his calf. Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for Hickes et al. (1894), but suppressed from that publication. Via Parrett (2013), the Savoy, and Marillier (1899). (2) Young woman windsurfing. Source photograph by Jorge Campa, August 25, 2015. Via Wikimedia Commons. (3) Lucian testing with his sword the water that remained of the Ass-legs woman. Illustration by Joseph Benwell Clark in Hickes et al. (1894).

References:

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Bekker, Immanuel, and Barthold Georgius Niebuhr, eds. 1837. Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae. Vol. 9, Georgius Cedrenus, v. 2. Bonn: Weberus.

Campbell Davidson, Augusta M., trans. 1902. Translations from Lucian. London: Longmans.

Casey, Eric, Stephen Nimis, and Evan Hayes, 2014. Lucian: True History. Book 1, Book 2. Carlisle, PA: Dickinson College Commentaries.

Casson, Lionel, trans. 1962. Selected satires of Lucian. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Clark, Cory, and Bo Winegard. 2020. “The Myth of Pervasive Misogyny.” Quillette. July 27, 2020. Online.

Costa, Charles Desmond Nuttall, trans. 2005. Lucian: selected dialogues. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Craig, Hardin. 1921. “Dryden’s Lucian.” Classical Philology. 16 (2): 141-163.

Deriu, Morena. 2017. “How to Imagine a World Without Women: Hyperreality in Lucian’s True Histories.” Medea. 3 (1). Online.

Dryden, John. 1711. The Works of Lucian: translated from the Greek, by several eminent hands. … With the life of Lucian, a discourse on his writings, and a character of some of the present translators. Written by John Dryden. 4 volumes. London: Printed for Sam. Briscoe, and sold by J. Woodward, and J. Morphew.

Fowler, Francis George, and H. W. Fowler. 1905. The Works of Lucian of Samosata. 4 vols. Clarendon Press: Oxford.

Francklin, Thomas, trans. 1780. The Works of Lucian. Vol. 1, Vol. 2. London: Printed for T. Cadell.

Georgiadou, Aristoula and David Larmour. 1997. “Lucian’s Vine-Women (VH 1,6-9) and Dio’s Libyan Women (Orat. 5): Variations on a Theme.” Mnemosyne. 50 (2): 205-209.

Harmon, A. M. ed. and trans. 1913. Lucian. 8 vols. Loeb Classical Library 14. London: Heinemann.

Hickes, Francis, trans. 1634. Certaine select dialogues of Lucian together with his true historie, translated from the Greeke into English by Mr Francis Hickes. Whereunto is added the life of Lucian gathered out of his owne writings, with briefe notes and illustrations upon each dialogue and book, by T.H. Mr of Arts of Christ-Church in Oxford. Oxford: Printed by William Turner. (alternate instance; reprinting)

Hickes, Francis, trans. William Strang, Joseph Benwell Clark, Aubrey Beardsley, illustrations, Charles Whibley, introduction. 1894. Lucian’s True History. London: Privately printed. Reprint (without Greek text), 1902.

Jerram, C. S., ed. 1879. Luciani Vera Historia edited with Introductions and Notes for the Use of Middle Forms in Schools by C.S. Jerram, M.A. Late Scholar of Trinity College, Oxford, Editor of ‘Cebetis Tabula, ‘ &c., and Joint Editor of the ‘London Series of English Classics’. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press.

Larmour, David H. J. 1997. “Sex with Moonmen and Vinewomen: The Reader as Explorer in Lucian’s Vera Historia.” Intertexts. 1: 131-46.

Marillier, H.C., intro. 1899. The Early Works of Aubrey Beardsley. London: J. Lane.

Murray, Jacqueline. 2019. “The Battle for Chastity: Miraculous Castration and the Quelling of Desire in the Middle Ages.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 28 (1): 96-116.

Newman, Nicholas. 2017. “ποδήρεις τοὺς χιτῶνας ἐπισυρόμεναι: The Donkey-Footed Women of Lucian’s Verae Historiae in their Mythical Context.” New England Classical Journal. 44 (2): 77-97.

Ní Mheallaigh, Karen. 2009. “Monumental fallacy: the teleology of origins in Lucian’s Verae Historiae.” Ch. 2 (pp. 11-28) in Adam Bartley, ed. A Lucian for our Times. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.

Ní Mheallaigh, Karen. 2014. Reading Fiction with Lucian: fakes, freaks and hyperreality. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. (reviews by Zacharias E. Andreadakis and by Lawrence Kim)

Parrett, Aaron. 2013. “Lucian’s Trips to the Moon.” Public Domain Review. June 26, 2013. Online.

Pearson, J. 1963. “Book Review: Lionel Casson (tr.), Selected Satires of Lucian.” The Classical World. 56 (5): 139-140.

Redmond, Frank. 2013. “True History Decrypted: Full text and Commentary of Lucian’s True History.” Edition 2.2 (2016). The Lucian of Samosata Project. Online.

Sheldon, Winthrop Dudley. 1901. A Second-Century Satirist: or, Dialogues and stories from Lucian of Samosata. Philadelphia: D. Biddle.

Sheldon, Winthrop Dudley. 1919. “Lucian and His Translators.” The Sewanee Review. 27 (1): 17-31.

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Wieland, Christoph Martin, trans. (German). 1788. Lucian’s von Samosata sämtliche Werke, aus dem Griechischen übersetzt, und mit Anmerkungen und Erläuterungen versehen von C.M. Wieland. 6 vols. (vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4, vol. 5, vol. 6). Leipzig: Weidmannische Buchhandlung.

Willson, John Basil Wynne, trans. and A. Payne Garnett, illustrator. 1899. Lucian’s Wonderland: being a translation of the Vera historia. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons.

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