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The Moon exerted a powerful influence on ancient intellectual history, as a playground for the scientific imagination. This book explores the history of the Moon in the Greco-Roman imaginary from Homer to Lucian, with special focus on those accounts of the Moon, its attributes, and its 'inhabitants' given by ancient philosophers, natural scientists and imaginative writers including Pythagoreans, Plato and the Old Academy, Varro, Plutarch and Lucian. ní Mheallaigh shows how the Moon's enigmatic presence made it a key site for thinking about the gaze (erotic, philosophical and scientific) and the relation between appearance and reality. It was also a site for hoax in antiquity as well as today. Central issues explored include the view from elsewhere (selēnoskopia), the relation of science and fiction, the interaction between the beginnings of science in the classical polis and the imperial period, and the limits of knowledge itself.
This book offers a captivating new interpretation of Lucian as a fictional theorist and writer to stand alongside the novelists of the day, bringing to bear on his works a whole new set of reading strategies. It argues that the aesthetic and cultural issues Lucian faced, in a world of mimesis and replication, were akin to those found in postmodern contexts: the ubiquity of the fake, the erasure of origins, the focus on the freakish and weird at the expense of the traditional. In addition to exploring the texture of Lucian's own writing, Dr ní Mheallaigh uses Lucian as a focal point through which to examine other fictional texts of the period, including Antonius Diogenes' The Incredible Things Beyond Thule, Dictys' Journal of the Trojan War and Ptolemy Chennus' Novel History, and reveals the importance of fiction's engagement with its contemporary culture of writing, entertainment and wonder.