Lucian Voyage to the Lower World 1

Classical

Mi. It is this way, my lady Fate. I find but cold comfort in that promise of the Cyclops: 'Outis shall be eaten last,' said he; but first or last, the same teeth are waiting. And then, it is not the same with me as with the rich. Our lives are what they call 'diametrically opposed.' This tyrant, now, was thought happy while he lived; he was feared and respected by all: he had his gold and his silver; his fine clothes and his horses and his banquets; his smart pages and his handsome ladies,—and had to leave them all. No wonder if he was vexed, and felt the tug of parting. For I know not how it is, but these things are like birdlime: a man's soul sticks to them, and will not easily come away; they have grown to be a part of him. Nay, 'tis as if men were bound in some chain that nothing can break; and when by sheer force they are dragged away, they cry out and beg for mercy. They are bold enough for aught else, but show them this same road to Hades, and they prove to be but cowards. They turn about, and must ever be looking back at what they have left behind them, far off though it be,—like men that are sick for love. So it was with the fool yonder: as we came along, he was for running away; and now he tires you with his entreaties. As for me, I had no stake in life; lands and horses, money and goods, fame, statues,—I had none of them; I could not have been in better trim: it needed but one nod from Atropus,—I was busied about a boot at the time, but down I flung knife and leather with a will, jumped up, and never waited to get my shoes, or wash the blacking from my hands, but joined the procession there and then, ay, and headed it, looking ever forward; I had left nothing behind me that called for a backward glance. And, on my word, things begin to look well already. Equal rights for all, and no man better than his neighbour; that is hugely to my liking. And from what I can learn there is no collecting of debts in this country, and no taxes; better still, no shivering in winter, no sickness, no hard knocks from one's betters. All is peace. The tables are turned: the laugh is with us poor men; it is the rich that make moan, and are ill at ease.

Luke 16:19

New Testament

19 “There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, 21 who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores. 22Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And in Hades, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. 24 So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in anguish in this fire.’

 Notes and References

"... the parallels are numerous and important. Lucian's writings also contain rhetorical comparisons of rich and poor and their characterization through dialogue; in the case of the Cataplus there is the same plot, in which the deaths of a rich man and a poor man are followed by their reversal in fortune in Hades ..."

Hock, Ronald F. Lazarus and Micyllus: Greco-Roman Backgrounds to Luke 16:19-31 (pp. 447-463) Journal of Biblical Literature, 1987

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