True History (2nd century C.E.) is a satirical novel by Lucian. Written in ancient Greek, True History is thought to be the first work of science fiction in all of Western literature. Intended as a criticism of the unbelievable scenarios populating ancient fiction, True History dramatizes the extent to which authors will relate fantastic or mythological material as truth to humorous and imaginative effect.
Before beginning his narrative, Lucian admits that though the claims he will make are far from truth, he will make them, nonetheless. Accordingly, he weaves a tale of a voyage by sea thrown off course near the Pillars of Hercules by a powerful storm. Narrowly escaping disaster, Lucian and his fellow travelers find themselves on an island interwoven with rivers of wine, in which fish swim and bears feed and frolic. As if this weren’t enough, rumors of a divine presence and visions of trees like women encourages the travelers to seek safety elsewhere. Not far into the next leg of their journey, their ship is swept skyward by a storm so powerful it lands them on the Moon. There, they are swiftly swept up in a war between the armies of the Moon and Sun, vast alien forces vying for control of the Morning Star. Helping to organize a peace treaty, Lucian and his travelers take in the sights of the Moon before returning to Earth just in time to be swallowed by a massive whale. As the narrative unfolds, these poor lost voyagers encounter fish people, discover an island of cheese afloat on a sea of milk, and even meet the heroes of Troy themselves. True History is a wild and wonderful work of satire and science fiction that not only amazes as much as it delights, but serves as a reminder that the humor of the ancients is not so different from our own.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Lucian’s True History is a classic of ancient Greek literature reimagined for modern readers.