Lucian, the wit and satirist, was a brilliant Greek writer in the time of the Roman Empire. He was born in Samosata, Syria. He traveled and lectured in Italy, Asia Minor, and Gaul; and in later life, held a government position in Egypt. Of nearly 80 works, the most important and characteristic are his essays written in dialogue form. "Dialogues of the Gods," which satirizes mythology; "Dialogues of the Dead," which are expositions of human vanity; and "The Sale of Lives," which satirizes various schools of philosophy. He is a good critical source for ancient art and for information about his literary contemporaries. "The True History," a nonsense fantasy and parody of adventure stories, influenced Rabelais, Swift 1), and Voltaire.