“Conversations in the realm of the dead” by Lucian in brief summary

“Conversations in the realm of the dead” by Lucian in brief summary

I. Diogenes and Polydeuces

Gathered again to return to the land Polidevka Diogenes gives instructions. He must pass on to the Menicpus cunea that in the realm of the dead he will have more cause for mirth and ridicule, for here the tyrants, the rich and the satraps, are utterly pathetic and powerless. And he advises all philosophers to stop senseless disputes. To the rich, Diogenes tells him to tell him that he does not need to save jewelry by collecting talent for talon, for soon they will go underground, where they will need only one obo to pay Charon for transportation.

But the poor should not grumble at fate: in the realm of the dead, all are equal – both the rich and the poor. Polideuk promises to fulfill these and other assignments of Diogenes.

II. Pluto,
or Against Menippus

Croesus complains to Pluto: the indefatigable Menippus, the philosopher-cynic, and in the underworld continues to mock the rich and the lords: “We are all crying, remembering our earthly destiny: this one, Midas, is gold, Sardanapal is a great luxury, I, Croesus,” his untold treasures, and he laughs at us and swears, calling us slaves and scum… “

Menippus confesses to Pluto that this is so: he is pleased to ridicule those who grieve over the lost blessings of the earth. Pluto urges all to stop the quarrel. But Menippus believes that the former satraps and rich men are worthy of mockery: “It’s fine, it’s necessary.” Weep, and I’ll sing along with you, repeating: “Know yourself!” Is a very good refrain for your moans. “

III. Menippus, Amphilochus and Trophionius

Menippus is outraged: the rank-and-file Amphilochus and Trophonies are awarded temples after death, and people consider them prophets. But the heroes Trofonius and Amfiloch modestly reply that gullible people pay homage to them voluntarily. As for the prophetic gift, the future of Trophonies is ready to predict anyone who descends into his Lebedian cave. And to the question of Menippus, who is such a hero, Trofonius answers: “This is a being composed

of God and man.” “I do not understand, Trofonius, what are you saying, one thing I see clearly: you’re dead, and nothing more,” concludes Menippus’s dialogue.

IV. Hermes and Charon

Hermes reminds Charon that he owes him a lot of money: five drachmas for anchoring, and even for wax to cover holes in the boat, for nails, for the rope with which the ridge is attached to the mast, and for much more. Charon says with a sigh that he can not pay off yet: “Now I can not do it, Hermes, but if some plague or war sends a lot of people to us, then it will be possible to earn something by calculating the dead on payment for the move” . But Hermes does not want to return so spent the sad way. He agrees to wait. Only he notices with a sigh that if earlier people in the underground kingdom were mostly courageous, mostly dead from wounds received in the war, now it is not so: one was poisoned by the wife, the other died from gluttony, and most die because of the money tricks. And Charon agrees with him.

V. Pluto and Hermes

Pluto asks Hermes to extend the life of the ninety-year-old childless rich man Eucrat. But those chasing after his money, wishing to receive the inheritance of Kharin, Damon and others quickly bring to the realm of the dead. Hermes is surprised: he believes that this is unfair. But Pluto says that those who are hungry for the sudden death of their neighbor, who pretend to be friends, are worthy of a quick death. And Hermes agrees: such a joke to throw out with scoundrels will only be just. And the hardworking Eucritus, like Iolaus, will throw off the burden of old age and become younger again, and the young rascals awaiting him in the prime of life will die as bad people.

VI. Terpsion and Pluto

Terpsion complains to Pluto: he died in the thirtieth year of his life, and ninety-year-old Fukrit is still alive! But Pluto thinks it’s fair: Fukrit did not wish anyone to die, but Turpsion and his like young people are flatteringly caring for the old people, licked to them in order to obtain an inheritance. Does not such avarice deserve punishment?

But he lamented that he had not slept for many nights, greedily calculating the possible term of Fukrit’s death and the amount of the alleged inheritance. As a result, the first one died and he died. Pluto vigorously promises that other self-serving nannies will soon descend into his realm. And Fucrith let him live on until he bury all the flatterers, who are willing to do something good.

VII. Zenophant and Callidemide

Callidemidus tells Zenophant how he died because of the fatal error of the slave. Wishing to quickly send to the next world the old Pteodor, he persuaded the cupbearer to give the owner a bowl of poisoned wine. But he confused the vessels and, as a result, the young poisoner himself drained the bowl of poison. And the old Ptiodorus, realizing what had happened, laughed gaily about the mistake of the butler.

VIII. Kneemon and Damnipp

Kneemon tells Damnippe how he was fooled by fate. He vigorously looked after the childless rich man Hermolais in the hope of inheriting the latter. And in order to guarantee himself the favor of the old man, he announced the will, where Hermolaus announced his heir. But on Kneemon the beam suddenly collapsed, and old Germolai got all his belongings. So Kemmon fell into his own trap.

IX. Simil and Polystrat

Ninety-eight-year-old Polystrat finally fell into the realm of the dead and tells Simila that the last two decades he lived particularly well. Layings of the childless old man were searched for by the best men of the city, hoping to become his heirs. Without giving up their courtship, the Polystrat betrayed them all: made the heir of the newly bought handsome Phrygian, slave and his pet.

And since he suddenly became a rich man, now the most notable ones are looking for his location.

X. Charon, Hermes and the various dead

Charon is going to take another batch of the dead and draws their attention to the deplorable state of his ship. He offers passengers to get rid of excess cargo and asks Hermes to see to it. The messenger of the gods takes up the matter. At his direction, the philosopher-cynic Menippus willingly throws his miserable sack and stick. And Hermes puts him in a place of honor near the helmsman. Handsome Germolay Hermes tells me to take off my long hair, blush and all the skin. Tirana Lampiha orders to leave on the shore all the wealth, and at the same time – pride and arrogance. The general has to give up arms and trophies. The demagogue philosopher is forced to part with not only lies, ignorance and the hunt for empty arguments, but with a shaggy beard and eyebrows. And when an annoyed philosopher demands that Menippus leave his freedom, frankness, nobility and laughter, Hermes vigorously objects: it’s all – things are easy, they can not be transported easily, and they will even help in a sad way. And the boat of Charon departs from the shore.

XI. Kratet and Diogenes

Kratet ironically tells Diogenes that the cousins ​​of the rich Merich and Aristea, as peers, courted each other in every possible way and each declared the heir of another in the hope of surviving it. In the end, both died at the same hour during the shipwreck.

But Kratet and Diogenes did not wish each other to die, for they did not pretend to the meager property of a fellow man, quite content with the mutual exchange of wise thoughts-the best of the inherited riches.

XII. Alexander, Hannibal, Minos and Scipio

Alexander and Hannibal contest the primacy in the realm of the dead. Minos offers everyone to tell about their deeds. Great generals list their well-known victories and conquests, in every possible way while trying to humiliate the opponent. But when Minos is about to make a decision, Scipio suddenly asks and recalls that it was he who defeated Hannibal. As a result, the championship of Minos awards Alexander, the second place – Scipio, and Hannibal is third.

XIII. Diogenes and Alexander

Diogenes mockingly notes: Alexander all the same found himself in the realm of the dead, despite his allegedly divine origin. The great commander is compelled to agree. And while his body has been lying in Babylon for thirty days, waiting for a magnificent burial in Egypt, so that he thus became one of the Egyptian gods. Diogenes sarcastically observes that Alexander did not grow wiser after death: he believes in such nonsense. And in addition, he also cries, remembering earthly honors and pleasures. Did his teacher Aristotle the philosopher not teach his disciple: wealth, honors and other gifts of fate are not eternal. Alexander with annoyance admits that his mentor was a self-interested flatterer. He argued that wealth is also a blessing: thus, he was not ashamed to accept gifts. In conclusion, Diogenes advises Alexander to regularly drink large sips of water from Summer:

XIV. Philip and Alexander

Alexander, having met in the next world with his father, is forced to admit his earthly origin. Yes, he knew this before, but supported the version about his divine genealogy in order to make it easier to conquer the world: most of the conquered peoples did not dare to resist God.

Philip mockingly notes that almost all who were subdued by his son were not worthy opponents both in courage and in combat training. Not at all that the Hellenes, whom he defeated, Philip… Alexander recalls that he defeated the Scythians, and even the Indian elephants. Did not he destroy the Greek Thebes?!

Yes, Philip heard of this. But it’s funny and sad that Alexander adopted the mores of the conquered peoples. Yes, and his vaunted courage was not always reasonable. And now, when people saw his dead body, they finally became convinced: Alexander – not God at all. And Philip advises his son to part with a pompous conceit, to know himself and understand that he is a simple dead man.

XV. Achilles and Antilochus

Antiloch reproaches Achilles for being ignoble and unreasonable: he said that it is better to serve as a day laborer in the poor plowman than reign over all the dead. So it is not necessary to say the most glorious of the heroes. Especially Achilles voluntarily chose death in a halo of glory.

Achilles is justified: the posthumous fame on the earth is of no use to him, and among the dead – complete equality. He lost everything here: the dead Trojans are no longer afraid of Achilles, and the Greeks do not show respect.

Antiloch consoles him: this is the law of nature. And he advises Achilles not to grumble at fate, so as not to make others laugh.

XVI. Diogenes and Hercules

Diogenes, in his usual ironic manner, asks Hercules: how could he, the son of Zeus, also die? The great athlete objects:

“This Hercules lives in the sky, and I’m only his ghost.” But Diogenes doubts whether it was the other way around: Hercules himself is in the realm of the dead, and in heaven only his ghost.

Hercules is enraged with such impudence and is ready to punish the scoffer. But Diogenes reasonably observes: “I’ve already died once, so I have nothing to fear from you.” Then Hercules explains with irritation: what was in him from the terrestrial father of Amphitryon, then died, and what is from Zeus – that lives in heaven with the gods. And these are not two Hercules, but one in two images. But Diogenes does not stop: he already sees not two, but three Hercules. The real Hercules lives in the sky, his ghost is in the realm of the dead, and the body is turned to dust. Even more angered by this sophistry, Hercules asks: “Who are you?” And he hears in response: “Diogenes Sinopsky’s a ghost, and he lives with the best among the dead and laughs at Homer and all this high-spirited chatter.”

XVII. Menippus and Tantalus

Tantalum perishes from thirst, standing on the shore of the lake: the water flows through the fingers, and it can not even moisten the lips. On the question of Menippus, how he, long dead, can feel thirsty, Tantalus explains: this is the punishment that befalls him: the soul feels thirsty, as if it is a body.

XVIII. Menippus and Hermes

Fallen into the realm of the dead, the philosopher Menippus asks Hermes to show him the glorified beauties and handsome men and is surprised to learn that Narcissus, Hyacinth, Achilles, Elena, and Leda are now monotonous skulls and skeletons, no more. And the fact that Elena was so beautiful that she came to her for three thousand ships with Hellenes, makes Menippus only mockingly surprised: surely the Achaeans did not understand: they are fighting for what is so briefly and soon fades!

But Hermes invites him to stop philosophizing and quickly choose his place among the rest of the dead.

XIX. Eak, Protesilay, Menelaus and Paris

The leader of the Thessalians, Protesilaus, the first Greek to die at the siege of Troy by Hector, wants to strangle Elena. Eaku, he explains that he died because of Helen. But he immediately agrees that in all, perhaps, guilty Menelaus, carried away the Greeks at Troy. And Menelaus dumps everything on Paris, a guest who stealthily kidnapped his master’s wife. Paris asks Prothesilaya to remember that both of them during their lifetime were passionately in love and therefore should understand each other. And Protesilay is ready to punish Erot, the culprit in everything. But Eak reminds: “You forgot about your young wife and, when you moored to the coast of Troas, jumped off the ship before others, foolishly exposing yourself to danger from the only thirst for glory, and therefore perished first.” And Protesilay comes to the conclusion: not only Elena and other mortals, but the goddesses of Moira’s fate, are guilty in his premature death.

XX. Menippus and Aac

Menippe asks Eaka to show the infernal attractions: he wants to see the most famous of its inhabitants.

The philosopher is amazed: all the glorious heroes of Homer’s poems have turned to dust – and Achilles, and Agamemnon, and Odysseus, and Diomedes, and many others. But most of all attracted by his sages – Pythagoras, Socrates, Solon, Thales, Pittak… Only they among the dead do not be sad: they always have something to talk about.

Having talked with them, Menippus does not refrain from reproaching Empedocles in that he supposedly rushed to the crater of Etna from an empty thirst for glory and considerable folly. But Socrates, he says that on earth everyone considers him worthy of surprise and reverence in every possible way. And then he goes to Sardanapal and Creus to laugh, listening to their woeful cries. Eak, however, returns to his porter duties.

XXI. Menippus and Kerber

Menippus asks Kerber to tell how he entered the underworld of Socrates. And the three-headed dog remembers: Socrates was worthy only at the beginning of the road, and looking into the cleft and seeing the darkness, he began to cry like a baby, and began to grieve over his children. And all the sophistical principles here have been forgotten…

Only Diogenes and he, Menippus, behaved with dignity: they entered the realm of the dead voluntarily and even with laughter. All the rest of the philosophers were not up to par.

XXII. Charon and Menippus

Lame carrier Charon requires with Menippa the usual fee for delivery to the next world – one obo. But he does not want to pay. For, among other things, does not have a single coin. And he offers to pay Hermes – who brought him to the limits of the kingdom of the dead…

“I swear by Zeus, it would be profitable for me if I had to pay for the dead!” exclaims the messenger of the gods. And to the reproaches of Charon, that he is the only one who has passed into the realm of the dead for nothing, Menippe calmly objects: no, not for nothing. After all, he drew water from a leaky boat, helped row, and was the only one not to cry. But Charon does not calm down. And Menippus suggests: “Then take me back to life!” “So Eak beat me for it?!” Charon is horrified. And to his question, who is it sitting in his boat, Hermes says: he has free of charge transferred her husband infinitely free, not considered with anyone and with nothing! This is Menipp!

XXIII. Protesilaus, Pluto and Persephone

Protesilaus, the first Greek to die at Troy, begs Pluto to let him go to earth only for one day: even the waters of the summer did not help him to forget his beautiful wife. But for the same reason Eurydice was given Orpheus, and Alcestida was also released from mercy to Hercules. And besides, Protesilaus hopes to persuade his wife to leave the world of the living and with her husband to descend to the underworld: then Pluto will have two dead instead of one!

In the end, Pluto and Persephone agree. Hermes returns to Protesila the former blossoming view and displays forever in love with the earth. And after him Pluto reminds: “Do not forget that I let You go for only one day!”

XXIV. Diogenes and Mausoleum

Kariets Mausoleum, a Halicarnassian tyrant, and in the next world is proud of his conquests, the beauty and magnitude of the tomb. But Diogenes reminds the tsar: now he is deprived of both the conquered lands and the influence. As for beauty, now his bare skull is difficult to distinguish from the skull of Diogenes. And whether to be proud of the fact that you lie under a heavier rock mass than others?!

“So, it’s all to nothing?” Mausoleum will be equal to Diogenes?! ” exclaims the tyrant. “No, not equal, most respectable, not at all.” The mausoleum will cry, remembering the earthly blessings that he was thinking of enjoying, and Diogenes laughing at him, for after himself he left among the best people the glory of a man living a life higher than the tomb of Mausoleum, and based on a harder soil “.

XXV. Nereus, Tersit and Menippus

Sung by Homer handsome Nirey and a freak, the sharp-headed hunchback Tersit appeared before Menipp in the realm of shadows. The philosopher admits that now they are equal in appearance: their skulls and bones are quite similar. “So I’m not any more beautiful than Tercit?” Nirey asks with hurt. Menippus answers: “And you are not handsome, and no one at all: in the underworld equality reigns, and here all are similar to each other.”

XXVI. Menippus and Chiron

The wise centaur Chiron, the teacher of Asclepius, Achilles, Theseus, Jason and other great ones, renounced immortality in favor of Prometheus. He explains to Menippus that he preferred to die also because he was tired of the monotony of earthly life: the same sun, moon, food, the constant change of seasons… Happiness is not in what we have always, but in the fact that we is not available. In the underworld, Chiron likes universal equality and that no one feels hunger and thirst.

But Menippus warns Chiron that he may run into a contradiction with himself: in the realm of shadows, too, monotony reigns. And to seek a way out in the third life is already meaningless. The thoughtful and even dejected centaur Mennipp recalls: the clever is content with the present, glad of what he has, and nothing seems unbearable to him.

XXVII. Diogenes, Antisthenes and Kratet

Three philosophers – Diogenes, Antisthenes and Kratet – go to the entrance to the underworld, in order to look at the “new replenishment”. On the way, they tell each other about those who came here with them: everyone, regardless of position in society and prosperity, behaved unworthily – they cried, complained, and some even tried to restrain themselves. Such Hermes tossed on his back and carried his strength. But all three philosophers behaved with dignity…

Here they are at the entrance. Diogenes turns to the ninety-year old: “Why are you crying, if you died at such an advanced age?”

It turns out that this is a half-blind and lame childless fisherman, almost a beggar, who was not bathed in luxury at all. And yet he is convinced that even a poor life is better than death. And Diogenes advises him to view death as the best medicine against adversity and old age.

XXVIII. Menippus and Tiresias

Menippus asks the prophet Tiresias whether he really was not only a man, but also a woman. Receiving an affirmative answer, he inquires how Tiresy felt better. And, hearing that in the female, immediately quotes Medea about the painful heaviness of the female share. And on the pathetic reminders of Tiresy about the transformation of beautiful women into birds and trees, Menippus skeptically notes that he will believe this only by personally hearing the stories of those who have turned. And even the well-known prophetic gift of Tiresia, the indefatigable skeptic Menippus questions: “You only act like all the soothsayers: the custom is you – do not say anything intelligible and sensible.”

XXIX. Ayant and Agamemnon

Agamemnon reproaches Ayanat: killing himself, accusing Odysseus of this, claiming the armor of Achilles. But Ayant persists:

Other leaders refused this award, but Odysseus considered himself the most worthy. This was the reason for Ayan’s frantic madness: “Odyssey can not stop hating, Agamemnon, even if Athena herself ordered me to do this!”

XXX. Minos and Sostratus

Judge of the underworld Minos distributes punishments and rewards. Robber Sostratus, he orders to throw in the fire stream – Piriflegeton. But Sostrat asks him to listen to him: everything that he did was predetermined by Moira. And Minos agrees with this. And after hearing a few more examples cited by Sostratus, with disappointment in his soul comes to the conclusion: Sostratus is not only a robber, but also a sophist! And reluctantly orders Hermes: “Liberate him: the punishment is removed from him.” And already referring to Sostratus: “Just look not to teach other dead to ask such questions!”


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“Conversations in the realm of the dead” by Lucian in brief summary