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THE DOUBLE INDICTMENT
Again we have a reply to criticism, this time largely of an aesthetic nature. Lucian had been assailed from both sides, by the rhetoricians for abandoning speech-making and essay-writing and going over to dialogue, consecrated, since Plato's time, to the service of Philosophy, and by the philosophers for not handling dialogue in the traditional way. It is the usual reception accorded to innovators. Lucian's response is characteristically novel and effective. Using the form which he is censured for employing in precisely the way that he is censured for employing it, he insinuates himself into the favour of his audience by taking them first to Heaven to overhear a conversation between Zeus and Hermes, then in company with Hermes and Justice to the Areopagus, where Justice, after a brief and amusing colloquy with Pan, presides over a series of mock-trials (always a delectable entertainment to Greeks), culminating in the two that give the piece its name, Lucian f. Oratory and Lucian w. Dialogue, from which his audience is delighted to see him come off triumphant. The result is that rhetoric and philosophy a la mode, who have brought him before the bar of public opinion, are laughed out of court.
The Dialogue was composed, Lucian tells us (§ 32), when he was about forty years old, therefore probably not far from the year 165 a.d.