20 JANUARY 1900, Page 25

Lucian, the Syrian Satirist. By Lieutenant-Colonel Henry W. L. Rime.

(Longmans and Co. 51. net.)—Colonel Rime, we are inclined to say, takes Lucian too seriously. The grave indigna- tion which he expresses at the frivolous and heartless utterances which he finds in the satirist's work is just a little out of place. After all, these things are matters of taste, and it is impossible, at this distance of time, to pass a really equitable judgment on them. A satirist, too, is almost of necessity somewhat brutal, and certainly cannot help being unjust. For all this, the volume which we have here is a very readable one, and gives a generally just estimate of Lucian's genius. It was Lucian's misfortune to be born into what we may describe as the position of the Graeculus esuriens, and it would be unfair to blame him too severely if he did not rise out of it. When he gets into regions of pure humour, as in the "Vera Historia," he is at his best. This is Colonel Rime's opinion, for he gives us a some- what epitomised version of the story. The "Historia " is more enjoyable than Gulliver, because the satire is more good-humoured and impersonal. There is nothing, for instance, like the savage contempt for his fellow-men which Swift put into his description of the Houyhnhnms. We must not forget to quote the excellent analogy which is suggested for Lucian's remarkable versatility He was a Western Asiatic, another Hadji Baba.