Lucian among the witches. The reappearance of the «Philopseudes» in a seventeenth-century treatise

Gemma Storti


This paper focuses on the reception of Lucian’s Philopseudes in a particular context, namely the controversy that arose in England about witchcraft and the witch hunt in the seventeenth century. In the first section of this study, a brief introduction will deal with the misinterpretation of Lucian’s works on the part of intellectuals who supported the persecution of so-called witches. In particular, the Strix by Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola will be taken into account. In the second section, attention will be drawn to a treatise against superstition written by John Wagstaffe in 1669 and entitled The Question of Witchcraft Debated; Or a Discourse against their Opinion that affirm Witches. Wagstaffe’s inclusion of the Philopseudes as an appendix to his treatise will be considered and will hopefully shed a new light on the modern reception of this Lucianic dialogue.

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