IF you were training to be an athlete, you would not spend all your time doing exercises: you would also have to learn when and how to relax, for relaxation is generally regarded as one of the most important elements in physical training. To my mind it is equally important for intellectuals. When you have been doing a lot of serious reading, it is a good idea to give your mind a rest and so build up energy for another bout of hard work.
For this purpose the best sort of book to read is one that is not merely witty and entertaining but also has something interesting to say. I am sure you will agree that this story of mine falls into that category, for its charm consists not only in the remarkable nature of its subject-matter and the beauty of its style, not only in the plausibility of its various flights of fancy, but also in its satirical intention - since every episode is a subtle parody of some fantastic 'historical fact' recorded by an ancient poet, historian, or philosopher.
There is no need to tell you their names, for you will recognize them soon enough; but I might just mention Ctesias of Cnidos, who made a number of statements in his history of India for which he had no evidence whatsoever, either at first or second hand. Then there was Iambulus, who told us a lot of surprising things about the Atlantic Ocean. They were obviously quite untrue, but no one could deny that they made a very good story, so hundreds of people followed his example and wrote so-called histories of their travels describing all the huge monsters, and savage tribes, and extraordinary ways of life that they had come across in foreign parts.
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Publication information: Book title: Satirical Sketches. Contributors: Lucian - Author, Paul Turner - Translator. Publisher: Indiana University Press. Place of publication: Bloomington, IN. Publication year: 1990. Page number: Not available.
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