PHILOPATRIS, fî"lo-pê'tris: A dialogue ascribed by a single family of manuscripts to the Greek satirist Lucian. Formerly regarded as a satire on Christianity, it is now known to be a political pamphlet of the Byzantine period. It is divided into two parts: the first is theological and contains a refutation of heathen polytheism accompanied by an exposition of Christian doctrine; the second is political and reveals the dissatisfaction felt in certain circles with the government of that period, though it closes with expressions of loyalty, and with the hope that the emperor would overcome his enemies.
The Humanist editors of Lucian themselves perceived that this dialogue, which is inartistic both in form and execution, was not written by their author; and this view is undoubtedly correct, although naturally there have been some defenders of its authenticity, the latest of whom was C. G. Kelle, Luciani Philopatris (Leipsic, 1826). Some classicists sought at least to maintain that the dialogue was written in the time of Trajan, but the majority of critics allowed themselves to be influenced by J. M. Gesner (De tate et auctore dialogi . . . qui Philopatris inscribitur, Jena, 1714) in favor of the period of Julian. A. von Gutschmid and others were inclined to refer the work to the time of the Persian wars of Heraclius. At present, however, the general opinion is in harmony with the view of B. G. Niebuhr, to the effect that the dialogue belongs to the second half of the tenth century, the time of Nicephorus Phocas (963-969) or to that of his successor, John Tzimiskes (969-976). If this be true, the whole first part must be regarded as a jesting religious controversy, introduced to give plausibility to the attribution of the dialogue to Lucian; although R. Crampe has argued that, if the work was written in the seventh century, political opposition would be combined with a tendency toward paganism.
The dialogue was expunged from the Aldine edition of Lucian of 1522 by the Inquisition, and was placed on the Index by Paul V. in 1559. To whatever period it may be assigned, the Philopatris retains its interest from a theological point of view because of its combination of Christian ideas with Lucianic style, whether it proves the existence of paganism in Byzantium in the seventh century, or whether it simply shows how frivolously the Humanists of the tenth century treated questions of faith. The description of Paul borrowed from the Acts of Paul and Thecla and the allusion to II Cor. xii. 2 sqq. are also worthy of note.
E. VON DOBSCHÜTZ.