Sea. This work’s voyage takes place over a boundless ocean, which lies beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. The sea is the realm of the unknown beyond the Mediterranean, a realm where fantastic creatures dwell in all sorts of imagined locations. Drawing on the tradition of Homer’s Odyssey (c. 800 b.c.e.), Lucian uses the sea as a symbol of the unpredictability of human fortune and of sudden, unexpected turns of events. The sea also represents the literary text, as the sailors in the ship become analogous to the readers, striving to make sense of what they encounter in this fantastic narrative.
*Moon. The first full episode of the story occurs on the Moon, when the ship is whisked up to the heavens in a whirlwind. After a battle between the Sun and the Moon, in which both entities clearly stand for warring nations down on Earth, Endymion, the king of the Moon, takes the narrator and his crew on a tour of the lunar landscape, which is populated by bizarre life-forms. This appears to be Lucian’s parody of Greek ideas about the dead, which included the notion that souls of departed humans spent time on the Moon. Thus the Moon is both a strange, yet oddly familiar, otherworld—much in the mode of modern science fiction—and an abode of the dead.
Whale. Upon their return to the sea, and the land of the living, the voyagers are promptly swallowed by a huge whale, inside which whole communities of beings live. The travelers spend several months in the company of an old man and his son, who have cultivated a farm in the whale’s stomach. The whale...
(The entire section is 674 words.)