Visions of Lucian 2:
The Fly / The Mole
In The Fly, written around 145AD, Lucian of Samosata — then an aspiring rhetorician wandering Ionia and Greece, and only just beginning to make a name for himself — defends the humble housefly. In describing the fly’s anatomy, its character, its virtues, and its place in literature, Lucian reveals his uncanny ability to detect and respond to every tiny detail of his subject.
The book includes a companion piece to The Fly, in which Nicholas Jeeves writes an encomium for the mole — not the mammal responsible for those little mounds of earth that occasionally accumulate on our lawns, but those little mounds of flesh that accumulate on our faces and bodies. He finds that history has a complicated relationship with the mole, in which they have been variously concealed, celebrated, removed, faked, and banned — and even used to divine the futures of their owners.
Text: Nicholas Jeeves
Design: Nicholas Jeeves
Typefaces: Folio and Sabon
Format: 105mm x 148mm, 40pp
Print: Mono digital
Binding: Tête-bêche, saddle-stitched
Publisher: Mulita Small Editions, January 2020
Translation of Lucian by F. Fowler (1905)
Buy the book hereRead the full text online here
“The most remarkable point about [the fly’s] natural history is the one fact that Plato seems to me to have overlooked in his discourse of the soul and its immortality. If a little ashes be sprinkled on a dead fly, it gets up, experiences a second birth, and starts life afresh.”
“The ancient Greeks were ambivalent about moles, yet preferred a mole to a pockmark. Skilled tradesmen might affect a mole from a small patch of leather, made for sale to stick over an offending scar. Naturally occurring moles were called “olives of the body”, and were thought to be a punishment by jealous gods to correct unnatural beauty. The physician and astrologer Hippocrates was interested in moles and wondered how their arrangement on a body might relate to the stars in the sky: thus began the practice of moleomancy.”