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I. The Second Sophistic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2016

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This is a book about an extraordinary phenomenon found over all of the Greek-speaking parts of the Roman empire in the first three centuries CE (and some of the Latin-speaking parts, too). In every city worthy of its name, members of the male elite—grown men, and also their younger acolytes—would regularly gather to hear their peers perform oratorical declamations. The aim of these declamations was not to persuade a jury to convict or release a defendant, nor was it to commend a certain course of action to the city. In ancient terms, this was not dikanic (i.e. legal) or symbouleutic (political) oratory, but ‘epideictic’: the speeches, that is, were delivered for the occasion alone, to solicit the pleasure, admiration, and respect of the audience.

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Copyright © The Classical Association 2005

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1 The threefold distinction is first aired by Aristotle, Rhetoric 1358a-9a. For a general survey of ancient rhetoric, see Kennedy (1994); and more briefly Russell (1981), 114–28. The fullest account of epideictic oratory is Volkmann (1885), 314–61. I do not mean to deny the importance of display oratory in the Hellenistic period: it was certainly practised then (see below, n. 44), but was not apparently socially valued to anything like the same extent (e.g. ‘sophist’ only appears in this sense as a term of approbation in inscriptions from the time of Trajan (98-117 CE): OSG, 6). Later antiquity, again, saw a number of continuities with earlier sophistic culture, with figures such as Libanius, Themistius, and Choricius. Notwithstanding these evident problems, the period between the advent of Augustus and the so-called ‘third-century crisis’ (much debated, but there does seem to have been a dearth of sophists between the mid-third century and the fourth) is coherent enough a cultural unit to be worthy of exploration.

2 For these parallels, see e.g. Korenjak (2000), 136.

3 Swain (1996), 1.

4 Anderson (1993).

5 Schmitz (1997), my translation.

6 For some of the problems of definition, see Anderson (1990).

7 See Bowersock (1969), 7–8; Nutton (1970); Avotins (1978); Anderson (1986), 297–8; Flinterman (1995), 26–7. Jones (2002) argues, however, for Gordian III. The state of the evidence simply will not permit any certainty.

8 For fuller discussion of the genesis of the phrase ‘Second Sophistic’, see Whitmarsh (2001), 41–5.

9 Rohde(1886).

10 Rohde (1914), 310.

11 Cf. Nietzsche (1993), 94–8; 110–13.

12 The best accounts in English of the politics of 19th-century classics concentrate on Great Britain: see Jenkyns (1980); Turner (1981); Stray (1998).

13 Rohde (1914), 319.

14 Schmid (1887-96).

15 Wilamowitz (1900); see also ch. 3.

16 e.g. Boulanger (1923); Sandbach (1936); Keil (1953); Gerth (1956).

17 Bowersock (1969).

18 Bowie (1974), 208–9. See also Bowie (1982). The most substantial statement of this position is Swain (1996). Schmitz (1997) takes a related approach, arguing that the Second Sophistic was a means of enshrining elite Greek privilege: his primary area of interest is, however, in the tension between Greek mass and Greek elite, rather than (as with Bowie and Swain) Greek and Roman.

19 Cf. Gleason (1995); Connolly (2001); Goldhill ed. (2001); Whitmarsh (2001).

20 See van Bremen (1996) on the limited evidence. Hallett (1993) argues that the focus on classical Athens implicitly marginalizes women’s history, which is better represented in later periods.

21 Gleason (1995). See also ch. 2.

22 See esp. Brown (1978); Lane Fox (1986); also Perkins (1995) and Cooper (1996) for discussions of specific topics that range across pagan and Christian.

23 See ch. 5, ‘Writing the self.

24 For more on the historical background of the transition to Roman rule, see Gruen (1984); Alcock (1993), 1–32. For surveys of the literary culture of Roman Greece, see Reardon (1971); Swain (1996); Whitmarsh (2001); (2004a), 139–58.

25 Pliny, Letter 8.24; see Woolf (1994), 118–25 for discussion and further examples.

26 Brown (1978), 27–53. See also Schmitz (1997), 97–101.

27 See esp. Hopkins (1965) on the complex and variable criteria for displaying elite credentials.

28 See in general Bowersock (1969), 30–58; also Lewis (1981); Syme (1982); Schmitz (1997), 50–63; and, on Greek senators, Halfmann (1979). There were also ‘chairs’ of rhetoric in Athens and Rome: Avotins (1975); Rothe (1989).

29 On this passage, see Swain (1996), 166, and more generally 161–8; Jones (1971), 110–21; Aalders (1982); Tirelli (1995). For bibliography on Plutarch’s political writings, see Whitmarsh (2001), 184–5 n.15.

30 See Morgan (1999) for classical Athens, and (1998) for Hellenistic and Roman developments. On the history of paideia, see also Marrou (1956); Too ed. (2001); Whitmarsh (2001), 90–130.

31 FGrH 246 Fl = Athenaeus, Sophists at Supper 184b; see further Whitmarsh (2001), 7–8 for the echo of Thucydides 2.41.1.

32 On Arrian, see esp. Stadter (1980); Vidal-Naquet (1984); Bos worth (1993); Swain (1996), 242–8.

33 Vidal-Naquet (1984).

34 It is true, however, that there are relatively few cases in which culture alone can be seen to have propelled individuals forward: see Bowie (1982), Lewis (1981), and most recently Schmitz (1997), 50–63.

35 For ‘Greeks’ (or similar) meaning students of rhetoric, cf. 531, 564, 567, 571, 574, 588–9, 590–1, 600, 605, 609, 613, 616, 617, 627; also Eunapius, Lives of the Sophists and Philosophers 490. The phenomenon is discussed at Rothe (1989), 104; Follet (1991), 206; Anderson (1993), 119; Flinterman (1995), 51.

36 Aelius Aristides, Orations 33.24, 32, 50.87.

37 See further Whitmarsh (2001), 90–130, with references.

38 Guthrie (1971); Kerferd (1981).

39 Cole (1991); Wardy (1996); shorter surveys at Goldhill (2002a), 45–79; Whitmarsh (2004a), 87–105.

40 Gorgias, frag. 11 DK. For a translation, see Macdowell (1982). According to Philostratus (VS 481), Gorgias was the founder of the ‘older’ sophistic.

41 On the Crown A; 19.246, 250; 29.13, 32; 35.39-40; 59.21; On Love 48, 50; fr. 9.1,13.2. On oratorical uses of the word ‘sophist’ as abuse, see Hesk (2000), 211–19. Ian McAuslan helpfully notes Disraeli’s famous description of Gladstone, in a speech of 1878, as a ‘sophistical rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity’.

42 Particularly in the Gorgias and the Sophist.

43 Above, n. 1.

44 See esp. Russell (1983), 4; 19–20, citing P.Hibeh 15 ( = FGrH 105A6), P.Berol. 9781; also Polybius 12.25a3, 8; 25k8 and Demetrius On Style 238 as evidence for the existence of Hellenistic declamation. Brunt (1994), 29–30 notes additionally that Seneca, Suasoriae 1–5 cites Greek precedents as well as Roman. As we have already seen, Philostratus (VS 510–11) also names the otherwise unknown Ariobarzanes of Cilicia, Xenophron of Sicily and Peithagoras of Cyrene, who practised at some point between Aeschines and Nicetes (who flourished in the mid-first century CE).

45 For a sceptical view (unconvincing, to my mind) see Brunt (1994). The limited amount of surviving evidence from the Hellenistic period will confront us repeatedly.

46 Stanton (1973), 351–8; Brunt (1994), 41–2; 48–50.

47 Orations 12.5, 22.5, 24.3. 34.3, 71.8. See further Stanton (1973), 354.

48 Dio Chr. 4.33; see more fully Whitmarsh (2001), 192–4. Dio will be discussed in greater detail in ch. 4.

49 Above, n. 41. According to Philostratus {VS 488), Demosthenes’ On the Crown was one of the texts Dio took with him into exile.

50 For criticisms of Dio as ‘too rhetorical’, see also Philostratus, In Honour of Apollonius of Tyana 5.40; and Letters of Apollonius 9.

51 Synesius, Life of Dio; cf. Moles (1978) for strong suspicion.

52 Bowersock (1969), 12–15; Bowie (1974), 169 n. 4.

53 Brunt (1994), 30; Swain (1996), 97–8.

54 See also Schmitz (1997), 12–13 n.ll.

55 Now conveniently collected in OSG.

56 Stanton (1973), 355.

57 See below ch. 2, ‘The performance’.

58 The ‘four’ are Miltiades, Themistocles, Pericles, and Cimon, the statesmen criticized in Plato’s Gorgias.

59 For iatrosophistēs, see Palatine Anthology 11.281; Suda s.v. ‘Gesios’; Bowersock (1969), 67. For deipnosophistēs, see Athenaeus, Sophists at Supper (title).

60 Plato Euthydemus 288b; cf. Euthyphro 15d, Ion 54le; also Philostratus, In Honour of Apollonius of Tyana 1.4, Heliodorus, Ethiopian Story 2.24.4. The opportunist philosopher Peregrinus was also nicknamed ‘Proteus’: see Lucian’s Peregrinus, esp. 1; also Demonax 21, Against the Uneducated Book-buyer 14; VS 563–4; and Suda s.v. ‘Philostratus the Lemnian’ (taking Πρωτέα κύνα ή σοιυστήν as a single work). See also ch. 5, ‘Writing the self.

61 Schmitz (1997), esp. 160–8.

62 Russell (1983), 76.

63 VS 571, 580.

64 Nesselrath (1998).

65 VS 491 (Favorinus at Rome); cf. 488 (Dio to Trajan).

66 Russell (1983), 76. For the diversity of spaces for sophistic performance, see Korenjak (2000), 27–33.

67 For an excellent general account, see Russell (1983).

68 Reardon (1971), 99–119; Bowie (1974), 168–74; Kennedy (1974); Russell (1983), 1–20; 106–28; Anderson (1993), 55–68; Swain (1996), 90–6; Schmitz (1997), 112–27.

69 Reader (1996). The source text is Herodotus 6.114, but see Reader (1996), 33–40 for other sources and Nachleben.

70 For bibliography on Herodes, see ch. 2, nn. 34–6.

71 The text of Hadrian’s declamations is printed at Hinck (1873), 44–6; Lesbonax is edited by Kiehr (1906).

72 See Boulanger (1923), 217–93.

73 Anderson (1994), 171–4; Billerbeck and Zubler (2000), 6–26.

74 See Branham (1985); Nesselrath (1990); Anderson (1993), 53–5.

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