The Second Sophistic: A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire

By Graham Anderson | Go to book overview

11

Sophistic self-presentation four studies

In the pursuit of their professional activities sophists had frequent recourse to talking about themselves and projecting their personalities in the direction of their fellow-men. It is revealing to notice the kind of contexts in which these firstperson activities can be presented. From a relatively wide field I have chosen four texts 1 which seem to me symptomatic of sophistic attitudes. The first narrates at first hand an exotic journey that inevitably finds Hellenism in a far-flung outpost; the second projects its author into a fictitious dialogue on a stroll from the Piraeus to Athens, perhaps the most familiar course from which a sophist might review the follies of his fellow-men; a third text serves to remind us that sophists had to and could defend their vital interests in the envious litigation to which they were so readily prone; while the fourth surveys an entire sophistic lifespan at the most critical period for Hellenic culture and its transmission. The object of assembling them together is to stress the difference of approach of four individualists revealing themselves against four different sophistic backgrounds.


A WANDERING SOPHIST AT WORK: DIO'SBORYSTHENITICUS

Dio Chrysostom narrates to an audience in his home town of Prusa an account of a stay in Borysthenes, a Greek outpost on the north-western coast of the Black Sea. 2 Outside the city he encounters a youth called Callistratus, questions him about Homer and tries to introduce him to the work of the gnomic poet Phocylides; they gather an audience and go to the space in

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