This book is concerned with Greek culture and society between AD 50 and 250, the period known to us from the biographer and sophist Philostratus as the 'second sophistic'.1 My aim is twofold. First, I want to explore the identity of the Greeks of this time with respect to their ancestors, the 'ancient Greeks', who were the source of their moral and political authority. The focus will be on the male Greek elite, that is, the restricted group in control of economy, culture, and government whose activities and beliefs are reasonably well known to us, and on the world of Old Greece and Asia Minor, where the culture in which I am interested was best represented and where populations most clearly expressed their relationship with the Greece of the classical or mythological age. In the second part of the book I want to consider from the standpoint of Greek culture how the leading Greek intellectuals of the second sophistic viewed Rome and Roman power in Greece and the Greek world.
Periodization is naturally problematic. It too often reflects examination syllabuses rather than real cultural or political boundaries. However, the world of the Greek elite in the second sophistic age is distinctive. In political terms it benefited particularly from the prosperity and stability of the High Roman Empire and from its largely philhellene emperors. The political ambitions of the elite were channelled through symbolic gifts of property and money to the Greek cities (the practice known as benefaction or 'euergetism'), and the cities were equally responsive to their notables' desire for status and recognition. As with other elements of the second____________________