I began this work with a study of how the Greek elite used language to constitute themselves as a culturally and politically superior group. The role of language in the second sophistic is an intensification (as I called it) of an already existing polarization between the language of the educated and the non-educated. In the enlarged Greek world of the Hellenistic period we can identify a clear division between a Greek which stands in a relationship with the fossilized high standard of classical authors, especially those writing in Attic Greek (the classical dialect par excellence for prose and speech), and a Greek which effectively has no link with this standard. There is, however, little sign that educated speakers in this period were under any pressure to imitate closely and consciously the style or vocabulary and grammar of Athenian and other classical writers. The noticeable change in the second sophistic is that very great value was now placed on the ability to do both of these things and especially to achieve a proximity to Attic Greek.
The linguistic and stylistic purism that developed in the later first century AD can be seen as a progression from the stylistic concerns of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and others who promoted creative imitation of the classical Athenian orators towards the end of the first century BC. Dionysius' aims were both literary-stylistic, concerned, that is, with matters of taste, and also ideological and political. He believed that imitating the style of the great orator-politicians like Isocrates was the best way to guarantee correct political behaviour in the present day. In the second sophistic these political factors are again important. But the role of the classics in this period goes far beyond the aims and influence of Dionysius and his school. To Dionysius' concern with style was joined an overriding obsession with language itself. This obsession was due to the elite's need to give itself a clearer and more readily definable identity. Language