This chapter discusses how, despite himself, Aelius Aristides corresponds in many ways to the typical portrait of the sophist. It examines how his personality was both emblematic (practicing epideictic and deliberative eloquence as a counselor, declaimer, and formal speaker) and idiosyncratic: a man who lived in symbiosis with a god, Asclepius, in whom he found both a doctor and a mentor in rhetoric, and who refused to take on civic responsibilities, preferring reclusion to society, yet who also was occupied with promoting language and rhetoric among his contemporaries, and defined himself as the incarnation of the ideal orator in his century. Aristides holds a vital place in literature of the imperial period: his work gives evidence of a real creative process and offers a new vision of the world, where cultural Athens, Roman domination, and the urban world of contemporary Greece and Asia Minor subtly interfere in a new way.
Stephen J. Harrison
This chapter considers the biography, literary career, and literary output of the second-century Platonizing Latin writer Apuleius, born in Roman North Africa in the 120s ce and recorded as active in Carthage and Africa Proconsularis in the late 150s and 160s. In particular, it examines the key features of his two most important surviving works, the Apologia or Pro Se De Magia, a forensic oration of self-defense against charges of magic and other offences, delivered in the late 150s in court at Sabathra, and the Metamorphoses or Golden Ass, a spectacular picaresque fiction concerning the adventures of the young Greek Lucius, who is metamorphosed into a donkey but later becomes an official in the cults of Isis and Osiris. It is shown overall that Apuleius’s literary profile matches those of contemporary Greek sophists and can be usefully described as sophistic.
Athletic activity was a major preoccupation of the Greek elite in the imperial period. This chapter looks at the relationship between athletic and intellectual activity, focusing especially on the way in which athletic skill could in itself be presented as a form of paideia. It looks first at day-to-day training in the gymnasium, focusing particularly on the use of athletics in the education of young men of the Greek elite and on the expertise of the athletic trainers. It then turns to the athletic contests which flourished at festivals across the Mediterranean world. Finally, it looks at a series of attempts by imperial Greek authors to redefine athletic training in line with their own intellectual priorities, using Plutarch’s Precepts of Healthcare as a case study for that wider phenomenon.
This chapter treats two imperial Greek phenomena that have often been paired, usually in opposition: Atticism and Asianism. It first describes the theory, practice, and development of Atticism, the attempt by imperial Greeks to write in the language of the fifth and fourth century bce, treating its stylistic and grammatical variants and outlining its relation to imperial classicism. The second part treats the so-called “Asian” prose style associated primarily with the Hellenistic writer Hegesias of Magnesia and reminiscent of Gorgias and the first sophistic. The term itself is not current in the Second Sophistic, but the chapter argues that the style and aesthetic to which it refers are not only present in the work of many writers, but are also portrayed in a positive light by Philostratus. The tension between the classicizing tendencies of Atticism and the unclassical flavor of Asianism is an essential component of imperial Greek culture.
J. R. Morgan
This chapter discusses the novels of Chariton and Xenophon of Ephesus. Both are engaged with central concerns of the Second Sophistic, in particular that of elite Greek identity. Chariton’s novel (composed in the second century and connected with the sophist Dionysius of Miletus) demonstrates the same empathetic recreation of the classical past as sophistic declamation, and defines the Greekness of his protagonists in antithesis to a Persia configured to enable the exploration of the contemporary accommodation of the Greek elite to Rome. In his vision, paideia is a central constituent of Hellenic identity, enacted through an important third character, who represents an older erotic paradigm in contrast to the romantic heroes. Xenophon’s novel (probably an epitome), on the other hand, uses a contemporary setting to explore the nightmare of the loss of social status and control over one’s own person.
Daniel S. Richter
This chapter describes the how various intellectuals active in the Second Sophistic conceived of the unity of the human community, a problem with philosophical, social, political, and, perhaps most importantly, ethnic implications. Intellectuals of the period inherited a rich conceptual vocabulary with which to think about human unity; ironically, fifth- and fourth-century Athenian rejections of aristocratic privilege provided a means for later intellectuals to debunk the importance of ethnic birth. As well, the Hellenistic Stoic idea of oikeiôsis is developed by intellectuals of the Second Sophistic as the basis of a philosophically oriented cosmopolitanism. The chapter discusses late Stoic cosmopolitan thought and rhetorical constructions of the Roman oikoumenê (inhabited world) as a single polis, and then turns to the figure of the exile as peculiarly suited to inhabit the world as if it were a single city.
The chapter examines three exemplars of Syrian Christianity in the second and early third centuries: Tatian (ca. 120–180), Bar Daysan (154–222), and Julius Africanus (ca. 160–240). To varying degrees, all of them are as much creations of Hellenic high culture as they are representatives of the Church. In developing this argument, the chapter treats these figures in the context of themes familiar to students of the Second Sophistic: (1) attitudes toward Greek paideia; (2) relics and the creation of civic identities; (3) Hellenic court culture; and (4) the encounter of Greek-speaking eastern elites with Rome.
John O. Ward
This chapter deals with rhetoric as defined by Augustine’s teacher, Victorinus, in his commentary on Cicero’s De inventione (a foundational work for medieval rhetoric), as the “handing on” of the precepts of the Greco-Roman art of rhetoric, from earliest medieval times to the fifteenth century, when the celebrated Renaissance humanist Guarino da Verona spent a large part of his life teaching the pseudo-Ciceronian Rhetorica ad Herennium. In addition to well-known sources, the chapter also introduces an important unknown source, a full-scale textbook on rhetoric found in a fourteenth-century manuscript from Bruges. The medieval teachers of rhetoric kept alive and explored the vast repertoire of the past as an invaluable repository of tips and advice for improving oral and written communication in their own day. They kept the ancient texts open, speaking continually to new generations of contemporaries.
Claire Rachel Jackson
This chapter examines the Greek imperial writer Dio Chrysostom’s biography, works, and place within the Second Sophistic. Dio’s corpus is broad and eclectic, including advice to emperors, discussions of local politics, literary criticism, philosophical treatises, and fictionalized myths. Moreover, the stories told about his life both in his own works and in those of later interpreters raise questions about just how literally to understand Dio’s autobiography. This chapter tackles these questions surrounding the relationship between Dio’s life and corpus through close readings from selected speeches, focusing particularly on Dio’s rhetorical personas, self-positioning between Greece and Rome, and the contrast between his more political and more literary-critical speeches. As such, this chapter offers models both for understanding these contrasting facets of Dio’s life and corpus and for reading Dio holistically within a Second Sophistic context.
This essay explores the intersections between ancient and modern notions of ecphrasis (defined by Imperial Greek rhetoricians as “a descriptive speech” that “brings the subject shown before the eyes with visual vividness”). After surveying recent comparative literary approaches to ecphrastic “intermediality,” the essay first analyzes theories of ecphrasis in theProgymnasmata. Second, by relating these Imperial Greek rhetorical discussions back to literary and literary critical traditions, the essay posits a closer relationship between ancient and modern ideas of ecphrasis than is often assumed. Third, it surveys “self-standing” ecphrasis in epigrammatic poetry, paying particular attention to epigram’s paragonal pitching of vision against voice (and vice versa). Finally, the Elder Philostratus’Imaginesis introduced as antiquity’s most sophisticated meditation on words and images—at once resonating with earlier literary traditions and anticipating some of the most pressing questions about ecphrasis in contemporary literary critical theory.