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date: 16 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

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.

Keywords: Aelius Aristides, epideictic eloquence, deliberative eloquence, Asclepius, literary creative process, prose versus poetry, polemic with Plato, contemporary Greece, Roman domination

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