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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes to what extent public speaking as a sophist can be defined as a profession. While a number of aspects seem to point in this direction (the importance of hard work and good craftsmanship, the acceptance of wages, and the establishment of endowed chairs of rhetoric), other aspects show that sophists were not professionals in our modern sense of the term: their performances were, above all, a public demonstration of social status; recognition by their peers was a key feature of their encounters with each other. The interpretation of an anecdote about the sophist Hippodromus, his encounter with his colleague Megistias, and his physiognomy in Philostratus’s Lives of the Sophists demonstrates that the sophistic performance of status was seen as an expression of natural superiority and should be understood as a typical example of self-presentation by the Greek elite in the Roman Empire.

Keywords: performance, professionalism, status, physiognomy, Philostratus, Hippodromus, Megistias

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