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date: 22 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter starts with an interrogation of periodization as such, followed by an analysis of the ways in which the notion of a “Second Sophistic” is or is not fruitful in the context of trying to understand the Greco-Roman world of the second century ce. The chapter argues that traits often said to be characteristic of the Second Sophistic—nostalgia for an idealized classical past; archaism and purity of language; sophistic performance and contest and display; paideia and erudition; anxieties over self-definition and identity—can be good to “think with” if these points of focus are explored with nuance, sophistication, and sufficient granularity, and with close attention to tensions, ambiguity, and ambivalence. Illustrative examples of such treatments are taken from the Handbook volume itself.

Keywords: periodization, Second Sophistic, idealized past, classicism, archaism, sophistic performance, cultural identity

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