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Sunday, February 3, 2019

087 - Rhetoric and the Sophists



In this episode, we describe the development of rhetoric in the ancient Greek world as an art that could be studied and employed in the law courts and for political purposes, and its importance especially in Classical Athens; the roles and various opinions of the Sophists, who were lecturers that traveled from city to city, teaching not only rhetoric but also all of the other important subjects that were not being covered by an Athenians’ traditional education; and the lives, influences, writings, and various theories put forth by the earliest Rhetoricians and Sophists, including synopses on several of Plato's dialogues (Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias Major and Hippias Minor)


Rhetoricians and Sophists Discussed:
Korax and Tisias of Syracuse (fl. mid-5th century BC)

Protagoras of Abdera (ca. 490-420 BC)
Gorgias of Leontini (ca. 485-375 BC)
Antiphon of Rhamnous (ca. 480-411 BC)
Hippias of Elis (ca. 460-400 BC)
Prodicus of Keos (ca. 465-390 BC)
Thrasymachus of Chalcedon (ca. 459-400 BC)


Primary Sources Discussed:

Greek words: rhetorike (rhetoric), rhetor (orator), logon techne (skill with arguments), sophia (wisdom), Sophistes (experts, literally “those who have become wise”), physiologoi (natural philosophers), physis (nature), nomos (law or custom), techne (art or skill), arete (excellence or virtue), macrologia (many words), paradoxologia (the idea of paradoxical thought and expression), schemata (figures of speech), isokolon (balanced clauses), antithesis (the joining of contrasting ideas), parison (the structure of successive clauses), homoeoteleuton (the repetition of word endings), epitaphios (funeral oration), topos (plausible argument), logos (logical), ethos (ethical), pathos (emotional), deiknunai (to show), epideiktikos ("showoff" speech), enkomion (praise), dunamis (power), logographoi (speech writers), poly (many or much), mathes (having learned), polymathes (polymath, literally "someone who has learned a lot"), kalon (beauty or noble)



Supplementary Resources (Photos, Videos, Other Podcasts)
The Heritage Podcast Episode 30 The Sophists, Skepticism, and Relativism - Thanks to guys like Socrates and Plato, “sophist” is a dirty word! Were these itinerant teachers of rhetoric actually progressive thinkers who questioned the prevailing social mores of their time? Or were they unscrupulous charlatans who would talk out of both sides of their mouths for a drachma? Truth, justice, and virtue are at stake, so come find out about pre-Socratic skepticism and relativism!

History of Philosophy Ep 14 Making the Weaker Argument the Stronger: the Sophists - Discusses the sophists, teachers of rhetoric in ancient Athens, looking especially at the contributions of Protagoras and Gorgias.

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