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Rhetoric of the Second Sophistic

Tim Whitmarsh

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Bourdieu, Pierre, Plato

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


“The Second Sophistic” is the name given by Flavius Philostratus (c. 170–245 ce ) in his Lives of the sophists (481, 507) to the rhetorical style current in his day. The sophistic culture described by Philostratus involved highly educated members of the Greek elite improvising public declamations, often in the personae of famous figures from Greece's historical or mythological past. The primary emphasis was upon the re-enactment of key moments of military or political significance: most themes were drawn from the times of either imperial Athens (fifth century bce ) or the conquests of Philip and Alexander (fourth century bce ). This historical emphasis was matched at the level of diction, morphology, and style by the revival of the “Attic” dialect used by classical Athenian writers such as Thucydides, Plato, and Demosthenes (→  Rhetoric, Greek ). Modern scholars have taken over the phrase to encompass a number of broader phenomena ( Whitmarsh 2005 , 6–10). The term was revived in the nineteenth century by Nietzsche's friend Erwin Rohde (1876, 1886) , who argued that die zweite Sophistik was a primarily linguistic phenomenon promoting Atticism at the expense of “Asianism,” supposedly a more melodious style emanating from the Ionian Greek cities. Rohde based his arguments on the claims of an ancient author, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (writing in Rome at the turn of the millennium), ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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