Aulus Gellius´ Noctes Atticae: Charlatan Strategies and How to Reveal Them



Year of publication 2017
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Self-presentation and building of public image was a sine qua non of every intellectual who wanted to succeed in the highly competitive community of the 2nd century CE pepaideumenoi. An inextricable part of these intellectual preoccupations was to attack one's opponents and detractors with the use of highly ingenious and sophisticated means. The Second Sophistic movement brought with it an age of brilliant rhetorical invectives and even more brilliant defence strategies and counter-attacks – let us just recall the intellectual contests of such figures as Aelius Aristides, Polemo, Herodes Atticus, or Favorinus. To a large extent, the public image of the elite philosophers, sophists, and men of letters was something fixed and predictable; thus, these professions were naturally inclined to become cliché concepts open to all sorts of imitation, parody, or even ridicule. Though the qualities of a large amount of men did not match their ambitions, their inadequacy could easily be concealed under the veil of a self-confident appearance and performance. In my paper, I focus on the strategies that Aulus Gellius exerts in his Noctes Atticae to reveal and expose these pseudo-intellectuals. The question of credibility of such accounts cannot be avoided either, as Gellius himself certainly had to face similar criticisms from his opponents. Therefore, emphasis will be put especially on Gellius' use of parody, self-mockery and irony, through which he coped with the tricksters as well as defended himself against the invectives aimed at his own persona.
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