Sophistic Setbacks : Pretentious Orators, Erratic Audiences



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Life of sophists was full of professional anxieties: there were often troubles with the official administration, accusations of fraud, misuse, or personal conflicts. The position of even the most prestigious sophists was never assured and often dependent on personal sympathies of emperors, local officials, and volatile audiences. One had to defend himself on a daily basis against denigration attempts on account of such diverse matters as egocentric behaviour, effeminate appearance, or rhetorical ineptitude. Personal antipathies played a huge role, as well: there were envious adversaries, overambitious students, even overtly hostile audiences always ready to throw a petty insult, a demeaning nickname, or a scandalous remark. In my paper, I will explore the reciprocal relationship of orators and their audiences and how both of these faced the challenges of the public image construction either by bending the rules of the game or even by cheating or intriguing against those in disgrace. The aim is to illustrate that professional quarrels and buffoonery were actually a prestigious and indispensable part of the sophistic show, since rhetoric bloomed from antagonism and careers were made out of scandalous manners.
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