Online Encyclopedia

ALCIDAMAS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 523 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ALCIDAMAS, of Elaea, in Aeolis, Greek sophist and rhetorician, flourished in the 4th century B.C. He was the pupil and successor of Gorgias and taught at Athens at the same time as Isocrates, whose rival and opponent he was. We possess two dedamations under his name: IIepr Moc/nav2V, directed against Isocrates and setting forth the superiority of extempore over written speeches (a recently discovered fragment of another speech against Isocrates is probably of later date); 'Macro-6s, in which Odysseus accuses Palamedes of treachery during the siege of Troy (this is generally considered spurious). According to Alcidamas, the highest aim of the orator was the power of speaking extempore on every conceivable subject. Aristotle (Rhet. iii. 3) criticizes his writings as characterized by pomposity of style and an extravagant use of poetical epithets and compounds and far-fetched metaphors. Of other works only fragments and the titles have survived: McQVnv1a,bs, advocating the freedom of the Messenians and containing the sentiment that " all are by nature free "; a Eulogy of Death, in consideration of the wide extent of human sufferings; a TEXun or instruction-book in the art of rhetoric; and a 4vTLKOS Xbyos. Lastly, his Movae"iov (a word of doubtful meaning) contained the narrative of the contest between Homer and Hesiod, two fragments of which are found in the 'Aythv 'O┬Áilpov Kai 'Holb ov, the work of a grammarian in the time of Hadrian. A 3rd-century papyrus (Flinders Petrie, Papyri, ed. Mahaffy, 1891, pl. xxv.) probably contains the actual remains of a description by Alcidamas. See the edition by Blass, 1881; fragments in Muller, Oratores Attici, ii. (1858); Vahlen, Der Rhetor Alkidamas (1864); Blass, Die attische Beredsamkeit.
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