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HEGESIAS OF MAGNESIA (in Lydia)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 208 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HEGESIAS OF MAGNESIA (in Lydia), Greek rhetorician and historian, flourished about 300 B.C. Strabo (xiv. 648), speaks of him as the founder of the florid style of composition known as "Asiatic" (cf. TIMAEUS). Agatharchides, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Cicero all speak of him in disparaging terms, although Varro seems to have approved of his work. He professed to imitate the simple style of Lysias, avoiding long periods, and expressing himself in short, jerky sentences, without modulation or finish. His vulgar affectation and bombast made his writings a mere caricature of the old Attic. Dionysius describes his composition as tinselled, ignoble and effeminate. It is generally supposed, from the fragment quoted as a specimen by Dionysius, that Hegesias is to be classed among the writers of lives of Alexander the Great. This fragment describes the treatment of Gaza and its inhabitants by Alexander after its conquest, but it is possible that it is only part of an epideictic or show-speech, not of an historical work. This view is supported by a remark of Agatharchides in Photius (cod. 250) that the only aim of Hegesias was to exhibit his skill in describing sensational events. See Cicero, Brutus 83, Orator 67, 69, with J. E. Sandys's note, ad Att. xii. 6; Dion. Halic. De verborum comp. iv.; Aulus Gellius ix. 4; Plutarch, Alexander, 3; C. W. Muller, Scriptores rerum Alexandri Magni, p. 138 (appendix to Didot ed. of Arrian, 1846) ; Norden, Die antike Kunstprosa (1898); J. B. Bury, Ancient Greek Historians (1909), pp. 169-172, on origin and development of " Asiatic " style, with example from Hegesias.
End of Article: HEGESIAS OF MAGNESIA (in Lydia)
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