The Sophistic Renaissance makes a learned and suggestive contribution to the literature on Renaissance genres. With Erasmus and Montaigne as focal points, and moving with ease between NeoLatin and vernacular works, Eric MacPhail traces some literary bypaths, including the adage, letter, and essay, to a sophistic tradition. In the process, he introduces some critical terms that complement and perhaps extend critical terms drawn from the liberal arts, especially classical rhetoric. In Part 1, entitled “The Fortune of the Sophists,” MacPhail painstakingly reconstructs the fragmentary tradition and reception of six sophists (Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias, Thrasymachus, Antiphon, and Critias). Despite the influence and persistence of Plato’s philosophical critique, and the fragmentary condition of these sophists’ writings, the elements of a sophistic theory of speech survived largely in the form of critique and doxography. Testimonies from Cicero, Quintilian, Seneca, and Aulus Gellius reflect an occasional interest of Latin writers in the sophists, while the Greeks were more voluble. In the Table Talk , Plutarch implicated Protagoras in the philosophical origins of skepticism, a genealogy seemingly confirmed by Diogenes Laertius in his early third century Lives of the Philosophers . In the contemporary Lives of the Sophists , however, Philostratus of
ERSY – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2013
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