A Commentary on Isocrates' Busiris (Mnemosyne, Bibliotheca Classica Batava Supplementum)

A Commentary on Isocrates' Busiris (Mnemosyne, Bibliotheca Classica Batava Supplementum)

Niall Livingstone

Language: English

Pages: 225

ISBN: 9004121439

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This volume contains the first scholarly commentary on the puzzling work "Busiris" part mythological "jeu d esprit," part rhetorical treatise and part self-promoting polemic by the Greek educator and rhetorician Isocrates (436-338 BC). The commentary reveals Isocrates strategies in advertising his own political rhetoric as a middle way between amoral sophistic education and the abstruse studies of Plato s Academy. Introductory chapters situate "Busiris" within the lively intellectual marketplace of 4th-century Athens, showing how the work parodies Plato s "Republic," and how its revisionist treatment of the monster-king Busiris reflects Athenian fascination with the alien wisdom of Egypt. As a whole, the book casts new light both on Isocrates himself, revealed as an agile and witty polemicist, and on the struggle between rhetoric and philosophy from which Hellenism and modern humanities were born."

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Polycrates' accusation is that he has not merely said that Alcibiades 'associated with' Socrates, or even that Socrates 'corrupted' Alcibiades, but that Alcibiades was Socrates' pupil—contrary to the tradition that Socrates disclaimed being a teacher or having any pupils.98 From Isocrates' standpoint, of course, to make Socrates a practitioner of 7 and the educator of a pre-eminent public figure like Alcibiades, can only be praise. Polycrates' use of it as a charge against Socrates is symptomatic

180): again it is left unclear what reason there might be for giving such a limited and offbeat example. Kennedy does, however, point a way forward by conceding that a 'serious idea' may underlie the work in spite of its bizarre subject (ibid. p. 181). INTRODUCTION 5 and at the antecedent works of Polycrates is among its most interesting features. Thus the legendary king Busiris is only one thread in the work which bears his name. Others include the character and work of the rhetorician

Hdt. II.6.2-3, 11.10, 124 ff., 148 f, 175 f), who exaggerates the size of the country by erroneously making its twice the length of the Persian parasang. Abundance of fertile land takes its place in later rhetorical theory among the praiseworthy qualities of an inland area (see Menander Rhetor RG III.345.10), and the , also figures in Aristides' praise of Cyzicus, XXVII Panegyric in Cyzicus 9. : compare the role given to the Peiraeus in Isocrates' praise of Athens at Panegyricus 42; also [Xen.]

conversation with the tyrant Leon and characterised him, according to Diogenes Laertius, as the inventor of the words ( and (D.L. 1.12). Cicero Tusc. V.iii.8 (clearly using Heraclides) has Leon ask Pythagoras what art he practises; Pythagoras says he is a philosopher, and Leon asks for an explanation; Pythagoras likens the role of philosophers in life to that of spectators at the Olympic games. For discussion of the content and point of this episode in Heraclides, and of the question whether it

For its negative sense here, 'speaking without proper restraint', compare f yug. 22 (also Archid. 97, Areop. 20), and see Harpocration p. 239 lines 1-2 Dindorf: Good and bad are explicitly distinguished at Ep. IV 4. this does not follow logically from what has gone before, but serves as a transition to the declaration of faith in § 41, which in turn brings the focus back (a) from stories about the gods to stories about heroes (like Busiris), and (b) from the poets as primary myth-makers to prose

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