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Approaching Late AntiquityThe Transformation from Early to Late Empire$
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Simon Swain and Mark Edwards

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297375

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297375.001.0001

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Sophists and Emperors: The Case of Libanius

Sophists and Emperors: The Case of Libanius

(p.355) 14 Sophists and Emperors: The Case of Libanius
Approaching Late Antiquity

Simon Swain

Oxford University Press

Understanding the social and political function of Greek rhetoric in the 4th century is not as easy as it might seem. Apart from Libanius, we have the fairly extensive remains of the orator Himerius and the large surviving body of work of the philosopher-cum-rhetor, Themistius. From the schools comes the rhetorical handbook of Sopater with its vast number of exercises for the young men who trained in rhetoric to begin their careers. There is also the Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists by Eunapius of Sardis. It is important to consider 4th-century oratory as part of a tradition of rhetorical studies running from the end of the 1st century bc. This chapter compares Libanius with some of his illustrious predecessors to assess his own contribution. It considers the presentation of him by his younger contemporary, Eunapius, and his own account of the events Eunapius focuses on. Finally, the chapter looks at his relationship with two key emperors, Theodosius and Julian.

Keywords:   Libanius, Eunapius of Sardis, Theodosius, Julian, Roman emperors

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