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Every one honours the wise’. Thus the Parians have honoured Archilochus, in spite of his bitter tongue; the Chians Homer, though he was not their countryman; the Mytilenaeans Sappho, though she was a woman; the Lacedaemonians actually made Chilon a member of their senate, though they are the least literary of men; the Italian Greeks honoured Pythagoras; the inhabitants of Lampsacus gave public burial to Anaxagoras, though he was an alien, and honour him even to this day. Alcidamas, Aristotle Rhetoric Book 2

Alcidamas, of Elaea, in Aeolis, Greek sophist and rhetorician, flourished in the 4th century BC.

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 declamations under his name: Peri Sofiston, directed against Isocrates and setting forth the superiority of extempore over written speeches (a more recently discovered fragment of another speech against Isocrates is probably of later date); Odysseus, 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: Messeniakos, 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 Techne or instruction-book in the art of rhetoric; and a Fusikos lolos. Lastly, his Mouseion (a word of doubtful meaning) contained the narrative of the contest between Homer and Hesiod, two fragments of which are found in the Agon Omerou kai Esiodou, 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.

Lit.: Aristoteles, Rhetorik III 3; - Vahlen, J., Der Rhetor Alkidamas, in Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akad., XLIII, 507 ff,1864; - F. Blaß, Die attische Beredsamkeit, 1887-1893; - F. Blaß, Antiphontis orationes ... adiunctis ... Alcidamatis declamationibus (1881) 18922; - Auer, Hubertus, De Alcidamantis declamatione que inscribitur, Münster, Diss., 1913; - Milne, M.J.A., A study in Alcidamas and his Relation to Contemporary Sophistic. Bryn Mawr, Diss, 1924; - Walberer, G., Isokrates und Alkidamas, Hamburg, Diss., 1938; - Dupréel, E., Les sophists, 1948; - Webster, T.B.L., Greek theories of art and literature down to 400 B.C., CQ 33 (1939) 166 -79; - Kurz, D., AKPIBEIA, Das Ideal der Exaktheit bei den Griechen bis Aristoteles, 1970; - Finley, Moses I., Die Sklaverei in der Antike: Geschichte und Probleme, 1981; - Dreher, M., Sophistik und Polisentwicklung, 1983; - Heinz, Schulz-Falkenthal, Sklaverei in der griechisch-roemischen Antike: eine Bibliographie wissenschaftlicher Literatur vom ausgehenden 15. Jh., 1985; - Dušanic, Slobodan, Alcidamas of Elaea in Plato's Phaedrus, CQ 42, (1992) 347-357: 1997; - O'Sullivan, Neil, Alcidamas, Aristophanes and the beginnings of Greek stylistic Theory, 1992; - Taureck, Bernhard H. F., Die Sophisten zur Einführung, 1995; - Rossner, Christian, Recht und Moral bei den griechischen Sophisten (Rechtswissenschaftliche Forschung und Entwicklung; 595), 1998, zgl.: München, Univ., Diss., 1998; -Schumacher, Leonhard, Sklaverei in der Antike: Schicksal und Alltag der Unfreien (Beck's archaeologische Bibliothek), 2001; - Mariss, Ruth, Alkidamas: Über diejenigen, die schriftliche Reden schreiben, oder über die Sophisten: eine Sophistenrede aus dem 4. Jh. v. Chr., eingeleitet und kommentiert (orbis antiquus; 36), 2002, zugl.: Münster (Westfalen, Univ., Diss, 1998).

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

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