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Hippias of Elis (/ˈhɪpiəs/; Greek: Ἱππίας ὁ Ἠλεῖος; late 5th century BC) was a Greek sophist, and a contemporary of Socrates. With an assurance characteristic of the later sophists, he claimed to be regarded as an authority on all subjects, and lectured on poetry, grammar, history, politics, mathematics, and much else. Most of our knowledge of him is derived from Plato, who characterizes him as vain and arrogant.

Life

Hippias was born at Elis in the mid 5th-century BC (c. 460 BC) and was thus a younger contemporary of Protagoras and Socrates. He lived at least as late as Socrates (399 BC). He was a disciple of Hegesidamus.[1] Owing to his talent and skill, his fellow-citizens availed themselves of his services in political matters, and in a diplomatic mission to Sparta.[2] But he was in every respect like the other sophists of the time: he travelled about in various towns and districts of Greece for the purpose of teaching and public speaking. The two dialogues of Plato, the Hippias major and the Hippias minor characterize him as vain and arrogant. The Hippias major (the authorship of this work by Plato is sometimes doubted) concerns the question about the beautiful, and purposely puts the knowledge and presumption of Hippias in a ludicrous light. The Hippias minor discusses the deficiency of our knowledge, and characterizes Hippias as ridiculously vain.
Work

Hippias was a man of very extensive knowledge, and he occupied himself not only with rhetorical, philosophical, and political studies, but was also well versed in poetry, music, mathematics, painting and sculpture, and he claimed some practical skill in the ordinary arts of life, for he used to boast of wearing on his body nothing that he had not made himself with his own hands, such as his seal-ring, his cloak, and shoes.[3] On the other hand, his knowledge always appears superficial, he does not enter into the details of any particular art or science, and is satisfied with certain generalities, which enabled him to speak on everything without a thorough knowledge of any. This arrogance, combined with ignorance, is the main cause which provoked Plato to his severe criticism of Hippias, as the sophist enjoyed a very extensive reputation, and thus had a large influence upon the education of the youths of the higher classes. A mathematical discovery ascribed to Hippias is sometimes called the quadratrix of Hippias.

His great skill seems to have consisted in delivering grand show speeches; and Plato has him arrogantly declaring that he would travel to Olympia, and there deliver before the assembled Greeks an oration on any subject that might be proposed to him;[4] and Philostratus in fact speaks of several such orations delivered at Olympia, and which created great sensation. If such speeches were published by Hippias, then no specimen has come down to us. Plato claims he wrote epic poetry, tragedies, dithyrambs, and various orations,[5] as well works on as grammar, music, rhythm, harmony, and a variety of other subjects.[6] He seems to have been especially fond of choosing antiquarian and mythical subjects for his show speeches. Athenaeus mentions a work of Hippias under the title Synagoge which is otherwise unknown.[7] An epigram of his is preserved in Pausanias.[8]
Natural law

Hippias is credited with originating the idea of natural law. This ideal began at first during the fifth century B.C. According to Hippias, natural law was never to be superseded as it was universal.[9] Hippias saw natural law as a habitual entity that humans take part in without pre-meditation. He regarded the elite in states as indistinguishable from one another and thus they should perceive each other as so. Because of this they should consider and treat each other as a society of a unanimous state. These ideas were passed on through Cynicism and Stoicism later being the foundation for turning Roman law in legislation.[10] Along with natural law, Hippias also wrote about self-sufficiency as a binding principle. He used this principle in his teachings as he gathered knowledge in numerous subjects so as to be never outwitted or have his reputation questioned.[11]
See also

Cynicism (Philosophy)
Natural Law
Quadratrix of Hippias
Roman Law
Self-sufficiency
Stoicism

Notes

Suda, Hippias
Plato, Hippias major, 281a, 286a; Philostratus, Vit. Soph. i. 11.
Plato, Hippias major, 285c, Hippias minor, 368b, Protagoras, 315c; Philostratus, Vit. Soph. i. 11.; Themistius, Orat. xxix. p. 345. d.
Plat. Hippias minor, 363
Plato Hippias minor, 368
Plato, Hippias major, 285ff; comp. Philostratus, Vit. Soph. i. 11.; Plutarch, Num. 1, 23; Dio Chrysostom, Orat. lxxi.
Athenaeus, xiii. 609
Pausanias, v. 25
Kainz, Howard P. (2004). Natural Law: An Introduction and Re-examination. Chicago: Open Court. ISBN 0812694546.
"Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 17 February 2014.

Diels, Hermann; Sprague, Rosamond Kent (1972). The Older Sophists: A Complete Translation by Several Hands of the Fragments in Die Fragmente Der Vorsokratiker. Columbia: University of South Carolina. ISBN 0872205568.

References

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "Hippias". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. p. 479.

External links

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hippias of Elis" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Hippias", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
Hippias' Attempt to Trisect an Angle at Convergence

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Sophists of the 5th century BC

Antiphon Callicles Critias Damon Dionysodorus Euenus Euthydemus Gorgias Hippias Lycophron Prodicus Protagoras Thrasymachus

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Ancient Greek and Hellenistic mathematics (Euclidean geometry)

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Ancient Greek schools of philosophy
Pre-Socratic
Ionian

Epimenides of Knossos Pherecydes of Syros Diogenes Metrodorus of Lampsacus Xenophanes Xeniades Theodorus of Cyrene Anacharsis

Milesian

Thales Anaximander Anaximenes

Ephesian

Heraclitus Cratylus Antisthenes

Atomist

Leucippus Democritus

Italian

Hippo Musaeus of Athens Themistoclea

Pythagorean

Pythagoras Hippasus Philolaus Archytas Alcmaeon Brontinus Theano Arignote Myia Damo Calliphon Hermotimus Metrodorus of Cos Eurytus

Eleatic

Parmenides Zeno Melissus

Pluralist

Anaxagoras Archelaus Empedocles

Sophist

Protagoras Gorgias Prodicus Hippias Antiphon Lycophron Damon Callicles Thrasymachus Euthydemus Dionysodorus Euenus Critias

Socratic

Socrates Xenophon Cebes of Thebes Simmias of Thebes

Cynic

Antisthenes Diogenes Diodorus Zoilus Onesicritus Philiscus Crates Hipparchia Metrocles Monimus Cleomenes Bion Sotades Menippus Menedemus Cercidas Teles Meleager Favonius Demetrius Dio Chrysostom Agathobulus Secundus Demonax Peregrinus Proteus Theagenes Oenomaus Pancrates Crescens Heraclius Horus Asclepiades Sallustius

Cyrenaic

Aristippus Arete of Cyrene Aristippus the Younger Theodorus the Atheist Antipater of Cyrene Aristotle of Cyrene Hegesias of Cyrene Anniceris Dionysius the Renegade Euhemerus

Eretrian

Phaedo of Elis Menedemus Asclepiades of Phlius

Megarian

Euclid of Megara Ichthyas Thrasymachus Eubulides Stilpo Nicarete Pasicles Bryson

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Clinomachus Apollonius Cronus Euphantus Dionysius Diodorus Cronus Philo Alexinus Panthoides

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Aristotle Aristoxenus Clearchus of Soli Dicaearchus Eudemus of Rhodes Theophrastus Strato of Lampsacus Lyco of Troas Aristo of Ceos Critolaus Diodorus of Tyre Erymneus Andronicus of Rhodes Cratippus Andronicus of Rhodes Boethus of Sidon Aristocles of Messene Aspasius Adrastus Alexander of Aphrodisias Themistius Olympiodorus the Elder

Platonic

Plato Eudoxus Philip of Opus Aristonymus Coriscus Erastus of Scepsis Demetrius of Amphipolis Euaeon of Lampsacus Heraclides Python of Aenus Hestiaeus of Perinthus Lastheneia of Mantinea Timolaus of Cyzicus Speusippus Axiothea of Phlius Heraclides Ponticus Menedemus of Pyrrha Xenocrates Crantor Polemon Crates of Athens

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New

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Middle Platonic

Antiochus Philo of Alexandria Plutarch Justin Martyr Gaius Albinus Alcinous Apuleius Atticus Maximus of Tyre Numenius of Apamea Longinus Clement of Alexandria Origen the Pagan Calcidius

Neoplatonist

Ammonius Saccas Plotinus Disciples Origen Amelius Porphyry Iamblichus Sopater Eustathius of Cappadocia Sosipatra Aedesius Dexippus Chrysanthius Theodorus of Asine Julian Sallustius Maximus of Ephesus Eusebius of Myndus Priscus of Epirus Antoninus Gregory of Nyssa Hypatia Augustine Macrobius Plutarch of Athens Hierius Asclepigenia Hierocles Syrianus Hermias Aedesia Proclus Ammonius Hermiae Asclepiodotus Hegias Zenodotus Marinus Agapius Isidore Damascius Simplicius Priscian

Neopythagorean

Nigidius Figulus Apollonius of Tyana Moderatus of Gades Nicomachus Alexicrates Anaxilaus Bolus of Mendes Cronius Damis Numenius of Apamea Secundus the Silent Quintus Sextius Sotion Theon of Smyrna

Pyrrhonist

Pyrrho Aenesidemus Agrippa the Skeptic Arcesilaus Hecataeus of Abdera Heraclides of Tarentum Herodotus of Tarsus Menodotus of Nicomedia Nausiphanes Sextus Empiricus Theodas of Laodicea Timon of Phlius

Stoic
Greek

Zeno of Citium Persaeus Aratus of Soli Athenodorus of Soli Aristo of Chios Apollophanes of Antioch Dionysius the Renegade Sphaerus Herillus of Carthage Cleanthes Eratosthenes Hermagoras of Amphipolis Chrysippus Dioscorides Aristocreon Zeno of Tarsus Eudromus Crates of Mallus Diogenes of Babylon Zenodotus Apollodorus of Seleucia Basilides Antipater of Tarsus Apollodorus of Athens Archedemus of Tarsus Panaetius of Rhodes Boethus of Sidon Polemon of Athens Marcus Vigellius Heraclides of Tarsus Dardanus Mnesarchus Publius Rutilius Rufus Stilo Dionysius of Cyrene Quintus Lucilius Balbus Hecato of Rhodes Diotimus the Stoic Posidonius Crinis Proclus of Mallus Diodotus the Stoic Geminus of Rhodes Athenodoros Cordylion Apollonius of Tyre Cato the Younger Antipater of Tyre Porcia Catonis Apollonides Jason of Nysa Athenodoros Cananites Quintus Sextius Arius Didymus

Roman

Attalus Papirius Fabianus Seneca Thrasea Paetus Lucius Annaeus Cornutus Chaeremon of Alexandria Paconius Agrippinus Publius Egnatius Celer Persius Helvidius Priscus Arulenus Rusticus Musonius Rufus Fannia Euphrates the Stoic Cleomedes Epictetus Hierocles Flavius Arrianus Basilides Apollonius of Chalcedon Claudius Maximus Junius Rusticus Marcus Aurelius

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Ancient Greek and Hellenistic mathematics (Euclidean geometry)
Mathematicians
(timeline)
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Results
In Elements
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Apollonius
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Other
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