Sophistical Rhetoric in Classical Greece

John Poulakos

In Sophistical Rhetoric in Classical Greece, John Poulakos offers a new conceptualization of sophistry, accounting for the shape and direction of sophistical rhetoric and explaining why Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle found it objectionable.

Poulakos argues that a proper understanding of sophistical rhetoric requires a grasp of three cultural dynamics of the fifth century B.C.: the logic of circumstances, the ethic of competition, and the aesthetic of exhibition. Traced to such phenomena as everyday practices, athletic contests, and dramatic performances, these dynamics set the stage for the role of sophistical rhetoric in Hellenic culture and explain why sophistry has traditionally been understood as inconsistent, agonistic, and ostentatious.

University of South Carolina Press, 1995