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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Aelius Aristides' Embassy Speech to Achilles seems at first reading a ham-fisted piece of work. There are two other important elements in Aristides' identity, apart of course from his main identity as an orator and a sophist. These two elements, closely connected with each other, are his religiosity and his status as an invalid. The author has mainly concentrated both of these topics in this book, holding that with Aristides the personal is to some extent prior to the political. Aristides was evidently led to Asclepius by his preoccupation with his health, a preoccupation that has been variously diagnosed. Brooke Holmes observes that 'biographical-diagnostic approaches to Aristides have given way to studies that situate him within his cultural and historical milieu', and that trend, which gathered strength in the 1960s (Behr, Bowersock), continues.

Keywords: Aelius Aristides; Asclepius; biographical-diagnostic approaches; Brooke Holmes; Embassy Speech to Achilles

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