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Painting Or Writing Speeches? Plato, Alcidamas, And Isocrates On Logography

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the two best known surviving accounts which have polemic against written speeches in 4th century Athens, Plato's Phaedrus and Alcidamas' discourse On the Authors of Written Speeches or On the Sophists, the main argument rests on the comparison with the figurative arts. In the Phaedrus, Socrates equates writing with the painting of living beings, and written logos was defined as a voiceless image or phantom of living, animate speech. Similarly, in Alcidamas' work, written speeches are compared with painting and sculpture. The new conception of written speech in the Evagoras may well be the Phaedrus ' main target. Much more than one echo is also to be found between the Evagoras and the Antidosis and Alcidamas' On the Sophists. Juxtaposing these three texts induces us to ascribe Alcidamas' speech to a later date and to give a new interpretation of Plato's Phaedrus.

Keywords: Alcidamas; Antidosis; Evagoras; Isocrates; Logography; On the Sophists; Phaedrus; Plato

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