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Prodicus, ‘Meteorosophists’ And The ‘Tantalus’ Paradigm

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Chapter Summary

Three famous sophists are referred to together in the Apology of Socrates as still practising their enviably lucrative profession in 399 BC: Gorgias of Leontini, Prodicus of Ceos and Hippias of Elis. The popular image of the typical sophist is familiar to us from the Clouds, which is a part-humorous, part-serious satire on the New Education, presented before the Athenian demos, with Socrates in the foreground. This chapter, among other things, sets some a priori considerations and speculations against Dovers view of Prodicus as a latter-day Thales basking in the warm glow of popular esteem. Is one not reminded of the aerobatic blasphemy of the meteorosophists so memorably satirized in the Clouds and recalled by Socrates at his trial? The new formulation of the myth associates Tantalus with the topically notorious supremely audacious verbal hubris purveyed in the real world.

Keywords: Clouds; meteorosophist paradigm; Prodicus paradigm; Socrates; Tantalus paradigm



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