Antiphon (person)


Antiphon (person)

Antiphon the Sophist lived in Athens probably in the last two decades of the 5th century BC. There is an ongoing controversy over whether he is one and the same with Antiphon (Unicode|Ἀντιφῶν) of the Athenian deme Rhamnus in Attica (480–411 BC), the earliest of the ten Attic orators. For the purposes of this article, they will be treated as distinct persons.

Antiphon of Rhamnus

Antiphon of Rhamnus was a statesman who took up rhetoric as a profession. He was active in political affairs at Athens, and, as a zealous supporter of the oligarchical party, was largely responsible for the establishment of the Four Hundred in 411 (see Theramenes); upon restoration of the democracy shortly afterwards, he was accused of treason and condemned to death. Thucydides (viii. 68) famously characterized Antiphon's skills, influence, and reputation:

Antiphon may be regarded as the founder of political oratory, but he never addressed the people himself except on the occasion of his trial. Fragments of his speech then, delivered in defense of his policy (called Περι μεταστασεως) have been edited by J. Nicole (1907) from an Egyptian papyrus.

His chief business was that of a logographer (λογογραφος), that is a professional speech-writer. He wrote for those who felt incompetent to conduct their own cases — all disputants were obliged to do so — without expert assistance. Fifteen of Antiphon's speeches are extant: twelve are mere school exercises on fictitious cases, divided into tetralogies, each comprising two speeches for prosecution and defence—accusation, fence, reply, counter-reply; three refer to actual legal processes. All deal with cases of homicide (φονικαι δικαι). Antiphon is also said to have composed a Τεχνη or art of Rhetoric.

Antiphon the Sophist

A treatise known as "On Truth", of which only fragments survive, is attributed to Antiphon the Sophist. It is of great value to political theory, as it appears to be a precursor to natural rights theory. The views expressed in it suggest that its author could not be the same person as Antiphon of Rhamnus; for it affirms strong egalitarian and libertarian principles appropriate to a democracy but presumably antithetical to the oligarchical views of one who was instrumental in the anti-democratic coup of 411. (See W. K C. Guthrie, "The Sophists" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971)

"Nature" requires liberty

"On Truth" juxtaposes the repressive nature of convention and law ("nomos") with "nature" ("physis"), especially human nature. Nature is envisaged as requiring spontaneity and freedom, in contrast to the often gratuitous restrictions imposed by institutions:

Most of the things which are legally just are [none the less] ... inimical to nature. By law it has been laid down for the eyes what they should see and what they should not see; for the ears what they should hear and they should not hear; for the tongue what it should speak, and what it should not speak; for the hands what they should do and what they should not do ... and for the mind what it should desire, and what it should not desire. (Antiphon, "On Truth," "Oxyrhynchus Papyri", xi, no. 1364, fragment 1, quoted in Donald Kagan (ed.) "Sources in Greek Political Thought from Homer to Polybius" ("Sources in Western Political Thought, A. Hacker, gen. ed.; New York: Free Press, 2965)

Repression means pain, whereas it is nature (human nature) to shun pain.

Elsewhere, Antiphon wrote: "Life is like a brief vigil, and the duration of life like a single day, as it were, in which having lifted our eyes to the light we give place to other who succeed us."Fact|date=October 2008 Mario Untersteiner comments: "If death follows according to nature, why torment its opposite, life, which is equally according to nature? By appealing to this tragic law of existence, Antiphon, speaking with the voice of humanity, wishes to shake off everything that can do violence to the individuality of the person." (Mario Untersteiner, "The Sophists", tr. Kathleen Freeman (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1954) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971, p. 247)

Mathematics

Antiphon was also a capable mathematician. Antiphon, alongside his companion Bryson of Heraclea, was the first to give an upper and lower bound for the value of pi by inscribing and then circumscribing a polygon around a circle and finally proceeding to calculate the polygons' areas. This method was applied to the problem of squaring the circle.

Notes

References

* Edition, with commentary, by Eduard Maetzner (1838)
* text by Friedrich Blass (1881)
* R. C. Jebb, "Attic Orators"
* Ps.-Plutarch, "Vitae X. Oratorum" or [http://classicpersuasion.org/pw/plu10or/ "Lives of the Ten Orators"]
* Philostratus, "Vit. Sophistarum", i. 15
* van Cleef, "Index Antiphonteus", Ithaca, N. Y. (1895)
* [http://www.swan.ac.uk/classics/staff/ter/grst/People/Antiphon.htm Antiphon]
* Michael Gagarin, "Antiphon the Athenian", 2002, U. of Texas Press. Argues for the identification of Antiphon the Sophist and Antiphon of Rhamnus.
* Gerard Pendrick, "Antiphon the Sophist: The Fragments", 2002, Cambridge U. Press. Argues that Antiphon the Sophist and Antiphon of Rhamnus are two, and provides a new edition of and commentary on the fragments attributed to the Sophist.
* [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4142/is_200607/ai_n17176178/pg_1 David Hoffman, "Antiphon the Athenian: Oratory, Law and Justice in the Age of the Sophists"/"Antiphon the Sophist: The Fragments"] , "Rhetoric Society Quarterly", summer 2006. A review of Gagarin 2002 and Pendrick 2002.

External links

* Xenophon's [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0208&layout=&loc=1.6.1 "Memorabilia" 1.6.1-.15] presents a dialogue between Antiphon the Sophist and Socrates.
* [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0020;layout=;loc=1.1;query=toc "Speeches"] by Antiphon of Rhamnus on Perseus
* A bio on Antiphon of Rhamnus by [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0077%3Ahead%3D%2340 Richard C. Jebb, "The Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isaeos", 1876] on Perseus
*
*The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on "Callicles and Thrasymachus" [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/callicles-thrasymachus/] discusses the views of Antiphon the Sophist.

Further reading

* cite encyclopedia
last = Kerferd
first = G.B.
title = Antiphon
encyclopedia = Dictionary of Scientific Biography
volume = 1
pages = 170-172
publisher = Charles Scribner's Sons
location = New York
date = 1970
isbn = 0684101149

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