Alcidamas, of Elaea, in Aeolis, Greek sophist and rhetorician, flourished in the 4th century BC.

He was the pupil and successor of Gorgias and taught at Athens at the same time as Isocrates, whose rival and opponent he was. We possess two declamations under his name: "On Sophists", directed against Isocrates and setting forth the superiority of extempore over written speeches (a more recently discovered fragment of another speech against Isocrates is probably of later date); "Odysseus", in which Odysseus accuses Palamedes of treachery during the siege of Troy (this is generally considered spurious).

According to Alcidamas, the highest aim of the orator was the power of speaking "extempore" on every conceivable subject. Aristotle ("Rhet." iii. 3) criticizes his writings as characterized by pomposity of style and an extravagant use of poetical epithets and compounds and far-fetched metaphors.

Of other works only fragments and the titles have survived: "Messeniakos", advocating the freedom of the Messenians and containing the sentiment that "all are by nature free"; a "Eulogy of Death", in consideration of the wide extent of human sufferings; a "Techne" or instruction-book in the art of rhetoric; and a "Phusikos logos". Lastly, his "Mouseion" (a word invoking the Muses) seems to have contained the narrative of the "Contest of Homer and Hesiod", of which the version that has survived is the work of a grammarian in the time of Hadrian, based on Alcidamas. This hypothesis of the contents of the "Mouseion", originally suggested by Nietzsche ("Rheinisches Museum" 25 (1870) & 28 (1873)), appears to have been confirmed by three papyrus finds - one 3rd century BC ("Flinders Petrie Papyri", ed. Mahaffy, 1891, pl. xxv.), one 2nd century BC (B. Mandilaras, 'A new papyrus fragment of the "Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi"' "Platon" 42 (1990) 45-51) and one 2nd or 3rd century AD (University of Michigan pap. 2754: Winter, J. G., 'A New Fragment on the Life of Homer' "TAPA" 56 (1925) 120-129 [;op2=And;rgn2=ic_all;op3=And;rgn3=ic_all;c=apis;q1=2754;back=back1152510816;size=50;subview=detail;resnum=1;view=entry;lastview=reslist;cc=apis;entryid=x-1622;viewid=2754V.TIF] ).



Further reading

*Alcidamas' surviving works
**Guido Avezzù (ed.), "Alcidamante. Orazioni e frammenti" (now the standard text, with Italian translation, 1982)
**J.V. Muir (ed.), "Alcidamas. The works and fragments" (text with English translation, 2001) - [ reviewed in "BMCR"]
**Ruth Mariss, "Alkidamas: Über diejenigen, die schriftliche Reden schreiben, oder über die Sophisten: eine Sophistenrede aus dem 4. Jh. v. Chr., eingeleitet und kommentiert" (Orbis Antiquus, 36), 2002
**Friedrich Blass, Teubner edition of the Greek text (1908) [ online]
**Alcidamas, [ "Against the Sophists," trans. Van Hook (1919)]
*About Alcidamas
**Aristotle, "Rhetoric" III.3
**J. Vahlen, "Der Rhetor Alkidamas", "Sitzungsberichte der wiener Akademie, Phil.-Hist. Cl.", 43 (1863) 491-528 [,M1 online] (="Gesammelte philologische Schriften" (Leipzig & Berlin 1911) 1.117-155)
**Friedrich Blass, "Die attische Beredsamkeit", part 2 (1892) [ online] , pp. 345-363
**M.L. West (1967) for Alcidamas' invention of the contest of Homer and Hesiod [] , N.J. Richardson (1981) against []
** [ Various articles on Alcidamas] (1856-1919, with links to further online material)
**Additional bibliography is available online at Christopher Skiebe: [ "Alcidamas". In: Friedrich-Wilhelm Trautz / Traugott Bautz (Hrsg.): Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon] , Band XXIII (2004).

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