1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alcidamas

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ALCIDAMAS, of Elaea, in Aeolis, Greek sophist and rhetorician, flourished in the 4th century B.C. 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: Περὶ Σοφιστων, directed against Isocrates and setting forth the superiority of extempore over written speeches (a recently discovered fragment of another speech against Isocrates if probably of later date); Ὀδυσσεύς, 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: Μεσσηνιακὸς, 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 Τέχνη or instruction-book in the art of rhetoric; and a Φυσικὸς λόγος. Lastly, his Μουσεῖον (a word of doubtful meaning) contained the narrative of the contest between Homer and Hesiod, two fragments of which are found in the Ἀγὼν Ὁμήρον καὶ Ἡσιόδου, the work of a grammarian in the time of Hadrian. A 3rd-century papyrus (Flinders Petrie, Papyri, ed. Mahaffy, 1891, pl. xxv.) probably contains the actual remains of a description by Alcidamas.

See the edition by Blass, 1881; fragments in Müller, Oratores Attici, ii. (1858); Vahlen, Der Rhetor Alkidamas (1864); Blass, Die attische Beredsamkeit.