taking the veil. Nine years later (1698), on suspicion of being concerned in the rebellion of the stryeltsy, she was shorn a nun and imprisoned for life under military supervision. As “Sister Susannah” she disappeared from history. Russian historians are still divided in their opinion concerning this extraordinary woman. While some of them paint her in the darkest colours as an unprincipled adventuress, the representative of a new Byzantinism, others simply regard her as the victim of circumstances. Others, more indulgent still, acquit her of all blame; and a few, impressed by her indisputable energy and ability, evade a decision altogether by simply describing her as a prodigy.
(R. N. B.)
SOPHIA DOROTHEA (1666-1726), wife of George Louis, elector of Hanover (George I. of England), only child of George William, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg-Celle, by a Huguenot lady named Eleanore d'Olbreuze (1639-1722), was born on the 15th of September 1666. George William had undertaken to remain unmarried, but his desire to improve the status of his mistress (whom in spite of his promise he married in 1676) and of his daughter greatly alarmed his relatives, as these proceedings threatened to hinder the contemplated union of the Lüneburg territories. However, in 1682, this difficulty was bridged over by the marriage of Sophia Dorothea with her cousin George Louis, son of Duke Ernest Augustus, who became elector of Hanover in 1692. This union was a very unhappy one. The relatives of George Louis, especially his mother, the electress Sophia, hated and despised his wife, and this feeling was soon snared by the prince himself. It was under these circumstances that Sophia Dorothea made the acquaintance of Count Philipp Christoph von Königsmark (q.v.), with whom her name is inseparably associated. Königsmark assisted her in one or two futile attempts to escape from Hanover, and rightly or wrongly was regarded as her lover. In 1694 the count was assassinated, and the princess was divorced and imprisoned at Ahlden, remaining in captivity until her death on the 23rd of November 1726. Sophia Dorothea is sometimes referred to as the “princess of Ahlden.” Her two children were the English king, George II., and Sophia Dorothea, wife of Frederick William I. of Prussia, and mother of Frederick the Great. Sophia's infidelity to her husband is not absolutely proved, as it is probable that the letters which purport to have passed between Königsmark and herself are forgeries.
SOPHISTS (from Gr. σοφιστής, literally, man of wisdom), the name given by the Greeks about the middle of the 5th century B.C. to certain teachers of a superior grade who, distinguishing themselves from philosophers on the one hand and from artists and craftsmen on the other, claimed to prepare their pupils, not for any particular study or profession, but for civic life. For nearly a hundred years the sophists held almost a monopoly of general or liberal education. Yet, within the limits of the profession, there was considerable diversity both of theory and of practice. Four principal varieties are distinguishable, and may be described as the sophistries of culture, of rhetoric, of politics, and of “eristic,” i.e. disputation. Each of these predominated in its turn, though not to the exclusion of others, the sophistry of culture beginning about 447, and leading to the sophistry of eristic, and the sophistry of rhetoric taking root in central Greece about 427, and merging in the sophistry of politics. Further, since Socrates and the Socratics were educators, they too might be, and in general were, regarded as sophists; but, as they conceived truth—so far as it was attainable—rather than success in life, in the law court, in the assembly, or in debate, to be the right end of intellectual effort, they were at variance with their rivals, and are commonly ranked by historians, not with the sophists, who confessedly despaired of knowledge, but with the philosophers, who, however unavailingly, continued to seek it. With the establishment of the great philosophical schools—first, of the Academy, next of the Lyceum—the philosophers took the place of the sophists as the educators of Greece. The sophistical movement was then, primarily, an attempt to provide a general or liberal education which should supplement the customary instruction in reading, writing, gymnastic and music. But, as the sophists of the first period chose for their instruments grammar, style, literature and oratory, while those of the second and third developments were professed rhetoricians, sophistry exercised an important influence upon literature. Then again, as the movement, taking its rise in the philosophical agnosticism which grew out of the early physical systems, was itself persistently sceptical, sophistry may be regarded as an interlude in the history of philosophy. Finally, the practice of rhetoric and eristic, which presently became prominent in sophistical teaching, had, or at any rate seemed to have, a mischievous effect upon conduct; and the charge of seeking, whether in exposition or in debate, not truth but victory—which charge was impressively urged against the sophists by Plato—grew into an accusation of holding and teaching immoral and unsocial doctrines, and in our own day has been the subject of eager controversy.
1. Genesis and Development of Sophistry.—Sophistry arose out of a crisis in philosophy. The earlier Ionian physicists, Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes, in their attempts to trace the Multiplicity of things to a single material element, had been troubled by no misgivings about the possibility of knowledge. But, when Heraclitus to the assumption of fire as the single material cause added the doctrine that all things are in perpetual flux, he found himself obliged to admit that things cannot be known. Thus, though, in so far as he asserted his fundamental doctrine without doubt or qualification, he was a dogmatist, in all else he was a sceptic. Again, the Eleatic Parmenides, deriving from the theologian Xenophanes the distinction between ἐπιστήμη and δόξα conceived that, whilst the One exists and is the object of knowledge, the Multiplicity of things becomes and is the object of opinion; but, when his successor Zeno provided the system with a logic, the consistent application of that logic resolved the fundamental doctrine into the single proposition “One is One,” or, more exactly, into the single identity “One One.” Thus Eleaticism, though professedly dogmatic, was inconsistent in its theory of the One and its attributes, and openly sceptical in regard to the world of nature. Lastly, the philosophers of the second physical succession—Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus—not directly attacking the great mystery of the One and the Many, but in virtue of a scientific instinct approaching it through the investigation of phenomena, were brought by their study of sensation to perceive and to proclaim the inadequacy of the organs of sense. Thus they too, despite their air of dogmatism, were in effect sceptics. In short, from different standpoints, the three philosophical successions had devised systems which were in reality sceptical, though they had none of them recognized the sceptical inference.
Towards the middle of the 5th century, however, Protagoras of Abdera, taking account of the teaching of the first, and possibly of the second, of the physical successions, and Gorgias of Leontini, starting from the teaching of the metaphysical succession of Elea, drew that sceptical inference from which the philosophers had shrunk. If, argued Protagoras in a treatise entitled Truth, all things are in flux, so that sensation is subjective, it follows that “Man is the measure of all things, of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not”; in other words, there is no such thing as objective truth. Similarly, Gorgias, in a work On Nature, or on the Nonent, maintained