Alcidamas (Greek: Ἀλκιδάμας), of Elaea, in Aeolis, Greek sophist and rhetorician, flourished in the 4th century BC.
A sophist or sophister (Greek: σοφιστής, Latin: sophistes) was a specific kind of teacher in both Ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire. Many sophists specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric, though other sophists taught subjects such as music, athletics, and mathematics. In general, they claimed to teach arete ("excellence" or "virtue," applied to various subject areas), predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. There are not many writings from and about the first sophists. The early sophists' practice of charging money for education and providing wisdom only to those who could pay resulted in the condemnations made by Socrates through Plato in his Dialogues, as well as by Xenophon in Memorabilia and, somewhat controversially, by Aristotle who, being paid to tutor Alexander the Great, could be accused of being a Sophist (although Aristotle did not actually accept payment from Philip, Alexander's father, but requested that, in lieu of payment, Philip reconstruct Aristotle's home town of Stagira, which Philip had destroyed in a previous campaign, terms which Philip accepted). Author of The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction James A. Herrick wrote, “In De Oratore, Cicero blames Plato for separating wisdom and eloquence in the philosopher’s famous attack on the Sophists in Gorgias.” The classical tradition of rhetoric and composition refers more to philosophers like Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian than to the sophists. Despite these criticisms, however, many sophists flourished in later periods, especially during the era of Roman history known as the Second Sophistic.
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