Sophism, Pericles, Platon, The Apology, Socrate, Damon, Plutarch, Greek, Thucydides, Epidamnus
Sophism deals with the human ability to use language for the purpose of convincing and persuading someone. Although the actual meaning of sophism is much more complex, the idea is that a good understanding of sophist principles allows one to achieve a high status and great success in political and social life. Sophism is essentially based on the principle that a person well practiced in speech and persuasion techniques will be able to win any verbal argument, even if he is morally or otherwise wrong. The fact that he is wrong means very little because his superior speaking abilities presented a more positive and more credible image to the public.
[...] New York: Modern Library; Modern Library Paperback edition (April 10, 2001). [...]
[...] Pericles and Alcibiades, chose to rule Athens using principles that were closer to the ideas of Sophism rather than from a Chance and Necessity perspective. In regard to Thucydides, we can clearly see that the people of Athens enjoyed using the oracles to make many important decisions for the city. Often, rulers would seek help from the oracles and look for omens to decide how to act in the future. According to Thucydides, “They [people in Epidamnus] sent to Delphi to inquire from the god whether they should hand over their city to the Corinthians, who had founded it, and so get help from that quarter. [...]
[...] This action implies the importance of omens and oracles in the most pressing of situations. Today, when dealing with serious issues, we would quickly put aside mysterious religious convictions in an effort to deal fairly and equitably with another individual or state. This was not the case, however, for these civilizations, and referring important matters to oracles and watching for omens was their truth and their way of life. It is quite apparent, especially after reading Plato's Apology, that Socrates was in fact a Sophist. [...]
[...] In regard to Pericles and Alcibiades, both men took a very rational stand when it came to fortune and omens. It seems that both men, and especially Pericles, regarded fortune-tellers with great suspicion and would not give them much power in the city. Although this may seem like an obvious choice today, we must consider the superstitious environment that engulfed the Ancient Athenians and almost forced them to believe in the supernatural. Pericles and Alcibiades, however, viewed fortune tellers from a rational, almost atheistic, perspective, which gave them a great deal of problems and forced them to lose the support of many citizens who felt that the words of oracles were essential. [...]
[...] Sophism, although looked down upon by many Greeks, was an extremely valuable tool. In making speeches and getting ahead of other politicians, a good understanding of Sophist principles was essential. The most important criteria by which a citizen will judge a public official, even more so than today, is his manner of speaking. An excellent speaker is much more likely to get more votes, and he is more likely to be perceived as a better speaker if he is able to support his ideas with Sophism. [...]
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