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Competing Visions of Paideia in Imperial Greece

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March 19, 2024

Speaker & Affiliation

Kenneth Yu, University of Toronto


4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
010 East Pyne


The Second Sophistic has long been explained as a Greek apologetic response to the Roman imperial dispensation. I contend, however, that the movement was motivated as much by these external factors as by internal Greek debates about education and the proper credentializing mechanisms of the intellectual. I explore an array of Imperial Greek writers (with a focus on Philostratus), to trace a distinct "inspired" orientation toward Greek culture and religion that opposes (and indeed polemicizes) the technical ethos and knowledge practices of textual experts such as grammatikoi and kritikoi. This antagonism between ancient specialists of Greek culture, I argue, throws important light on the state of paideia in the Imperial age. I conclude with some observations about how these debates about modes of engaging the Greek past have continued to reverberate in classical scholarship.