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The Cambridge Companion to the Sophists

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Edited by
, Christopher Moore


Cambridge University Press

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The Classical Greek sophists—Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias, and Antiphon, among others—are some of the most important figures in the flourishing of linguistic, historical, and philosophical reflection at the time of Socrates. They are also some of the most controversial: what makes the sophists distinctive, and what they contributed to fifth-century intellectual culture, has been hotly debated since the time of Plato. They have often been derided as reactionaries, relativists or cynically superficial thinkers, or as mere opportunists, making money from wealthy democrats eager for public repute. This volume takes a fresh perspective on the sophists—who really counted as one; how distinctive they were; and what kind of sense later thinkers made of them. In three sections, contributors address the sophists’ predecessors and historical and professional context; their major intellectual themes, including language, ethics, society, and religion; and their reception from the fourth century BCE to modernity.