Alcidamas’ Encomia: a reassessment of the sources

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Alcidamas’ Encomia are now lost. All we know about them comes from a few ancient sources that scholars have interpreted in various contrasting ways – there is disagreement even about how many and which encomia Alcidamas actually wrote. But the prominent role played by Alcidamas in the intellectual landscape of Classical Greece, and of the encomium within epideictic oratory, indicate their importance to our understanding of Classical rhetoric and the need for a new assessment of the sources. This study suggests that the only encomia, among those mentioned in the sources, that can be safely attributed to Alcidamas are the Encomium of Nais and the Encomium of Death. Based on a testimony by Cicero, this study proposes a reconstruction of the general argument and structure of the Encomium of Death and suggests that a couplet attributed to another work by Alcidamas (the Museum) might have featured in the Encomium of Death as well. Furthermore, the study considers a textually disputed passage by Menander Rhetor, and suggests, against some editors, that it should not be taken as evidence for further works by Alcidamas (Encomium of Poverty and/or Encomium of Proteus the Dog).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-78
JournalCommentaria Classica
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jun 2020

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