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Hippocrates is so eager to meet Protagoras that he wakes Socrates in the early hours of the morning, yet later concedes that he himself would be ashamed to be known as a sophist by his fellow citizens.Plato depicts Protagoras as well aware of the hostility and resentment engendered by his profession (, 316c-e).could be used to describe disingenuous cleverness long before the rise of the sophistic movement.

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It is, as the article explains, an oversimplification to think of the historical sophists in these terms because they made genuine and original contributions to Western thought.

Plato and Aristotle nonetheless established their view of what constitutes legitimate philosophy in part by distinguishing their own activity – and that of Socrates – from the sophists.

It is not surprising, Protagoras suggests, that foreigners who profess to be wise and persuade the wealthy youth of powerful cities to forsake their family and friends and consort with them would arouse suspicion.

Indeed, Protagoras claims that the sophistic art is an ancient one, but that sophists of old, including poets such as Homer, Hesiod and Simonides, prophets, seers and even physical trainers, deliberately did not adopt the name for fear of persecution.

Secondly, Aristophanes’ depiction suggests that the sophistic education reflected a decline from the heroic Athens of earlier generations.

Last modified 29-Mar-2020 20:01