Intellectuals as Public Figures in the 4th Century: The Cases of Prohaeresius and Libanius

Dimitar Iliev, Assist. Prof. Dr.

Sofia University "Sv. Kliment Ohridski"

 23 Febrary 2021 г., 5 PM


        Meeting ID  93415907103

In Greek cultural tradition, at least since the times of the so-called Second Sofistic, the wandering orators and teachers of rhetoric were perhaps the most prominent public intellectual figures playing active and visible roles in society. In the Eastern part of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, in old cultural centres such as Athens or Antioch, many such rhetors were actively involved in urban politics. They constituted a part of the local and sometimes the imperial elite and entered into complex relationships with provincial and imperial authorities. They were also guardians of classical tradition, the cultural code and the conceptual framework through which the everyday life, the views, customs and institutes of their contemporaries were approached. The lecture discusses these multiple functions of the 4th-century rhetors, or sophists as they preferred to call themselves, using as examples the biographies of two among the most distinguished ones, Prohaeresius of Armenia and Libanius of Antioch. Very different as personalities, worldviews and heritage left for later generations, they can be viewed as the opposing ends of a wide spectrum of roles and attitudes characteristic of the intellecrual of the period.       


You can watch the lecture in YouTube Intellectuals as Public Figures in the 4th Century

or the presentation  DIliev_LateAntiqueIntellectuals.pdf

and to get acquainted with the bibliography:

Cribiore 2007: Cribiore , R., The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch , Princeton, 2007.

Cribiore 2009: Cribiore , R., “The Value of a Good Education: Libanius and Public Authority”, in: Rousseau, Ph. (ed.), A Companion to Late Antiquity , Oxford, 2009;

da Silva 2018: 2018:“Is it possible to control the crowd?” Libanius in defense of Julian and against the population of Antioch in the 4th century”, Heródoto Revista do Grupo de Estudos e Pesquisas sobre a Antiguidade Clássica e suas Conexões Afro asiáticas , March 2018 [

Kaster 1988: Kaster , R.A., Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity , Berkeley, 1988;

Kennedy 1994: Kennedy, G.A., A New History of Classical Rhetoric , Princeton, 1994;

Robert 1948: Robert, L., Hellenica IV. Epigrammes du Bas Empire , Paris, 1948;

Swist 2016: Swist , J., “Pagan Altars and Monarchic Discourse in Libanius Declamation 22 ”, Phoenix, Vol. 70, No. 1 2/2016, 170–189;

Watts 2006: Watts, E.J., City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria , Berkeley, 2006;

Браун 2004: Браун, П., Власт и убеждение в Късната античност , С., 2004;

Димитров 2005: Димитров, Д. Философия, култура и политика в Късната античност Случаят на Синезий от Кирена , Велико Търново, 2005.

Looking foreward for your comments.

This page is part of the project LABedia: Еncyclopedia of Late Antique Balkans, 4th-5th c.,
financed by the National Science Fund, contract КП-06-Н30/6, 13.12.2018