Prodicus of Ceos ( // ; Greek : Πρόδικος ὁ Κεῖος, Pródikos ho Keios; c. 465 BC – c. 395 BC) was a Greek philosopher, and part of the first generation of Sophists. He came to Athens as ambassador from Ceos, and became known as a speaker and a teacher. Plato treats him with greater respect than the other sophists, and in several of the Platonic dialogues Socrates appears as the friend of Prodicus. One writer claims Socrates used his method of instruction. Prodicus made linguistics and ethics prominent in his curriculum. The content of one of his speeches is still known, and concerns a fable in which Heracles has to make a choice between Virtue and Vice. He also interpreted religion through the framework of naturalism.
Prodicus was a native of Ioulis on the island of Ceos, the birthplace of Simonides,whom he is described as having imitated. Prodicus came frequently to Athens for the purpose of transacting business on behalf of his native city, and attracted admiration as an orator, although his voice was deep and apt to fall. Plutarch describes him as slender and weak; and Plato also alludes to his weakness, and a degree of effeminacy which thus resulted. Philostratus accuses him of luxury and avarice, but no earlier source mentions this.
In the Protagoras of Plato, (dramatic date c. 430 BC), Prodicus is mentioned as having previously arrived in Athens. He appears in a play of Eupolis, and in The Clouds (423 BC) and The Birds (414 BC) of Aristophanes.He came frequently to Athens on public business. His pupils included the orators Theramenes and Isocrates, and in the year of the death of Socrates (399 BC), Prodicus was still living. According to the statement of Philostratus, on which little reliance can be placed, he delivered his lecture on virtue and vice in Thebes and Sparta also. The Apology of Plato unites him with Gorgias and Hippias as among those who were considered competent to instruct the youth in any city. Lucian mentions him among those who held lectures at Olympia.
In the dialogues of Plato he is mentioned or introduced with a certain degree of esteem, compared with the other sophists.Aristophanes, in The Clouds, deals more indulgently with him than with Socrates; and Xenophon's Socrates, for the purpose of combating the voluptuousness of Aristippus, borrows from the book of "the wise Prodicus" the story of the choice of Hercules. Like Protagoras and others, Prodicus delivered lectures in return for payment of from half a drachma to 50 drachmae, probably according to whether the hearers limited themselves to a single lecture or a more complete course. Prodicus is said to have amassed a great amount of money. The assertion that he hunted after rich young men is only found in Philostratus.
Prodicus was part of the first generation of Sophists. "He was a Sophist in the full sense of a professional freelance educator."As he taught both philosophy and politics, so Plato represents his instructions as chiefly ethical, and gives preference to his distinction of ideas, such as courage, rashness, boldness, over similar attempts of other sophists. He sometimes gave individual show-orations, and though known to Callimachus, they do not appear to have been long preserved. In contrast with Gorgias and others, who boasted of possessing the art of making the small appear great, the great small, and of expatiating in long or short speeches, Prodicus required that the speech should be neither long nor short, but of the proper measure, and it is only as associated with other sophists that he is charged with endeavouring to make the weaker cause appear strong by means of his rhetoric (thereby inspiring, e.g., Milton's description of Belial).
Several of Plato's dialogues focus upon Prodicus' linguistic theory, and his insistence upon the correct use of names. He paid special attention to the correct use of words,and the distinction of expressions related in sense. Thucydides is said to have gained from him his accuracy in the use of words. In the Cratylus , Socrates jokes that if he could have afforded the fifty drachma lectures he would now be an expert on "the correctness of names." In several of the Platonic dialogues Socrates appears as the friend and companion of Prodicus, which reveals at least that the two did have close personal relations, and that Socrates did attend at least a few of his lectures. "For Socrates, correct language was the prerequisite for correct living (including an efficient government). But Prodicus, though his linguistic teaching undoubtedly included semantic distinctions between ethical terms, had stopped at the threshold. The complete art of logoi embraced nothing less than the whole of philosophy."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hercules at the crossroads .|
The speech on the choice of Hercules : Ὧραι). Hercules, as he was entering manhood, had to choose one of the two paths of life, that of virtue and that of vice. There appeared two women, the one of dignified beauty, adorned with purity, modesty, and discretion, the other of a voluptuous form, and meretricious look and dress. The latter promises to lead him by the shortest road, without any toil, to the enjoyment of every pleasure. The other, while she reminds him of his progenitors and his noble nature, does not conceal from him that the gods have not granted what is really beautiful and good apart from trouble and careful striving. While one seeks to deter him from the path of virtue by urging the difficulty of it; the other calls attention to the unnatural character of enjoyment which anticipates the need of it, its want of the highest joy, that arising from noble deeds, and the consequences of a life of voluptuousness, and how she herself, honoured by gods and men, leads to all noble works, and to true well-being in all circumstances of life. Hercules decides for virtue. This outline in Xenophon probably represents, in a very abbreviated form, the leading ideas of the original, of which no fragments remain.was entitled Horai (Ancient Greek
Another speech, apparently by Prodicus, is mentioned in the spurious Platonic dialogue Eryxias . Prodicus undertakes to show that the value of external goods depends simply upon the use which is made of them, and that virtue must be learnt. Similar sentiments were expressed in Prodicus's Praise of Agriculture.The spurious dialogue Axiochus attributes to him views respecting the worthlessness of earthly life in different ages and callings, and how we must long after freedom from connection with the body in the heavenly and cognate aether. Also found here is a doctrine that death is not to be feared, as it affects neither the living nor the departed.
Prodicus, like some of his fellow Sophists, interpreted religion through the framework of naturalism. The gods he regarded as personifications of the sun, moon, rivers, fountains, and whatever else contributes to the comfort of our life,and he was sometimes charged with atheism. "His theory was that primitive man was so impressed with the gifts nature provided him for the furtherance of his life that he believed them to be the discovery of gods or themselves to embody the godhead. This theory was not only remarkable for its rationalism but for its discernment of a close connection between religion and agriculture."
Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.
Protagoras was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato credits him with inventing the role of the professional sophist.
The trial of Socrates was held to determine the philosopher’s guilt of two charges: asebeia (impiety) against the pantheon of Athens, and corruption of the youth of the city-state; the accusers cited two impious acts by Socrates: "failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges" and "introducing new deities".
A sophist was a specific kind of teacher in ancient Greece, in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Many sophists specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric, though other sophists taught subjects such as music, athletics, and mathematics. In general, they claimed to teach arete, predominantly to young statesmen and nobility.
The Theaetetus is one of Plato's dialogues concerning the nature of knowledge, written circa 369 BCE.
Hippias of Elis was a Greek sophist, and a contemporary of Socrates. With an assurance characteristic of the later sophists, he claimed to be regarded as an authority on all subjects, and lectured on poetry, grammar, history, politics, mathematics, and much else. Most of our knowledge of him is derived from Plato, who characterizes him as vain and arrogant.
The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. The speeches are to be given in praise of Eros, the god of love and desire. In the Symposium, Eros is recognized both as erotic love and as a phenomenon capable of inspiring courage, valor, great deeds and works, and vanquishing man's natural fear of death. It is seen as transcending its earthly origins and attaining spiritual heights. This extraordinary elevation of the concept of love raises a question of whether some of the most extreme extents of meaning might be intended as humor or farce. Eros is almost always translated as "love", and the English word has its own varieties and ambiguities that provide additional challenges to the effort to understand the Eros of ancient Athens.
Protagoras is a dialogue by Plato. The traditional subtitle is "or the Sophists". The main argument is between Socrates and the elderly Protagoras, a celebrated sophist and philosopher. The discussion takes place at the home of Callias, who is host to Protagoras while he is in town, and concerns the nature of sophists, the unity and the teachability of virtue. A total of twenty-one people are named as present.
Meno is a Socratic dialogue scripted by Plato. It appears to attempt to determine the definition of virtue, or arete, meaning virtue in general, rather than particular virtues, such as justice or temperance. The first part of the work is written in the Socratic dialectical style and Meno is reduced to confusion or aporia. In response to Meno's paradox, however, Socrates introduces positive ideas: the immortality of the soul, the theory of knowledge as recollection (anamnesis), which Socrates demonstrates by posing a mathematical puzzle to one of Meno's slaves, the method of hypothesis, and, in the final lines, the distinction between knowledge and true belief.
Euthydemus is the name of three characters in Socratic literature.
In historical scholarship, the Socratic problem concerns attempts at reconstructing a historical and philosophical image of Socrates based on the variable, and sometimes contradictory, nature of the existing sources on his life. Scholars rely upon the extant sources, such as those of contemporaries like Aristophanes or disciples of Socrates like Plato and Xenophon, for knowing anything about Socrates. However, these sources contain contradictory details of his life, words, and beliefs when taken together. This complicates the attempts at reconstructing the beliefs and philosophical views held by the historical Socrates. It is apparent to scholarship that this problem is now deemed a task seeming impossible to clarify and thus perhaps now classified as unsolvable.
The Apology of Socrates to the Jury, by Xenophon of Athens, is a Socratic dialogue about the legal defence that the philosopher Socrates presented at his trial for the moral corruption of Athenian youth; and for asebeia (impiety) against the pantheon of Athens; judged guilty, Socrates was sentenced to death.
Memorabilia is a collection of Socratic dialogues by Xenophon, a student of Socrates. The lengthiest and most famous of Xenophon's Socratic writings, the Memorabilia is essentially an apologia (defense) of Socrates, differing from both Xenophon's Apology of Socrates to the Jury and Plato's Apology mainly in that the Apologies present Socrates as defending himself before the jury, whereas the former presents Xenophon's own defense of Socrates, offering edifying examples of Socrates' conversations and activities along with occasional commentary from Xenophon.
Chaerephon, of the Athenian deme Sphettus, was an Ancient Greek best remembered as a loyal friend and follower of Socrates. He is known only through brief descriptions by classical writers and was "an unusual man by all accounts", though a man of loyal democratic values.
Callias was an ancient Athenian aristocrat and political figure. He was the son of Hipponicus and the daughter of Megacles, an Alcmaeonid and the third member of one of the most distinguished Athenian families to bear the name of Callias. He was regarded as infamous for his extravagance and profligacy.
Aeschines of Sphettus or Aeschines Socraticus, son of Lysanias, of the deme Sphettus of Athens, was a philosopher who in his youth a follower of Socrates. Historians call him Aeschines Socraticus—"the Socratic Aeschines"—to distinguish him from the more historically influential Athenian orator also named Aeschines. His name is sometimes but now rarely written as Aischines or Æschines
Euthydemus, written c. 384 BC, is a dialogue by Plato which satirizes what Plato presents as the logical fallacies of the Sophists. In it, Socrates describes to his friend Crito a visit he and various youths paid to two brothers, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, both of whom were prominent Sophists from Chios and Thurii.
Glaucon son of Ariston, was an ancient Athenian and the philosopher Plato's older brother. He is primarily known as a major conversant with Socrates in the Republic, and the interlocutor during the Allegory of the Cave. He is also referenced briefly in the beginnings of two dialogues of Plato, the Parmenides and Symposium.
Iccus of Taranto was a Magna Grecia Olympic athlete, a victor during the 84th Games (444 BC) or 70th Games according to older sources. He is considered the father of athletic dietology. He prepared himself physically before competing according to ethical-religious Pythagorean concepts by abstaining from sexual intercourse and a frugal diet specially prepared. He also taught these principles. Pausanias calls him the best gymnast of his age, and Plato also mentions him with great praise. Iamblichus calls him a Pythagorean, and, according to Themistius, Plato reckoned him among the sophists.
Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the main contemporary author to have written plays mentioning Socrates during Socrates' lifetime, though a fragment of Ion of Chios' Travel Journal provides important information about Socrates' youth.