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*)Alkida/mas), a Greek rhetorician, was a native of Elaea in Aeolis, in Asia Minor. (Quint. Inst. 3.1.10, with Spalding's note) He was a pupil of Gorgias, and resided at Athens between the years B. C. 432 and 411. Here he gave instructions in eloquence, according to Eudocia (p. 100), as the successor of his master, and was the last of that sophistical school, with which the only object of eloquencc was to please the hearers by the pomp and brilliancy of words. That the works of Alcidamas bore the strongest marks of this character of his school is stated by Aristotle (Aristot. Rh. 3.3.8), who censures his pompous diction and extravagant use of poetical epithets and phrases, and by Dionysius (De Isaeo, 19), who calls his style vulgar and inflated. He is said to have been an opponent of Isocrates (Tzetz. Chil. 11.672), but whether this statement refers to real personal enmity, or whether it is merely an inference from the fact, that Alcidamas condemned the practice of writing orations for the purpose of delivering them, is uncertain.


Lost Works

The ancients mention several works of Alcidamas such as an Eulogy on Death, in which he enumerated the evils of human life, and of which Cicero seems to speak with great praise (Tusc. 1.48); a shew-speech, called λόγος Μεσσηνιακός (Aristot. Rh. 1.13.5); a work on music (Suidas, s. v. Ἀλκιδάμας); and some scientific works, viz. one on rhetoric (τέχνη ῥητορική, Plut. Dem. 5), and another called λόγος φυσικός (D. L. 8.56); but all of them are now lost. Tzetzes (Chil. 11.752) had still before him several orations of Alcidamas.


We now possess only two declamations which go under his name.

1. Ὀδυσσεὺς, κατὰ Παλαμήδους προδοσίας, in which Odysseus is made to accuse Palamedes of treachery to the cause of the Greeks during the siege of Troy.

2. περί σοφιστῶν, in which the author sets forth the advantages of delivering extempore speeches over those which have previously been written out. These two orations, the second of which is the better one, both in form and thought, bear scarcely any traces of the faults which Aristotle and Dionysius censure in the works of Alcidamas; their fault is rather being frigid and insipid. It has therefore been maintained by several critics, that these orations are not the works of Alcidamas ; and with regard to the first of them, the supposition is supported by strong probability; the second may have been written by Alcidamas with a view to counteract the influence of Isocrates.


The first edition of them is that in the collection of Greek orators published by Aldus, Venice, 1513, fol. The best modern editions are those in Reiske's Oratores Graeci, vol. viii. p. 64, &c.; and in Bekker's Oratores Attici, vol. vii. (Oxford.)


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432 BC (1)
hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1.13.5
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 3, 1.10
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 5
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