Sophists and Rhetors - Introduction to literary criticism...

Sophists and Rhetoricians

In the classical era of ancient Greek literature and culture (VI-III centuries BC), literary critical thought received such a rapid and powerful development that continues to exert a direct and strong influence even on contemporary literary criticism. Problems of literature were primarily concerned with philosophers. Especially active were the sophists and rhetoricians. The Sophists were masters of philosophical debates, debates. Their sophisticated logical arguments-traps were called "sophistries". Dispelling the "imaginary wisdom" Sophists Aristotle dedicated his work "On the sophistic rebuttals". In it are given examples of sophistry, in particular, this: "If Korysk is not the same as Socrates, and Socrates is a man, then ... Coruscake is not the same as man." That is, Koriska is not a person.

The rhetoricians were experts in the field of rhetoric, the emergence of which belongs to the V century BC. e.

Sophists and rhetors unite the conviction that by a word, a skilful construction of speech can be persuaded of anything. Moreover, there was no objective truth for them. The truth they believed was that they managed to convince the interlocutor with the help of marked verbal intricacies. His opinion and it was true. The sophists and rhetoricians can already find what in the twentieth century will be called the "textual truth". The truth is allegedly contained in the text, in words, it is relative and subjective. They also understood beauty - each has its own measure of beauty. This subjectivism in the understanding of beauty was largely based on the widely known in antiquity of Protagoras: "Man is the measure of all things."

The Sophists and rhetoricians were pragmatists who set out to win disputes (including in the courts). They also valued poetry for its ability to convince in something. It was for them fiction, a lie, but a lie high, ennobling. Gorgius said that tragedy is a lie, but in this case deceiving is more honest than the non-obedient, and deceived finds new wisdom. Structurally, the sophists and rhetoricians did not see much difference between rhetorical prose and poetry. The common goal of poetry and rhetoric is achieved basically by the same means - skilful construction of the text, the use of tropes, figures of speech and other artistic means.

In contrast to Homer, the sophists and rhetoricians understood poetry primarily as the product of intellect. The muse and divine inspiration have already retreated into the shadows. As pragmatists and rationalists - sophists and rhetoricians expressed even functional-utilitarian views on poetry and the beautiful in general. Xenophon, for example, said that the larger the mouth, the more beautiful - then it performs its functions better.

With the Homere of Sophists and rhetors, the cult of the word united. But the latter already completely deprived him of the winged divine power. The word acquired self-sufficient power from the Sophists and rhetoricians. It became for them a powerful tool not only in rhetoric and poetry, but also in the life struggle.

Imaginary wisdom sophists, their ability, using the characteristics of language, to distort the truth, in fact to deny it, proving that white is black, was ridiculed already by Aristophanes in the comedy "The Clouds".

It is noteworthy that in the twentieth century, too, the cult of the word will break out. True, the words are purely poetic, and more precisely, the cult of the poetic text. This cult has an influential literary criticism of the "new critics", who, with good reason, are also called "non-territorial".

By the end of the classical period of ancient Greek literature (IV century BC) is the work of the famous critic, sophist and rhetoric Zoel. For his keen criticism and ridicule of the Iliad and Odyssey Zoel was called the "scourge of Homer". His name later became a household name.

Zoel was not the only "Homer's blasphemer". Already in the VI century BC. e. Xenophanes and Heraclitus, and later Plato, Epicurus, and others subjected the great poet to severe criticism and ridicule, mainly for disrespectful treatment of the gods.

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