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Libanius

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Libanius as imagined in an eighteenth-century woodcut
Libanius as imagined in an eighteenth-century woodcut

Libanius (Greek: Λιβάνιος, translit. Libanios; c. 314–392 or 393) was a teacher of rhetoric of the Sophist school in the Eastern Roman Empire.[1] His prolific writings make him one of the best documented teachers of higher education in the ancient world and a critical source of history of the Greek East during the 4th century AD.[2] During the rise of Christian hegemony in the later Roman Empire, he remained unconverted and in religious matters was a pagan Hellene.

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Greek language

Greek language

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Italy, southern Albania, and other regions of the Balkans, the Black Sea coast, Asia Minor, and the Eastern Mediterranean. It has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning at least 3,400 years of written records. Its writing system is the Greek alphabet, which has been used for approximately 2,800 years; previously, Greek was recorded in writing systems such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Romanization of Greek

Romanization of Greek

Romanization of Greek is the transliteration (letter-mapping) and/or transcription (sound-mapping) of text from the Greek alphabet into the Latin alphabet.

Rhetoric

Rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic, is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. Aristotle defines rhetoric as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion" and since mastery of the art was necessary for victory in a case at law, for passage of proposals in the assembly, or for fame as a speaker in civic ceremonies, he calls it "a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics". Rhetoric typically provides heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos. The five canons of rhetoric or phases of developing a persuasive speech were first codified in classical Rome: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.

Sophist

Sophist

A sophist was a teacher in ancient Greece in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Sophists specialized in one or more subject areas, such as philosophy, rhetoric, music, athletics, and mathematics. They taught arete – "virtue" or "excellence" – predominantly to young statesmen and nobility.

Greek East and Latin West

Greek East and Latin West

Greek East and Latin West are terms used to distinguish between the two parts of the Greco-Roman world and of Medieval Christendom, specifically the eastern regions where Greek was the lingua franca and the western parts where Latin filled this role. Greek was spread in the context of Hellenization, whereas Latin was the official administrative language of Roman Empire. In the east, where both languages co-existed within the Roman administration for several centuries, the use of Latin ultimately declined as the role of Greek was further encouraged by administrative changes in the empire's structure between the 3rd and 5th centuries, which led to the split between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire. This Greek–Latin divide continued with the East–West Schism of the Christian world during the Early Middle Ages.

Christianity

Christianity

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest and most widespread religion with roughly 2.4 billion followers representing one-third of the global population. Its adherents, known as Christians, are estimated to make up a majority of the population in 157 countries and territories, and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible and chronicled in the New Testament.

Hegemony

Hegemony

Hegemony is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state over other states. In Ancient Greece, hegemony denoted the politico-military dominance of the hegemon city-state over other city-states. In the 19th century, hegemony denoted the "social or cultural predominance or ascendancy; predominance by one group within a society or milieu" and "a group or regime which exerts undue influence within a society".

Roman Empire

Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, and was ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus as the first Roman emperor to the military anarchy of the 3rd century, it was a Principate with Italia as the metropole of its provinces and the city of Rome as its sole capital. The Empire was later ruled by multiple emperors who shared control over the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. The city of Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until AD 476 when the imperial insignia were sent to Constantinople following the capture of the Western capital of Ravenna by the Germanic barbarians. The adoption of Christianity as the state church of the Roman Empire in AD 380 and the fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings conventionally marks the end of classical antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Because of these events, along with the gradual Hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire, historians distinguish the medieval Roman Empire that remained in the Eastern provinces as the Byzantine Empire.

Hellenistic religion

Hellenistic religion

The concept of Hellenistic religion as the late form of Ancient Greek religion covers any of the various systems of beliefs and practices of the people who lived under the influence of ancient Greek culture during the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire. There was much continuity in Hellenistic religion: people continued to worship the Greek gods and to practice the same rites as in Classical Greece.

Life

Libanius was born in Antioch, located near the modern-day city of Antakya, Turkey. He was born into a deeply cultured and once-influential family that had experienced substantial recent decline. In 303 AD, eleven years before his birth, his family had participated in resisting an insurrection by a local army garrison. In the end, Roman Imperial authorities were equally concerned by local aristocrats arming themselves as they were by the rebellious troops. Libanius' family fell out of favor and his grandfather was executed. Libanius' father died when he was eleven, leaving his upbringing to his mother and maternal uncles, who were in the process of rebuilding his family's reputation.[1][3]

At fourteen years old he began his study of rhetoric, for which he withdrew from public life and devoted himself to philosophy. Unfamiliar with Latin literature, he deplored its influence.

He studied in Athens under Diophantus the Arab and began his career in Constantinople as a private tutor. He was exiled to Nicomedia in 346 (or earlier) for around five years[1] but returned to Constantinople and taught there until 354.[4] Before his exile, Libanius was a friend of the emperor Julian, with whom some correspondence survives, and in whose memory he wrote a series of orations; they were composed between 362 and 365. In 354 he accepted the chair of rhetoric in Antioch, his birthplace, where he stayed until his death. His pupils included both pagans and Christians.[4]

Libanius used his arts of rhetoric to advance various private and political causes. He attacked the increasing imperial pressures on the traditional city-oriented culture that had been supported and dominated by the local upper classes. He is known to have protested against the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire. In 386, he appealed without success to emperor Theodosius to prevent the destruction of a temple in Edessa, and pleaded for toleration and the preservation of the temples against the predation of Christian monks, who he claimed:

[...]hasten to attack the temples with sticks and stones and bars of iron, and in some cases, disdaining these, with hands and feet. Then utter desolation follows, with the stripping of roofs, demolition of walls, the tearing down of statues and the overthrow of altars, and the priests must either keep quiet or die. After demolishing one, they scurry to another, and to a third, and trophy is piled on trophy, in contravention of the law. Such outrages occur even in the cities, but they are most common in the countryside. Many are the foes who perpetrate the separate attacks, but after their countless crimes this scattered rabble congregates and they are in disgrace unless they have committed the foulest outrage...Temples, Sire, are the soul of the countryside: they mark the beginning of its settlement, and have been passed down through many generations to the men of today. In them the farming communities rest their hopes for husbands, wives, children, for their oxen and the soil they sow and plant. An estate that has suffered so has lost the inspiration of the peasantry together with their hopes, for they believe that their labour will be in vain once they are robbed of the gods who direct their labours to their due end. And if the land no longer enjoys the same care, neither can the yield match what it was before, and, if this be the case, the peasant is the poorer, and the revenue jeopardized.

— Libanius, Pro Templis[5]

The surviving works of Libanius, which include over 1,600 letters, 64 speeches and 96 progymnasmata (rhetorical exercises), are valuable as a historical source for the changing world of the later 4th century.[4] His oration "A Reply To Aristides On Behalf Of The Dancers" is one of the most important records of Roman concert dance, particularly that immensely popular form known as pantomime.[6] His first Oration I is an autobiographical narrative, first written in 374 and revised throughout his life, a scholar's account that ends as an old exile's private journal. Progymnasma 8 (see below for explanation of a "progymnasma") is an imaginary summation of the prosecution's case again a physician charged with poisoning some of his patients.[7]

Although Libanius was not a Christian his students included such notable Christians as John Chrysostom[1] and Theodore of Mopsuestia.[8] Despite his friendship with the pagan restorationist Emperor Julian he was made an honorary praetorian prefect by the Christian Emperor Theodosius I.

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Antioch

Antioch

Antioch on the Orontes was a Hellenistic city founded by Seleucus I Nicator in 300 BC. The city served as the capital of the Seleucid Empire and later as regional capital to both the Roman and Byzantine Empire. During the Crusades, Antioch served as the capital of the Principality of Antioch, one of four Crusader states that were founded in the Levant. Its inhabitants were known as Antiochenes. The modern city of Antakya, in Hatay Province of Turkey, was named after the ancient city, which lies in ruins on the Orontes River and did not overlap in habitation with the modern city.

Antakya

Antakya

Antakya, modern form of Antioch, is the capital of Hatay Province, the southernmost province of Turkey. The city is located in a well-watered and fertile valley on the Orontes River, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the Levantine Sea.

Diophantus the Arab

Diophantus the Arab

Diophantus the Arab was an Arab teacher and sophist at Athens during the 4th century AD. His most famous student was Libanius (336–340). He was active during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361–363).

Constantinople

Constantinople

Constantinople became the de facto capital of the Roman Empire upon its founding in 330, and became the de jure capital in AD 476 after the fall of Ravenna and the Western Roman Empire. It remained the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). Following the Turkish War of Independence, the Turkish capital then moved to Ankara. Officially renamed Istanbul in 1930, the city is today the largest city and financial centre of the Republic of Turkey (1923–present). It is also the largest city in Europe.

Nicomedia

Nicomedia

Nicomedia was an ancient Greek city located in what is now Turkey. In 286, Nicomedia became the eastern and most senior capital city of the Roman Empire, a status which the city maintained during the Tetrarchy system (293–324).

Julian (emperor)

Julian (emperor)

Julian was Roman emperor from 361 to 363, as well as a notable philosopher and author in Greek. His rejection of Christianity, and his promotion of Neoplatonic Hellenism in its place, caused him to be remembered as Julian the Apostate in Christian tradition.

Edessa

Edessa

Edessa was an ancient city (polis) in Upper Mesopotamia, founded during the Hellenistic period by King Seleucus I Nicator, founder of the Seleucid Empire. It later became capital of the Kingdom of Osroene, and continued as capital of the Roman province of Osroene. In Late Antiquity, it became a prominent center of Christian learning and seat of the Catechetical School of Edessa. During the Crusades, it was the capital of the County of Edessa.

Aelius Aristides

Aelius Aristides

Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus was a Greek orator and author considered to be a prime example as a member of the Second Sophistic, a group of celebrated and highly influential orators who flourished from the reign of Nero until c. 230 AD. More than fifty of his orations and other works survive, dating from the reigns of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. His early success was interrupted by a decades-long series of illnesses for which he sought relief by divine communion with the god Asclepius, effected by interpreting and obeying the dreams that came to him while sleeping in the god's sacred precinct; he later recorded this experience in a series of discourses titled Sacred Tales . In his later life, Aristides resumed his career as an orator, achieving such notable success that Philostratus would declare that "Aristides was of all the sophists most deeply versed in his art."

Concert dance

Concert dance

Concert dance is dance performed for an audience. It is frequently performed in a theatre setting, though this is not a requirement, and it is usually choreographed and performed to set music.

Pantomime

Pantomime

Pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other English-speaking countries, especially during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing. It generally employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story more or less based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. Pantomime is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is encouraged and expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

Christianity

Christianity

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest and most widespread religion with roughly 2.4 billion followers representing one-third of the global population. Its adherents, known as Christians, are estimated to make up a majority of the population in 157 countries and territories, and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible and chronicled in the New Testament.

John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom was an important Early Church Father who served as archbishop of Constantinople. He is known for his preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, his Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. The epithet Χρυσόστομος means "golden-mouthed" in Greek and denotes his celebrated eloquence. Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church, although both Origen of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo exceeded Chrysostom.

Works

  • 64 orations in the three fields of oratory: judicial, deliberative and epideictic, both orations as if delivered in public and orations meant to be privately read (aloud) in the study. The two volumes of selections in the Loeb Classical Library devote one volume to Libanius' orations that bear on the emperor Julian, the other on Theodosius; the most famous is his "Lamentation" about the desecration of the temples (Περὶ τῶν Ἱερῶν);
  • 51 declamationes, a traditional public-speaking format of Rhetoric in Antiquity, taking set topics with historical and mythological themes (translations into English by e.g. D.A. Russell, "Libanius: Imaginary Speeches"; M. Johansson, "Libanius' Declamations 9 and 10";
  • 96 progymnasmata or compositional exercises for students of rhetoric, used in his courses of instruction and widely admired as models of good style;
  • 57 hypotheses or introductions to Demosthenes' orations (written c. 352), in which he sets them in historical context for the novice reader, without polemics;
  • 1545 letters have been preserved, more letters than those of Cicero. Some 400 additional letters in Latin were later accepted, purporting to be translations, but a dispassionate examination of the texts themselves shows them to be misattributed or forgeries, by the Italian humanist Francesco Zambeccari in the 15th century. Among his correspondents there was Censorius Datianus.

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Loeb Classical Library

Loeb Classical Library

The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books originally published by Heinemann in London, but is currently published by Harvard University Press. The library contains important works of ancient Greek and Latin literature designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each left-hand page, and a fairly literal translation on the facing page. The General Editor is Jeffrey Henderson, holder of the William Goodwin Aurelio Professorship of Greek Language and Literature at Boston University.

Greek mythology

Greek mythology

A major branch of classical mythology, Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks, and a genre of ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the origin and nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece, and to better understand the nature of myth-making itself.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

Demosthenes was a Greek statesman and orator in ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. He delivered his first judicial speeches at the age of 20, in which he successfully argued that he should gain from his guardians what was left of his inheritance. For a time, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speechwriter (logographer) and a lawyer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits.

Humanism

Humanism

Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential, and agency of human beings, whom it considers the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry.

Censorius Datianus

Censorius Datianus

Censorius Datianus was a politician of the Roman Empire, very influential under the rule of Emperor Constantius II (337-361).

English editions

  • Scott Bradbury, Selected Letters of Libanius. Liverpool, University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-85323-509-0
  • Raffaella Cribiore, The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. (Includes translation of c. 200 letters dealing with the school and its students. Reviewed in Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews.)
  • Margaret E. Molloy: Libanius and the Dancers, Olms-Weidmann, Hildesheim 1996 ISBN 3-487-10220-X
  • A.F. Norman, Libanius: Selected Works, 2 volumes. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Loeb Classical Library, 1969–1977.
  • A.F. Norman, Libanius: Autobiography and Selected Letters, 2 volumes. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Loeb Classical Library, 1993. Reviewed in Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews.)
  • Lieve Van Hoof, Libanius: a critical introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Source: "Libanius", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, September 5th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libanius.

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References
  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Libanius" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 534.
  2. ^ Bradbury, Associate Professor of Classical Languages and Literatures Scott; Libanius; Bradbury, Scott A. (2004). Selected Letters of Libanius: From the Age of Constantius and Julian. Liverpool University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-85323-509-5.
  3. ^ Bradbury, Associate Professor of Classical Languages and Literatures Scott; Libanius; Bradbury, Scott A. (2004). Selected Letters of Libanius: From the Age of Constantius and Julian. Liverpool University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-85323-509-5.
  4. ^ a b c Speake, Graham, ed. (1994). Dictionary of Ancient History. London: Penguin Books. p. 370. ISBN 0-14-051260-8.
  5. ^ Pro Templis (Oration XXX.8-10)
  6. ^ Alessandra Zanobi, Ancient Pantomime and its Reception, Article retrieved April 2016 [1]
  7. ^ Ratzan, R.M. and Ferngren, G.B. (April 1993). "A Greek progymnasma on the physician-poisoner". Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 48 (2): 157–70.
  8. ^ Cameron, A. (1998) "Education and literary culture" in Cameron, A. and Garnsey, P. (eds.) The Cambridge ancient history: Vol. XIII The late empire, A.D. 337-425. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 668-669.
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