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Title: The future of the second sophistic
Author: Strazdins, Estelle Amber
ISNI:       0000 0004 0196 1196
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the anxieties and opportunities that attend fame and posterity in the second sophistic and how they play out in both literary and monumental expressions of cultural production. I consider how elite provincials in the Roman empire, who are competitive, bi- or even tri-cultural, status-driven, often politically active, and engaged in cultural production, attempt to construct a future presence for themselves either through the composition of literature that is aimed (at least in part) at the future or through efforts to write themselves into the landscape of their native or adopted cities. I argue that the cultural and temporal perspective of these men drives their multifarious, playful, and self-reflexive approach to the production of literature or monuments. For those men engaged in the ‘second sophistic’, in the narrower, Philostratean definition, there is an ever present tether on their creative efforts, in that for contemporary success they must immerse themselves in the culture of classical Athens; and the prominent practice of epideictic oratory, with its promotion of improvisation and lack of repetition, discourages the kind of literary effort that aims at eternity. At the same time, their attempts to build themselves into the hearts of cities is less restricted, in that those who possess or have access to sufficient wealth can grant elaborate benefactions which essentially stand as monuments to their financer. Nevertheless, their belated position with respect to the Greek literary canon and the heights of political and cultural prestige invested in classical Greece infuses the cultural efforts of the second sophistic with a sense of pathos that acknowledges the impossibility of creating and controlling one’s future reputation regardless of how much effort is applied. At the same time, this impossible position, rather than limiting them, endows these men with a varied, self-ironizing, intertextual, intermedial, and unique approach to cultural production that actively engages with the inescapable and laudable past in order to carve a lasting impression on the literary and physical landscape of the Roman empire.
Supervisor: Whitmarsh, Tim Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classical Greek ; Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; second sophistic ; Philostratus ; future ; Roman Greece ; Imperial Greek Literature