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Publius Elius Aristides, surnamed Theodorus, was a Greek rhetorician, born at Hadriani in Bithynia A.D 117 or 129. He was educated by the most celebrated rhetoricians of the time, Polemon of Pergamus, and Herodes Atticus of Athens, and made long journeys through Asia, Egypt, Greece and Italy. On his return he was seized with an illness that lasted thirteen years, but which be never allowed to interrupt his studies. His rhetoric, in which he took Demosthenes and Plato for his models, was immensely admired by his contemporaries; he also stood in high favour with the emperors, especially Marcus Aurelius, who at his appeal caused Smyrna to be rebuilt after, an earthquake in 178 A.D. The chief scenes of his activity were Athens and Smyrna, where he died about A.D. 190. Beside two treatises of rhetorical and technical import, we still possess fifty-five of his orations, which he took great pains to elaborate. They are characterized by depth and fulness of thought, and are written in powerful, concise, often difficult and obscure language. Some are eulogies on deities and cities (Rome, for instance, and Smyrna), others are declamations after ancient models, as the Panathenaicus after Isocrates, and the speech against Leptines after Demosthenes. Others treat of his, torical subjects taken from the times of Greek independence. A peculiar interest attaches to the six Sacred Orations, so named because they treat of hints given by Asclepius on the cure of his illness, which he received in a state of somnambulism, and imparted aloud to his friends.
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