Prodicus

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Prodicus of Ceos (Greek: Πρόδικος, Pródikos; c. 465-c. 395 BC) was a Greek philosopher, and part of the first generation of Sophists. He came to Athens as ambassador from Ceos, and became known as a speaker and a teacher. Plato treats him with greater respect than the other sophists, and in several of the Platonic dialogues Socrates appears as the friend of Prodicus. Prodicus made linguistics and ethics prominent in his curriculum. The content of one of his speeches is still known, and concerns a fable in which Heracles has to make a choice between Virtue and Vice. He also interpreted religion through the framework of naturalism.

Contents

Life

Prodicus was a native of Ioulis on the island of Ceos, the birthplace of Simonides,[1] whom he is described as having imitated.[2] Prodicus came frequently to Athens for the purpose of transacting business on behalf of his native city, and attracted admiration as an orator,[3] although his voice was deep and apt to fall.[4] Plutarch describes him as slender and weak;[5] and Plato also alludes to his weakness, and a degree of effeminacy which thus resulted.[6] Philostratus accuses him of luxury and avarice,[7] but no earlier source mentions this.

In the Protagoras of Plato, (dramatic date c. 430 BC), Prodicus is mentioned as having previously arrived in Athens. He appears in a play of Eupolis, and in The Clouds (423 BC) and The Birds (414 BC) of Aristophanes.[8] He came frequently to Athens on public business.[9] His pupils included the orators Theramenes[10] and Isocrates,[11] and in the year of the death of Socrates (399 BC), Prodicus was still living.[12] According to the statement of Philostratus, on which little reliance can be placed, he delivered his lecture on virtue and vice in Thebes and Sparta also. The Apology of Plato unites him with Gorgias and Hippias as among those who were considered competent to instruct the youth in any city. Lucian mentions him among those who held lectures at Olympia.[13]

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