The Third Sophistic: New Approaches to Rhetoric in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity. Organized by Paul
Kimball, Bilkent University.

It is a well-known paradox of Greco-Roman culture that well after the
adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the state under
Constantine the art of rhetoric successfully maintained its privileged
place in the articulation of political, pedagogical, religious,
philosophical, and literary power. Late antiquity witnessed a
remarkable surge in rhetorical output in both Greek (Libanius,
Himerius, Themistius, Julian, Procopius of Gaza, Choricius) and Latin
(the Panegyrici Latini, Symmachus, Ausonius, Marius Victorinus).
Moreover, under the new establishment the rapprochement between
traditional "pagan" rhetoric and Judaeo-Christian modes of expression
already evident in Christian apologetic writings of the second and
third centuries gained momentum, culminating in the fourth and
fifth-century "Golden Age" of Christian rhetoric as represented by the
works of Eusebius of Caesarea, the Cappadocian Fathers, and John
Chrysostom (in Greek), and Lactantius, Ambrose, and Augustine (in
Latin). Before the end of the sixth century the corpus of Hermogenes
would achieve canonical status, and in 426 CE Augustine's De Doctrina
Christiana fused once and for all Cicero's rhetorical theory with the
Christian project of evangelism and exegesis.

In light of the wealth of available source material and its parallels
to the much more extensively studied Second Sophistic, European
scholarship over the past two decades has increasingly come to
identify this period as the "Third Sophistic." While this formulation
stresses synchronic linkages at the expense of diachronic
perspectives, it is nonetheless worthwhile to examine this phase in
the cultural history of the late empire as a unity. The Society for
Late Antiquity thus invites proposals featuring innovative approaches
to the study of rhetoric in late antiquity for a panel to be at the
annual meeting of the American Philological Association to be held in
Philadelphia, 8-11 January 2009. These might address such issues as
the relationship of rhetoric to poetry, philosophy, and
historiography; performance and self-presentation; reception and
audience; rhetoric, law, and political authority; rhetoric and
homiletics; ekphrasis and the rhetorical construction of space. These
are only suggestions and proposals which investigate other lines of
research are welcome.

Abstracts of papers (ca. 500 words) requiring a maximum of 20 minutes
to deliver should be sent via email attachment no later than February
1, 2008 to Paul Kimball (, or by surface mail
(Dr. Paul Kimball, Program in Cultures, Civilizations & Ideas, Bilkent
University, 06800 Bilkent, Ankara, TURKEY). Please follow the
instructions for the format of individual abstracts in the APA Program
Guide (see link below). APA membership is required of all presenters
and must be verified before proposals are accepted. All submissions
will be judged anonymously by two referees. Note that no subventions
for travel or accommodation are available from either the Society for
Late Antiquity or the APA.

For a PDF copy of the APA Annual Meeting program guide:

For general information on the APA Annual Meeting

For information regarding membership: