Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

A History of Greek Philosophy / THE SOPHISTS / PROTAGORAS


The Original Greek New Testament
Page 4

The first great leader of the Sophists was Protagoras. He, it is said, was the first to teach for pay; he also was the first to adopt the name of Sophist. In the word Sophist there was indeed latent the idea which subsequently attached to it, but as first used it seems to have implied this only, that skill was the object of the teaching rather than truth; the new teachers professed themselves ‘practical men,’ not mere theorists.

The Greek word, in short, meant an able cultivated man in any branch of the arts; and the development of practical capacity was doubtless what Protagoras intended to indicate as the purpose of his teaching, when he called himself a Sophist. But the ability he really undertook to cultivate was ability to persuade, for Greece at this time was nothing if not political; and persuasive oratory was the one road to political success. And as Athens was the great centre of Greek politics, as well as of Greek intellect, to Athens Protagoras came as a teacher.

He was born at Abdera, in Thrace (birthplace also of Democritus), in 480 B.C., began to teach at Athens about 451 B.C., and soon acquired great influence with Pericles, the distinguished leader of the Athenian democracy at this time. It is even alleged that when in 445 the Athenians were preparing to establish a colony at Thurii in Italy, Protagoras was requested to draw up a code of laws for the new state, and personally to superintend its execution.

Previous / First / Next Page of this chapter

Next Chapter : GORGIAS / Previous Chapter : LEUCIPPUS AND DEMOCRITUS

A History of Greek Philosophy : Table of Contents

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Greek Literature - Ancient, Medieval, Modern

Learned Freeware

Reference address :