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Sophists Term Analysis

Sophists were itinerant teachers common in Greece in the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. Though sophists could be hired to teach aristocratic young men a variety of subjects, rhetoric was the most common area of expertise. There was a stigma attached to sophists as peddlers of wisdom, not legitimate educators; Phaedrus remarks that the speechwriters of the day, like Lysias, feared being dismissed as mere “sophists.”

Sophists Quotes in Phaedrus

The Phaedrus quotes below are all either spoken by Sophists or refer to Sophists. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Phaedrus published in 2005.
257c-274a Quotes

Socrates: Well then, for things that are going to be said well, and beautifully, mustn’t there be knowledge in the mind of the speaker of the truth about whatever he means to speak of?

Phaedrus: What I have heard about this, my dear Socrates, is that there is no necessity for the man who means to be an orator to understand what is really just but only what would appear so to the majority of those who will give judgement; and not what is really good or beautiful but whatever will appear so; because persuasion comes from that and not from the truth.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sophists Term Timeline in Phaedrus

The timeline below shows where the term Sophists appears in Phaedrus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
The Limits of Writing Theme Icon
...someone disparaging Lysias as a “speech-writer,” and that writers of speeches fear being dismissed as “sophists” by posterity. However, Socrates points out that some people crave recognition as speech-writers even in... (full context)