Hegesias of Magnesia

Hegesias of Magnesia

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Hegesias of Magnesia Greek rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

ian, and historian, flourished about 300 BC. Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 (xiv. 648), speaks of him as the founder of the florid Asiatic style
Asiatic style
The Asiatic style or Asianism |Brutus]] 325) refers to an Ancient Greek rhetorical tendency that arose in the third century BC, which later became an important point of reference in debates about Roman oratory....

 of composition.

Agatharchides
Agatharchides
Agatharchides of Cnidus was a Greek historian and geographer .-Life:He is believed to have been born at Cnidus, hence his appellation. As Stanley M...

, Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus was a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus. His literary style was Attistic — imitating Classical Attic Greek in its prime.-Life:...

 (De compositione verborum 18) and Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 all speak of him in disparaging terms, although Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro was an ancient Roman scholar and writer. He is sometimes called Varro Reatinus to distinguish him from his younger contemporary Varro Atacinus.-Biography:...

 seems to have approved of his work. He professed to imitate the simplest style of Lysias
Lysias
Lysias was a logographer in Ancient Greece. He was one of the ten Attic orators included in the "Alexandrian Canon" compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace in the third century BC.-Life:According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus and the author of the life ascribed to...

, avoiding long periods, and expressing himself in short, jerky sentences, without modulation or finish. His vulgar affectation and bombast made his writings a mere caricature of the old Attic
Attic
An attic is a space found directly below the pitched roof of a house or other building . Attic is generally the American/Canadian reference to it...

. Dionysius describes his composition as tinselled, ignoble and effeminate. According to Gualtiero Calboli, Hegesias and his fellow Asiatics rejected Attic examples (and in particular the example of Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

) in favor of a return to "the models of Ionic and sophistic prose."

It is generally supposed, from the fragment quoted as a specimen by Dionysius (and cf. Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, Life of Alexander 3), that Hegesias is to be classed among the writers of lives of Alexander the Great. This fragment describes the treatment of Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 and its inhabitants by Alexander after its conquest, but it is possible that it is only part of an epideictic or show-speech, not of an historical work. This view is supported by a remark of Agatharchides in Photius (cod. 250) that the only aim of Hegesias was to exhibit his skill in describing sensational events.

External links

  • Fragments: Greek text and Latin translation, ed. Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Müller
    Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Müller
    Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Müller is best known for his still-useful Didot editions of fragmentary Greek authors, especially the monumental five-volume Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum , which is not yet completely superseded by the series Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker begun by Felix...