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A translation of eight declamations written by or ascribed to Libanius, fourth-century CE sophist of Antioch

Table of contents

The Declamations
     Declamation 29: A Parasite and His Philosophizing Patron
     Declamation 30: An Envious Man and His Rich Neighbor
     Declamation 34: The Disowning of a Miser’s Son
     Declamation 35: A Poor Man Willing to Die for His City
     Declamation 37: A Rich War-Hero Accused of Aiming for Tyranny
     Declamation 45: A Convict Asks for Exile
     Declamation 46: A Young Man Refuses to Remarry and Is Therefore Disowned
     Declamation 47: The Self-Defense of a Disowned Son Who Loved His Brother
     Gregory of Cyprus, Response to Pseudo-Libanius, Declamation 34
     Libanian Texts and Translations
     Other Titles


Declamations were composed and orally delivered in the Roman Empire by sophists, or teachers of rhetoric, of whom the Greek-speaking Libanius was one of the most distinguished. Stock Characters Speaking may be thought of as emerging from three developments of recent decades: an explosive interest in late antiquity, a newly sympathetic interest in rhetoric (including ancient declamation), and a desire to bring Libanius’s massive corpus into English and other modern languages.

In this book, author Robert J. Penella translates eight of Libanius’s declamations: 29, 30, 34, 35, 37, 45, 46, 47, and, in an appendix, the thirteenth-century Gregory of Cyprus’s response to Declamation 34. Each translation is accompanied by an introduction, in which Penella examines the themes, structure, and the stasis, or key issue, of the declamations. Figures who appear in the translated declamations include a parasite who has lost his patron, a man envious of his rich neighbor, a miser’s son, a poor man willing to die for his city, a rich war-hero accused of aiming at tyranny, and a convict asking for exile. Three of these declamations have appeared in German; otherwise, these translations are the first into a modern language.

Robert J. Penella is Emeritus Professor of Classics, Fordham University.