By the middle of the fifth century BC, Athens was governed by democratic rule and power turned upon the ability of the individual to command the attention of the other citizens, and to sway the crowds of the assembly.
It was the sophists who understood the art of rhetoric and the importance of being able to transform effective reasoning into persuasive public speaking. Their inquiries - into the gods, the origins of religion, and whether virtue can be taught - laid the groundwork for the next generation of thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle.
Each chapter of 'The Greek Sophists' is based around the work of one character: Gorgias, Prodicus, Protagoras and Antiphon among others, and a linking commentary, chronological table and bibliography are provided for each one. In his introduction, John Dillon discusses the historical background and the sources of the text.