For those familiar with philosophy, the word “Sophist” brings to mind a highly articulate snake oil salesman who, through eloquence and smoothness of speech, is able to manipulate people into doing what he wants. In the ancient world, it was said that the Sophists could convince people it was night when it was day. This reputation is partially deserved, but there is much more to Sophists than this ancient stereotype.
With the Sophists, we transition from the theoretical world of the Presocratics to the practical philosophical world of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
The Decline of the Presocratic Philosophers
The Presocratics both succeeded and failed. They succeeded in moving away from a mythological view of the cosmos to a more theological and scientific one. They saw not the gods, but a God who ordered the universe along rational lines. The physical world was a world to contend with for it was just as much reality as the spiritual realm. The Presocratics were the Renaissance men of their time – philosophers, theologians, and scientists all rolled into one. Most importantly, they defined the pressing problem of all of philosophy that is still with us today: the problem of the One and the Many.
But at the same time, they failed. They were like a football team that continued to move the ball into the red zone but failed to score and win the game. There were several reasons for this.
Partly, this was due to the fact that they lacked scientific instrumentation to prove their theories. For example, the Atomists were correct for the most part, but the scientific means to vindicate them would not be available for another 2000 years. The Presocratics were concerned with the physical world; they were just unable to provide proof for their theories.
In addition, some of the theories of the Presocratics did not comport with reality. For example, even though Parmenides was instrumental in positing Being as fundamental, his theories necessitated the denial of the physical sense world. He denied the Many at the expense of the One, whereas the Ionians diluted the One into the Many, failing to come up with a unifying principle and thus answer Parmenides. And without a unifying principle, the world does not make sense.
Also, a lot of their arguments were so sound that some of the Presocratics ended up painting themselves into a corner, paradoxically making themselves irrelevant. For example, if Zeno’s paradoxes were true, then reality is an illusion and the cosmos grinds to a screeching halt. At that point, we all might as well pack it up and go home. Everything comes to a standstill at this point, including philosophy.
In summary, the mostly inductive reasoning of the Presocratics led to a philosophical cul-de-sac and a reaction in the opposite direction by the Sophists, who utilized primarily deductive reasoning. This is similar to, but opposite of, what happened with the medieval Catholic theologians. The Scholastics emphasized deductive or a priori reasoning to the point of eventual fatigue and a neglect of the physical world. Along came science and we know the rest of the story. In this way, science came full circle, back to the Presocratics, but this time with proper methodology and instrumentation.
What we can learn from all of this is that a proper approach to the universe must include both inductive and deductive reasoning, both synthesis and analysis.
Understanding the Sophists
The parable from India about the blind men and the elephant is very helpful in our discussion of the Sophists. As the parable goes, a group of blind men, who had never encountered an elephant, were asked to describe an elephant based on touch alone. After their encounter, the account was as follows:
“The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, ‘This being is like a thick snake.’ For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant ‘is a wall.’ Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.”1
Afterward when they compared notes, they came to blows over their stark disagreements on what an elephant was like. There is a lot in this parable that we can unpack in regard to truth, perception, and epistemology, but needless to say, this is how we often approach the Sophists.
Some see the Sophists as mere charlatans while others see them as philosophers in their own right, while still others see them as practical thinkers who did a lot of good for Athens. The truth is, like the blind men touching the elephant, all of those characterizations are true, but only part of the full truth. In this article, I will give what I feel to be a more nuanced, balanced, and comprehensive approach to this interesting topic.
The Rise of the Sophists
Where did the Sophists come from? Did the first of the Sophists, Protagoras, suddenly appear on the scene one day, teaching his craft to young men? Like all movements in history, there is always a cultural context that must be taken into account, and this is no different.
Athens was changing and so was the world. Athens, the center of Greek intellectual thought, was a growing and thriving metropolis. It was becoming wealthier and more sophisticated. As such, there was an increasing demand for an education that would prepare a young man to thrive in this new climate.
Gone were the days of philosophy done in bucolic settings, whether in Ionia or Southern Italy, for that philosophy was more in touch with the natural world and thus conducive to pondering the nature of the cosmos. Athens, by contrast, was a city bustling with economic and political life and this necessitated a philosophy more conducive to the microcosm of man than the macrocosm of the cosmos. A more practical and political philosophy was needed. Politics was no longer a peripheral matter; it was now front and center.
With this increase in sophistication, the traditional education that consisted of literacy, arithmetic, music, and physical training was proven to be inadequate.2 Parents were wondering how their sons could survive and thrive in such a world that increasingly relied upon rhetorical skills and argumentation in order to succeed.3 No longer was simple math and literature enough, but tutors were needed to help the students get high scores on their ACTs.
It was in this milieu that sophism emerged. Like astute entrepreneurs, they saw an unmet need and built an entire profession on meeting that need. These were practical men with dirt under their fingernails as opposed to the theoreticians of the prior generation. One could say that they were philosophical mercenaries.
Parents in Athens would pay these Sophists large amounts of money to guarantee their sons would have a chance at success. As a result, some of the more prominent and successful Sophists became extremely wealthy. Similarly today, there are parents who pay exorbitant fees so their children can graduate with the name “Harvard” on their diplomas. They may not necessarily get a good education, but they end up with something that could open the right doors in government or business.
Sometimes the desire for a Sophist teacher comes from the student. For example, a pre-med student taking Philosophy 101 may go up after class and ask the professor not for a clearer explanation of Plato’s Forms or phenomenology, but rather ask what he or she needs to do to get an A on the final. The primary goal in this case is getting admitted to medical school, not learning philosophy in order to seek wisdom and develop virtue. A little virtue, not to mention some wisdom, couldn’t hurt, especially if one wants to be a doctor.
The Career of Sophism
In addition to education, another area where they excelled was law. As a society grows and gets more complex, so does its legal system. Athens was an extremely litigious society. The difference was, unlike today where someone can hire a lawyer, a person had to defend himself in court. So instead of hiring an attorney, if a person had money, he would hire one of the local Sophists to teach him how to speak and how to argue his case in the courts of Athens. The Athenians placed a high premium on argumentation and the ability to speak well. If one could not do these things in court, one was sure to lose. We know of examples today of wealthy people, and in many cases not-so-wealthy people, who hire attorneys to help exonerate them from charges of which they are indeed guilty in many cases.
But education and law were just the beginning. In order to succeed in politics, it was essential to be a good orator. Some were naturally good; most were not. This is where the Sophists of Athens came in. If a politician had enough money, he could buy one of best Sophists – for an exorbitant fee – who would instruct him not on expounding the truth, but on wowing people with articulate oration. As the 20th century comedian W.C. Fields once said, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.”
Today it is necessary to have “a strong social media presence.” Fortunately, for modern politicians, oratory skills are not highly valued, for most of them could not give a good speech to save their lives. Their handlers merely instruct them on what not to say in order to stay out of trouble. Rather, modern Sophists position their clients in the media so they get high favorability ratings. This includes, very importantly, social media, but it also includes other types of media as well, as we all know. It’s all about “optics” and that is the job of these handlers and consultants, to create the right optics.
And finally, but not exhaustively, the Sophists of old were available to help anyone, again for the right price, to achieve fame and popularity if so desired. Like with politics, rhetorical skills were an absolute necessity in order to achieve those goals. Today we have agencies that wannabe celebrities can pay in order to promote them and get them in the public eye. Established celebrities hire these services, too, so as to maintain their celebrity status. Although the technology is completely different from that of ancient Athens, the principle is the same.
The Sophists as Educators
The names of only 30 Sophists survive from the 4th century, the most prominent being Protagoras, Gorgias, Antiphon, Prodicus, and Thrasymachus.4 Could Isocrates, who also lived at the same time, be considered a Sophist? More on that later.
In truth, the actual number of Sophists was far greater than 30 for as stated above, they became the source of education. For 70 years, until about 380 B.C., the Sophists were the sole source of higher education, not only in Athens, but in other advanced Greek cities as well.5 This makes perfect sense if we take into account the population of Athens alone. It is estimated that during this period, the city of Athens contained 300,000 inhabitants, 50,000 of those being foreigners and 100,000 of those being slaves.6 The Sophists were integral in education until they were replaced by the schools of other philosophers such as those of Plato and Socrates. And even though most Sophists were not from Athens, Athens was the center of Sophist activity due to the democratic transformations that were happening there.
So, if we consider the need for teachers among the free population, not only in Athens but in other Greek city-states as well, then the amount of Sophists in teaching roles had to be much higher than the 30 names we actually know. From this perspective, we can view them as private tutors for the people of Athens that met a legitimate need at the time. It would be no different than hiring a private tutor today or sending a child to a private school.
This aspect of sophism paints a more positive perspective than the one discussed above. The Sophists were responsible for greatly advancing rhetorical theory and the art of oratory in their day, something that later philosophers like Aristotle, who viewed the Sophists with disdain, greatly benefited from. But again, this is an oversimplified view. There was much more in their repertoire than oratory skills.
There were also many types of teacher Sophists. Just as there are teachers today who specialize in different subjects, the Sophists of the ancient world did the same. Their educational arsenal included grammar, the nature of virtue or aretē, morality, history, the arts, poetry, music, mathematics, astronomy, and the physical sciences.8 Some of what the Sophists did was to expand upon and apply in a more contemporary way the teachings of the Presocratic philosophers. Regardless of their specialties, though, what all Sophists had in common was their ability to teach rhetoric.
In this regard, some Sophists had more to offer than others, and I can imagine that just like parents may hire several tutors, so some families back then may have hired several Sophists to give their children a well-rounded education. It could have also been possible that several families may have pooled their resources to create a small school presided over by a Sophist instructor. The Sophists even set up schools to teach people how to become Sophists. Like in the example above of the blind men touching the elephant, the legitimate private tutor is just another aspect of what an ancient Sophist was.
The Reputation of the Sophists
How can we reconcile this discrepancy of Sophists as philosophical mercenaries for hire, whose only intent was to become wealthy from teaching the art of deceptive speech to others, with that of a legitimate teacher who provided an important and needed service? Were they men who cared about the truth and virtue or were they concerned only with wealth and word manipulation? And I haven’t even discussed yet the idea of the Sophists being philosophers in their own right.
When we study history, in order to make more sense of things, we are tempted to simplify and pigeonhole people or events, even though we know deep down that life is more complex and nuanced. The same is true with the Sophists. I think a good comparison to help us understand these apparent discrepancies is with that of the modern day attorney.
It would not be an overstatement to say that that law profession tends to be viewed rather negatively. Like the Sophists, an attorney is viewed as not being concerned about truth or justice, but in manipulating the law in order to win and become wealthy. Examples abound, from the ambulance chasers to O.J. Simpson’s dream team that consisted of celebrity lawyers such as F. Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, and Johnny Cochran. These are men whose controversial law careers made them multimillionaires, in some cases.
It’s examples like those listed above that give the law profession a black eye. But if we think about it, the majority of attorneys are ethical practitioners. I know an attorney who takes a low salary in order to be an advocate for juveniles who have no one to advocate for them in the court system. Most are low-profile attorneys who provide great benefits to society in everything from business concerns to estate planning.
Anecdotally, all of my dealings with attorneys in my long career have been positive. I can even use the cliché that some of my best friends are attorneys. But when historians study 20th century law 500 years from now, will they concentrate on these benevolent ones or the more prominent celebrity ones like F. Lee Bailey? Which type of attorney will define the profession? Which type of Sophist of ancient Greece should define the profession? How would the fact that sophism was not a unified intellectual “school” but rather a heterogeneous, grassroots type of movement affect the answer?
I recently asked a dear friend of mine who is a business attorney what he thought about the state of the law profession today in the United States, not knowing that I was writing an article about Sophists. His reply below is both poignant and insightful:
“My experience has been that most attorneys are hard-working, authentic and generally seek to do what is right and just. That said, it’s perhaps easier for someone with legal training genuinely to convince him/herself that black is white or white is black (or the shade of grey is lighter or darker). Having honed our ability to make distinctions and argue both sides of the issue, lawyers do risk latching on to distinctions that get us where we want to go even if they should not be the material determinant. We then make the case (including to ourselves) as to why that is the right outcome. This risk is far greater if an attorney’s thinking is not grounded in a solid moral/practical/natural law foundation. (Even if the argument is valid, the argument is not sound: the premises on which the argument is based are simply not true.) As the society at large trends away from this foundation, increasing numbers of the legal community trend away as well (and convince themselves and others that their position is entirely defensible). What percent, I don’t know. I believe, however, that I’m seeing it more and more in younger attorneys, as in younger adults generally.”
The Ancients’ Perspective of the Sophists
Think about the word “sophistry” that we use today. An online dictionary, Oxford Languages, gives this definition of the word:
“the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving”– Oxford Languages
Oh, brother! Protagoras is probably rolling over in his grave. Why do we have such a negative view of them today? Part of the answer is that we have inherited this perspective from the ancients.
The Greek philosopher Xenophon (c. 430-355) stated:
“The Sophists speak to deceive and write for their own profit, and they never benefit anyone in any way. There neither was nor is any wise man among them, but each one of them is content to be called a Sophist, which is a reproach, at least among prudent men. I thus recommend that you shun the precepts of the Sophists, but that you do not dishonor the arguments of the philosophers. The Sophists hunt young and wealthy men, while the philosophers are common to and friends with all; they neither honor nor dishonor the fortunes of men.”9– Cynegeticus (13.8–9)
Aristotle was short and sweet in his critique:
“The Sophist is a trafficker in what seems to be, but is not, wisdom.”10– Sophistical Refutations (165a22)
The Greek playwright Aristophanes was no less uncharitable in his assessment. In his play Clouds (423 B.C.), he portrays the Sophists as being able to make a weaker argument prevail over a stronger one, thus circumventing justice.11
Then we have a speech that has survived by Isocrates (436-338) entitled Against the Sophists where he lays out seven accusations against the teachings of the Sophists.12 He states the following:
“If all who are engaged in the profession of education were willing to state the facts instead of making greater promises than they can possibly fulfill…for I think it is manifest to all that foreknowledge of future events is not vouchsafed to our human nature….”– Against the Sophists, sec. 1, 2
According to translator and commentator George Norlin, Ph.D., Isocrates is saying that:
“There is, according to Isocrates, no ‘science’ which can teach us to do under all circumstances the things which will insure our happiness and success. Life is too complicated for that, and no man can foresee exactly the consequences of his acts.”13
But what about Plato? Plato too seemed to have his digs. In Meno, he states the following about the most famous of the Sophists, Protagoras:
“…while for more than forty years all Greece failed to notice that Protagoras was corrupting his classes and sending his pupils away in a worse state than when he took charge of them!”– Meno, 91e
So it appears that Plato, along with Aristotle and others, was instrumental in propagating this stereotype because he mercilessly impugned the Sophists, in particular Protagoras, in his dialogues. Or did he? This is a matter worth examining because it is a key to rightly understanding the Sophists.
Plato’s Dialogue Protagoras
The best place to start in order to attempt to get a more nuanced perspective of the Sophists is in one of Plato’s most interesting and dramatic dialogues, Protagoras. Before discussing this dialogue, it would be best to understand its main character, Protagoras.
Protagoras (490-420) was the founder of sophism and the most well-known of all the Sophists. As such, he was highly influential in the philosophical world of the Greeks. He was an older contemporary of Socrates who appears in two Platonic dialogues. One of them is named after him, Protagoras, and he is the lead character; the other is Theaetetus, which features a dialogue in which his ideas are discussed exclusively.
Protagoras was born in northern Greece but found fame in Athens as a part of the intellectual orbit surrounding the famous Greek statesman, Pericles. He plied his lucrative trade as a philosopher by helping young men achieve fame and power.14
Plato’s dialogue Protagoras centers around a debate between a philosopher -a young Socrates – and a Sophist – an aged Protagoras. The nub of the argument is whether virtue or arête can be taught. For it is one thing to teach oratory in order to win arguments in court, but the Sophists claimed that they were more than mere wordsmiths. They claimed that they did a lot of good for society by teaching arête. This really is what the entire dialogue centers around. If this were true, then the Sophists would be more legitimized in the eyes of Plato’s readers and perhaps philosophers in general.
The Story of Protagoras
One of the reasons that Plato was so influential in communicating his philosophical beliefs was that he couched his philosophy within interesting and entertaining dialogue.15
The dialogue opens with Socrates talking to a friend and stating that he has met a “beautiful” foreigner who is none other than Protagoras. Socrates states that he is beautiful because of his wisdom:
“Nay, rather the wisest of our generation, I may tell you, if ‘wisest’ is what you agree to call Protagoras.”16– Protagoras, 309d
The translator put quotation marks around the word “wisest” indicating sarcasm, but is the author Plato being sarcastic here?
Socrates then tells his friend that a certain Hippocrates, a young man in the city, wants to become prominent and is willing to pay Protagoras a handsome fee to learn from him how to achieve this. Hippocrates wants Socrates to talk to Protagoras about this matter on his behalf.
Socrates wants to make sure that Hippocrates realizes what he is exposing himself to. He states that we take great care regarding what we put in our bodies and that the soul is more important than the body, so if we are inclined to imbibe a certain teaching, we should do our due diligence and consult with those around us who know:
“Now tell me, are you aware upon what sort of hazard you are going to stake your soul? If you had to entrust your body to someone, taking the risk of it’s being made better or worse, you would first consider most carefully whether you ought to entrust it or not, and would seek the advice of your friends and relations and ponder it for a number of days: but in the case of your soul, which you value much more highly than your body, and on which depends the good or ill condition of all your affairs, according as it is made better or worse, would you omit to consult first with either your father or your brother or one of us your comrades—as to whether or not you should entrust your very soul to this newly-arrived foreigner….”– Protagoras, 313a-b
After these admonitions, they arrive at the house where Protagoras is staying. As if out of a scene from a Monty Python movie, we have the following piece of comic relief by Plato:
“(The doorman) must have been annoyed with all the traffic of the Sophists in and out of the house, because when we knocked he opened the door, took one look at us and said, ‘Ha! More Sophists! He’s busy.’ Then he slammed the door in our faces with both hands as hard as he could.”17– Protagoras, 314d
After some cajoling, the doorman eventually lets them in, introductions are made and eventually Socrates begins the conversation by stating why they are there:
“My friend Hippocrates is a native of the city, a son of Apollodorus and one of a great and prosperous family, while his own natural powers seem to make him a match for anyone of his age. I fancy he is anxious to gain consideration in our city, and he believes he can best gain it by consorting with you.“– Protagoras, 316b-c
The two men, Socrates and Protagoras, square off surrounded by 18 onlookers, at least three of which are Sophists.
True Sophistry According to Protagoras
I set the stage for the debate so that hopefully you will want to read the dialogue for yourself. If you are not familiar with Plato, it is a good dialogue to start with. Needless to say, I cannot give a play-by-play of the dialogue for that would take too many words so I will summarize it as best I can.
Protagoras starts by giving a succinct description of what he can provide for Hippocrates:
“Young man, you will gain this by coming to my classes, that on the day when you join them you will go home a better man, and on the day after it will be the same; every day you will constantly improve more and more.”– Protagoras, 318, 1b
He then goes on to say that if he studies with him, he will provide what he cannot get from “ordinary Sophists,” stating:
“…whereas, if he applies to me, he will learn precisely and solely that for which he has come. That learning consists of good judgement in his own affairs, showing how best to order his own home; and in the affairs of his city, showing how he may have most influence on public affairs both in speech and in action.”– Protagoras, 318e-319a
Protagoras does two things. He differentiates himself from the other Sophists; this is what all people today learn in business, to differentiate oneself from the competition. Secondly, he situates the art of speaking and influence in the context of the virtue of prudence or “good judgment.” By doing this, Protagoras is dispelling the perception that Sophists aren’t concerned with virtue but only influence.
Can Virtue Be Taught?
Socrates responds to the above “pitch” by laying out his argument:
“Then it is a goodly accomplishment that you have acquired, to be sure, I remarked, if indeed you have acquired it—to such a man as you I may say sincerely what I think. For this is a thing, Protagoras, that I did not suppose to be teachable.”– Protagoras, 319a-b
In summary, Socrates states that virtue falls under the category of wisdom or sophia and thus cannot be taught, whereas Protagoras states that virtue falls under more of a technical kind of knowledge, techne. In summary, Protagoras would say that just as someone can become an artisan in, say, plumbing or woodworking, so one could also go to Protagoras’ “technical” school to learn virtue.
In a remarkable reversal, Socrates convinces Protagoras that virtue is indeed based in wisdom, and thus reverses his own position that virtue cannot be taught. Both men reverse their positions – Socrates that virtue is teachable, and Protagoras that it is rooted in wisdom.
Far from discrediting the Sophists, Plato’s Protagoras actually gives status and credibility to Protagoras.18 Both men exchange compliments at the end and are desirous of continuing the debate. Plato portrays Protagoras sympathetically, showing respect for his thought as well as him as a man, whereas Socrates is portrayed rather unsympathetically at the beginning. The fact that Socrates reverses his position is no small matter. Also, if we look at the status of the interlocuters in Plato’s other dialogues, no one equals Protagoras, except maybe Parmenides.19
Could it be that Protagoras was Plato’s way of saying that despite the abuses found in sophism, overall it could be considered a credible philosophical discipline? If this weren’t the case, why would he give Protagoras such credibility in this dialogue? And not only that, but could this be Plato’s way of saying that the philosophical torch carried by the Sophists was eventually handed down to Socrates?20
“The masses, needless to say, perceive nothing, but merely sing the tune their leaders announce.”– Protagoras in the dialogue Protagoras, 317b
Can virtue be taught? Please leave your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you!
From Amazon: “By mid-5th century BC, Athens was governed by democratic rule and power turned upon the ability of the citizen to command the attention of the people, and to sway the crowds of the assembly. It was the Sophists who understood the art of rhetoric and the importance of transforming effective reasoning into persuasive public speaking. Their enquiries – into the status of women, slavery, the distinction between Greeks and barbarians, the existence of the gods, the origins of religion, and whether virtue can be taught – laid the groundwork for the insights of the next generation of thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle.”
Footnotes and Endnotes:
- E. Bruce Goldstein (2010). Encyclopedia of Perception. SAGE Publications. p. 492. ISBN978-1-4129-4081-8., Quote: The ancient Hindu parable of the six blind men and the elephant….”
- Taylor, C.C.W. and Mi-Kyoung Lee, “The Sophists”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sophists/
- I say “sons” because in that culture, like most other ancient cultures, education was restricted to males only.
- Kerferd, George Briscoe. “Sophist”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 6 May. 2020
- “Two Faces of Greece: Athens and Sparta,” [ The Greeks ] – Educational Resources – Lesson 1 – PBS
- Kerferd, George Briscoe, “Sophist”
- Tell, Håkan. 2011. Plato’s Counterfeit Sophists. Hellenic Studies Series 44. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies
- Aristophanes, Clouds, Click here for online version: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0241
- Isocrates, Against the Sophists, Click here for online version: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0241
- Isocrates with an English Translation in three volumes, by George Norlin, Ph.D., LL.D. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1980.
- The First Philosophers, A new translation by Robin Waterfield, p. 205, Oxford University Press, 2000, reissued 2009a
- Plato, Protagoras, You can read the entire online version here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0178%3Atext%3DProt.
- All of text quotation are taken from the above footnote link 15 unless otherwise indicated. The source is Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 3 translated by W.R.M. Lamb. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1967.
- Plato, Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper and D.S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Co., p. 752, May 1, 1997
- Gagarin, Michael. “The Purpose of Plato’s Protagoras.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, vol. 100, pp. 160-164 [Johns Hopkins University Press, American Philological Association], 1969, pp. 133–64
Aristophanes, Four Plays: Clouds, Birds, Lysistrata, Women of the Assembly, Hardcover, Translated by Aaron Poochigian, Liveright, February 16, 2021
Copleston S.J., Frederick, A History of Philosophy, Book One, An Image Book, Doubleday, 1985
The Greek Sophists, by John Dillon (Translator, Introduction), Tania Gergel (Translator, Introduction), Penguin Classics; 1st edition, October 28, 2003
Kennedy, George Alexander, Classical Rhetoric and Its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern Times, Hardcover, University of North Carolina Press, February 1, 1980
Plato, Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper and D.S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Co., 1848 pages, May 1, 1997
Plato, Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 3 translated by W.R.M. Lamb. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1967.
Plato, Protagoras and Meno, Adam Beresford, translation and introduction by Lesley Brown, Penguin Classics; Penguin Classics edition, April 25, 2006
The First Philosophers, A new translation by Robin Waterfield, Oxford University Press, 2000, reissued 2009