Talk:Antiphon (orator)

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Fr. via Untersteiner[edit]

Expanded provenance on this fragment is desirable. Shall we presume Mario Untersteiner, writing The Sophists  ? (Weirpwoer 05:01, 4 September 2007 (UTC)).

Untersteiner was quoting from Oxyrhynchus Papyrus #1364 fragment 2, a fragment of Antiphon's (now lost) On Truth. Since Untersteiner (1954), our knowledge of the passage has expanded by the discovery of a new fragment: Oxyrhynchus Papyrus #3647 (published in 1984). All the extant fragments are collected in Gerard Pendrick's Antiphon the Sophist: The Fragments (2002, Cambridge U. Press). Pendrick gives the label "F44(b)" to the passage Untersteiner quoted. Pendrick's translation is this (the ellipses "..." are Pendrick's; he uses them to indicate a place in the papyrus where the words are illegible; the brackets are also his, indicating his educated guess as to an obscure part of the fragments):

...[the laws of those near by] we know and observe, the laws of those who live far off we neither know nor observe. Now in this we have become barbarians in one another's eyes; for by birth, at least, we are all naturally adapted in every respect to be either Greeks or barbarians. It is possible to examine...things by nature necessary for all human beings...none of us has been marked off as either barbarians or Greek. For we all breathe into the air by our mouth and nostrils; we laugh when we are happy and cry when we are sad; we take in sounds with our sense of hearing; we see with our sight and with the aid of the visual ray; we work with our hands; we walk with our feet... (Pendrick pp. 181-183)

Pendrick evidently disagrees with Untersteiner's interpretation (and hence with the one presented in the current version of this Wikiarticle), saying, "Older interpreters generally read into this fragment an egalitarian-spirited argument attacking the artificiality of distinctions customarily drawn between the rich and the poor, high-born and low-born, slave and free. But this type of interpretation has now been demolished by the evidence of the new papyrus (P.Oxy. 3647), which eliminates the textual supplements on which alone it rested" (p. 351, italics added). As I understand it, the "older interpretation" was based on speculation about parts of the passage which were obscure or illegible in Oxyrhynchus Papyrus #1364; Oxyrhynchus Papyrus #3647 revealed parts of the passage which were previously obscure and which rule out the speculations based on #1364. In light of this, it may be good to revise some of the claims made in the Wikiarticle. The rest of Pendrick's commentary is worth consulting.Isokrates 20:46, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
As Pendrick makes clear, Untersteiner's version of the passage (beginning "[Those born of illustrious fa]thers we respect and honour, whereas those who come from an undistinguished house....") represents a reading of the text now known to be mistaken: "[T]he older supplements of Grenfell and Hunt, Wilamowitz, Schmidt, and Bignone imported into the passage the subject of social or economic class-distinctions. [...] All have been definitively ruled out by the evidence of the new papyrus" (Pendrick p. 356). According to Pendrick, P.Oxy. 3647 "demostrates that the argument [in the passage] has nothing to do with class-distinctions..." (p. 23). So Antiphon was not advocating a natural rights theory or arguing that all humans are equal. All he was doing is pointing out that the "Greek vs. barbarian" distinction is non-natural. Isokrates (talk) 20:13, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
See also p. 98 n. 41 of Richard Winton's "Herodotus, Thucydides, and the sophists" in C.Rowe & M.Schofield, The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought, Cambridge 2005. Winton agrees with Pendrick that the fragment doesn't support an egalitarian interpretation.Isokrates (talk) 01:15, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
I deleted's 5 July 2011 edits which inserted a claim that "the actual text" of On Truth makes "the egalitarian thrust" of DK 87B44b "unmistakable"; the claim cited only Mario Untersteiner's 1954 translation as evidence. Evidently didn't bother to reader my Talk comments (see above) on this very issue. Let me explain, again, why the Untersteiner's translation isn't a reflection of "the actual text". Untersteiner's "those born of illustrious fathers" and "those who come from an undistinguished house" never corresponded to anything that was actually in any of the available manuscripts. Rather, Untersteiner—as most translators and commentators did before the 1984 publication of P.Oxy. 3647—was relying on the speculation of scholars who, dealing with a text more fragmentary than P.Oxy. 3647, were simply guessing that the two groups in question represented social or economic classes (rich and poor, high-born and low-born, slave and free) (see Pendrick's commentary p. 356). P.Oxy. 3647 makes it explicitly clear that the two groups in question were those who live far off (tōn tēlou oikouvtōn) and those who are nearer (egchuterōn) or natives (egchōrōn) (see Pendrick pp. 356-357), not Untersteiner's "those who come from an undistinguished house" and "those born of illustrious fathers". What the actual text, therefore, makes unmistakable is that the earlier speculation of scholars involved an incorrect assumption of Antiphon's subject matter, as both Pendrick and Winton explain. See my earlier comments above. Isokrates (talk) 23:30, 9 October 2014 (UTC)


Antiphon's words on time are of major interest today. His assertion that "time is a thought or a measure, not a substance" seems to contradict our contemporary science. Our scientists have no hesitation about declaring that time, which is now considered to be a dimension such as space, is simply a kind of fabric or field that exists in the world as an external object that can be warped or bent. Kant, on the other hand, asserted that time is a way that the mind experiences objects.Lestrade 17:03, 17 January 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

Two Different Antiphons, or just one?[edit]

The present article doesn't fairly represent the controversy over whether or not Antiphon the Sophist (mentioned in Xenophon's Memorabilia) and Antiphon of Rhamnus are one and the same. In fact, the controversy has by no means been settled, and is alive and ongoing. Two recent examples of reputable scholars who differ on this matter are: Michael Gagarin who favors the identification (see his 2002 Antiphon the Athenian, U. of Texas Press), and Gerard Pendrick who rejects it (see his 2002 Antiphon the Sophist, Cambridge U. Press).

Since nobody has responded to this issue, I made some changes to make the article more NPOV with regard to this issue. Isokrates 11:55, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Removing names[edit]

Thomas Hobbes and Rousseau should not be mentioned in the article - so I have removed their names.

Thomas Hobbes opposed (indeed fanatically opposed) the limited government philosophy that eventually led to the American Declaration of Independence (see any work of Thomas Hobbes - for example his "Leviathan"), and Rousseau reinterpreted individual liberty to mean collective liberty - even against the will of the majority of individuals, as he makes clear in his work the "Social Contract" (the "Lawgiver" may coerce any individual - indeed even the majority of individuals if they are acting against their supposedly true interests). I have been told that I may not explain that neither Thomas Hobbes or Rousseau had anything to do with the natural rights principles of the Declaration of Independence - so I have simply removed the mention of their names, as it is radically misleading to associate Thomas Hobbes and Rousseau with just about the OPPOSITE of what they actually believed. (talk) 18:04, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Birth and Death Dates[edit]

There are at least two sources that confirm the lifespan of Antiphon the Sophist as 480-411 BCE. <ref><ref> <ref><ref> This lifespan should be added to clearly indicate this is for Antiphon the Sophist only, as it is unclear Antiphon of Rhamnus is the same man. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nerdy.Alex (talkcontribs) 15:45, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Those are the same dates of Antiphon of Rhamnus (p. 49, Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization, 2nd edition, 2014). Isokrates (talk) 02:15, 7 December 2016 (UTC)