Libanius of Antioch (AD 314 - c. 393) was a famous teacher whose influence persisted in the Byzantine world, and into Renaissance times. Many of his works, including speeches, an autobiography and over 1,500 letters, have survived.
His 'imaginary speeches' were written as rhetorical exercises, partly as models for students, but also for the entertainment of an interested public. They take the form of witty and ingenious dramatic monologues, mostly evoking the world of classical Athens as known from comedy, the Socratic writings, and oratory. The selection translated here includes the weighty Apology of Socrates, but concentrates on the lighter pieces, spoken by misers and misanthropes and other strongly drawn characters, which are among the most successful humorous works in later Greek literature.
In his Introduction Donald Russell deals with Libanius' life and works, the nature of declamation and the rhetorical principles illustrated by the speeches. Notes to each piece explain allusions and analyse structure.
This book will be of interest to classical scholars, students of rhetoric, and any reader attracted to an unfamiliar, but entertaining aspect of ancient literary culture.