The orator Scopelian and his trademark gestures

The first century philosopher and rhetor Scopelian belonged to the Second Sophistic.  His life is recorded in the Lives of the Sophists by Philostratus (online to US readers here).

His style when speaking was to gesture violently, strike his thigh, sway to and fro.  A pupil of his rival Polemo sneered that he acted as if he was beating a shield.  Scopelian replied, “Yes; but it is the shield of Ajax.” (Loeb, p.85)

Such was the power of his oratory that he was able to induce the emperor Domitian to grant special privileges to his home city of Smyrna in cultivating vines.


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