The dialexis—a brief discourse usually on a philosophical or rhetorical topic and pitched somewhere between a strict investigation and a “ramble” (λαλιά)—was a form of rhetorical display popular in Philostratus’ era, sometimes composed as a prologue to a more formal exercise (cf. Men. Rhet. Treatise II [388.16–394.31]; it had been in the sophistic repertory during the fifth century and further developed by Plato and other Socratics in the fourth.1
Two such discourses are preserved under the name of Philostratus. Discourse 1 treats epistolary style,2 with comments on notable practitioners;3 it may be by Philostratus’ homonymous nephew if it is the same work referred to in VS 628 as a letter meant to instruct Aspasius, newly appointed as imperial secretary, on the niceties of
- 1The term derives from the verb διαλέγεσθαι (dialegesthai), “to converse,” “to discuss,” “to discourse (on)”: see M. B. Trapp, Maximus of Tyre, The Philosophical Orations (Oxford, 1997), xl.
- 2For this topic, see Abraham J. Malherbe, Ancient Epistolary Theorists (Atlanta, GA, 1988). He gives his own translation on p. 43.
- 3The collection of love letters ascribed to Philostratus himself is edited and translated in A. R. Benner and F. H. Fobes, Alciphron, Aelian and Philostratus: The Letters, Loeb Classical Library 383 (Cambridge, MA, 1949).
epistolary style. Discourse 2 suggests reasons for thinking that Nature and Culture are not, as is customarily thought, polar opposites, but rather “closely akin” and interpermeable.4
The text is Kayser’s, repunctuated and translated by Jeffrey Rusten.