Heracles at the Y

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The article seeks to show that, contrary to the standard view, the 'Choice of Heracles' preserved at Xen. Mem. 2.1.21-33 is not a summary or paraphrase, but is a very close approximation to the actual wording of Prodicus' epideixis. The language and style are shown to be uncharacteristic of Xenophon, and the fact that Prodicus' original was known to exist in both written and orally performed versions serves to explain why the piece is framed by language that disclaims strict accuracy in reproducing it. It is further shown that the way in which near-synonyms are used in the piece is not necessarily inconsistent with other evidence for Prodicus' practice: it is rather the personified character Vice whose usage conflicts with that of Prodicus himself and with that of the personification of Virtue. Finally, it is proposed that the 'Choice of Heracles' represented the contents, not of Prodicus' advanced teaching, but of the popular, cut-rate lecture intended for a general audience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Hellenic Studies
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics
  • Archaeology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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