Declamations were composed and orally delivered in the Roman Empire by sophists, or teachers of rhetoric, of whom the Greek-speaking Libanius was one of the most distinguished. Stock Characters Speaking may be thought of as emerging from three developments of recent decades: an explosive interest in late antiquity, a newly sympathetic interest in rhetoric (including ancient declamation), and a desire to bring Libanius’s massive corpus into English and other modern languages.
In this book, author Robert J. Penella translates eight of Libanius’s declamations: 29, 30, 34, 35, 37, 45, 46, 47, and, in an appendix, the thirteenth-century Gregory of Cyprus’s response to Declamation
34. Each translation is accompanied by an introduction, in which Penella examines the themes, structure, and the stasis
, or key issue, of the declamations. Figures who appear in the translated declamations include a parasite who has lost his patron, a man envious of his rich neighbor, a miser’s son, a poor man willing to die for his city, a rich war-hero accused of aiming at tyranny, and a convict asking for exile. Three of these declamations have appeared in German; otherwise, these translations are the first into a modern language.