This introductory chapter presents a brief critical historiography of the life and works of the fourth-century sophist, Libanius, who lived and taught rhetoric in the city of Antioch in ancient Syria. His pivotal historical position, in particular, warrants further investigation—in studying him we may thus gain a little more insight into late antiquity—a world of entangled communities, spaces, and temporalities. Hence this chapter addresses various issues that need to be considered in establishing Libanius's rightful place in the society in which he was a protagonist, his rhetorical discourse, the reasons for his popularity in pagan and Christian circles alike, and the cultural expectations of the audience that crowned him “the sophist of the city.”
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