This article examines the interplay between the Stoic concept of cosmopolis and Greek rhetorical discourses of the polis in the Roman imperial period. D. A. Russell's “Sophistopolis” (from Greek Declamation, 1983) and Doyne Dawson's work on utopian political theory (1992) serve as points of departure for developing a method of reading the political in Second Sophistic rhetoric. The text under examination is a major first-century oration: Dio Chrysostom's Euboean Discourse. Composed around 96 CE, after Dio's return from exile by Domitian, the Euboicus combines a castaway's rural fable with didactic commentary, forcing the utopian pastoral hard up against a lecture on economic and social distress in the imperial city. Dio creates disjunctive moods, city-visions, and speaking personae, performing a rhetorical tour de force while simultaneously constructing a political subject at the limit of creaturely need. A “cosmopolitical” analysis of Second Sophistic rhetoric finds the consummate artistry of the paideia addressed to imperial power and provincial realities, revealing civic breakdown and human suffering in the city-spaces of empire.

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