ABSTRACT

Socrates is an oddity. This past decade has seen both his radical contextualization through archeological efforts to locate him in the public spaces of his native Athens and his radical decontextualization through studies of his reception in later times and places. What unifies those seemingly divergent investigations of Socrates is a fascination with discovering and discerning where Socrates belongs. Socrates’ own contemporaries called him “atopos” (odd, literally, out-of-place), and our contemporary attempts to locate him seem to oppose this displacement, on the one hand, and capitalize upon it, on the other. By seeking Socrates in his own time and place, we may come to understand better how his very movements marked him as out of step with Athenian norms and how such a demarcation affects how we map rhetoric’s borders during that formative time. By seeking Socrates in other times and places, we learn that Socrates himself is a rhetorical topos returned to again and again by people who find or think themselves similarly marked as odd, inappropriate, unbelonging, or out of place. This location work matters for Rhetoric because Socrates is such an atopic (odd) figure in our history.

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