Theodectes in Wikipedia

Theodectes (c. 380 to 340 BCE) was a Greek rhetorician and tragic poet, of Phaselis in Lycia who lived in the period which followed the Peloponnesian War. Along with the continual decay of political and religious life, tragedy sank more and more into mere rhetorical display. The school of Isocrates produced the orators and tragedians, Theodectes and Aphareus. He was also a pupil of Plato and an intimate friend of Aristotle. He at first wrote speeches for the law courts though he soon moved on to compose tragedies with success. He spent most of his life at Athens, and was buried on the sacred road to Eleusis. The inhabitants of Phaselis honored him with a statue, which was decorated with garlands by Alexander the Great on his way to the East. He won the prize eight times, on one occasion with his tragedy, Mausolus, in the contest which the queen Artemisia of Caria had instituted in honor of her dead husband, Mausolus. On the same occasion he was defeated in rhetoric by Theopompus. Mausolus was especially adapted for recitations, and, from what the Suda says, it appears that the whole contest was one of declamation. A good idea of these dramas for reading and recitation, with their accompaniment of cold, rhetorical pathos and their strong leaning toward the horrible, may be gained by the plays of Seneca. Of the fifty tragedies of Theodectes we have the names of about thirteen and a few unimportant fragments; among them were an Ajax, Oedipus, Orestes and Philoctetes. His treatise on the art of rhetoric (according to Suidas written in verse) and his speeches are lost. The names of two of the latter, Socrates and Nomos (referring to a law proposed by Theodectes for the reform of the mercenary service) are preserved by Aristotle (Rhetoric, ii. 23, 13, 17). The Theodectea (Aristotle, Rhet. iii. 9, 9) was probably not by Theodectes, but an earlier work of Aristotle, which was superseded by the extant Rhetorica. Stobaeus makes the following pessimistic quotation from an unknown tragedy of his: All human beings grow old, and to an end Comes every birth of time, save only one, Save only wickedness; but that, methinks, Fast as the race of mortals doth increase, Increaseth equally from day to day.

Read More

Theodectes in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

(Θεοδέκτης). Of Phaselis, in Lycia, a Greek rhetorician and tragic poet. He carried off the prize eight times, and in B.C. 351 his tragedy of Mausolus was victorious in the tragic contest instituted by Queen Artemisia in honour of her deceased husband Mausolus. In the rhetorical contest, held at the same time, he was defeated by Theopompus. Only unimportant fragments of his fifty tragedies are extant.

Read More