, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 87-98

Paradoxes in Aulus Gellius

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Abstract

The noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius contain almost all the ancient paradoxes. Nevertheless, in comparison with his philosophical sources, the author shows a shift in the perspective of his approach. He analyses the `master argument' of Diodorus Chronus only from an ethical point of view and, among the seven paradoxes attributed to Eubulides of Milet, he quotes the `heap' as an absurdity (absurdum), the `horned one' and the `not-someone' as a trap (captio), the `liar' as a sophism (sophisma). Following the advice of Cynics, Gellius mistrusts deceptive manoeuvres, which highlight gaps in binary logic. At the same time, however, he is interested in argumentative structures, which lead one of two opponents on to victory. The extensive report of the quarrel between Protagoras and Evathlus, and many observations of Gellius on convertible forms of reasoning in literary texts fall within this rhetorical field.