Troilus of Side. Sophist and Power behind the Throne


  • Simone Rendina

Parole chiave:

Hermogenes, Late Antiquity, Rhetoric, Synesius, Troilus


Troilus, a native of Side, was the adviser of Anthemius (Emperor Theodosius II’s regent) in the early 5th century AD, although he had no formal office. He was also a sophist (i.e. a skilled and influential rhetorician), and the teacher of rhetoric of several prominent figures in the cultural life of Constantinople. Synesius of Cyrene was also an acquaintance of Troilus: in his letters, Synesius of Cyrene generally defines Troilus as a ‘philosopher’, and only once as a ‘sophist’. The fact that Troilus was interested in philosophy is demonstrated by his Prolegomena to the Rhetoric of Hermogenes. This work is very probably the only extant writing of Troilus. It is a preparatory reading to rhetorical studies in general (not only to Hermogenes’ rhetoric), and discusses Aristotle’s and Plato’s definitions of rhetoric. The cultural references it contains highlight the meeting points between rhetoric and philosophy in the 5th century, an aspect that was especially evident in the Neoplatonic philosophical school. This paper reconstructs Troilus’ intellectual profile and his relations to the Christian beliefs and institutions, thus contributing to the reflections on the interaction between rhetorical theory and political life in the late antique Roman East.