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Ancient Rhetoric:
An Annotated Chronology

Links in these pages are mostly to Thomas Martin's Overview of Archaic and Classical Greek History

Ca. 1780 BCE Hammurabi's law, the first known written law code.

Ca. 1700

Invention of alphabet by Canaanites, proto-Phoenicians/Israelites, inhabiting Sinai and Palestine

12th c.

Israelites occupy hill country of Palestine

1050950

Ionians colonize coast of Asia Minor (present-day Albania, Turkey, Syria)

Ca. 926

Israelites divide into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Book of J.

776

First Olympic Games

753

Traditional date for founding of Rome

By 750

Greek alphabet developed from Phoenician-Hebrew prototype

722/21

Kingdom of Israel destroyed by Shalmaneser V of Assyria and his successor Sargon II. 8th c. prophets Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah.

By 700

Homeric Epics, Iliad, Odyssey

639-609

Reign of Josiah king of Judah. Book of Deuteronomy and Deuteronomistic History.

6th c.

Milesian Presocratic philosophers (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes)
Beginnings of Athenian Democracy

594

Solon archon of Athens; law code of Solon

586

Kingdom of Judah destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon. Prophet Jeremiah.

561

Reign of Pisistratos in Athens, first tyrant

538

Cyrus of Persia conquers Babylon: beginning of Persian empire. Prophet Second Isaiah.

525

Cleisthenes archon of Athens

525

Cambyses of Persia conquers Egypt

507

Cleisthenes introduces democratic reforms in Athens

509

Rise of Roman republic

Late 6th c.

Presocratics: Theognis of Megara, Xenophanes, Pythagoras

499494

Ionian revolt against the Persians

494

Roman office of tribune established, wielding the veto to protect the interests of the plebeians against the patrician magistrates

490479

Persian Wars

487

Athenian archons chosen by lot

478
top

Delian league of Greek city states against Persia, Athenian leadership. Origins of Athenian empire.

476

Thrasybulus, tyrant of Syracuse, overthrown. Corax and Tisias. The first techne.

Ca.470

Great tragedians Aeschylus and Sophocles begin their careers

467466

Athenians defeat Persians

465464

Delian league breaks up when Spartans refuse Athenian assistance

463

Pericles begins public career in Athens. Beginning of Athenian Golden Age

461

Athenians institute radical democracy; First Peloponnesian War.

451 Recording of Twelve Tables of Roman law, perhaps as a result of Greek influence.

Ca.450

Periclean citizenship law; truce with Sparta; Early sophists Protagoras of Abdera; Empedocles; Zeno of Elea (the "Eleatic stranger")

447

Parthenon begun

443

Pericles general of Athenian forces

440s430s

Herodotus active, writes History of the Persian War

441-439

Ionian island of Samos revolts against Athens

Ca.441

Euripides, tragedian, begins career

Fl.440

Protagoras, Prodicus, Hippias of Elea, sophists

431

Second Peloponnesian War begins; Thucydides begins his History. See guide to Thucydides. Phase One: Archidamian War

430

Pericles' Funeral Oration

429 Death of Pericles; Cleon leads Athens

428427

Revolt of Lesbos; Athenian expedition to Sicily

427

Gorgias of Leontini, sophist, arrives with embassy to Athens.

Ca.427

Birth of Plato

425

Aristophanes, comedian, begins career; Death of Herodotus

424

Boiotians defeat Athenians at Battle of Delion; Thucydides exiled

422 Nicias leads Athens

421

Peace of Nicias with Sparta ends Archidamian War (Peloponnesian War Phase One)

420 Alcibiades, student of Socrates, becomes general

423

Aristophanes writes The Clouds, a play lampooning sophists, including Socrates

416

Athenian expedition to Melos (The Melian dialogue)

415

Expedition to Sicily. Peloponnesian War, Phase Two. Alcibiades discredited over mutilation of Hermae at Athens.

412

War resumes with Sparta; Spartans deal with Persians
Theodorus of Byzantium, sophist

411

Oligarchic coup at Athens

410

Democracy restored, Alcibiades recalled

410400

Athenian laws revised

407

Plato joins the circle of Socrates

404

Athens falls to Sparta

404403

Oligarchic coup of Thirty Tyrants, led by Critias, a student of Socrates

403

Democracy restored
Lysias
xii, Against Eratosthenes (Attic orator c.407-c.380, enemy of Thirty Tyrants, appears as author of first speech in Phaedrus)

401399

Combined Greek forces under Cyrus mount new expedition against Persia

Ca.400

Other rhetoricians flourishing about this time: Evenus of Paros, Callippus, Pamphilus, Lycophron, Polus, Licymnius, author of Dissoi Logoi.

399

Trial and death of Socrates
Andocides
i, On the Mysteries (Attic orator before 415-392/1).

397
top

Isocrates xvi (Isocrates active 390s-338).

395-387

War with Corinth

394

Persians defeat Spartan fleet at Cnidus

393

Isocrates opens his school at Athens

391

Isocrates xiii, Against the Sophists

ca. 387 Lysias, Funeral Oration (commemorates Athenian casualties in Corinth)ian war)

386

Truce with Persia
Plato
founds his Academy

385

Plato, Menexenus

384

Births of Demosthenes and Aristotle

380

Isocrates iv, Panegyricus
Plato, Gorgias

378377

Second Athenian League

371362

War between Thebes and Sparta; Sparta defeated

367

Aristotle joins Plato's Academy
First plebeian consul elected to assembly at Rome; plebeians become eligible to serve as magistrates and thus eventually to enter the Senate.

Ca. 360

Plato, Phaedrus. Introduction of the Roman praetorship, a civil and juridical office that freed the consuls for military affairs.

359

Philip II king of Macedon

357356

Social War between Athens and its allies; war with Philip II over Amphipolis
Demosthenes, First Philippic

354

Athens defeated in Social War

353

Isocrates iv, Antidosis

349 Demosthenes, Second Olynthiac

347

Death of Plato

346

Peace of Philocrates between Philip and Athens.
Isocrates, Address to Philip

343

Trial and acquittal of Aeschines: Demosthenes xix and Aeschines ii (On the Embassy)
Aristotle leaves the Academy to become tutor of Alexander, son of Philip of Macedon

341 Demosthenes, Third Philippic
340 Letter of Philip to Athens

339

Isocrates xii, Panathenaicus

338

Philip defeats Athenians and Thebans at Chaeronea. Conventional end of Greek "liberty."
Death of Isocrates

337

Philip's Corinthian League declares war with Persia
Lycurgus controls Athenian finances

336
top

Philip assassinated, Alexander becomes emperor

335

Alexander destroys Thebes.
Aristotle settles at Athens, founds Peripatetic School near Lyceum. Produces
Rhetoric Bks. I-II. Preceded by the Organon: Categories, On Interpretation, Topics, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics. Followed by On Sophistical Refutations, Nichomachean Ethics, Politics, Poetics, and Rhetoric Bk. III. Lost works: Synagoge technon; Rhetoric to Theodectes; Gryllus

334

Alexander begins expedition to Persia

331

Alexandria founded in Egypt

330

Demosthenes xviii, On the Crown; Aeschines iii, Against Ctesiphon; Lycurgus i, Against Leocrates Anaximenes, Rhetorica ad Alexandrum.

325324

Death of Lycurgus; Demosthenes exiled

323322

Death of Alexander sets off Lamian War;
Athens defeated by Macedonians. Enkyklios paideia establishes Greek rhetorical education as center of Panhellenic culture from Sicily to India.

322

Athenian constitution altered; oligarchy imposed, enforced by Macedonian garrison
Death of Aristotle (384-322), Demosthenes (384-322)
. Hyperides, Funeral Oration for Athenian dead in last battle against Macedon.

ca. 300 Theophrastus; On Characters.

264-241

First Punic War with Carthage, a Phoenician colony in Tunisia that developed a trans-Mediterranean empire

ca. 250 Demetrius, On Style. Translation of Hebrew Bible into Greek (Septuagint) in progress or complete? in Alexandria, Egypt.
253 Titus Coruncanius, first plebeian chief priest, begins teaching jurisprudence to lay students, initiating tradition of Roman jurists. The jurists did not practice law but were teachers and advisers to those who did. By recording, enlarging and interpreting traditional statutes they developed Roman legal precedent.

218

Second Punic War

ca. 150 Hermagoras of Temnos. Credited with introduction of stasis system of invention. Treatise does not survive.

149-146

Third Punic War results in destruction of Carthage. Roman aristocrats benefit while plebeians suffer cost of war. Prisoners of war increased the slave population.

133-123

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, elected consuls, attempted agrarian reforms to grant land to citizens uprooted by war and to give equal citizenship to Italics (Italians not born in Rome). Reform fails.

106 Birth of Cicero
102 Caius Marius professionalizes army, defeats Germans in France and northern Italy.
91 Setting of Cicero's dialogue De Oratore: Crassus' villa in Tusculum.

88

Civil War breaks out between Sulla and Marius. Sulla occupies Rome; Marius recruits indigent citizens as mercenaries, irreversibly altering the relationship between civil and military power. Catilina participates in murder of Cicero's cousin and Marius' nephew, Praetor Marcus Marius Gratidianus (Everitt 89).

86 Cicero, De inventione.
81 Dictatorship of Sulla
79 Cicero leaves for tour of eastern Mediterranean: begins rhetorical studies at Rhodes.
73-71 Slave revolt of Spartacus
70 Consulship of Pompey and Crassus
63
top
Consulship of Cicero. Catilinarian conspiracy.
60 First triumvirate of Pompey, Crassus and Julius Caesar.
59 Consulship of Caesar
55 Cicero, De oratore
53 Death of Crassus
49-45 Civil War
46 Cicero, Brutus, Orator
45 Cicero, De partitiones oratoriae
44 Dictatorship and assassination of J. Caesar. Cicero, Topica.
43 Second triumvirate of Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus. Death of Cicero.
30-8 Dionysius of Halicarnassus teaches in Rome. Critical Essays.
27 Octavian becomes Augustus Caesar. End of the Roman Republic.
14CE Emperor Tiberius. Traditional beginning of "second sophistic."
ca. 50 Longinus, On the Sublime.
54 Emperor Nero.
69 Emperor Vespasian.
70 Destruction of Second Jerusalem Temple by Romans. Gospel of Mark.
80-90 Gospel of Luke-Acts
87CE Quintilian appointed head of state school of oratory in Rome.
ca. 90 Gospel of Matthew
92-95 Quintilian, Institutio oratoria. Tacitus, Dialogue on Oratory.
ca. 100 Council of Jamnia fixes Jewish canon of Hebrew Bible, separating Christians from Judaism. Gospel of John.
ca. 175 Hermogenes of Tarsus, Techne, including On Staseis and On Qualities of Style.
330 Founding of Constantinople.
382 Jerome begins Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, effectively fixing the Latin canon.
390 Gregory of Nazianzus, Orations (d. 390)
395 Division of Roman Empire into East (Constantinople = Byzantium) and West (Rome)

395-430

Augustine bishop of Hippo

ca. 400 Apthonius, Progymnasmata.
407 John Chrysostom, Orations (d. 407)
410 Fall of Rome to Vandals.