Tell, Håkan. 2011. Plato's Counterfeit Sophists. Hellenic Studies Series 44. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Tell.Platos_Counterfeit_Sophists.2011.
5. Sages at the Games
Sophoi at the Panhellenic Centers
Diogenes made it a habit to frequent the festivals (πανηγύρεις) and took this opportunity to meet with others and offer his wisdom. What sorts of conversation would he engage in, and what advice would he offer his interlocutors? Dio Chrysostom writes that he promised to cure his followers from foolishness, wickedness, and intemperance (ἀγνοία, πονηρία, ἀκολασία 8.8). A little later in his narrative (8.9), Dio Chrysostom depicts other attractions at the Isthmian Games:
This passage, which purports to describe the situation at the Isthmian Games in mid-fourth century BCE,  offers good testimony to the variety of sophoi present at the games: sophists, historians, poets, magicians, etc. The context for their activities is described as highly competitive (βοώντων καὶ λοιδορουμένων ἀλλήλοις; μαχομένων). Of particular interest is that Dio Chrysostom gives us a description of the state of affairs at a big festival other than Delphi and Olympia, and that the picture is so consistent with the evidence we have from those places. Just as in the passage from the Hippias Minor discussed earlier, we hear of “scientific” and “literary” competitive performances, in which emphasis is placed on the individual sophos’ ability to outdo the competition and to attract disciples. And the context for these performances is described in both instances as a formalized competition similar to the athletic contests. 
Here we are reintroduced to the theme of quasi-formalized contests in wisdom and flamboyant displays with an eye to attracting listeners and students. This emphasis on self-presentation is a recurring motif in our sources on sophoi. Aelian (Varia Historia 12.32) writes that Pythagoras wore white clothing, a golden garland (στέφανον χρυσοῦν), and Persian or Scythian trousers (ἀναξυρίδας);  and in the same paragraph he also comments that Hippias and Gorgias appeared in purple robes (πορφυραῖς ἐσθῆσι).  We find a similar emphasis on attire in Diogenes Laertius’ description of Empedocles’ public demeanor (8.73):
These passages all call attention to the physical appearance of the different sophoi in public. There are striking similarities between the outfits of Hippias and Empedocles: the purple robe, girdle, and sandals.  Hippias wore a Persian girdle, and the trousers of Pythagoras are likely to have been of Persian origin and design. The mention of a group of attendant boys is also striking—highlighting the effectiveness of the outfit in captivating the audience and pupils. This question of followers is addressed in fragment 112 (DK 31B112), where Empedocles describes his reception in the various cities he enters:
πωλεῦμαι μετὰ πᾶσι τετιμένος, ὥσπερ ἔοικα,
ταινίαις τε περίστεπτος στέφεσίν τε θαλείοις.
τοῖσιν † ἅμ’ † ἂν ἵκωμαι ἐς ἄστεα τηλεθάοντα,
ἀνδράσιν ἠδὲ γυναιξί, σεβίζομαι· οἱ δ’ ἅμ’ ἕπονται
μυρίοι ἐξερέοντες, ὅπῃ πρὸς κέρδος ἀταρπός,
οἱ μὲν μαντοσυνέων κεχρημένοι, οἱ δ’ ἐπὶ νούσων
παντοίων ἐπύθοντο κλυεῖν εὐηκέα βάξιν,
δηρὸν δὴ χαλεπῇσι πεπαρμένοι <ἀμφ’ ὀδύνῃσιν>.
But I go up and down among you an immortal god,
No longer mortal, held in honor among all, as it seems,
Crowned with both fillets and blooming garlands.
Men and women worship me, when I enter their flourishing towns;
And they follow me in countless numbers, asking where the path to profit lies.
Some want divinations; others, pierced for a long time by harsh pains,
Asked to hear a healing utterance against all kinds of diseases.
According to his own account, Empedocles is met by thousands of people in every city he enters.  His appearance displays a magnetism that exerts a pull on his surroundings, and he has a great throng of people accompanying him during his stay in the city. In the Platonic dialogue Protagoras (315a-b), Plato says that Protagoras had a similar effect on his audience:
Recall that this type of Orphic attraction on his followers is also attributed to Hippias by Philostratus in the passage quoted earlier (Lives of the Sophists 1.11), in which Philostratus uses the verb θέλγω (“charm,” “spell-bind”) to describe Hippias’ power over his audience. This attraction is envisioned in the passage from the Protagoras through the use of the verb κηλέω (“charm,” “enchant,” “spell-bind”). Thrasymachus also uses the same verb to describe the efficacy of his own oratory on an audience, as Plato quotes him in the Phaedrus (267c–d):
All these mentions of charms and spells might seem to take us off track from the theme of sophoi and Panhellenic centers. But we shall return to this topic in the next section to see how appropriate it is to the context of displays of wisdom at Delphi and the other Panhellenic sanctuaries.
This procedure of making oneself available for questioning echoes Dio Chrysostom’s description of Diogenes the Cynic’s behavior at the Isthmian Games (8.7)—παρέσχε δὲ καὶ αὑτὸν τῷ βουλομένῳ ἐντυγχάνειν. 
Plutarch (Solon 4) provides a similar assessment:
In the Protagoras (343a–b), we hear that they met at Delphi and that, as a first-fruit offering of their wisdom to Apollo, they inscribed their sayings there.  The Seven Sages, through their offering, defer their wisdom to the legitimizing power that Apollo’s temple at Delphi could confer on it; and by inscribing their aphorisms in the temple, they simultaneously award the sanctuary the role of a repository for their sophia.
τίς σοφίῃ πάντων πρῶτος, τούτου τρίποδ’ αὐδῶ.
Are you asking Phoebus regarding the tripod?
Who is the wisest of all men, I proclaim the tripod to be his.
Louis Gernet has called attention to the competitive aspects of the transmission of the tripod among the sages, and how athletic contests at the games constitute the immediate context for its circulation. Thus, in the words of Gernet, “The tripod or the vase is regarded as a prize awarded on the basis of a competition of wisdom, indeed, a contest of happiness.”  Here the emphasis on Delphi as the meeting place of the sages seems particularly appropriate to express this emulation of athletic competition that figures in the tripod narrative. Plutarch’s account (Solon4) adds to this description:
We find a number of other accounts in which the affiliation of the Seven Sages with Delphi is stressed, but they are also frequently mentioned in relation to other festivals; for example, Chilon appears at Olympia,  and Thales supposedly died while watching an athletic contest in his old age. 
θ’ ὑπὸ κίονες ἕστασαν,
χρύσεαι δ’ ἓξ ὑπὲρ αἰετοῦ
ἀλλά μιν Κρόνου παῖ[δες
κεραυνῷ χθόν’ ἀνοιξάμ[ε]νο[ι
ἔκρυψαν τὸ [π]άντων ἔργων ἱερώτ[ατον
γλυκείας ὀπὸς ἀγασ[θ]έντες
ὅτι ξένοι ἔφ[θ]<ι>νον
ἀλόχων τε μελ[ί]φρονι
αὐδ[ᾷ θυ]μὸν ἀνακρίμναντες.
There are some remarkable features in Pindar’s poem that can help further our understanding of Delphi as a site of particular interest to sophoi, on the one hand, and of the intriguing and charismatic bond between these sophoi and their audience, on the other. As Ian Rutherford has shown, Pindar presents us with a mythological account of the interconnectedness of prophetic song and Delphi that predates the establishment of the Delphic oracle.  The song of the Κηληδόνες has been likened to that of the Sirens in the Odyssey,  whose utterances Rutherford calls “a narration of universal knowledge.”  There are several overlaps between Paean 8 and the material on sophoi reviewed earlier. First, there is a strong emphasis on the element of voice in our accounts. In Pindar, it is repeated twice (ὀπός and αὐδᾷ) in lines 112 and 116. The audience is astonished at the sweet voice of the Κηληδόνες, and they dedicate their spirit to it.  In the Platonic dialogue Protagoras, people are enchanted with Protagoras as he enters their city and follow him in pursuit of his voice (κατὰ τὴν φωνὴν ἕπονται κεκηλημένοι). Although φωνή is not used for “voice” in the lines quoted from Pindar, it occurs a little later in the poem, in line 120. Scholars have debated what it refers to, given the fragmentary state of the text, but Rutherford, following Charles Segal, argues that the use may figure in lines that “constitute a flash-back and refer to the construction of the Κηληδόνες and the third temple.”  It is thus very likely that it is yet another reference to the Κηληδόνες, and as such it suggestively mirrors the Platonic use in the Protagoras. And this connection between the temple at Delphi and φωνή is further elaborated in a fragment of Heraclitus, preserved by Plutarch (DK 22B92):
The voice of the Κηληδόνες and the voice of sophoi thus produce similar reactions in their listeners, that is, a feeling of entrancement and enchantment; and the etymological affinity between Κηληδόνες and κηλέω further illuminates this connection on the verbal level. This is surely similar to the effect that is envisioned also in the passages about Thrasymachus and Hippias, although in the Hippias passage λόγος is substituted for φωνή.
In this passage, Plato uses the verb ἀρτάω and the compounds ἀναρτάω and ἐξαρτάω to designate how the pieces of iron and men are attached to one another. These verbs have basically the same semantic range as ἀνακρεμάννυμι: “to hang upon” or “make dependent upon.” The original source, the magnetic stone or the Muse, channels its power through chains of dependency to its followers and links them together, one depending upon the other. A little later in the dialogue (535e–536a), Socrates turns to Ion to explain where he sees the rhapsode’s role in this series of dependency:
Ion holds an intermediary position, poised between the poet and his audience. When addressing the inspiration that emanates from the poets and enraptures the listeners, Socrates says (536b):
This resonates well with the passage quoted from the Protagoras earlier, where Protagoras is said to have a similar attraction on his followers as Orpheus; he charms them with his voice and draws them with him from city to city.  In the present passage, Orpheus, Musaeus, and Homer all make their audience possessed, as do the rhapsodes, in turn, when reciting their poetry in public. Implicit is also the notion of charm and enchantment (θέλγω, κηλέω) similar to that discussed above in relation to the attraction of the Κηληδόνες and certain sophoi on their audience.
Here Heraclitus juxtaposes his own oracular and enigmatic style to that of the Delphic oracle, thereby paralleling his own voice to Delphi’s and invoking it as the ultimate authority for his own sophia.  It is also significant how well fragment 101 (ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν, “I searched myself”)  resonates with one of the emblems of Delphic wisdom, “Know thyself” (γνῶθι σαυτόν), and Guthrie points out that the verb used by Heraclitus, δίζημαι, also means “to seek the meaning of an oracle.”  Empedocles, in fragment 112 quoted above, describes how part of his expertise was to deliver oracles (μαντοσύνη and βάξις) to his audience. Socrates likewise had strong ties with Delphi and claimed that his reputation for wisdom, if not the wisdom itself, ultimately derived from Apollo:
In like manner, Diogenes Laertius (8.8), citing Aristoxenus, reports that, “Pythagoras got most of his ethical doctrines from the Delphic priestess Themistoclea.” It is not relevant to our investigation whether this is historically true or not; we are more interested in the reputation Delphi had for defining and validating wisdom.
Xenia and the Panhellenic Centers
To judge from this Isocratean characterization, the Panhellenic centers were of particular importance in the maintenance of xenia-relationships. In the last chapter we considered the significance of xenia in providing an institutional framework of interaction for sophoi, and we have up till now explored the strong presence of sophoi at the Panhellenic centers. It is time to bring these observations together in an attempt to explore the Panhellenic sanctuaries as central meeting places for sophoi. We shall do this through the insights of Anthony Snodgrass’ work on peer polity interaction. When exploring the peer polity interaction approach developed by Colin Renfrew and John Cherry, he addresses the role of meeting places at the supra-polity level. In this context, he talks about the significance of Delphi in the areas of codification of law and colonization, not only to give approval to proposals, but also to provide the impetus for action:
Snodgrass proposes a systemic and institutional analysis of Delphi as a central hub on a supra-polity level in a broader circulation pattern of knowledge among the Greek poleis. He concludes that Delphi gathered, authenticated, and distributed various kinds of information. Although he makes no mention of the sophists or any other practitioner of wisdom, I nonetheless suggest that we extend his findings and draw an analogy to the model outlined here of the Panhellenic centers as focal points in the interaction of sophoi and circulation of sophia in the Greek world.