Snippet // Dio Chrysostom on unimpressive looking speakers (in Tarsus)

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In a speech Dio Chrysostom gave in Tarsus he cited The Odyssey, describing the way Odysseus once entered a city, amidst the travails of his long journey, he suggests that sometimes the way a speaker is received says more about the receivers than the one arriving…

But if a man, having seen how much there is that is dreadful and hateful in the world, and that everywhere are countless enemies, both public and private, with whom wantonness and deceit hold sway,

Subdues his body with injurious blows,
Casts round his shoulders sorry rags, in guise
A slave, steals into the wide-wayed town of those
Who hold debauch,

meaning no harm to his neighbours — such as Odysseus meant to the suitors when he came in that guise — but on the contrary seeking if perchance he may unobtrusively do them some good — if, I say, such a man comes among you, why do you stir him up, or why do you call upon one who will appear to you to be a churlish and savage person as a speaker? For your ears have not been prepared for the reception of harsh and stubborn words; nay, as the hooves of cattle are tender when they are reared in soft, smooth country, so men’s ears are dainty when reared in the midst of flattery and lying speech.

It’s funny, because I reckon this is exactly how the cities Paul visited as an orator of the Cross would have seen him…

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods,once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

Paul, in some ways, writes 2 Corinthians because he wasn’t well received in Corinth. Perhaps the Corinthians who get excited about the super-apostles are like cattle reared in soft smooth country, so that they can’t handle Paul’s jarring presentation of the truth.

New Testament 102: Putting the Tarsus back into Paul

Doing some further reading on Paul and his interaction with Greek philosophy I came across this paragraph that Strabo, a Greek philosopher, wrote about Paul’s home town of Tarsus.

This is the kind of place Paul grew up in (which explains his conversance with Greek philosophy)

The people at Tarsus have devoted themselves so eagerly, not only to philosophy, but also to the whole roud of education in general, that they have surpassed Athens, Alexandria, or any other place that can be named where there have been schools and lectures of philosophers.

But it is so different from other cities that there the men who are fond of learning, are all natives, and foreigners are not inclined to sojourn there; neither do these natives stay there, but they complete their education abroad; and when they have completed it they are pleased to live abroad, and but few go back home. But the opposite is the case with the other cities which I have just mentioned except Alexandria; for many resort to them and pass time there with pleasure, but you would not see many of the natives either resorting to places outside their country through love of learning or eager about pursuing learning at home. With the Alexandrians, however, both things take place, for they admit many foreigners and also send not a few of their own citizens abroad.

Further, the city of Tarsus has all kinds of schools of rhetoric; and in general it not only has a flourishing population but also is most powerful, thus keeping up the reputation of the mother-city.

I thought that was interesting anyway.