Abstract Scholars agree that a connection existed between the early sophists and democracy, usually in theoretical terms or in the association of sophists with the Athens of Pericles. However, to discuss the sophists and demokratia exclusively in the context of Athens makes little sense, given that the earliest sophists came from outside Athens and thus began to develop the ideas and practices that made them famous in other contexts. This paper considers what political experiences or background the early sophists may have had outside Athens. Examining the backgrounds of Protagoras, Gorgias, Thrasymachus, Prodicus, and Hippias, one can build a case for clear democratic associations beyond Athens. This may affect our understanding of the causes—and possibly the consequences—of the so-called “sophistic movement” with respect to democracies in Greece.
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