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Lawrence Kim

Asianism is a modern coinage referring to the rhetorical practice of certain Greek and Latin orators whose styles were designated by ancient critics as Asian (Asianus, Asiaticus, Ἀσιανός)—the “Asia” in question being the Republican Roman province. Asian eloquence was often contrasted unfavorably to a corresponding Attic style (Atticus, Ἀττικός), which was modelled on the prose of classical Athenian writers (a practice now known as Atticism). This opposition between Asian and Attic styles is first attested in Roman oratorical circles during the mid-1st century bce and was subsequently adopted by Greek critics in Augustan Rome, but seems to have fallen out of fashion by the reign of Tiberius. While Attic remains a general stylistic ideal in the more broadly conceived classicism of Imperial Greek literature, the term Asian disappears as a stylistic label. In a related, but separate development, from the late 1st century ce onwards, Greek literary writers increasingly adhered to a linguistic, rather than stylistic, variety of Atticism, which concentrated on reproducing the ancient Attic dialect used by Athenian authors of the 5th and 4th centuries bce.