Greek writers of the second and third centuries CE enjoyed a political climate that nurtured a strong sense of Hellenic identity. Athens had long ago become a cultural backwater, and Rome had conquered the Greek-speaking world, but Roman emperors from Hadrian to Marcus Aurelius generally supported Greek literature and the arts. An allegiance to Greek culture, specifically the culture of classical Athens, was one way in which the educated elite of the empire could define themselves; this period became known as the Second Sophistic because of its creative re-use of fourth-century Athenian cultural and literary models, when the first sophists reigned supreme. Thus many of the literary products of this period are written in an erudite, allusive style, for a readership steeped in the classics and alert to evocations of classical precedents. By imitating past masters, authors invited their equally sophisticated readers to join in the “affirmation of a common heritage” (Jones 1986: 159). This is, of course, a very simplistic summary of a complex cultural phenomenon, but the interested reader can find further information in my bibliography (e.g. Whitmarsh 2001, Goldhill 2001, Schmitz 1997, Swain 1996, Dihle 1994, Anderson 1993, Jones 1986).