Did Festus know his Aristotle?

Paul before Agrippa and Festus

While working on my upcoming rhetoric text I was reading Acts 26:24, where Paul’s defense is interrupted by Festus, saying, “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane.” Festus’s assumption that great thinkers often go mad reminded me of Aristotle’s discussion of the degrading of human character in Rhetoric II.15, where he says, “A clever stock will degenerate towards the insane type of character.” Written about 400 years before the events of Acts 26, had Aristotle’s claim had become a familiar probability?

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