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Xoyou KpelrTto voie'iv), and
when Tisias and Gorgias said that the probable must be
held in higher esteen^ than the true.

The Sophists could not fail to disgust a man like Socra-
tes, who hated show and pretension, and who had a deep
veneration for truth. Hence he was sometimes brought into
collision with them, and in a dc-grce his doctrines, as well
as those of Plato, were shaped by opposition to theirs. And
in accordance with this, Plato, especially in his first works,
represents Socrates arguing against some false opinion or
other maintained by a perso-n imbued witn this spirit.

One of the more prominent Sophists, with whom Soc-
rates was contemporary, was Gorgias, after whom this dia-
logue is named. Gorgias was a Sicilian Greek of Leontini,
a Chalcidian town, which lay some twenty miles to the north
of Syracuse, and suffered much from its nearness to that
powerful Doric state. The birth of Gorgias is assigned by
Foss* to the first year of the 71st Olympiad, or 496 B. C.
But there is good reason, I think, for putting it several
years later. For the art of rhetoric began to flourish at
Syracuse after 466 B. C, and Gorgias learned this art from
Tisias, a scholar of Corax, the first preceptor.! And with
this it accords, that Gorgias heard Empedocles in philos-
ophy, whose birth even Foss places no earlier than the 71st
Olympiad, while the ancients say that he flourished from
forty to sixty years afterward.

From this time we know nothing: of Gorgias until he was



* De Gorgia Lcontino Cotnmcntatio. Halle. 1828.

t This is asserted liy the author of the Prolegomena to the Ehetorie of
Hermogenes (in Walz's Collection, Vol. IV. p. 14). The passage is in-
serted by Spengel into his valuable book entitled Artium Scriptores. ' Stutt-
gardt. 1828. Foss denies it without authority, " turn propter alius testi-
nionii inopiani, turn propter Tisia; setaten^."



INTRODUCTION. XV

sixty years old or upwards. In tlie interval he may have
taught rhetoric in Sicily, for Polus of Agrigentum appears
at Athens as his disciple, and he probably stood high in his
native state. In the second year of the 88th Olympiad, he
came to Athens on the following occasion. " The Leon-
tines (Diodor. 12. 53), who were emigrants from Chalcis,
and of the same stock with the Athenians, were invaded
by the people of Syracuse. As they were pressed by the
war, and in danger of being reduced by the superior might
of Syracuse, they sent ambassadors to Athens, begging the
people to help them as spcedil}^ as possible, and rescue their
state from its dangers. The principal ambassador among
those who were sent was Gorgias, the orator, a man who
excelled all his time in eloquence, and first invented the
artifices of rhetoric * (rexims prjropiKa^). — On his arrival at
Athens he was introduced into the Assembly, and discoursed
before the people conccrnig the alliance. The Athenians,
who were fond of displays of genius and skill in the use of
words, were struck with wonder by the -novelty of his style,
by his various antitheses, his clauses of equal length, his
words of similar forms and endings, and the like artifices;
which then, being new, met with favor, but now seem to be
a waste of labor, and are ridiculous if repeated so often as
to produce satiety. At last, having persuaded the Atheni-
ans to form an alliance whh the Leontines, and gained ad-
miration at Athens for his rhetorical art, he returned to his
native town." The sensation which his rhetoric produced
at Athens is spoken of by others also. The days on which
he made his exhibitions were called festivals, and his dis-
courses themselves torches. t " He won great praise," says



* See Spengel, u. s., p. 81.

t This is said by the commentator on Hermog. u. s., p. 15, by Olym-
pio(ior. apud Routh, p. 562, and other late writers.



Xvi INTRODUCTION.

Socrates in Plato's Hippias IMaj. (282, B), "by his speech-
es in the Assembly, and by his private displays of his elo-
quence. By the instructions he imparted to the young (o-i^-
vav rois viois) he gained a large amount of money, and
carried it with him from Athens." If Plato, who is some-
times careless about precise facts and dates, may here be
relied upon, he must have stayed long enough at Athens to
act the part of a teacher before he went elsewhere. It is
probable that, after discharging his mission, he soon re-
turned to Greece, where the rest of his life seems to have
been spent. Thessaly was his principal residence, and that
he passed no very long time in Athens may be argued from
the fact, that Isocrates, an Athenian, received his instruc-
tions in that country. There, also, he taught Meno, and
Aristippus, one of the nobles of Larissa, and there, or in
Boeotia, Proxenus, the comrade of Xenophon. The wealthy
families of Thessaly had that rude taste which would make
them fond of the glitter and ostentation of Gorgias, and
were able to pay him well. He lived in splendor, affecting
in his dress the same show and parade which marked his
eloquence. (^Elian, Var. Hist. 12. 32.) Owing to his hab-
its of temperance, he attained to a very great age, to six or
eight years over a century, and acted the rhetorician to the
last, by saying, according to iElian (u. s. 2. 35), when in-
vaded by a lethargic sleep, premonitory of his end, — " Sleep
is now beginning to lay me in the hands of his brother."
His works, in his capacity as a rhetorician, were, — 1. One
on the art, or on one branch of it, the art of speaking suit-
ably to the occasion. 2. A number of orations, declamato-
ry and laudatory. One of these was delivered at the Olym-
pic festival, in which, like Isocrates afterwards, he tried to
unite the Greeks against the Persians. Another was a fu-
neral discourse in honor of Athenians slain in battle, a frag-
ment of which, preserved by a Scholiast on Hermogenes,



INTRODUCTION. xvii

supplies us with the longest extant specimen of his style.
These works exhibited a stately, uncommon, and poetical
diction, together with frequent rhetorical figures, which
must have been tedious and frigid in the extreme.* Two
declamations still extant, bearing his name, are unlike his
fragments in style, and ought probably to be regarded as
spurious.

Gorgias was, as we have said, at bottom a Sophist,t but
he avoided the title, which was not very popular, " and
laughed at the Sophists, who professed to know how to
make men better, confining himself to instructions concern-
ing the art of speaking." (Plat. Meno, 95, C.) His lit-
erary labors in the more appropriate sphere of the Sophist
were confined, so far as we know, to a work entitled irepl
(fivaiuis rj Tov fir] ovtos, which may have been unknown
to Plato, but is analyzed in a little treatise among the
works of Aristotle. ,»«In this work, with such an ominous
title, he attempted to prove, first, that nothing exists, then, if
any thing exists, that it cannot be known, and, finally, that
if known, it cannot be made known to others. Olympiodo-
rus (in Routh's ed. of Gorgias, p. 567) says, that this work
was written in the 84th Olympiad, that is, sixteen years or
thereabouts before his embassy to Athens. For the sophis-



* The fragments, which are few, are collected by Foss, but not complete-
ly. Thus, Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 11, § 51, cites some words of Gorgias,
apparently from his Olympian oration. Tlie following words are a good
sample of the style of Gorgias, and show some just thought. They are
cited by Foss from Plutarch. Tooylat riiv T^ayJSlav sTtsv iJvai aTaTv ^»

« Tj i'7rarri u'TarnS-ivTcs.

t And so the men of that time regarded those who displayed their tal-
ents after the manner of Gorgias. Thucyd. 3. 38, dxo^; ri^ovn r[


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