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Didymus the Blind,"' and only published in 1969. Doubt has

been cast on its authenticity, but we think without ad~quate
grounds131 - and its line of argument may find a curious confir-
mation in an (admittedly fragmentary) passage of the Double 2 GORGtAS OF LEONTINI
Arguments, which may deri11e from Protagor(ls' own ~ti!ogies
(see below, ch. ro, §4,-end).

~9· Proragoras ,.ays tk!t being (einm), for things that are, con-
sists in their being perceived (phairresthai). He says: 'It is clear
to you, as being pn:sent, that I am sitting; to one wbo is not
present, "owcvcr, it js not clear that .I am sitting; (therefore) it Gorgias (c. 483-376 BC), son of Cbarmantides, is generally
is unclear (adelon) whether I am sitting or not sitting.' held to be a 11Jlmber of years younger than Protagoras. He Wfl§
(Didymus tbe Blind, Commentary on the Psalms ill) born around 483 in the Sicilian city of Leontini. LeOntini was
founded in 7~9 -·immediately from its fellow Sicilian city of
Protagoras seems here to be making a (ra!her soph~!'fl.l) point Naxos, but ultimately from Chalcis in Euboea - not lqng after
about the nature. of certainty - which could be related to his Syracuse to its south. It was therefo're Ionian in sentiment, while
remarks about his ability to be certain about the existence and Syracuse was. Dorian. I! flourisht!d if} the sixth century, but
nature ofgods. In the Double Argtm.:t~ts passage, the point in Gorgias' lifetime it was generally subject to the political
seems to be that it is llll{air to expea a jury in a law-court to d~ of Syracuse, from which it made periodic attempts
;udge as to-the truth or falsity of statements about events of to free itself, notqbly by forging alliances with other cities,
which they baue not~ ey{'~- inchuling Athens. It was in connection UJitb the renewal of its
alliance with Athens that Gorgias burst upon the Athenian
literary and intellectual world in 427, in the course of an
embassy to Athens, when, in a(i<fition to bis official speech
before the Assembly, he delivered a number of 'show' speeches
in the new Sicilian form of rhythmic prose. By this time he was
alreallj 1n hii'fi{tfii. We know !•t!le apou{his earlier life, except
that he learned his skill in rhetoric from the first generation
of Sicilian rl]etoricians, Corax·and Teisias, both of Syracuse,

with the

composed in the 440s. His

Herodicus became a distinguished doaor. ;t.

Presumably following from his first appearance in mainland
Gorgias delivered a 11Jlmber of notable epideiaic ora-
at various Panhellenic Games, one at the Pythian, at a

r date unknown, in connection with which a golden statue was
~ dedicated in his honour, 1 and one at the Olympian Games, LIFE.AND WORKS
probably of 420, 3 but these have not survived. Wha.t do survive
are two short display-speeches, the Encomium ·of Helen and For Gorgiits, we do not have even the dubious benefit of a 'life'.
The" Defence of Palamedes, which are brilliant examples of his from the hand of Diogenes Laertius, as, unlike Protagoras~ he
,,I style, along with a fragment of a funeral oration, in addition to did not consider him, or indeed any other of the great sophtsts,
the treatise on Not-Being mentioned above. The embassy of to be in any sense a philosopher. However, the second-century

II 427 was hardly his only visit to Athens, though we cannot

definitely pinpoint any others.J.he dramatic date of Plato's
dialot;l!e called after him is beset by anachronisms (no doubt
AD sophist Philostratus does give some account o[ him, along
with the other chief figures o[ the movement, in his Lives of the
Sophists. Philostratus, we J:nllY note, regards him as the true
I 'deliberate), but it may be assumed to have taken place some founder of the sophistic movement, rather than Protagoras.
time in the_later 4·2os, since the death o(Perides (m) is referred
to at Gorgias 5o 3 Cas recent. C.Jain references in the comedies 1 . Sicily produced Gorgj.as of Leontini; and we sh?uld r~ckon
of Aristophanes (cf. §8, below) seem to point to further periods that the art of the sophists may be traced back to hun, as if to a
of teaching in Athens in the late 42os. On the other hand, he is - father. For if we think about Aeschylus and now much he
i< 1,1
I ·:
attested by Cicero (cf. S28 below) as being the teacher of the ~ntnbuted to tragedy, when he equippealt with its costumes,
' I Athenian orator /socrates (436-338 BC), presumably at some the high buskin, the heroic types, messengers from far away and
time around 4IJ·(lsocrates is described as being stil/'a youth- from behind _the scenes, and rules for what should be done on
adulescens), tn 1bessaly, which 'would imply'that he had already and off the stage, such would be the contribution of Gorgia_s t_o
established himself there in the early teens of the century. those who share his art. For it was he who set; the sophisnc
Further, Xenophon·tells us (Anabasis II 6, 16 = S7! that the movement in motion: the extraordinary expressions (para-
Boeotian aristocrat Proxenus studied with Gorgiits in his youth, doxologia); the rhetorical crescendoes; grandiose expr~s!ons
at about the same time. • for grand subjects; sudden breaks (apostaseis) and.transtUons
In Thessaly, the aristocratic ethos of which he must have (prosbolai), through which the speech became more pleasant
! found congenial, he liased liimself in Larisa, at the court of the and more elevated· and he invested it with poetic diction for the
Aleuad 'prince Aristippus, where hiliiliiQrJailable to tutor the sake of omamen~tion and dignity..How he improvised with
young Pharsalian nobleman Menon (Plato, Meno 7oB), as well great ease I have already described at the beginning of my
as the numerous visiting students who congregated about him. discussion;• and when, already growing old, he talked in
]'here he remained, it·would seem, for upwards of thirty-five Athens,' it is no· wonder that he was admired by the JllllSSes,
years, but at some time subsequent to 380 Be, at the tnvitation though he also enthrallea the most illustrious men, the young
Of the fYrant]ason. he moved to Pherae, and ended his days at Critias and Alcibiades, along withThucydides and Pericles, who
~ ~is court, in about 3 76, at an age generally reputed to have been were already old. Also Agathon, the tragic poet, whom Comedy
} between ro rand I Of!. knows as 'wise' and 'of fine speech': often uses Gorgianic style
in his iambics ..
Moreover, he played a. distinguished part at the religious
· festivals of the Greeks, and declaimed his Pythian Oration from
the altar;7 and for this his statue was dedicated in gold and was
set up in the temple of the Pythian god. His Olympian Oration
de~lt with a theme of the highest political importance. For, he was the first to make this bold move, indicating thereby that
seemg that Greece was divided against itself, he came forward he knew everything and would speak on any subject whateVer,
as the advocate of reconciliation and tried to turn their energies truSting.to his powers of iinprovisation (kairos)."
against the barbarians and to persuade them not to regard one I think that this idea occurred to GOrgias for the· following
another's cities as the prize to be won·by their arms, but rather reason. Prodicus of Ceos12 had composed a- certain pleasant
the land of the barbarians. 8 The Funeral Oration which, he fable in which Virtue and Vice came to Heracles in the shape of
delivered at Athens, was spoken in honour of thos~ who had . women one of them dressed in seductive and many-coloured
fallen in the wars, to whom the Athenians awarded public attire, the other. with no care for effect; and to Heracles, who
~erals and panegyrics, and it is composed with extraordinary was still young, Vice offered idleness and sensuous pleasures,
skill. For though he incited· the Athenians against the Medes · while VU:tue offered squalor and hard labour. This story
and Persians, and was arguing with the same purpose as in the Prodicus elaborated upon at some length, and then toured
Olympian Oration, he said nothing about harmony with · the cities and gave recitations of it for a fee, and charmed them •
the rest of. the Greeks, for the reason that it was addressed to after the: manner of Orpheus and' Thamyras. For these reci-
the Athenians, who had a passion for empire, which could not tations he won a great reputation at Thebes and a still greater
,, be attained without a policy of aggression. But he dwelt at length, at Sparta, as one who benefited the young by teaching this fable.
' .
1'.' on their victories over the Medes, and praised them for these Thereupon Gorgias mocked Prodicus for handling a theme
t I thus indicating to them thaevictories over barbarians call fo; that was stale an_d hackneyed, and he devoted himself to
hymns of praise, but victories over Greeks for diiges. · improvisation (kairos).
It-is said that, though Gorgias attained .the age of xo8, his Yet he did not fail to attract begrudgers. There was at Athens
body was not weakened by old age, but to the end of his life a certain Chaerephon, not the one who used to be nicknamed
he was in sound condition; and his senses were those of a 'Boxwood' in comedies, because he suffered from anaemia due
young man. to hard study, but the one I now speak of had insolent manners
(Philostratus, Lives of the SophiSts I 9, 492-3 =Ax) and made·8currilous jokes."- This Chaerephon teased Gorgias
' "
for his efforts in this direction, and said: 'Gorgias, why is it that
This passage comes from the introduction to Book I of Philo- beans blow out my stomach, but do not blow up'the fire?' 14 But
stratus' work, and gives some useful information about Gorgias' Gorgias was not at all disconcerted by the question, and replied:
methods. 'lbis I leave for you to investigate; but here is a fact whiclx I have
long known, that the earth .grows canes for. suclx purposes.' 15
2. Gorgias of Leontini founded the older type [ sc. rhetoric) in (Ibid., Preface= 82Ara + 2.4)
Thessaly,' and Aeschines, son of Atrometus, .founded the
second, after he had been exiled from political life at Athens Apart from Philostratus, we have a biographical notice on
and had taken up his abode in ·Caria and Rhodes;10 and the Gorgias in the Byzantine lexicon, the.Suda. The information
followers of Aeschines handled their themes according to the that Gorgi?zs was a pupil of the philosopher cles of
rules of art (kata tekhnen), while the followers- of Gorgias 16
Acragas (c.493-"433 Be IS provj___ a ther authorities,
handled theirs as they pleased (kata to doxan) ... ' and there seems no reason to doubt that he was at least
It was Gorgias who founded the art of extempore oratory ' acquainted with him. His own pupil Polus hailed from Acragas,
(slibedios logos). For when he appeared m i"lie theatre at AThens ' giving further evidence of contact.
lie had the confidence to say, 'Come, propose me a theme!'; and

3. Gorgias, SOil of Charmantides, of Leontini; orator, student asithappened; by the Syracusans. ~d being'hard-pressed in
of Empedocles, teacher of Polus of Acragas and· Pericles and 'the war and m danger of •having their city taken by storm

!socrates and Alcidamas ofElaea,-11 who also .too~ oyer direction because of the superior power of the Syfacusans, they dispatched
of his school. He was the brother. of the"physidan Herodicus. ambassadors to Athens, asking the Athenian I!"'Pie to send
PoCJ?h!ry places him in the Eightieth Olympiad (46o-457 Be), them unmediate aid and save their cicy from the perils threaten-
but It IS necessary to regard him as older." ing It. The leader of the embassy was Gi>rgias the .rhetoriCian,
He was the first to give to the rhetorical genre verbal power )Vho in eloquence far surpassed· all his contemporaries. He was
and, art of deliberate culture, and employed tropes and meta· the first man to devise rules of rhetoric and so far excelled all
~ other men in the instruction offered by the sophists that he
) phors an~ figurative language (allegoria) and hypallage and
I catachres1s and hyperbaton and doublings of words (anadi- ! received from his pupils a fee ohoo miriae.
p/Osis) and, repetitions (epanalepsis)· and apostrophes and •, Now; when Gorgias had "arrived in Athens and been intro-
• clauses of equal length (parisosis). He charged each of his duced to the people in assembiy, ·he discoursed to them upon
students 100 minae. 19 He lived 109'·years and·wrote.a gteat the subject of the alliance, and by the novel of liisinode of
deal. speech he astonished the A eruans, who are by nature c ever
(Suda, s.v. Gorgias =A:t). · -and fond of oratory. For he was the firSt to use tli:e ratli:er unusual
- and carefulty devised structures of speech, such as antitheses,
Diogenes l.Aertius'makes.:mention of Gorgias in ,his 'Life· of sentences with equal members (isokola) or balanced clauses
Empedocles' relying on the authority of Satyrus (cf.,.above; n. (parisa) or similar endings (homoioteleuta) and the like, all of
16} and. of the chronographer Apollodorus of-Athens (second which at that time were enthusiastically received because of the
century BC). exotic nature of the device, but are now looked upon as labbiired
and· ridiculous 'when employed too ·frequently and tediously.
4' Satyrus in his Lives says that he [sc. Empedocles] was also a The end result the won the :Athenians over to an alliance
physician and an excellent orator: at all'events Gorgias of Leon- wtt t e Leontines, .and after aving game a miratioit in
tini, a man pre-eminent in oratory and the author of a treatise . 'ithens for his rhetorical skill; he"made'his return to Leontini.
' '
'r· (Diodorus of Sicily, Universal History XII 53, 1-5 = A4)
' ?n art, had been his pupil. Of Gorgias Apollodorus he says
m his Chronology that he lived to be 109 .. Satyrus quotes this
same Gorgias as saying that he himself was present when That this naiTative derives from Timaeus is made· clear by
Empedocles performed magical feats. the testimony of Diodorus' "approximate contemporary, the
(Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VIll 58-9 =A3) historian and literary critic Dionysius of Halicarnassus
(fl. c.3o lie}, in his Life ofLysias.
Some background to the momentous visit of Gorgias to Athens
in 427 is provided by the first-century BC historian Diod'orus of 6. Gorgias of Leontini ... wrote many of his speeches in a uite
Sicily, himself dependent on the late fourth-century Be Sicilian ~gar, inflated style, using langua
.. ·· s
sometimes 'not
historian Timaehs ofTauromenium (c.356-z6o). far removed frQ!Il dithyramb'. His pupils Licymnius22 and
Polus and their associates composed in the same style. As
5· This year [sc. 427 BC- Archonship of Eucles in Athens] in Timaeus tells us, it was Gorgias who first made poetical" and
Sicily the people of Leontini, who were colonists from Chalcis metaphorical expression catch the imagination of Athenian ora-
[in Eubol;!l) and thus kinsme!H)f-the-Atileiiia~were attacked, tors, when he came as an ambassador to the city and astounded
his hearers wirh his rhetoric. The trurh is, hoy;ever,. rhat ·rhis They are foreigners by race,
style had its admirers ~ven earlier rh;m this.24 Gorgiases and Philips.
(Dionysius of Halicamassus, Life of Lysias 3 = 1\.t) And wtlen fhese Philips
Who live by rheir tongues
A snippet of testimony from ·?fenophon in Anabasis helps to Are sacrificed, everywhere in Attica
date the beginnings of Gorgias' period of teaching in mainland The tongue is cut out and offered.separately.28
Greece, since Proxenus seems to be at,least in his early thirties (Aristophanes,.The Birds 1694-1705 =Asa)
when setting 0111 from Smdis with Cyrus in 40L as Q1U! of the
commtmtlers of his Greek mercenaries in ,the famo~~S 'March This Philip is referred to earlie,r, in The Wasps. of 422 llC, in a
Up-Cmmtly'. He wcnJd have enrolled with Gorgias, then, pre- manne_r ;,plying that he is a IJill1il of Gorgias. He_is llll(ort.-
sumably in Larisa, sometime around 4LO 11c, and the suggestion nate/y otherwise tm/mown to us, bra must have been a reason-
is that g pt;ri_od of s!Ufly with Gorgias gave him the conviction ably notorious rhetorician and sykophantes. S~.r'4erences as
that he could manage men. this an4 the later one from I he Bu!IS bear Witness to a certain
degree of notoriety of Gorgias and his teaching in Athens from

'7- Proxenus of Bo~otia, when _he was just a-lad (meirakion),

wanted to be a man who could do great things, and because of
the later 42os on, and seem to imply some protraeted Periods

i this desire he paid a fee to Gorgias of Leonrio!- Mter. he had

been wirh him for a time, he ca,tn\' to rhe conclusiOn that he was
now capable borh of commanding an army and, if he became
of residence. One of the 'tongue-tu,jsters' of4 L4 may have been
the young /socrates, later one of his most famous disciples,
though he studied with him also later, in Thessaly.

friends wirh rhe great, of doing rhem no less good rhan rhey Pi<! Sb. By Heracles, rhey have stings too! Do you not see, master?
him; so_ he joined in this ad\l'eniJlre of Cyrus', im;l~ that he Stings by which in a law-suit" rhey destroyed fhilip, .rhe
wol,lldgain from it a great name, and great power, and plenty foUower of Gorgias.30 ·
of money. (Aristophanes, The Wasps 42o-21 =Asa)
,(Xenophon, Anabasis II 6, x6-x7 =As)
_The famous statue of Gorgias at Qlympia. is described by ~he
On the other hand, there are two passages from comedies of · second-century AD travel-writer Pau§~t,'Jias, in his Guide to
Aristophanes which seem to give evidence ofa period of instrue_-
ti<J!I by Gorgiqs in A_thens. The most significant, if chronolog~­
cally later, is from The Birds, produced in 4 L4 BC,·ant!_ seetrt5 to
~ provide evidence of a Gorgianic school of rhetoric in p]pce at
1this time.
Sa. There is in Phanae by the
WaterclocP' a n4fianly race
Of tongue-twisters"
Who reap and sow
And garher in tl)e vintage
Wirh rheir tongues, and figgerate.27

Among Teisias' contributions to language was the speech he

wrote (the most convincing of his time) ·in a inoney quarrel for
a Syracusan woman: but Gorgias won even more respect than
Teisias at Athens; and Jason the dictator in Thessaiy put Gorgias
before Polycrates, a considerable orator of the school of Athens.
They say that Goigias lived to be 105 .
.(_ransanjas, Guide to Gr~ece VI IZ/7 9 = A7)
I u. Tradition records that Hippias and Gorgias went abou~in ,
The latter part of this passage is curiot<sly disjointed and ~othes.
I[ I obscure: Pausanias jumps from 42.7 to about 380, when Gorgias ~n, VariaHistoriaXll32=A9)
moved to the court of Jason of Phei'ae, presumably at Jason's
invitation. But whft is meant by Jason's 'putting him before' A somewhat garbled passage from the Neopla~onic philoso~her
the Athenian rhetoiiciim Polycrates (c.440-370 Bc)?33 Was Olympiodorus, in his commentary on Plato ~ G~rg~as, giVes,
Jason looking for a court rhetorician, and did he turn down despite its confusions, some further chronologicalmformatiOn.
Polycrates in favour of the aged Gorgias?·
Th asalsoagildedstatueofGorgiasatDel h' d
12. Secondly, we shall· say that they Jived at the same time:
by himself..mentione sat X r8, 7, by Cicero, Qn Socrates in the third year of the Seventy-seventh Olympiad
[4 7o/6? sc], and Empedocles the Pythagore~n, the teacher of
the Orator Ill32., 12.9, and by Pliny, NatUral HistO'ry XXXIII 34
83 -where, if we can emend the plainly corrupt date 'Seventieth · 'th him •" Arid mdeed Gor as wrote a rather
. -stud'1ed WI
Olympiad' to 'Ninetieth Olympiad' (by adding 2. Xs), we get a witty treatise, On Nature, m e g ty-fourth 0 ymp1a [444-
reasonably plausible date of 42.0 BC. Cicero ana Pliny actually 441 sc]· so that Socrates is the earlier by twenty-four years or
describe the statue as solid gold, but Pausanias is probably right a little r:.ore." Moreover, Plato says in the Thea.etetus [r83E]:
that it was gilt. 'When I [sc. Socrates was oun I met Par~eru~es,· who :""'
The inscribed base of the statue erected at Olympia was very 0 ; an ound him a most to oun man. This _Parmeru~es
actually found there m r876. It comprises' the dedication, fol- was die teac er 0 Empedocles, the teacher of Gor~1as. Gorg1as
lowed by tWo quatratns ofel~glac coitplets-;lznd runs as follows: lived to be an old man; for, as has been said, he d1ed at the age
of 109.37 So they lived at about the same time. .
ro. Gorgias of Leontini, son of Charmantid~s ·(Olympiodorus, Commentary on the Gorgias, Preface, 9,
(a) The sister of Gorgias Deicrates took to wife p. 7 , 25 -s,u Westerink =Aro)
And from her was born to hiin Hippocrates.
From Hippocrates sprang Eurnolpus, who dedicated this Some anecdotes connected with his-longevity are pres_erved by_
statlle the antiquarian Athenaeus (c. AD 2.00 ), in his literary miscellany,
For two reasons: gratitude for education, and l~ve. Deipnosophistae (Doctors at Dinner). ·
(b) 1Jlan-Gm:gia§ no one of mortals before discovered·
A finer art to fit the soul for contests of excellence;
13 . Gorgias of Leontini, about whom the .same Clearchus_" says,
fi1s Statue standS too m the vale orApollo · B k VIII of his Lives that because he lived sensibly he
· Not as a show of h1s wealth, but of the piety of his ways. Ill 00 . , " And'h
survived with all his faculties for nearly r_ro year~-. w en
(Epigram 875a, p. 534 Ka1bel- AS) somebody asked him.what his mode of hfe was, seemg that he

had lived so long a time so comfortably and with his senses up more wealth than any 'other man, he left at his death only
intact,_!J.e replied, 'I have never done.anything for the sake of . staters.43 ,
I ,ooo
pleasure.' . · (!socrates, Antidosis r 55 = Ar 8)
But Demetrius ofBytaDtiurn,40 in the fourth book of his work
On Poetry, says: 'When Gorgias of Leohtini was. asked what ~ To· this may be added a passage from the beginning of Plato's
was the cause of his living more than roo years, he answered, i Meno, useful despite the irony with which it is delivered. Menon
"The fact that I have never yet done anything for the sake of my ! Is a young Thessalian nobleman; who came to Athens, probably
gut[?]." ' 41 (:An) ~ on a ·diplomatic mission for his native· city of Pharsalus; in
(Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae Xll 548CD =An) ·' around 403h.. He shortly afterwards (like Proxenus, cf. S7
above) joined the Persian prince Cyrus as a mercenary soldier
T/1ere is a further detail on this topic in a treatise preserved in the famous 'March Up-Country'.
among the works of~ but probably not by him,..Qn
_Long-Lived Men: r6. socRATES: Menon, the Thessalians used to have a good
reputation amongst the Greeks and were admired for their
~ ~4- Among the orators, Gorgias, whom some call a sophist, horsemanship and their wealth; while now, I tliink that they are
\lived to the age of ro8, and died by abstaining &om food. They also admired for their wisdom, not Jeast the people of Larisa, •
say that when he was asked the reason for his prolonged oid age the fellow citi2.ens of your friend Aristippus. ~is
and health with all his faculties, he s,Y~ had responsible for this; since when he arrived in the city he captured
nev~r allowecfbiiiiself to be d••gged ;round to other people's. the most prominent amongst both the Aleuadae, to whom your

(Lucian, On Long-Lived Men 2.3 = Ar3)
lover Aristippus belongs, and the Thessaliaits, as lovers of his
wisdom. Moreover, he has given you a disposition accustomed
to fearless and magnificent answers, whatever anyone might
As to his period of teaching in Thessaly, and the circumstances ask you, just,as·would be.reasonable for those who do have
of his life there, there are various testimoriies. - one from his knowledge;@ this is because he offers himself to any..§reek
pupil !socrates;· in his Antidosis. who wish · · ' like, and there is
no y to whom he declines to answer.
' I

I .'1 I
15. Now, generally· speaking, yon. will find that no one of the (Plato, Meno 7oAB = Ar9)
so-called sophists ha& accumulated a great amount of money,
but that sonie of them have lived in poor, others in moderate
circumstances.42 The man who in our recollection laid up the TEACHINGS AND METHODS
most was Gor · s of Leontini. He spent his time in Thessaly \
when the Thessalians were the most prosperous people in We are told a certain amount in various sources-some, unfortu-
Greece. He lived a Ion life and devoted himself to the making nately, hostile, such as Plato, but others neutral or even positive,
of money. He had no fixed domicile in any city and erefore such as Aristotle· Cicero and Philostratus- as to what Gorgias
patd ourhothiitg for the public good, ·nor was he subject to any believed his art ~r expertise to consist of, and how it should be
tax. Moreover, he did not marry and beget·children, but was taught. He seems to have maintained that what he taught was
free &om this, the most unremitting and expensive of burdens. not anysn-of7lodifiies.'5 · but rather a methOd; wbtCh in itself
And yet, although he had so great an advantage towards laying liiiinnzliie-/Tee; it was not his concern or responsibility for what

ends it was used (though he would prefer it used for just or At this point, his follower Polus interposes; offeri~g to answer'
'r moral purposes). He also was noted for claiming a most exalted the question for him, as the great man is tired, but Polus quite
status for tf!_e power of rhetoric- a capacity even to bewitch and fails to grasp the point of the question, that Socrates iS looking
) enslave the reason (thisis largely the theme of the display-speech for a definition of the subject-matter of the craft of rhetoric. We
\ Hel~n). !!e soug~ adorn prose speech·wi!h m~y of the resume at 448di:
l devtces oL_poetry. Many particuiar"rhetorical deviceSare s: Well, Gorgias, Polus appears 'to be very well prepared
for discourse ·(logoi). But he's not doing what he promised
Credited to him, though in some cases in co,;.,on with others;
such as Thrasymachus of.Chalcedon. We .give a selection of Chaerephon.
passages below. G: How e:K:actly;Socrates?
First, a passage from the beginning of Plato's Gorgias, con- s: He doesn't really seem to me to have answered the question.
, G: Well, then, if you want, you ask him. '
;erning his methods. This ts, of course, /ictton, but that does not
s: Not if you are willing to answer yourself. I'd far rather ask
neces~arily disqualify it as. a good r.epresentation of Gorgias'
[ position.

17. SOCRATES: That's a

willin to co

good idea, Callicles. 46 But w~uld he be

with· us? ·For I would lik to ascertain from
I you. For Polus has made clear to me from what he's said that he
is far more practised in what's
POLUS: ut why's that, Socrates?
e rhetoric t ia ague.••

, s: Because, Polus, when Chaerephon asked you what craft it •

him what constitutes the power o ekhne), and what.it is th. a~ Gorgias has ~no~ledge of, ~ou praised his art, as if
is t e o ers an teac es; let him do the rest o IS demon- ( someone were attacking 1t, but you d1dn't g~ve an answer as to
\ stration another time, as you propose. ~-~~ -
P!Well, didn't I answer that it is the ve finest art?
CALLICLES: Well, nothing would be like asking the man him-
self, Socrates, as this was one element of his.. demonstration. In s: es; indeed you 1 . ou no ody asked what Gorgias'
fact, just now he was telling anyone inside to ask what;ver theY art is like, but what it is, and what we should call Gorg1as. So,
wanted, and he sa1d that he would give answers to everything. i~aerephon offered you the previous examples, and 'you
s: EXcellent. Chaerephon, ask hirii. answered him with correct and concise responses [44 9]; so now,
CHAEREPHON: What should I ask? iD. the same \vay, fell us what this art is arid what we should call
s:Whoheis. J;iorgias. Or Instead, Gorgias,-you-tel141$4!1urselt wMu we
CH: What do you mean? should ca11 JW'l insofar a~owJPdge oiwhich art.
~rt of rhetorjc, Socrates.
s: Wclr, JUSt as If he happened to be a craftsman of shoes he
would give you the answer that he is a shoemaker ... don't ~ou s: So, we should call you a rhetorician?
G::! es, and a good one 'too, if you actually want to cill me
J understand what I mean? · ·
CH: I do understand and I'll ask him. Tell me, Gorgias,was it 'whatI clairil to be', in Homer's words.
true what Callicles here said,-that you offered to answer what- s: Well, that is what I want.
ever anyone asks you? ' G: So call me that. T
S: So,..shonld we say that you are able to make other Eeople
GoRGiAS: f448~Cstru.e, Chaerephon- just now I made
this vecy.offer, and I declare that up till now no one has asked rhetoricians too?
G: 'frs, tliafs what I offer, and not only here, but also
f me anything new for many years.
CH: Presumably, then, you'll find it easy to answer, Gorgias.
el~re. · '
s: ·So, would you be willing, Gorgias, to continue this
G: Well, it's up to you to try that out, Chaerephon.

di,.:uss~on as we are now doin.g, w.ith one asking and the other
r answermg, but to postpone those long speeches, like Polus
~an,_ior another occasion? Now, don't Itnege ofl your
P.omises. Be prepared to answer the question briefly.
G: There are some answers, Socrates, which mustbe made in
long_ speeches. ~e_vertheless, I'll try to give as brief answers as
pOSSible. For this IS another of my claims - that nobody is able
}to say the same~ more concisely than me.50 19a. SOCRATES: Well, I myself,MenOJ!,"!Jlin thesamepredica-
.. I '--------'--'-~ in
s: Well, that's what's needed, Gorgias. So, giYe me a demon- menL For, along with the oth.!'1" atiZmS; am ""¥"'~....,.,..
\ stration of this :::, thing. concise speech-; (bi'iJCbYlogia), but this regard, and I reproach myself for not~ at all abom
[ Teave long sPttChes for another time. .virtue (arete). And when I don't know ~thing is, how
(Plato, Gorgias 447C-449C = A2.o, exPan!led) [ coUld l kilow what sort of a thing it is? ... Do you think l4at's
possible? -
Gorgias !!Pes fJ!Odzu:e something approaching a- of MENON: I certainly don't. But you, Socrates, is it true that
the sub ·ea-matter of rhetoric at E when h eclares that it you don't know what virtue is, and should we take home this
is knowle ge o speech (logoi). When Socrates begins to chip report about you?

l away at tbJS m hiS Charactertstic manner, showing that-such

crafts as medicine and gymnqsti~ also require expertise in logoi,
Gorgias makes a firrther distinction, in language which ft#er
! <
s:,Well, not only that, my friend, but also. J;'ve never even met
anyone who knows, as far as I'm concerned.
M: What? _Didn't you meet Gorgias when he W3l\ here?
commentators on the dialogue (as reported to us by the Nea-
p/atonic ~or Olyrmliodorus,. in Commentary· on .the
r s: Yes, I did.
M: Then didn't you think he knew?
Gorgias. Preface, p. 3 6, z 5ff. Westerink) !dentifiec! as t}istinctly s: I don't have a very-go"!! , and so I can't
Gorgianic. 51 say now how he seemeil to me then. But perhaps .h~ oes know
and you kriow the thillgs he .satd. So remind me what he said:
r~. so eRATES: So whv ever don't you call the other arts rh%toric, Or if you want, tell it to me Jor yourself, as presumably you
giVen that rhey concern speech, if what you call rhetoric is the agree with him .
.;ut which concerns speech? • • M: I certainly do.
GORGIAS; Because, Socrates, each of the other arts concerns s: So,. then let's forget about him, as he's not here." But, in
manual work or some such activity. ~o ·to speak, while there is Heaven's name, Menon, y()u tell me yourself, what do you claim
no such manual work in rhetoric. Instead, the whole activity that virtue is? Tell m~ and don't be grudging. I hen I WiJtliiVe
and accomplishment is achieved t;hrough speech. It's because of 7old a most fortunate lie, should you and Gorgias show that
this that I consider that the art of rhetoric concerns speech, and you do know, even though I said that I have never met anyone
I'm correct to say this. as I claim. ~ who knows.
(Ibid. 45oBC = A2.7, expanded) M: But it's not a difficult thing to tell, Socrates. So first, then,
if you want to know wha~ virtue is for a man, it's easy to say
On the question of the .definition of general concepts, a topic that this is virtue for a man: to be adequate in civic affairs; to
central to the concerns of Plato (and, if we may believe him, of treat one's friends well, but one's enemies .badly; and to be
Socrates), we have a most interes!Jng piece of testimony relative careful not to suffer any such thing oneself. But if you want to

know virtue for a woman, it's not hard to explain that she must 20. socRATES: How about these sophists? Do you think that
manage the household weU, protecting its contents, and being they do teach virtue - an offer which they alone make?
obedient to her husband. And there is another virtue for a child, MENON: In that regard, Socrates,!. reaUy adtnire Gorgias, as
and for female, and for male, and for older men, and, if you yQU would never hear him promising this [i.e. moral excellence,
want, both •for a free inari arid for ·a slave. 54 And ·there are aU arete], and he rna~ofothers when he hears them promise
sorts of other virtues; so that, concerning virtue, it's not a it. lnstead,,.he thinks at they should make people skilled at

l problem. to say what it is. For, in each activity and age, for each
of us in regards to each task, there iS a virtue. And I think that
the same is also true of vice (kakia);
(Plato, Meno 7rB--72A)
~ea g.. '
(Plato, Meno 95C = A21)

On the other hand, we can see from a. passage in the Gorgias,

• where Gorgias is allowed to state his position very. fairly,. what
s·ocrates, of course, satirizes this as ra swarm· of excellenE,es', his attitude to the moral or immoral use of.the sktlls whtch he
and deman(JS a smgte definition of excelliince; but ~nstotle in
the Politics sees the case differently: Iimparted probably was. The passage, admittedly, exhibits no
trace of the distinctively Gorgianic rhythmic style (such as Plato
was quite capable ofimitating ifhe wished, as witness Agathon's
speech at Symposium I94E-I97E), but it very likely represents
his position.

21. GORGIAS: So such is the nature and the extent ofthe power
of this art. However, Socrates, rhetoric must be used in the same
way as any other competitivel!cill: For other types of competitive
• "skill must not be used against altmen- and, just because a man
learned boxing and mixed combat (pankratiazein) and fighting
that 'a modest silence is a woman's crown'/ 5 cOri.tains with armour, so that he is more powerful than both his friends
a general "truth~ but a truth whiCii does not apply to men .. Atid and his enemies, this doesn't mean that he should strike or
in the case of childten, since the child is immature; his exceUence wound or kill his friends. But; by God, not even if someone who •
is obviously not a matter of relation to his present self, but of has attended the wrestling school, whose body is in good shape
his relation to the end towards which he is developing, and to the

and who has become a fighter, then strikes his father or .his
authority. which guides him. And similarly, too, the excellence of mother or any other of his relatives or friends; not even for this
the slave is a matter of his relation towards his master. reason must we·revikthe trainers and those.wh~, te~ch how
(Aristotle, Politics I IJ, I26oa24-8) to fight with armour, or e'xpel·them from the etty. For they
transmitted these skills to be used justly, against enemies and
Gorgias, then, has views on the nature of moral excellence. the unjust, and in defence, not as aggressors, wlieieas it is these
, "However, unlike certain o(his contemporaries, notably Pro- subversives who use their strength and skill incorrectly. So it is
tagoras. he did not f!Ur:port to teach it. A later passage of the not the teachers who are bad, nor does this mean that the an is
Meno (95C) seems to bear witness to the_Yalue-(ree' nature of responsible or bad, but rather I think those who use it incor,
{ Gorgias' instTUf(ion.
~~rgument would the •a;;;e in the case o~ rhetoric.
For .the orator is able to speak. against everyone, and on any

topic, so that in a crowd he is more persuasive, basically, about occasions' would seem to attest to a number of visits to Athens
·anything he choos"';. But~ does_not make it any more justified by the great man.
to steal the doctors reputatton- JUSt becausec he would be able

1to do so "' nor that of the other craftsmen. No, he should ~er
~e rhetoric correctly,'just as with compe"'tltive skill: But I think
2. 3 . PROTARCHUS: Many times I listened to Gorgias sayingl
repeate~y that the_ art of persuasion ~~dy ex':ls all the others.
that if someone has become an orator and then uses his ability For it brmgs all thmgs under Its donuruon, Williflgly and not by
and skill to do an injustice, we must not revile his teacher or force, and it is by far the best of all the arts. -
throw him out of the city. For that man transmitted this skill (Plato, Philebus sBA)
for just usage, while the other put it to the opposite use. So,
then, it is just to revile, to exile or to ckill the one who has' used As to the details of Gorgias' rhetorical instruction, we have
it incorrectly, but not the teacher. some information, both from Plato and from the later rhetorical
(Plato, Gorgias 456C-457C) • tradition, beginning with Aristotle. We refer the-reader back,
first of all, to the long passage of Plato's Phaedrus quoted as
Just prior to this passage in the Gorgias, we find a remark which S20 ofChapter I, but the section relating particularly to Gorgias
seenis to encapsulate Gorgias' view of the power of rhetoric. may be repeated here.

2.2.. SOCRATES: And it's because I'm amazed at this, Gorgias, 2.4· soCRATES: But we won't rouse from their slumbers Teisias
that I've been asking you for a while just what kjnd of power and. Gorgias, who realized that probabilitY -deserves more
ehetoric has. For wheil'l consider it in this way, its greatness respect th3l1 truth, who could make trifles seem importanH1nd
J!Ppears superhuman .. important points triBes by tbe force of their l~guage, who
GORGIAS: Well, if only you knew the whole truth, Socrates; dressed up novelties as antiques and. vice versa, a d discovered
that, in2_word, it has all the powers collected together unoer its how to argue concisely or at interminable length about anything
command.1'll give you good evidence. Many tnnes .already, and everything.
when •I myself have gone with my brother'' and other doctors (Plato, Phaedrus 2.67AB: A2.6),
to someone who is sick, but refuses to drink· medicine or. to
We learn a little more from the same passage~ (taken

allow the doctor to cut or to cauterize him, I have persuaded
him, with no skill other than rhetoric. And' I claim that if a from a lost work of Aristotle)·tbat was quo;,d~tion to
doctor and an orator go to whichever city you like, and must Protagoras (ch. z; §28, p. 4I above). The whole context
compete in argument either in· the assembly or in any othe< may profitably be given here. Aristotle is presenting his theory
gathering, as to which of them should be chosen as doctor, the of the ongins of rhetoric as an art. It would seem that Gorgias,
<!octor would not get anywhere, while the able speaker would ike Protagoras, published collections o to oi,'"orschematic
be chosen, if he wanted to be.57 · se ut t at be also showed bow to magnt
(Ibid. 456AB =A2.2., expanded) or diminish the importance of any given topic. Aristotle him-
self doubtless learned something from these handbooks in
There is another passage relevant to this theme in Plato's composing his own Topics and Sophistical Refutations.
Philebus. ltc is put. into the mouth of Protarchus, who may or
may not be a real person.- bUt who ·is. portrayed as being a ~5- And so Aristode says that, once the tyiants had been ex-
follower of sophists. His mention of hearing Gorgias 'on marry pelled, there were legal claims in Sicily for the return of private

property a&er the· long interval; and, owing to the sharp

and adversarial nature of the people, it was then that the
Sicilians Corax and Teisias first wrote down the precepts ~f

:z.7. Sentences are finished off, either, as if naturally; through the

very arrangement of the' words, ot_by certain types of words
which have a certain degree of symmetry. If there are similar
cases at the ends,,correspillldence of equhl clauses, or the QPpo-

the art - for, prior to this, nobody had been accustomed to

use a particular method or art in their speech, even though sition of contrary ideas, the sentences then ve natural rhythm,
many had spoken with care and order. He also says that even i t s as not een rou t about deliberately."
Protagoras .prepared a~d wrote down discussions on promi- · aid to have been the firsfto have striven fo
nent toptcs, those whtch we now call commonplaces;" and {concinnitas).
\ th~ Gorgias did this as well, when he wrote in praise or criti- (Ibid. 164-'-5 = A3 I, expanded)
cism of., particular things, since he considered that the most
appropriate function of rhetoric was to be able to magnify And again, a little> further· on, in discussing the relationship'
something by praising it, and to bring it back down again by between [socrates and Gorgias -' and Thrasymachus.
blaming it."
(Cicero, Brutus. 46-7) 28. Those who have the greatest admiration fodsocrates give
the highest degree of praise to this particular achtevement- that
Various passages of Cicero's Orator, perhaps also deriving ulti- he was the >first to bring rhythm mto prose. For when,. he saw
mately from Aristotle, describe further fe,atures of Gorgias' that people hstened to orators wtth seriousness, but poets With
style, and detail his innovations. pleasure, if is said that he looked for iliythms which lie could
use even in oratory, both for the sake of pleasure ann'so that
:z.6. It is through this style [i.e. the epideictic] that one augments variety would prevent boredom. Their claim, howev'er, is partly
. one's vocabulary and gains a greater degree of &eed.'?m in •. en-
renee structure and rhythm. It even facilit,ates the harmony and
ftue, but not completely. For, although one'must·admit that
there was no greater expert in this style than !socrates, it was iii
fact Thrasymachus who first invented it. His writings are even
I balance of sentences, and permits clear and rounded periodic
sentences. This ornamentation ,is brought about deliberately, too rhythmic I. Moreover, as I said ·ust before, it was Gor ·as
first invented t e Juxtaposition of equa clauses, similar
and is not concealed, but manifest and open, so that there is
correspondence between words, as if the pairings had been · and contrary 1 eas ni correspon ence to' contraries -
measured. Accordingly, opposites are .frequently juxtaposed ~ose de:w ·c mos y ... ve a,r 1 ca ence, even if
and contraries paired together;.while there is also equality and this isRot:<!Me deliberaiety :;ur he ·ased'them excessively:-.. "
rhyme in the conclusions of clauses'"·: .. Thrl'symachus of Both Gorgias ary.d Thrasyma us were predecessors oHsocrates,
Chalcedon and Gorgias of Leontini are said to have ·been the so that he excelled them, not in innovation, but in moderation.

first to employ these devices, and subsequently, there was Theo· For just as he ·is more moderate in his use of metaphor and
dorus of Byzantium as well as the many others whom Socrates coining new words, he also sho'fS more restraint i~ the rhrrhms
calls 'cunning masters of speech' (logodaidaloi) in the themselves. But Gorgias is too keen on his own le and wan-
Phaedrus. 61 toni misuses 1s ,ornamentation' {as he himself consi ers it ;64
(Cicero, Orator 38-9 = A3o, expanded) .
whereas !socrates exercises more mo era o · · se o them,
even ~hough it was when he was young that he hear<! the aged
Cicero returns to this topic later in the work. Gorgtas in Thessaly. ,
{Ibid. 174-6 =A32, expanded)

Lastly, we have an interesting testimony from the second- where between prose and verse, as the Greeks· themselves
century AD soph~ihi/o~ (cf. Sr above), in one of his appreciated.
letters, addressed to mpr ss Julia J?omna. 67
.(Jn Not-Being, or On Nature
:.9. The ar;lmiref$ of Gorgias were noble and numerous: first, the We. begin,- however, with- his treatise On Not-Being, or On
Greeks in·Thessaly, among~tor' (rhetoreuein) Nature," which is reported to UU.JY the second-centurvAD Scep-
acquired the synonym .'te Go~' (gorgiazei?!b· and, sec- ticalphilosopherSextusEmpirials,liJUJbjilheauthorofacurious
1 ondly, all Greece, in whose presence at the Olympic Games he
denounced the barbarians, speaking from the platform"' in front
.-Jittk"i:! indiUJed in the "AriStoteliim WtpiiS, ~elissus,
Xenop -es,Gorgias(berea{terMXG).ltisnotdeartlutteitber
of the temple. Aspasia of Miletus is said to have: sharpened the thelllltbt,rofthe MXG or Seztu5jstptoting~uerlmzim.·
tongue of Pericles in in$rtion of Gorgias, and Critias and but it semrsliltely that they are not altering very much. If this is
Thucydides were not unaware of how to acquire Jrom him so, Gorgias has, for the purpose o satirizin ~ ·
grandiloquence and solemnity, converting it into their own - most spec ca in a ob · · --,_Melissus o Samos,
) work, the one hy dextaity, ~e C)ther hy vigour of expression. .abandone is characteristic high-flown sty and adopted a
Aeschines tlte So.cratic, in whom you" were recently interested bald 'scientific/logical' mode suitable to the subject-matter.
on the ground that he was clearly criticizing dialogues, did ngt Tker_e is, it must be said, a fair_ degree of controversy over
hesitate to~ in the s~for Thargelia. For at one Gorgias' true purpose in composing this remarkable document.
point he says:-''~lia the Milesian, coming to Thessaly, lived Ancient authorities, beginning with Gorgias' own /!!;IPil Isoc-
with Antiochus the Tbessalian, who was king of all.Thessaly.' lates {Helen 3)," and inchuling Sextus himself aiul-m-y

The digressions (ap.ostaseis) and transitions (prosbo/a•1 of modern authonties, are inclined to take it. seriously/". while
Gorgias' speeches bc:caw.e the fashion in many quarters and others71 have regarded it as an.atttiiSing spoof. We woald agree
\ ~Y among the epic poets. · with George Kerferd that_Gorgias is serious at least to the
· (Philostratus, Letters 73 =A3 5) · extent c!f ~ishin t . trate that he, bY the exerc_ise of his
rhetorical skills. ii beat theEleat11; .phllosopbers •
e1r own e tbi_cQIJ§iSt"!'t.with his claims as
FRAGMENTS AND TESTIMONIE_S OF t<l.lbe sovereig!'_ status ol rhetoric. ·
Since neither Sextus nor MX G can be regarded as completely
NAMED WORKS accurate, we give their texts in turn, section by sectio,..
In the case of Gorgias, we have what we db not have for any
3o(i)a. {65] Gorgias of Leontini belonged to the same party as
of his major rivals: some stibstantial surviving documents. In

those who abolish the criterion,72 although he did not adopt the
tht! case of the Helen and the Palamedfs, we have the actual
same line of attack as Protagoras. For in his book entitled o,.
texts in full;' in the case of the treatise On Not-Being some-
Not-Being, or On Nature, he tries to establish successively three
thing less than that, but certainly its substance. In the case
main points- firstly, that nothing exists; secondly, .that· even
of the Helen, qt least, we have thought it suitable to arrange
· · exists it is inapprehensible (akata • ton b man;
the text in quasi-poetical form, by dividing it according tl)
third! that even if an IS a re ensibl et.=ainly it is
the clausulae, to give some impression of the effect of the
inexpressible and incommunicable (anexoiston kai anher-
original. In fact, Gorgias is creating here a literary form some-
mineuton) to-one'Sileighbour.

---1 {

661 That nothing existS he argues in the following fashion. owhere, and if it: is nowhere it does not exist._ So then, if the '
If anything exists, either it is the existent tha.t e:cists or ~e non- existent is etern , It IS nof"even·existent at all. c
existent, or both the existent and the non-eXIstent ex1st. But [7r1 Nor, again, can'tlieexrnenr bcrcreated.76 For iht has
neither does the existent exist, as he will establish, nor the en created, it has been created either out of the existent or out
non-existent, as ·he will demonstrate, nor- both the existent the non-existent. But it has not been created out o{Jhe
and the non-existent, as he will also mal<e plain. Nothing, stent; for if itis existent it has not been created, but exists
therefore, exists. . already; nor out of the non-existent· for the non-existent cannot
{671 Now the i10n-existent does not exist. For if -the non- create an g, ecau~e what is creative of anything must of
existen~ts, it will 'at one and the same time eXISt ana not ( necessity partake of real existence. Neither, then, is the existent •
exist· for in so far as it is conceived as non-eXIstentirWillnot created.
' wholly absurd that a thing. shoUld
Biifrti's . -
eXIst'., but'lllSOiar as 1t .S non-eXistent, it will, in tum, exist. 74
boih eJOSt and
{721 In the same way, it is not both together- at once eternal
and created; tor these are destructive the one of the other, and
rion:xist at one and the same time. Therefore the non-existent if the eXIStent is eternal it has not been created, while if it has
does note . . Moreover, if the non-existent exists, the existent
will not exist; for tliese are contrary the one to the other, and
if existence· is a property of the non-existent, non-eXistence
r been created it is not eternal. So then, if the. existent is neither
eternal nor created nor both at once~t will ~t exist.
[731 Moreover, if it exists, it is either one or mariY; out, as we
will be a property of the existent. But it is not the case shall snow, it .is-neither one nor man ; therefore· the is tent
that the existent does not exist;· neither, then, will the non- oes n · .. · 1 IS one, Jt 1s either a discrete quantity
eXistent exist. (po$onror a. continuous one (synekhes) or a magnitude (meg~
{681 Furthermore, the existent does not exist either. For if the ethos) or a body (soma). But whichever of. these it be, it is not
existeiit eXIsts, 1t 1s e1ther eternal (md•on) or cr:aced1fefihon!, one; but if it be a discrete. quantity it will be divisible, and if it
or at once botll etemafanCFCreated; but, as we shall prove,-1t IS be a continuous one it wilL be capable of being cut up; and
neither eternal nor create';lr,or both; therefore the eXistent does similarly if it be conceived as a magnitude it will not be indivis-.
not exist. For if the existent is eternal; it has no beginning ible, while if it'is a body it will be three,dimensional, for it..will
(arkhe); {69} for everything created has some beginning, but the possess length and breadth and depth. Butit is absurd to say
eternal; being uncreated, has no -beginning. And havmg no that the existent is none of these; therefore the existent is not
beginning, it is infinite (apeiron): But if it is infinite, it is no~here. _ one. 78 {741 Yet neither is it many. For if it is not one, neither is
For if it is anywhere, that in which it is is different from 1t, and it many; for the many is a sum of. ones, and hence if the one is
thus the existent, being encompassed by something, will no done away with, the many also are done a\vay with along with it.

longer be infuiire; 75 for that which encompasses is larger than ·Well; then, it is plain from this that neither does the existent
that which is encompassed, whereas nothing is larger than the exist nor the non-existent exist;175J and that they do not both
infinite· so that the' infinite is not anywhere. exist- both the existent and the non-existent- is easy to prove.
{7o1 Nor, again, is it encompassed by itSelf. For, if so, that in For if the non-existent eXists and the existent exists, the non-
which it is will be ide'ntieal with that which is in it, and the existent will be identical with the existent. so far as regards
existent will become two things, place and· body (for that
wherein it is is place, and that which is thereid is body). But this
existing·, and for this reason neither of them exists. For it is
admitted that the non-existent does not exist; and it has been

is absurd; so that the existent_ is ?ot ~ itself ei~he_r. ~onse~ue~d~, demonstrated that the existent is identical therewith; therefore
if the existent is eternal it IS infinite, and if It IS 1nfinite 1t IS . it too will not exist. {76} And what is more, if the existent is
~ identical with the non-existent, both of them cannot exist; for On the other band, if the non-existent exists, then the existent,
\ if the pair of them both exist, there is no identity, and if there is i,ts opposi~, he says, will not e~st. For if the non--<:xistent exists,
identity, there is n~ longer a pair_:...Etom-whicb it follili ID:'t then the ex:tstent should not extSt. And so, accordingly, he says,
nothing exists; for if neither the existent 'exists nor e non- \ nothing· would exist, unless the existent and the non-existent
existent nor both, and besides these, no other alternative is are the same. But if they are the same, in this way too, nothing
conceived, nothing exists. could exist; for the non-existent does not exist, and nor does
(SextuS Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians VII 6 5-76) the existent, given that it is the same as the non-existent. Such,
then, is his argument. '
II Theauthornowproceeds (979a34-bzo) to criticize thisargu- •

Let us turn now to the version "given in MX G, which certainly
derives from the same original tis Sextus, but is independent in ment, rather ploddingly, but very reasonably, by· emphasizing
! '
certain details of vocabulary and argumentation (which will be ' the distinction between the existential (which he calls the 'basic'
noted). The author, it must be said, is much more interested - haplos) and predicative senses of 'is'. In all this he shows no
than Sextus in ·the provenance of Gorgias' arguments, iden- si o recognizing (any more than does Sextus, after all}•that
tifying them as emanating from Melissus or Zeno, or even the this is all a ~ etorica toll£__e r~ · ·

3o(ii)a. [979arz] ,Gorgias cl<!ims that nothing exists; then, if

.i [979bzo] After this argument, he says thar; if anything exists,
it is either uncreated (ageneton) or created (genomenon). If it is
. uncteated, he ·deduces, from the ..views of .Melissus, tbat it is
anything does exist, tt tS uuknowah~oston); and finally, if infinite (apeiron): Yet he also claims that the infinite is nowhere;

1 {t is knowable, it cannot he reve•led-:{de/Qton}-to_others. To

show that nothing exists, he combines the claims of other people,
all of those who seem to say contrary things about being (ta
given that it can be neither in itself nor in something else; for
the latter wo11ld. mean that there were two .infinites, the . one
which is in something and the thing in which it is. But tbat
onta): some tbat it is one and not many, others, conversety,tfiilt which is nowhere must be ~ing, he derives from Uno's,
tt ts many and not one; and some demonstranng that it is [ argtirilent abolJ!.space (khdr<4.-ill
ilncreated, others that it comes into existence." He concludes So this is why it ts not uncteated; hut nor is it created. For
·s from a combination of both positions. :_•]· nothing can come to be either out .of what is existent or on.t of
.' what is non-existent. For if it came into being from something
one or many and it is either uncreated or created. Indeed, if tt .•·• existent, it would have changed, which· is impossible; for. if the
turns out that it is neither one nor many, and neither uncreated '' existent were to Cbange,82 it would. no longer be existent; just
not created, it would be nothing. For if something did exist, it as, if the non-existent were to come into being, it would no
would be one or other of these. So, tbat there exists neither one longer be non-existent. Nor, on the other hand, could it come
to be from the non-existent; for. if the non-existent· does not

nor many, and neither uncreated nor created, he tries to show
partly as Melissus did and partly as Zeno did, after his own first ' exist, nothing could come to be out of what is nothing; while if
proof, in which he states that it is _impossible for either th_e the non-existent does exist, once again it coul!i not come to be
existent or the non-existent to exist. For i£ the non-ex:tstent IS from the non-existent, for the same reason that it coulil not •
non-existent,80 then the non-existent (to m2 on) woUld ex:tst no to be from. the existent. So, if it is necessary if
12SS tliiii the existent (to on). For me. non-existent is non- //1J;}l.nf1chiJll!: exists, it is ejther uncrrated Of
existent, and the existent is also existent, so that things no more are
\ exist than do not exist.

plain; [79] for'if ~gs thought are existent," all the things
[979b36] Again, if anything exists, it must, he says, be either
thought eXIst, and m the way, too, in which anyone has thought
one or many; if it were neither one nor many, it could not exist.
them ...But this is repugnant to reason; for j£ someone thinks of
He says it c,annot be one, because. what is truly one would be
a maii flying, or of chariots runnin ·not
incorporeal (asomaton), insofar as it has no magnitude (meg-
stral t away o ow·that a man is· flying, or that chariots are
ethos)- this is removed from it by Zeno's argument." If, how-
running over the sea. SO that the thmgs thought are not existent.

ver, it is not one, it could not exist at all. For if it is not one,
{Ba] Furtliermore, if the thingS thought are eXIstent, the non-
neither,can it be many;84 and, he argues, if it is neither.9_ne nor
existent ~ings will not be thought. For opposites are properties
s jt many, then it does not exist at all. .
of opposites, and the non-existent is the opposite of the existent;
[980a2] ~n, be declares that nothing can be moved." For
and because of this, if 'to be thought' is a property of the existent,
if it were. moved, it.would not still. be the same asit.was,:but
'not to be thought' will most certainly be a property·of the non-
what exists would becol1).e non:existent, while the non-existent
existent. But ~s is absurd; for Scylla and Charybdis and many
_ \ . would come into·being...Furthermore, if it makes a movement,
non-eXIstent thmgs are thoughn ,Therefore the existent is not
through which it changes place, not being continuous, it is
divided," and at the point where the existent is divided, it does ~~~f;~~~~~~~t~~~~~~ thingsseen are called ~le because·
. are seen, and the audible termed audible
not exist; so that if. .it moves in every part, it is divided in every
b~ause ~f the fact that they are heard, and we do not reject the •
part; and if this is the. case, it does not exist in any part. For it
V1~1ble thmgs because they are not heard, nor dismiss the audible
lacks existence; he says, at the point where it is divided- using
~lungs because they ':'re not seen (for each object ought to -be
the term 'division' rather.. than 'void', as it is written in the
87 Judged'- by its own special sense and not by another) -so also
treatises ascribed to Leucippus. things thought will exist, even if they should not be viewed
(Pseudo-Aristotle, Melissus, Xenophanes;Gorgias 979a12.-
.sight nofheard by the hearing, because they are perceived
98oa2) thell' own proper criterion. If, then, a man thinkS of a chariot
over the sea, even if he does not behold 'it he ought to
(We turn now to the second of Gorgias' propositions, first in the
that a chariot is fuitriirig over the sea. But this is absurd;
Iversion of Sextus. fher·efore the existent is not thought and apprehended.
(SeXtus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians Vii 77-82) ·
30(i)b.. [77J next place it must be sho that even·if
~ything ~xists it is u~owa. e an mconceivable (agnoston te
in the version ofMXG:
.kii[gnepiffl:ieton) by man. If~ys G~as, the things thgught
are non-existen the existent is not thought. And this is logically
[98iJa8] And so, he gives these proofs
vali : or just as, if it IS a property o t gs thought to be whit~,
then it would be a property of things white to be thought, so, if
) it is a property of things thought to be non-existent, then it will For then it would be neces-
all things thought to exist, while the non-existent since
necessarily be a property of things existent not to be thought. . '
not eXIst, could not be thought. But, if this is' the case, he •
[78] Consequently, it .is ·logically sound and consi.stent t? say:
no one could say something false, not even if he were
'if things thought are not existent, then the eXIstent IS not
that chariots race in the sea: For everything would be in
) thought'. 88 But things thought (for we must take them first) are
not existent, as we shall establish; therefore, the existent is n~t
class. And, so, things seen and things heard will exist,\

l thought. And in fact that the things thought are not existent
15 each of them is an object of thought; but if we reject

this reason, claiming that, just as what we ~ee does not exist to rest'ofsubsisting things, a11d visible bodies differ very gready
a greater extent because we see it, so what we see does not exist from spoken words; for the. visible object is perceptible by one.
to a greater extent because we think of it (for just as in that case sense-organ and speech by another. Therefore speech does not
many would see these things, in this case too many people would serve to indicate the great majority of subsisting things, even as
think.these things), why would)t be,more clear whether such they themselves do not reveaf each other~s nature.
things exist?'" But it is very clear whi.·ch type of things is true. So (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematician_s_ Vll 83-6)

I that, even if things do exist, they must be unknowable, at least

for us.
(Pseudo-Aristotle, Melissus, Xenophanes, Gorgias 98oa8)
And so ba4 f~ MXG.

3o{ii)c. (98oai9] But evm if they ~ !mown, how, he says,

We 111m now to the third stage of Gorgias' argument, (im in
Sextus' version.

3o(i)c. {83] And even if it should be apprehendl!d; i~ is incapable

of being communicated (a!!_exoiston} to another persofi.For if
! could anyone reveal them to someone dse? For. liaw could
anyone express what they have seen ~ (logot1 o~, how
could it become clear to the hearer,. if he has not seen 1t? For
just as sight does not~ sounds, so, likewise, hearing does
not recognize colours, but only sounds; moreover, the speaker
existept things, as objects Of VISion and of hearing and of the speaks, but he does not sneak a colour or a thin_g. So, when some-
senses in general, are by definition ex.ternally existent, and if one has no conception ("'!''oia), how could he conceive it through
these visible things are apprehensible by sight, and audible by SO!Deo,ne else's wqrds, or through some sign which is other than
he;IPng, and not vice versa, how, in this case, can these things tha.tthing, unless. he sees it, if it is a colour, or he hl::!lS it, if it· a

be indicated to another perso!}? [84] For the means by which sound? For, firsdy, nobody~ a sound or a colour, but only
~~),_and speech is not idmrical .with
the really subsislen~ therefore we do Dot indicate to our I a word; so that~ il; not possible to think a colour but only to see·
it; nor to think a sound, but only to hear it. And evep .if it is
nei b . but s eech, which is other thai! possible to know and read a word, how can the hearer have a
~hat. subsists. Thus, just.as the visible gs w .not become conception o( the s~e t:)llng? For it is impossible for the same
audible, and vice versa, so too, since the existent subsists exter~ thing to exist at the same time in a oumber of separate peopl~;
nally, it will not becow.~ i,dentical with our speech; and not being for.then the one would be two. But ever if the same thing wa. s
speech, {85] it cannot he revealed ro_an~. in a number of-people, !'othing would stop it from appearing
Speech; moreover, as he asserts, is formed t'Iom the impres- differendy in them, given that they are not completely alike, D.9!
sions caused by external objects, that is to say, objects of sense; I in the same place; for if there was. such a t:IIil)g, it would be one.
"' for from .the occurrence of flavour there is prodl)ced in us the and not two. But not even the same man appears to perceive
speech uttered concerning this quality, .and by the incidence similar things in himseif ~t the same time, but different things
of colour speech respecting colour. And if this be so, it is not with his hearing and with his sight, and ~~ent again at the
speech that serves to reveal the external object, but th!' external present moment' and in the past, so that one man can hardly
object that proves to be explanatory of speech. [86] Moreover, perceive the same as another .Thus it is iropossible,.if.anything
it is not po~sible to ,.ssert that speech subsists. in the sam.e fashion . exists, for it to be J<nown; and. if it. is koown, no one could
'! as things visible and audible, so that the subsisting 31}d existent ...m_eal it to another; for the reason that things are not words,
things can be indicated by it as by a thing subsisting and exis- and because no one has the same conception as another.
J'tent. For, ~e ~ys, even if speech subsists, yet it differs from the (Pseudo-Aristode, Melissus, Xtinophanes, Gorgias 98oar9)

or by force ravished honour, whether I am.to die justly, or whether I must-die
{ or by divine constraint compelled violently with the greatest reproaches and the most shameful
J she is utterly acquitted of all charge? ' accusation. [2.] These being the. two alternatives, you have the
[u) I have through speech removed ilrfame from a latter100 within your power, I the former; for justice is in my
Woman. hands, violence in yours. lJlli:Wjltjje able to kilhne;ifyou.wish,
I have stayed ttue to the procedure that I set up Gasily; for you ;have power in thi~ sphere, over which, as it
. at the outset of my speech. / happens, I have no power.,.
I have tried to en~ the injustice of blame (momou adikian) {3] If, then, the accuser, Odysseus, made his accusation, either
and the Ignorance of opinion (doxes amathian). clearly know'iimtlia a ymg reece or conjecturing ~
.J My purpose was to compose a speech .liS an encomium of somehow at this was the case, out of good will towards Greece,
then he would~t of men; how would this not be ttue
.t, \
and an amusement for
. of one who saves his homeland, his parep.ts and all Greece; and
4_ S. myself."
in addition-punishes a wrongdoer? But if he has compounded
this allegation out of envv or conspiracy or knavery, just as in
~oy V'J,-- DefenceofPalamedes t;he foi:mer case he wouldbe the finest of men, so in this case he
}!.e I)efence of':alamedes, as we have said already, while stylist- would be the worst of men.
lca~ly graCC{UI, IS not a prose poem in the way that the Helen is: [4] In my exposition of these matters, ~-I be~?
It IS rather an exercise in ar ment om robabili ,'' trans- What shall I say first? To what part of the defence shall I rurn
pose . to the arena of myth. The story behind it is that o the iny attention? ·For an unsupported accusation creates evident
'trammg' of Palamei!es, at the siege o( Troy, by Odysseus. perplexiry, and because of the perplexity it follows that I am at
Palamedes, '!'ho was r~ted the deverest of the Greeks after a loss in my speech, unless I learn something from the truth itself
Odyss.eus ":_mself, had m~rred the ermJity of Odysseus by and the present necessiry, having come .upon teachers more
exp~smg· hiS trickery when Qilysseus ilttempted to get out 9f productive of danger than solutio~. 101 {5] Now I clearly know
servmg m the expec#tion to Troy bji /e1gnmg madness. In that m accuser accuses me with < · for.I
ow in m heart clearl that I have d o su · ~nd I

revenge, wben the expeditiOn. r_.efJChed Troy, Ot;o/sseus framed
P~lamedes by forgtng a letter to htm from Priam, arranging for . o not know how anyone could koow.-wbat djd not happen.
h1m to betra the ree s, a i a sum o o m IS tent. n But in case he made the accusation thinking it to be so, I s!l;tll
h_is evidence, Pa ame es was _ou guilty and put to eath by show. you in·two ways that he is not speaking. the ttuth; for I
the army. could not if. I wished; nor would I if I could, put my hand to
As a counterpart to this speech - not a direct response to it, such works as these.
but probably st~mulated by it - see the Odysseus of Gorgias' {6} I rurn first to this argument, that I lack the ~apaciry to
pupil Alcidamas, below ch. 9, pp. 303-9. perform the act. There must, after all, have been some starting-
point of the treason, and that ~g-point would. have been
speech, for before ,.any future deeds there must first be dis-
cussions. But how corild there be discussions unless there had
/ !.een some meetmg? Arid how coUld there have been a meeting
unless the other party sent to me or someone went from me to
him? For no message arrives in writing without a bearer.

171 But this, you may say, can be conveyed by speech. So then, up, we came to an agreement, l received money from them, I
suppose he gets together with' me, and I with him -' how does managed to avoid detection, I hid the money.J then had to
this work? How do we communicate with each other- Greek deliver ·that about which these deliberations had taken
with forei er. o eac other? Just !!lace; This, however, IS more troublesome still than what I
on our own? But we do not understand each o er s age. have already described. For in acting, I had to act either by
1 o wt an interpreter? That would be adding third person in myself or with others. But this is not work for one man. Then
j a situation where things need to be secret. in concert with others? But who? Clearly those with whom I
{8] But let us assume that this event has happened, even associate. These would have to be free men or slaves, would
. . _ thOulih it has not The next thing requisite is to give andreceive they not? Well, the free men with whom ·I associate- are you
some pledge of faith• What would the pledge be? Would it be yourselves. Who, then, among iOu had any awareness of this?
an oath? Who was gomg to trust me, traitor that I would ·be? Let him speak. As for slaves, is it not incredible that I would use
But perhaps an exchange of hostages? And who could those be? them? For they are prepare<! to 1riform ooth in the hope of
For instance, f,might have handed over my brother (for.Lhad freedom and when hard-pressed by necessity. 104
no one else); 103 and the foreigner one of his sons; in this way the {I2]As for the action, how would it have been carried out? •
pledge would have been most secure from him to me and from Clearly the enemy had to be introduced into the camp in greater
me to him. But such action, if it happened; would have been numbers than yourselves, which is impossible. How could I
manifest to all of you. - have introduced them? Through the gates? But it is not my job

[9] Now it may be :illeged that we made the contract for to shut or open these - there are: special officers in charge of
money, he giving it, and l receiving it. Was it, then, for a small that. Well then, perhaps over the walls, with a ladder? But surely
sum? But it is not probable that a man would take a small sum <I would have been detected>. 105 The whole area is full of
for a great service. So, then, a large sum? What, in that case, guards. Well, how about through a hole in the• wall? No, it
was the means of conveyance? How could one persori have would have• been obvious to ·all. Life under arms is carried
ca.rried 1t? Or are we to suppose many? But -if many b--rought it, on outdoors· (this is a camp, after all!), where everyone sees •
there would have been many witnesses to the ploti while if one everything, and eveiyone is see"' by everyone. In every circum~
brought it, what was brought could · not have amounted to stance, then, and by every means it was impossible for me to do
anything much. [xo] And again, did they bring it by <l_ay or by any of these ~-
\ night?. But, in the latter case, there is the difficulty of the great {r JJ' Consider, all of. you, the following point as well. What
number of gnards and the frequency of their patrols, so that reaso~did I have to wanuo do thiS, even granting to the full
there is no possibility of evading them. By day, then? But the that I lllld the capability? For no one wishes without due-reward

l light plainly militates against such activities. So much for that,

then. N_gn, did I go out to receive this bribe, or did he who
was bringing it come into the camp? But both alternatives are
to run the greatest dangers, or to plumb the depths of wicked-
ness. So what reason was there? (Again I revert to this point.)
Was it to' ain absolute rule? Over you, or over the foreigners?
~ible. lf I had in fact gone out and got u, how would I But over you I would have no prospect o ru g," so you
have concealed it both from those within the camp and those are and of such a nature, considering the many great resources at
outside it? Where would·I have put it? How would I have kept • your disposal, noble ancestry, material wealth, distinguished
it safe? lf I had made use of it, I would have been unmasked; if ·achievements, strength.of.intellect, royal status in your cities.
I did not, then of what advantage was it to me? [n] ~ut let us/ Ir4} So, over the foreigners then? But who is going to be their •
assume that what did not ha~ in fact b~~- We met betrayer? By employment ofwhat power shall I, a Greek, take

the foreigners, I being one and they many? By persuasion,

of some profit, or to escape some punishment; ani! whatever
pray, or force? They would not be willing, I think, ·to,be per- villainy is committed for reasons other than these <is ·likely to
suaded, and I would hardly be in a position to apply force. But involve the perpetrator in gteat evils. But that r·would most of
perhaps there are those willing to betray them to a willing accom- all> 106 do harm to myself by committing these acts is quite clear.

plice; accepting a reward for their betrayal? But to believe and For in betraying Greece I was betraying myself, my parents, my
accept this is the ·height of foolishness; for who would choose o!
fri,ends, the honour my ancestors, the eults of my native land,
slayerjr instead of kingship, the worst in place of the best? the tombs of my famtly and my fatherland which is the gteatest
[IJ] Now someone might say that I have entered on this in Greece. 107 Those things that mean most to all men I would be
through a passion for wealth and money. But I possess a modest handing over to wrongdoers.'"' [2.o~rtsider this a~.
sufficten of money, and I have no nee!f Ohnnch~ is the big How would my life nat he-unli• eable: ne these things?
spenilers w o ave need of much money, not those who are in Wliere could I have turned for help? To Greece? Ouly to suffer
control of the pleasures of natUre, but those who are enslaved the due penalty from those that I had wronged? Who, indeed,
to pleasures and are.. seeking to·acquire honours from wealth of those who had suffered could keep his hands off me? So tlien
and conspicu~us'consumpn.·on ..N. one of this applies to me. To was I to stay among the foreigners? Abandoning everything of
the truth of this claim I offer my past life as witness, and to this most importance to me, deprived of the finest honour, spending

f.you yourselves can be witnesses. You have been my companions,

so you know where the truth lies.
my days in the most sharndul ill-repute, casting aside the labours
performed in the cause of virtue throughout my past life? And
[I6] Nor indeec!_for the sake of. honour would anyone with that through my own· fault, though to fail through one's own
even a moderate degree of w1t set his hand to such an enterprise. fault is the greatest shame for a man. [2.i] Moreover, not even
or honours derive from virtue, ·not from wickedness. How among the foreigners would I be trusted. How could I be, seeing
would honour accrue to the etrayer. 0 ' .seece. ' a1n ·any tliat they were aware that I had done something supremely
case, I am not.m want of. honour; for I am inofact held in the untrustworthy, in haVing betrayed my friends to my enemies?
highest honour, ·by the most honourable of men, that is to say Life is not worth livin "if oses one's credibility. One may.
\yours.elves, ~or my wisdom. [I7].Nor, furthermore, would one lose one's money, or be deposed from a so ute rue, or be exiled ••
J do these things on gtounds of. security. For the· traitor is the from 'one's fatherland, and still pick oneself up, but once one
enemy of all: the l~w, justice, the gods, the gteat multitnde of , has lost one's credibility bne can never get it back.
mankind. He transgtesses the law, l).e dissolves ju5tice, ,he So then, that I would not, <if I could, nor could 'not; if I
destroys the multitude, he dishonours divinity.. But he whose would>, 109 betray Greece I hav~ now sufficiently demonstrated.
life is beset with the gteatest dangers can have no security. [IS{ [22} I next wish to turn to a·direct address to my accuser. In
But perhaps I wanted either to ·help my .friends or harm my what,I wonoer, ao you· put your fiilth""When, hliving such a-
enemies?After all, one might commit injustice for these reasons. character as you have, you direct an accusation at one such as
But in my' case quite the opposite situation obtained: I was me? It is worthwhile learititi" what sort of a man it is who makes
harming my friends and helpil).g my· enemies. The action ~ese a eganons, su as you are unwo y to rna e, an aiii
involved no acquisition of goods; but no one enters upon a crime unworthy to recetve. no Aie you attacking me. on the basis of
sure knowledge oi' Of conjecture? If on the basis of knowledge,

! with th5' aim of doing badly. [I 9] The remaining alternative is

that I did what I did to escape some terror or trouble or danger.
But no one could say that any of these motives apply to me. All
men do all things in pursuit of these two aims: either in search
you presumably know what' you •know either-from seeing the
deed yourself, or from partiCipating, or through learning the
from someone wlio participated. If, then, you saw yourself,

-------- ------~.--~-c~~ ..

tell-the judges here the manner, the place, the time - when, And yet how ca" one have mn6dence in a man who in the
where, how you saw. If you participated, you are liable to the course of the same speech to tbe ,<a me audience makes the most
same questions. And if you beard the facts frol)l a participant, contradictory assertions about the same.subject? [261 I would
we must know who he is -let him come forward, let him show like to hear ·from you whetlret you dti:nk~ wise men are
hi!Ilself, let him bear witness! For the accusation will gain much witless or intelligent. For if you think they are witless, your
1 jn-credi!>ility if you can produce a Witness. As it is, neither gf us
can prod.uce a witness. .
argument is innovative, but not true; whereas if you think they
are. intelligent, then sur!'ly it is not appropriate to intelligent

. .f23] BUt perfulps you will. claim that it is fair for Y9!1 not to men to commit the grossest mistakes, and to prefer evils to the
produce witnesSeS of what you allege happened,· but that it goods in their possession. If therefore I am wise, I )Jave not made
is for me to produce ~tnesscs for what did not ·happen. mimkrs; if I have made mistakes; I am not WISe.. SO m eithr:t;
But this is precisely not fair; for as to what did not happen it is, cacr you would be wrong.
surely, impossib_l~ to produce witnesses, whereas for what hap- [2 71 I have no desrre, though I could do so, to bring up against
pened it is.!lOt only not impossible; but is ~Y easy, and not you in turn the many abo~tioas, both old and new, that you
only· easy, but <actually;required. But>111 lor you it was not

have committed in your time; 112 for I do not wish to escape this
possible to find, never mind witnesses, but'even false witnesses, indictment O!l the ground of your misdeeds, but on the basis of
while for me It was posSJble to hrid ne1ther of these./24). That my virtues. So much, then, for you.
you do not possess knowledge about the subject-matter of your [>.BLTo yon,.bowever gentlemen ofthe juryz_I want ~o say
accusation is obvious, then. It follows, therefore, t\J.at since you something about myself which may seem invidious, b1,1t is true,

l do not have knowledge, you must have an opinion. Do ·you

then, most reckless of men, on the basis of opinion, that most
111\ttustworthy thing, and having no knowledge 0 £ the truth,
dare to bring a man up on a. capital charge?~
know ·of that h•s done any such thing? It 1il_open, surely, to.
something, that would not be appropriate to one. who is not
onder indictment, but quite fitting to someone who is. For I
am now undergoing scrutiny~' before you, and presennng an
iCCODnt of my past life. I therefOre bnphni: you; if IYeDI.iiUI you
of some of my past good deeds, not to. !>e offended at wha~ I
an men to have opinions on any su_bject you please, and as say, but rather to accept that it is incumbent on .one who is
to this you are no wiser than a11yone else; but jt is not right to under grave and false indictment to say someth,ing about his
\ repose trust in those who express opinions, but rather in those true virtues among you who kiiow them already- which indeed
who _have knowledge, nor to hold opinion to be mQre trust- I regard as a- mos1:i11leasant task. {291 First, then, and ~nd
worthy than truth, but on the co~trary, truth more trustworthy and most of all, all through from beginniu_g to end my past life
than opini_on. has been h!amefess. free. from any accusation; for no one has
[251 You have accused me in the indictment we have heard of .\n;een able to, fix any true accusation of wrongdoing agaill!lt me
two most contradictory things, wisdom and madness, tTiings ; with you. Iu<leed not even my accuser bas presented any proof
\ which ~ot CoeJOst m the same man. When: you claim that I of, anything that be has alleged; thus his speech, lacking any
am anful and clever and resourcefnl, yqu are accusitlg me of proof, bas the effect of-mere 11buse. i3 OJ I"iiiight indeed. .,:Jaim,

! wisdo~ while when you claim that I betrayed Greece, yofl

accuse me of madness.l'or it is madness to attel)lpt actions which
are impossible,· disadvantageous and disgracefnl, the results of
which would be such as to harm one's friends, benefit one's
;md in doing ~9 I would not be !riM, nor could I be r,efuted, that
I blameless but
For wh~ else

enemies and render one's o:wn life contemptib_le and precarious. hUiltJaD life viable instead of destitute, and civilized
instead of uncivilized, by developing military tactics, a major take great care not to make mistakes, and much more in cases
contrivance for progress; written laws, the guarantees of justice; that admit of no remedy than i,n those that do; for these can be
writing, the instrument of memory; weights and measures, the dealt with by those who exercise foresight, but. are beyond
convenient means of commercial exchange; number, the guar- cUie to those who must resort to hindsight~s is the case
dian of goods; powerful beacons and· very swift messenger ser- when men judge a man on.a.capital..charge. as is the situation
vices - and, last'but not least, draughts, a harmless way of ..facin!H'rm-now. [35] If, then, through words the truth of deeds
passing the time?'" {3 I 1I menuon these by way of oemonstrat- could become transparent and manifest to one's hearers, judge- •
mg at 1 1s this sort of thing that I apply my attention, using ment would' now. be easy on the basis of what has beeh said:
this as an indication that I abstain from shameful· and wicked Since, however; that. is not the case, put a guard on my body,
<leeds. For when one puts one's mind to such things as the
'Yait ;; !.J:>nger ume a;~ m;re y~IIJ: j)ldgement on ~he
former, it is impossible that one concern oneself with the latter.
And I claim the tight, if I on my part have done you no harm,
not myself to suffer harm at yoUI hands. {3 2.] And indeed for
t oasiS o_ !ni . For' you rmuhe great nsk, through appeanng
unjust, of losing one reputation and gaining a different ~me. To
good men death is preferable to a shamefUl reputauon; for
none of my other activities am I deserving of ill-treaunent, ·at
the hands of either young or old. For to older men I cause no
offence, to younger ones I am not without usefulness, while to
the fortunate I bear no grudge, arld for the unfortunate I am full
t the one is the natUial end of life, while the other is· a disease
within life. {3 6]If!ou kill me unjustly, it will become obvious
tp many- for I ani not unknown, and your. wtckedOesS will
ecome cuous to the whole of Greece.
of sympathy. I do not despise poverty, nor.do I honour wealth

And the blame for this injustice, as · c ear to all, will rest
above virtue, but rather virtue above wealth. I am hofuseless in with you; not with my· accuser; for the outcome of the trial
council, nor am I lazy in battle, but I do what I am assigned, in rests with you. But no greater error couM be committed than
f obedience to those in command. In truth, it is not my habit to
praise myself, but the present ~rgency ·compels me, since 1
have been accused of these things, to make my defence in every
this. For you will not only be sinning against me and my parents
if you deliver an unjust verdict here, but you will have on
your conscienceS the commission of a dreadful, godless, unjust,
@sible way. ·- lawless dcc4, in having put to death a man who was an all~
{33] It remains to me now to speak to you about yoUiselves,
and widi that I will end my defence. Appeals to pity and entreat- ). useful to you, a benefactor of Greece, and a fellow Gree ,
· cOiivla.llglilirt muhe basis of na cl~gdoing or reliable
i~s and the mtercess10n of ftlmds"m-e of use when the trial takes accusation.
place before a mob.i"' but among· you, the m'?st distingiiished
of the Greeks, and deservedly so regarded, it is iiot· p~oper to
--riiJI have said what I have to say, and I rest my case. For
while to recapitulate what has already been said at length may
re8ort'to persuasion by means of the intercession· of friends or be sensible,before bad judges; it is notcappropriate to assume
entreaties or appeals to pit}", but it is right for me to escape this that a body comprised of the most eminent of the Greeks does
charge by relying on the most perspicuous justice, explaining n~ attention nor rememlier what has been sa1d. 116
the truth, not seeking to deceive you. {341 And you in yoUI turii
r should not direct your attention to words in preference to deeds, Funeral Speech
nor give more credence to accusations rather than ·their refu- Other than these two orations, we h~ve one considerable pass-
tation, nor deem. that a short time affords wiser judgement age of a" Funeral Oration desi e ' e
than a long time, nor believe that slander is more reliable • . entan· ea at some point durinK the Peloponnesian Wac,
{ than yoUI experience of me. For ·in all cases good meh must preserved by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (~ B6), as an example

.1' the servants of those unjustly languishing,

the punishers of those unjustly ltourishing
bold in regard to the expedient, genite in regard to what
is fitting,
. by the prudence of judgement
\ . checking the irrationality <of vigour>,'"
33. Thu.s I have not come across any forensic speeches (dik.anikoi insolent with the insolent,

logoi) by him: apart from a few political (demegorikoi) speeches
and some handbooks (tekhnai), most of those which I have read
are epideictic. The following passage shows the characteristic
qualities of his speeches in the genre. He is celebrating the valour
} decent with the decent,
' fearless with the fear~,
terrible among terro~
As evidence of these qualities,
of the Athenians who distinguished themselves in war. they set up trophies over their enemies,
as honours to Zeus
'What was absent to these men but glories to themselves;
which should be present to men? not being inexperienced '
And what was present, '" either in inborn valour,

Would that I could sa~t.l.wish,

that should not be present?
I or in lawful loves,
or in armed strife,
- and would that I wish what I should, ! or in honourable peace,
, avoiding divine displeasure, II
reverent to the gods through justice, :
a~escaping human envy. I respectful to their parents through tendance,
I For these men attained . I just towards their fellow citizens through equity,
an excellence which is divine pious towards their friends through keeping faith.
but a mortality which is human,
otten preferring I Wherefore. othougli they have died "desire for diem has
.not dieQ, ·

I gentle fairness to inflexible justice

to exactness of law straightness of
but lives on,
• though_!hey live not,
:-imnlorral in bodies not immortal
speech, (all' athanatos ouk en athanatois samasl zii ou zonton).'
believing that the most godlike and universal law was (Funeral Oration, Dionysius of Halicarnassus,
this: Demosthenes I)
in time~
duly to s ak out and to remain ilent, We have a few other notable expressions or phrases culled from
to a d <to ne>,117 · " this and from other speeches. From this, the characterization of
cultivating two needed qualities especially, .~ vUltures as 'living tombs' (empsykhoi taphoi) and a phrase,
judgement <and vigour>m (gnomen kai rh6men),
ilie one for deliberating, the other for accomplishing
(ten men TiOUieuontes, ten de apotelountes), ~ j'""'-"""""' . ,.,....,,.__'
;) relayed. by Philostratus, revealing that Gorgias, like his pupil
34· 'Victories over the, barbarians call for·hymns, over. Greeks thought. This, boweve;, is probably an ill~si_on; Gorgias is much
for laments.'
more likely to be making a purely rbetor~cal pomt.
(Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists I 9, 5)
8. What Gorgias said is not absolutely"tru;. He said, 'B~ing (to~
Then, a fine characterization of the generosity of the Athenian !inai) is obSCUie (apbanes) if it is not grace~ by seemmg (to
statesman Gimon, which may have formed part ofan encomium [ dokein), and seeming is feeble (asthenes) •f not graced by
of Athens in general:
being.' 123
(Proclus, Commentary on Hesiod, 758)

And (rom an ·unknown work, a characterization of tragedy,

I reltlyed by~ as producing •

36. '~ptio.Q in which the deceiver is more justly esteemed

than the non-deceiver, and the deceived is wiser than the un-

1 deceived'.
(Plutarch, On the Glory of the Athenians 348C)

Again, from t'fn· unknown.,work, !!!'o notable phrases, dis-

ap roved o b Aristotle in his Rhetor1c, where he 1s detailing
types ofbad taste (psykhiotes m sty e. Here be is condemning
outlandish metaphors: •
37· For 121
instance, Gorgias talks of 'events that are green and full
of sap', and says 'foul was the deed you sowed, and evil the '
, harvest you reaped.' 122 1}lese phrases smack too much of poetry.
..,.., (Aristotle, Rhetoric III 3, 1406b5-ii)
Traces survive of his speeches at the Olympian and Pytbian
Games, and of his :P,comium for the People of Elis, as well as
) of his Art of Rhetoric, but nothing worth quoting.
Just one fragment, quoted by the Neoplatonist philosopher
Prpclus, in his commentary on Hesiod's Works and Days, is
intriguing, since it seems at first sight to embody a philosophical ..


l was presumably a form of self-advertisement, bUt it also betokens

a considerable degree of prior success. Gorgias, like Protagoras,
· is reported to have charged as much as xoo minae for a course,
an enormous sum (see below, SS3 and 5).
· If we may emend the impossible LXX (Olympiad 70) of Pliny,
• "·h••·• 1 History 33·83(cf. S ro below) to LXXXX (Olympiad 90).
reference back top. 481 (below, S>), where Philostratus gives
as ·his opinion that Gorgias was the founder of extempore
oratory (skhedios logos).
initially in 417 BC.
Quoted from Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae, 49·
I.e. of Apollo at Delphi.
This is a theme taken up in the next century by his pupil !socrates,
e.g. in his Panegyricus, and it may possibly find an echo in certain
remarks Plato grants to Socrates in Republic V 469Bff. regarding
·the war of Greek against Greek as a kind of 'civil war', which
would be pursued differently from war against barbarians. The
speech at Olympia was presumably delivered at some games
during the Peloponnesian War (probably 410 sc), which would
add to its point.
Philostrarus thus presents him as establishing his tradition of
rhetoric, in mainland Greece at least, only in his old age, when he
moved to Thessaly. In this he may be influenced by Plato's remarks
at the beginning of the Meno (7oB), quoted below, Sr6.
was in no, after the crushing defeat of his attempt to indict
CteSiphon for voting a gold crown to Demosthenes for his services
to the state.
The kairos is literally 'the right moment', but it is used here in a
rhetorical context as the term for improvisation.
, This story will be dealt with again below, under Prodicus
(pp. r n-r6), but it is worth bringing in here, as giving some
indication of the relations between the great sophists.
It is not clear that Philostratus is right about this. At the beginning
of Plato's Gorgias (cf. below, S17), Socrates' follower Chaere·
phon is represented as claiming to be a friend of Gorgias. It is quite
poSsible, in fact, to see the present anecdote as good~humoured
2 GORGIAS OF LEONTINI banter, rather than evidence of begrudgery; so we need not, in all
r. We take this work to be essentially a philosophical probability, postulate more than one Chaerephon.
not to say that some serio~1 ~ ~,~-;;;;-;c~;~~;;;;;:;:;~;;:;;j~i,u~, ;;:~;~ · i4; He is playing upon rwo senses of the Greek verb physatJ, which
are some, however, it must who take it more sc"orio,usl·r.l".! f- can mean 'inflate' or 'blow'.
1. Or alternatively,_ accor~ing to Pausanias and Plipy (see . i is; Again, there is play on rwo meanings of the word narthex, 'fennel
• . Stalk', which c:in be used either as a receptacle in which to carry
SS9-ro), he dedicated Jt to himself. This rather curious ' ....
354 355
fire, and presumably also to blow through, as . the waterclock (klepsydra) was the instrument by which speeches
or as a schoolmaster's rod, to beat sdooo,lbi>ys: in court were measured (though there was a spring of that name
last phrase, epi tous toioutous, is dellih<'tatel:y. atml>igl,oDis, on the north-west spur of the Acropolis).
between 'for such_ purposes' and 'to deal >6. This comic word (englottoga.stor) is a play on the words kheiro-
you)'. 'Presumably this anecdote is intended to ""'mate\.iO!glaJ ,gastor, 'one who feedshisstomach (=earns his living) by his hands',
readiness at repartee, which would be an aspect and engastrimythos, 'ventriloquist' (literally 'in-stomach-talker'),
ein, or improvisation. and has the sense of something like 'one who earns his next meal
x 6. The oldest known one being the third-century Be, Peripatti by his tongue', with the connotation of deceiving to do it.
biographer Satyrns (ap. Diogenes Laenius, cf. Again, a pure sykaziJ, 'harvest figs', gives an echo of sykophanteil,
r 'be a sycophant, or ft:leltious prosecutor'.
performal an :u:t of magic - · .~i.J; This is a parodic reference to a feature of Greek ritual. aa:ording
reliable. . : to which the tongue of the victim was cut out and offaro to the
17. On Alcidamas, see ch. 9 below. He stoutly upholdSthe god as a special item.
tradition of improvisation in his polemical di;;;.~~~.:~~~ •9· En dikei can also mean 'justly'.
the Sophists, or Those who Compose Written '1o, Pbilippon ton Gorgiou would normally mean 'Philip, son of '
primarily at Isocrates. ~~ Gorgias', but this cannot be literally true, since Gorgias was
r s. This is certainly correct if we s~~~;sJ,~~:J~;:;;;r~::h~;:~ .• unmarried (d. Srs below) .
•• n.· . .
to give the date of his birth, rather than of his <Jf· IS IS very cunously put. Wh o, one wonders, does Pausanias
latter, however, it is rather too early. ~ think of as the earlier masters of language? Homeric heroes such
r9. This seems a great deal of money, over twenl:y,live,!iJna r. ~ as Nestor and Odysseus, perhaps.
yearly salary of a skilled worker (about a draclupi, !"'l'UD\lf a jLit IWilS highly uolikely that he came with Teisias, since Teisias
is attested also for Protagoras (see above, p. 3 ), " was a Syracusan, and the point of the embassy was to ask for
taken seriously. This, however, was presumably fn,:·.,....l..t .Arhens' aid against Syracuse. But Teisias may conceivably have
course, which coold have lasted a year or mo~ ~ , ' chosen to visit Athens at more or Jess the same time.
2.0. At least as being fellow Ionians. ,, · Polyerates was a fairly distinguished rhetorician, of whom we
2.>. A quotation from Plato, Phaedrus (2.38D), describing , know the names of various speeches, but his most famous effort
ironic reference to his inspired state. ~ ~ ~s an attack on Socrates, put into the mouth of his accuser at
2.2.. Lieymnius of Chios. (fl. C.4IO Be), 'his trial in 399, Anytus. It is chiefly in response to this that
linked with Polus by Socrates in the Ph,ae<lru,f(l'67C) x'enophon composed his Memoirs of Socrates.
way as to make it seem that Polus learned n~ ::&:: ·nus
him: 'And what shall we say of Polus and his" 1 is the date of Socrates' birth, rather than of his 'flourishing'
(approximate age forty), which is the date one would have
speech" (mouseia logon), such as duplication (dipkliSic>(oB:/.Il'b ·, elt)X:ctt:d in this context.
the use of maxims (gnllmologia) and nJfi···- ~·~~;'3t~'l•~ as it stands, is rubbish. Empedoclcs and Socrates had no
what of the nama which Licymnius do1nat•ed ·connection whatever. Either there is a lacuna in the text (e.g. 'the
creation of beautiful diction (euepeia)?' ·teacher of Gorgias, <Was younger than Parmenides, and> studied
•3· That is to say, in the composition of prose (d. >•~ uCJOWJ,,,,·· , with him'), or Olympiodorus is profoundly confused. Victor
2.4· This is a sage remark on the part of mon]rsit~; Cousin proposed to read 'Parmenides' instead of chim' ' which is
,, -
that roo much has been made of the sernirloal il"llfuic:nc:e ofGcijil ,., n:asonable, but does nor entirely solve the textual problem.
visit on the growth of rhetoric in Athens, ... · is rubbish, the result of juxtaposing a birth-date for
a great boost to it. . with a 'flourishing' date for Gorgias. In fact, Gorgias
2. 5. Not a real district of Athens, but comic in•,enttio,n:.''Phan:re' • was th,e older by about ten years. Whether he really published the
have the connotation 'Informcrville', or•'The lnlfonmtJties'.' treatise On Nature iq this year is debatable; it is suspiciously close
to the conventional date of 'flourishing' (i.e. fortY). l;lut a~')east it;' 48. Polus has just offered a rather well-turned Gorgianic linguistic
indicates that the work was considered to be a major ~ic~ie.~tmefi't• pirouette in lieu of a definition.
of his, from a philosophical perspective.. . ". , 49 . We are doubtless meant to conclude that Polus is somewhat
• The figure 109, as opposed to 105 or roB, ts'Supportcd by ,the. embarrassed to own up to practising the craft of rhetoric.
chronographer Apollodorus (Fragments of the Greek HisloT!4nl 50. This claim recalls that attributed to Protagoras by Socrates at
~44 F 33), and the Suda (above, S3l: . ... .. ., Protagoras 334E: 'Well, I've heard that you can speak at such
s. Clearchus of Soli (c.340-~5o BC), hiStonao. He has been 9uoted length, when you choose to, that your speech never comes to an
by Athenaeus just above. . . •. end, and then again you can be so brief on the same topic that no
. The mss. give the Greek figures for So, but :his1salmost .ce~".llll,Y one could be briefer, and as well as doing it yourself you can
a scribal error for the figures for IIO, which are not dass.~ryl.~lar~· teach someone else how to do it.' Also, at Phaedrus 267AB, we
Gorgias' (approximate) age was too well known for. Cle'archus_to are told that Teisias and Gorgias 'invented both conciseness of
be so mistaken about it. . ." .~ , . speech and immeasurable length on all subjects'. This seems to
40 • A Peripatetic philosopher of the first century BC, a ft1~nd 3f ~to have been a widespread claim of rhetoricians.
the Younger. 1. Specifically the two words kheirourgema, 'manual work', and
41. Once agairi, a textual problem. The mss.
meaning 'for the sake of another', ":hie? would be
hav~~~~~~~~~=~~~ kyr6sis, 'effectiveness', which were certainly not in common use.
p. Aristotle may well be borrowing from the Meno passage here,
lion of absolute selfishness, something m no but that does not preclude his having independent knowledge
the tendency of the passage as a whol<;, It ~~~~:~:~:;~,~~ij that this is an accurate portrayal of Gorgias' position. In what
of living for pleasure. A reasonable conJecture is context Gorgias may have expounded his views on _ arete it is
'of the intestine'. , hardly profitable to speculate, but it is more likely to have been
42. We must bear in miDd here that Isoc.rates is s~ea~S.-~~ Jn~e in the course of an epideictic discourse than in a special treatise
might himself be included among thiS number, a~d so hts ••••:~.. - on the subject, of which we have no evidence.
must be taken with a grain of salt. . . .·. . ·- H· This is not to be taken to imply that the following doctrine is not
43· The equivalence of this in Athen.ian money ts dtsputed, but a that of Gorgias; it is just that Socrates prefers to argue with people
, of 30 'drachmae to the stater IS a reasonable estim:tte; who will stand up for their own views.
would give Gorgias a fortune on hts death of· 30,0~~ . 5 4 • This seems somewhat compressed. The excellence of a slave, of
talents which is respectable, but not princely~ '· ' · · whatever age, would be of quite a different nature to that of a
44 . In fact: Menon has just asked Socrates a questionno!":e":~-~~'\j';~~~·~:j· free man. But that is what the Greek says.
might indeed have asked Gorgias), whether or •: 55. Sophocles, Aiax ~9 3.
(arete) can be 'taught; but Socrates is encouraging him to . ;S6. His brother Herodicus was a distinguished physician back in Sicily.
equally fearlessly. ._ 's7· The notion of comparing the rhetorician with the 9octor does
• Indeed, on the head of this, some sc,holar~ ~ave.displil:ed· seem to be characteristic of the historical Gorgias, no doubt
whether Gorgias should be called a. sop~t.st ~t ~~~?. ·stimulated partly by the fact of his brother's profession. In the
simply a rhetorician. One takes thetr pomt, b~t tliis Helen (14), as we shall see below, he says that oratory is to the
accOrd too strict a meaning to the rather fuzzy--term •,m,h;.~. mind as drugs are to the body. Plato, of course, would compare
Plato does actually refer once to Gorgias as 'the ~t;~i!l the rhetorician, not to the doctor, but to the pastry-cook (cf.
Leontini' (Hippias Ma;or 18~b5). . Gorgias 464Bff.).
46. Callicles, with whom Gorgias is. stay~n~, has ·'·ulis,,trila )':. (,.pf,/tijti)l a.
5 Loci communes, translating the Greek topoi. ·
to come round and hear Gorgtas giVIng a " 59 •This plainly relates to the (tendentious) testimony of Plato in the
which is the technical term for a sophistic d'ispllay.··sp!oeclo, · Phaedrus passage quoted just above, S24.
.1.e. Chaereplion, who had made the suggestion; ratner_.trutn_ ~ 6o. This represents Cicero's attempt to describe the devices of anti-
!ides. thesis, parison arid homoioteleuton.
61. A reference to 166E, quoted at Protagoras, S1o. Socrates there be'. On this see Kerferd (see n.7o). One might then argue that
applies the epithet specifically to Theodorus. . "1 many points in the argument are simply exploiting a linguistic

61. This is an interesting remark. The Greeks (and Romans) ilo not
seem to have striven for rhyme in either verse or prose a:S lin en·d
in itself, but rather it occurs as a, by-product of other ~ of
ambiguity. However, the point can also be seen to go deeper than
this, in terms of questions such as the extent to which a thing~s l
identity is determined by its properties, etc.
rI '·
symmetry. There is nonetheless a good deal of rhyme involvedin"
the balanced clausulae of Gorgias' epideictic speech.S,"such a!
the Helen and the Funeral Speech (see below). ' " ·
63. In that case, one might ask, what is it exactly of whidt;nlrasyc'
75· This is a more than usually sophistical move: temporal infinity
does not involve spatial infinity. To be fair, however, Melissus
had asserted both the temporal and the spatial infinity of 'what
is' (30B3 ), and it seems to he Melissus whom Gorgias has primar-

i machus is the inventor? We have the problem of poSsessing orily

one extract from the works of Thrasymachus, but he isdsewhere
attested (see below,ch. 6, p. 2.03) ashavingfirstdefined thepenod
ily in his sights.
76. Here, at least, he is at one with the Eleatic philosophers.
77· This seems to be an ingenious extrapolation of an argument of
(periodos) and the clause (kolon), presumably in his !f•kJ,~ Melissus' against what is being many (3oB8), that 'if there exist
Rhetorike, so he may have formalized innovations of Gorglaf: many things, they must be such as the one is'. Zeno, of course,
64. Cicero's term festivitates renders Gorgias' original term~poik!i;a;; ~ also argues against a multiplicity of beings (cf. 19B3 ).
cf. !socrates, Philippus 17. ~. . 78. An immaterial reality is, of course, not envisaged.
65. This is presumably the meaning of balbis here. The temple would 79· This could be taken, broadly, as referring to the Eleatics and
be that of Olympian Zeus. · · either Anaxagoras or the Atomist school respectively- the former
66. I.e. Empress Julia Damna. maintaining that being is one, and ungencrated, the latter that it
67. To me on may be translated 'not-being', or 'the non-ex;s~e.nt'.,l>r, is ri:tany (the homoeomeries, the atoms}, and that at least the
'what is not', and any of these versions may be used in the_te:irt~ ordered world came into being.
68. This slightly curious double title may owe somethingJo the fact .. Bo,'Again the systematic confusion of the existential and predicative
that Melissus appears to have called his treatise on Naiure, m senses of 'is'.
On Being (Sirnplicius, Commentary on the Gorgiasj· Pre(aee,~ 81. This is referred to by Aristotle in the Physics (nobH-s): 'if '-'
p. 557• IO).
69. !socrates, indeed, links Gorgias with Zeno and Melissus, who
l ' places exist, they will be in something; for everything that exists
is in something. But what is in something is in a place. Therefore
certainly seem to have been his primary targets; as followsO'For places are in places, and so on ad infinitum. Therefore places do
how could one surpass Gorgias, who dared to assert that ni>th&.g not exist.'
exists of the things that are, or Zeno, who ventured to pro·v_~ ihe. " h. That is, change essentially. .
same things as possible and again as impossible, or MelistiiS v;l,o; , , 8J. What Alexander of Aphrodisias describes as the second argument
although things in nature are infinite in number, made it his task.: of Zeno's treatise maintains that 'if what exists has magnitude
to find proofs that the whole is one!' ' ' and is divided, then it will he many and no longer one' (z9Bz).
70. See on this the useful discussion of Kerferd (198t), 9j.,-rooo s_.. The reason for this is, as we learn from the parallel passage of
71. Such as Guthrie (1969), 197· , , Sextus, is that 'the many is a sum of ones'. MXG is elliptical here.
71. The treatment of Gorgias is part of Sextus' discussion of' ihe, ,Bs. This argument is not to he found in Sextus. To be coherent with
'criterion of truth'. Just preceding this he has troated ofProtagotas the main theme, the argument should run: 'if anythi_ng exists, it
(SS6o-64). ' could not he mobile'. 'Mobility' covers all forms of change. The
73. It is interesting that, already at this stage, Gotgias is introducing , ban on motion or change comes in Fr. 8,:2.6-33 ofParmenides'
epistemological factors into his proofs. This is not the ,case1n the'' Poem.
first stage of the MXG version. , ·.86. The ban on divisibility is to be found in Parmenides, Fr. 8, u-5.
74· It heeomes clear here that Gorgias is making no hard w,.u.,~.;: •87. This is a most interesting remark, linking up as it does the Atomist
distinction between the existential and predicative senses ~f 'to ~ concept of void, as that which exists to make atoms distinct

103. This would be his brother Oiax, who survived him.
(which Leucippus characterized as 'non-existent'); wid\ ,..,_.u,...-. 104. A contemporary t?uch _here! Slaves in Athens (and no doubt
of divisibility, which is banned in Eleatic philosophy:.
high wm thetr freedom by informt'ng on theu
·elsewhere)f could · masters
88. This follows if we take 'the things thought~- (ta phronoumenaj'u m casc:s o _treason or sacrilege; and they were also subject
implying 'all objects of thought'. In that case, if anythingwere 10 to havmg to tesnfy under torture.
exist, it could not be an object of thought. · • "" . . Suppli~d, with great probability, by Diels.
89. Again, the force of this depends on taking 'thi!'gs .tl·iolight' •to . ro6. Acceptmg the filling of a lacuna by Diels.
mean 'all objects of thought'. ,, · · t67- Palamedes came from Nauplia in Argos; presumably he is refer-
90. This is a fair representation, we think, of what the nng to Argos as a whole as his fatherland
very vexed passage says, but we can make no sense. Reading adik§sasi (active) with Diels for ~dik2theisi (passive) of
reasonable sense, we must turn to the passage of Sexius aD<:1 ve,,.,~ mss. B~t there m~y be something worse wrong here.
9I· Lacuna ~lied thus, vety plausibly, by Diels. • •. ~f 109. Acceitting the lilhng of a lacuna by Keil.
92. The reference here is quite unclear, but it seems to be an· emf,ty .mythical level, Palamedes is addressing Odysseus, whose
rhetorical flourish. - f "! reputanon
- for · · 1
. roguery far surpassed his own, but Gorg.Lasrsaso
93. Added, plausibly, by Diels on the basis of SIS beloW•' ~ , demonstr~nng the value of attacking the credentials of our
94· Here Gorgias turnS to what is the central pqint of,tbls diJplaf• opponent m all circumstances. y
speech, a celebration of the power of rhetoric, presented 'as'a'· Lacuna filled plausibly by Diels. I
quasi-magicalforce. .,': ~, ' ·: ~ . Gorgias hereh illustrates
· a device much favoured by Greck forenstc·
9 s. What follows here makes possible sense, butsounds_alittle abrunt.~ o ~atdors (t e Ladtm term for which is praeteritio), which involves
There may well be a lacuna in the text, as· suggested ·
Pohlenz, Aus Platos Werdezeit, Berlin, r9r3,
1 a u m~ to mts eeds of one's opponent which one does not care
to spectfy for one reason or another.
plausibly, as follows: '<of which the one •11 J. Employing the word euthynai, the technical term for the scrutiny j
changes, which are illnesses of the body and the • whu;J_t an ~th~man official had to undergo after his year in office. .,~
while the other with words engenders new ideas>; which are , · · • A_t this pomt m a_ speech a defendant would normally enumerate
Cf. [I41 below. "~- · his p_ast be~ef~cttons to the state, and those of his ancestors. i
96. ennoian supplied here reasonably by Blass, to balance Pronnlo,;
in the next column. Note that Gorgiass,,:l:in~x;:r,~:~~;~::~::~!
14. ~alamedes ts mdeed attested in various sources to have been the
mventor of all of these ~ings (cf. Alcidamas, Odysseus, below,
capacities, speaks always of •opinion' (1 p. 308, w~ere these clauns are amusingly attacked or refuted).
ledge' (episteme). Plato would agree Drau_ghts, m _fact, he ~s credited with inventing in order to pass
hold sway over doxa. -. _the nme ~urmg the Siege of Troy, which rather cuts across the
97. The text here is unfortunately seriously corrupt; We nrtonnt • '·'-'' , story of hi~ bemg framed by Odysseus at the beginning of it.
of the conjectures of Blass (r887-98) and Radermacher. •115.- 1As wouldH mdeed normally be the case in an Ath en·tan court, at
as giving an acceptable sense and balance. ' .I ·~-- east. owever, such a point as this would be suitable to a trial
98. A very sigrlificant final remark! <I' , ' before the Areopagus, for example.
99• Arguil)g~rely from probability was plainly regarded as a The _Gre~ks did, o~ course, condemn and execute Palamedes~
Illetorical sicilf.Tiiere isa speecb-oflsocrates called the A".a·,Mix desptte hts
· proverbtal
hi wisdom and eloquence · Gorg'tas' pomt· tn· :11

(The Speech without Witnesses), which was regarded as a c~mpoSl~g t s, pr~sumably, is to suggest that with the help of
lar achievement of his. hiS techrucal expertiSe Palamedes would have got off.
roo. Eliminating the holou of the manuscripts as meaningless. li.Adooptinga probable supplement.
101. It is less than clear to us what Gorgias means here·; it J(8.J\I!•"·'• a necessary supplement.
truth and necessity are the teachers in question~ bUt ...L::--,,,' '" 19· Once again, a supplement. Thescribeseems tohavehadsomediffi-
they produce danger? culty wtth the word rhdmi, which must surely be what has fallen out.
ro1. Accepting a probable supplement.
. --.·
361 '363

I ~o. Note the little variatio in the last ;.,.ember of this scc1ucne<' ofcoi~ 6. It is not absolutely • ft the end
I:l.t_. Qr possibly, if anaima is read for enaima, 'pale of his version of Pr :ares say:
either way, a strong image. 'That is roughly hm ----~&...- UJ.!;; cuucanon ot Hcraclcs
Iu. Nicely balanced: ai5khr~s men espeiras, kakds de e(h·tfil:as:'Ibli by Vittue, except that he actually dressed up the ~cnti;,.;,ts in
imagery of sowing and reaping has, of •m~!~''•,''"l''Y"'· language still more splendid than I have used now.' Philostratus
., currency in later European literature.
123. We take this to mean that a noble deed, for instan•ce lthi•.n;,.~;,
must be commending him, at any rate, for giving an- adequate
imitation of Prodicus' style, since that is all that Xenophon says
come from his hmeral Oration), will languish in obscurity about it.
one knows about it, while the f2lse impression of:•oobilitj .• 7· A satirical refcn:nce to Odysseus' account of his visit to the
not survift hard &cts. But it is possible, I suppose, that · Underworld in Odyssey XI, where, aftn meding his companions,
faad herr with a serious epistanological obscrvatioo. he is now viewing the great sinnen. This is a qUObltioo of I. 5 Sz..
He has just viewed Orion and lityus, and Tantalus is third. There
3 PRODICUS OF CEOS is no need, it seems, to see any other signifiCance than this to the
identification of Prodicus with Tantalus.
1. He is portrayed by Plato, in the Protagoras, as 8. Callias' devotion to sophists is widely atttsttd. He spent a good
and an already well-known figure, with a ~·. ~~::!~:~~
in the late 430s, just before the outbreak of tt
deal of his inherited fortune on taking their courses. Xenophon,
. for example, in his Symposium (I 5 ), portrays him as having taken
War, which is the dramatic date of the dial,;gu~- but,u•11ortu:' instruction from Protagoras, Hippias and Prodicus, and there
nately, as we know, Plato is by no means free of an.ach,ror•ionu is no reason to believe that be is dependent on Plato for this
these matters. In the Hippias Major, on ~~:~;~;~~~~~(\~\~ information (d. also SS 7-8 below).
below), he is portrayed as giving his most" 9· This is the future avant-garde tragic poet, at whose victory cele-
Council some time later than Gorgias, and near to ihe dni'!jal:k bration in 416 Plato's Symposium is set. (Pausanias is still there,
date of the dialogue ("-'!W BC). . ', .as his lover, nearly twenry years later!) Plato portrays Agathon
:t..Prodicuswasprobablyaroundtwentyy~~·;;J:'i'::.~~~ there as heing very much influeoced by the style of Gorgias.
oras, and could conceivably have been his 1 o. This may after all be the sole source of Philostratus' information
but he is not portrayed as such by Plato, or any ott•erautpoi11f) · above, S~-combined with the information about his deep voice
3. A sophistic circumlocution for Xenophon: This is 1i culled from the Protagoras (§3, above).
story. That Xenophon was a prisoner in Boeotia is nolt other)<'Ui lL An attempt to render mete6rosophistai, literally 'experts on high-
attested, but this may have occurred following the 1}6.<:oilim flown, or celestial, things', a favourite abusive epithet of sophists
ure of the border-town of Oropus in the.. ~~ci::.;;: and philosophers (d. 'sky-pilots').
they captured tbe Athenian garrison by n I.e. over Callias' enthusiasm for spending money on sophispi.
imply that Prodicus was teaching in Thebes at th~ tim<>. J<:enc>phc1r\1 Athenian politician, a moderate oligarch, who was derided for "J i

himself would only have been mhis late teens, ln~~:::~ .his political changes of direction (for which he was nicknamed
agre<ed to have been born in around 430) ..H~ 111 kothomos, 'the Buskin', that being an actor's boot which could
have been ransomed not long afterwards, as !>e plaml:y e<msijncd be worn on either foot). He initially joined the Thirty Tyrants at
with Socrates for a number of years before uc1>ancmg . the end of the Pcloponnesian War, but fell out with their leader
'March U~Country' in 40I. , ; ~ , Critias and was executed in 403. Cf. helow, p. "7·
4· This is attested to by Plato also, in the Protagoras , 14. A well-known glutton of the late fifth century.
below)-unlessthisreportistaken · ::,s..Possibly in the dialogue Hipponicus was allowed to malce these
if this is his initial appearance on the Athenian scene, m.usl - gibes, in an effort to dissuade his son, but there are chronological
takeo place much earlier, perhaps in the late 430s .. ' · · ; difficulties in that.
5-lnhisMemoir>o(Socratesll I. at. , . ·· 16. This does seem expensive- the equivalent of more than a month's