"Gorgias" and "Phaedrus"

"Gorgias" and "Phaedrus": Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Politics

TRANSLATED WITH INTRODUCTION, NOTES, AND AN INTERPRETATIVE ESSAY BY James H. Nichols
Series: Agora Editions
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt1287d8d
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  • Book Info
    "Gorgias" and "Phaedrus"
    Book Description:

    With a masterful sense of the place of rhetoric in both thought and practice and an ear attuned to the clarity, natural simplicity, and charm of Plato's Greek prose, James H. Nichols Jr., offers precise yet unusually readable translations of two great Platonic dialogues on rhetoric.

    TheGorgiaspresents an intransigent argument that justice is superior to injustice: To the extent that suffering an injustice is preferable to committing an unjust act. The dialogue contains some of Plato's most significant and famous discussions of major political themes, and focuses dramatically and with unrivaled intensity on Socrates as a political thinker and actor. Featuring some of Plato's most soaringly lyrical passages, thePhaedrusinvestigates the soul's erotic longing and its relationship to the whole cosmos, as well as inquiring into the nature of rhetoric and the problem of writing.

    Nichols's attention to dramatic detail brings the dialogues to life. Plato's striking variety in conversational address (names and various terms of relative warmth and coolness) is carefully reproduced, as is alteration in tone and implication even in the short responses. The translations render references to the gods accurately and non-monotheistically for the first time, and include a fascinating variety of oaths and invocations. A general introduction on rhetoric from the Greeks to the present shows the problematic relation of rhetoric to philosophy and politics, states the themes that unite the two dialogues, and outlines interpretive suggestions that are then developed more fully for each dialogue.

    The twin dialogues reveal both the private and the political rhetoric emphatic in Plato's philosophy, yet often ignored in commentaries on it. Nichols believes that Plato's thought on rhetoric has been largely misunderstood, and he uses his translations as an opportunity to reconstruct the classical position on right relations between thought and public activity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-7149-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Gorgias
    • Front Matter
      (pp. i-iv)
    • Table of Contents
      (pp. v-v)
    • Dialogue Names and Abbreviations
      (pp. vi-vi)
    • Preface
      (pp. vii-xiv)
    • Introduction: Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Politics
      (pp. 1-24)

      In less than a century and a half, our public discourse has undergone an astonishing decline. The remarkable eloquence of leading public speakers from an earlier time finds hardly a weak echo in the present. This difference may be explained, at least in part, by the difference in political situation.

      Then, the greatest political issues were at stake, strife verging on civil war tore the republic apart, and political rhetoric rose to meet these challenges. Now, we enjoy stable political tranquillity, and our public speech, concerned with smaller matters, has sunk to a lower level.

      So say participants in Tacitus’s...

    • Gorgias
      (pp. 25-130)

      CALLICLEs:¹ In war and battle, they say, one must take part in this manner, Socrates.²

      SOCRATES: Oh, so have we then come, as the saying goes, after the feast, and too late?³

      CAL.: Yes, and a very urbane feast indeed; for Gorgias just a little while ago made a display for us of many fine things.⁴

      SOC.: For this, Callicles, Chaerephon⁵ here is to blame, since he forced us to fritter our time away in the agora.

      CHAEREPHON: No matter, Socrates; for I shall cure it too. For Gorgias is a friend of mine, so that he will make a...

    • The Rhetoric of Justice in Plato’s Gorgias
      (pp. 131-149)

      Socrates wants to talk to Gorgias. In contrast with theRepublic, where Polemarchus must playfully compel Socrates to join the group whose leisurely discussion will investigate justice, the discussion here arises from Socrates’ own initiative. There is something definite that he wants to talk about with Gorgias, and he blames his late arrival on his companion Chaerephon. By arriving late, they miss the display speeches for which Gorgias is best known and instead engage in Socrates’ characteristic activity, conversation or dialectic, directed toward finding out what Socrates wants to know: what it that Gorgias professes and what the power of...

  2. Phaedrus
    • Middle Matter
      (pp. i-iv)
    • Contents
      (pp. v-v)
    • Dialogue Names and Abbreviations
      (pp. vi-vi)
    • Preface
      (pp. vii-xiv)
    • Introduction: Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Politics
      (pp. 1-24)

      In less than a century and a half, our public discourse has undergone an astonishing decline. The remarkable eloquence of leading public speakers from an earlier time finds hardly a weak echo in the present. This difference may be explained, at least in part, by the difference in political situation.

      Then, the greatest political issues were at stake, strife verging on civil war tore the republic apart, and political rhetoric rose to meet these challenges. Now, we enjoy stable political tranquillity, and our public speech, concerned with smaller matters, has sunk to a lower level.

      So say participants in Tacitus’s...

    • Phaedrus
      (pp. 25-92)

      SOCRATES: Phaedrus¹ my friend! Where to? And from where?

      PHAEDRUS: From Lysias, Cephalus’s son,² Socrates, and I am going for a walk around outside the wall; for I spent a long time there, sitting around since early morning. In obedience³ to your comrade and mine, Acumenus,⁴ I take walks along the roads; for he says they are more invigorating than those in colonnades.

      SOC.: What he says, comrade, is fine. But then Lysias w as in town, it would appear?

      PHAE.: Yes, at Epicrates’, in that house there, of Morychus’s,⁵ near the Olympian’s temple.

      SOC.: So what, then, was the...

    • The Rhetoric of Love and Learning in Plato’s Phaedrus
      (pp. 93-107)

      If we seek to apply Socrates’ view that a speech or argument should have a unity like that of an animal, with all its parts suitably adapted to the whole, we at once confront the fact that the unity of thePhaedrusis not readily apparent and that various readers have taken very different views of how or even whether all the parts go together to constitute one whole. Here, I seek to develop some suggestions, broached in the general introduction, on how the several parts of the dialogue bear on the question of rhetoric.

      The introductory section of the...