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Did Gorgias Coin Rhetorike?

A Rereading of Plato's Gorgias

Maria Tanja Luzzatto    Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italia    

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abstract

Thirty years after E. Schiappa’s self-styled ‘coining-of-rhetorike thesis’, the assumption that rhetorike was invented by Plato in Gorgias (448d) is meeting with increasing consensus; yet the foundations of the ‘revised’ approach, besides contrasting with Aristotle’s narrative and all our ancient sources, have never been examined in detail. Indeed, Plato’s Gorgias is our main evidence to the contrary, since an unbiased reading of the dialogue very clearly points to the sophist from Leontini as the teacher who first ‘disciplined’ rhetoric and coined rhetorike. It is my aim to put Gorgias in context, and to reconsider in a different light both his relationship with the earlier logon techne and his statements about speech in Helen. The new discipline’s powerful impact on contemporary politics seriously alarmed Plato, fuelling his attack against the sophist’s school. Once we put Gorgias back in place, the absence of rhetorike in fifth-century texts is no longer an anomaly, and the missing word is readily found where it might be expected to appear.

Published
June 30, 2020
Accepted
March 20, 2020
Submitted
Feb. 4, 2020
Language
EN

Keywords: Gorgias of LeontiniAlcidamas‘Revised’ approachGreek rhetorikeSophisticPlato’s Gorgias

Copyright: © 2020 Maria Tanja Luzzatto. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.