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Chapter Four Plato

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Chapter Summary

The importance which the art of words had acquired in Athenian democracy prompted Plato to take an interest in and write about rhetoric. All the work of Plato is characterized by his opposition to the Sophists, depicted as charlatans purveying the illusion of being able to educate all men. In the Gorgias Plato denies rhetoric the status of techne for two reasons, one epistemological and the other moral. The question of "true rhetoric", which is only hinted at in the Gorgias, is developed in the Phaedrus. Plato's reflections on speeches of advice and praise are closely bound up with his ethical and political convictions. In the Gorgias the Sophist described the rhetor in the act of advising citizens on questions concerning the management of the polis, such as the construction of arsenals, walls and ports, or the deployment of troops and the occupation of targets during military operations.

Keywords: Athenian democracy; Gorgias; Phaedrus; Plato's reflections; sophists; traditional rhetoric



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