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Polos euergetês: Rhetoric and Poetry in the Gorgias

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image of Mnemosyne

Halfway through his conversation with Sokrates in the Gorgias, Polos claims that it would be easy to refute the philosopher's argument that it is better to act with justice than without it. Asking his interlocutor to proceed with the refutation, Sokrates urges him (470c): 'do not tire of doing favours (ευεργετων) for a friend'. In its metre and sense, this phrase is reminiscent of Pindaric lyric, and its vocabulary recalls that of Olympian 2.93-4 in particular; it will be argued here that a 'Pindaric' reading of Sokrates' injunction to Polos is appropriate. Sokrates' adoption of the language of a laudator of tyrants at this point in the conversation is relevant to the presentation in the Gorgias of related themes (flattery, tyranny, and euergesia) and to Sokrates' eironic posture in the dialogue; it also suits Platonic treatments of Pindar and poetry in general.

Affiliations: 1: Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Classics, St John's, Newfoundland A1C 5S7, Canada;, Email:


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