Gorgias - Coms 330 4/15/09 The Older Sophist: Gorgias...

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Coms 330 4/15/09 The Older Sophist: Gorgias Originally Greece was an oral culture, meaning that all their knowledge was passed down by word of mouth; stories about the history of Greece, Grecian laws, and mythology of the gods, were all learned by one person telling another person and so on. As Greek society grew, they established a need for such stories and laws to be translated into a written language and with the creation of a language came the requirement of teachers for the written language. These teachers were called “sophists”, directly translated to mean wisdom, they taught on the art and practice of rhetoric. (Diels) There are many different aspects of rhetoric and each sophist specialized in a particular portion of the practice. For example, some sophists were speech writers for politicians called “logographers”, some taught students in the art of rhetoric in schools they established, and some traveled around giving speeches on numerous topics that people would pay large sums of money to hear. (Murphy) The particular sophist that I am going to focus on is Gorgias, who was a member of a group called the Older Sophists, meaning that he lived in the particular time period as early as the 6 th century. “The Older Sophists were the first professional teachers and important contributors to the history of rhetorical theory and practice.” (Barrett) 1
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Although there is some debate about the exact age, Gorgias lived to be a remarkable age of 105 give or take a few years. Gorgias was born around 485 B.C. E. in Sicily in the colony of Leontini, which was 700 miles across the sea from Athens. (Barrett) To be categorized as a sophist, meant that you were not an Athenian citizen, but instead a traveling teacher called a “metic”, which can be defined as a resident alien with limited rights. As a non-Athenian, sophists were not allowed to marry Athenian women or allowed to own land except through special social grants. (Barrett) In addition, they were not allowed to participate directly in the city’s political life, but the sophists no doubt
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This note was uploaded on 01/10/2011 for the course COMS 330 taught by Professor Duffy during the Spring '09 term at Cal Poly.

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Gorgias - Coms 330 4/15/09 The Older Sophist: Gorgias...

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