Name: Gorgias
Born: 487 BCE
Died: 376 BCE

Gorgias was an ancient Greek philosopher, Siceliote, sophist and one of the brightest orators in the history of mankind. He was a supporter of slave-owning democracy, an opponent of Socrates and Plato as ideologists of the aristocracy. It was Gorgias who approved the principle of "rhetoric-master of persuasion" and developed a number of means by which the speaker can, while enjoying the soul of the listener, and having somewhat stifled the mind ("deception of thought"), carry it with them.

Gorgias was born around 487 B.C. in Leontini (a Greek colony in Sicily). Little is known about his life, except for the information that he had two siblings (his sister dedicated him a statue) and his father’s name was Charmantides. Corax of Syracuse was his rhetoric teacher. According to some doxographers, he was a student of Empedocles, though he was just a few years younger. Gorgias led the life of a wandering teacher of oratory, living in Larissa. In 427 B.C., he left for Athens to ask for protection against the aggression of the Syracusans. His exceptional skills as an orator attracted people’s attention and made the Athenians to provide military assistance. Later he traveled around Greece, speaking everywhere to the audience. At the Greeks’ meeting in Olympia in 392 B.C., he appealed to the people for unanimity in the struggle against the barbarians. This speech, without a doubt, won him popularity.

Gorgias was one of the first speakers of a new type - not only a practitioner but also a theorist of eloquence, for a fee, he taught young men from wealthy families to speak and think logically. Such teachers were called sophists, "wise men." Gorgias asserted that he did not teach virtue and wisdom, but only the oratory. His speech was characterized by a special poetic expressiveness. He developed and applied special rhetorical techniques called Hargianian figures: similar in form and volume related phrases, the use of parallel parts of the sentence and the parts of the sentence, which are in the antithesis. Gorgias is characterized by rhythmic design and similar sounding of completions in his writings.

The title of the main work of Gorgias, On Nature, or On Non-Existant, emphasized the difference between the position of Gorgias and the position of his contemporary, Melissus of Samos, expressed in his work On Nature, or About the Existence. In contrast to the Eleatic, identifying the speech, thinking and being and denying the non-existence, Gorgias (continuing, however, their rationalist line) separated the speech from thinking, and thinking from being. He taught that nothing exists, and if it exists, it is incomprehensible, and if it is understood, then it is inexpressible and inexplicable (for another person). Gorgias was a relativist in matters of morality and law. Like all sophists, he taught that ethical values and legal norms are conditional, they are the only artificial construction of people.

The time has preserved only a little from the creative heritage of Gorgias. For example, the following advice to the speaker was retained: "Reject the serious arguments of the enemy with a joke, jokes with earnest." Only two speeches attributed to Gorgius were entirely preserved - Encomium of Helen and Defense of Palameda, written on the stories of the myths about the Trojan War.