Plato's critique of rhetoric and the transition from orality in ancient Greece: The "Gorgias" and the "Phaedrus" revisited
Holloway, Paul Andrew
Kelber, Werner H.
Master of Arts
The political and cultural forces of Periclean Athens brought rhetoric to the fore as the master knowledge. Through the school of Isocrates this perspective continued into the fourth century. Read in this context Plato's degrading attack on rhetoric in the Gorgias can readily be reconciled with his surprisingly positive treatment of it in the Phaedrus. In the Gorgias he does not debunk rhetoric per se, but only rhetorical culture, that is, rhetoric as conceived by his contemporaries as chief among the arts, $\eta$ $\kappa\alpha\lambda\lambda\iota\sigma\tau\eta$ $\tau\omega\nu$ $\tau\varepsilon\chi\nu\omega\nu$. On the other hand, in the Phaedrus he recommends rhetoric conceived in a limited sense as simply one art among many. This is supported by the recent work of Robert Conners who interprets Plato's criticism of rhetorical culture in light of the transition from oral to literate culture in fourth-century Greece.
Philosophy; Speech communication