Socrates vs. Gorgias

The scene:

You, Polus, young and impatient, now take over the discussion with Socrates. You complain that Socrates has trapped Gorgias into a false admission by playing on his shame. You then ask Socrates what he himself thinks rhetoric is. It takes some time before you settle down enough for Socrates to define rhetoric, and even the full exposition requires Gorgias to intervene and briefly carry on again as interlocutor. Gorgias conforms with the guidelines Socrates laid down in their conversation; Socrates draws into the dialogic situation his characterization of rhetoric. Socrates denies that rhetoric is an art and says it is an experienced way of producing a kind of favor and pleasure; You want to know whether he thinks it is a beautiful thing to be able to favor or gratify human beings. Socrates then says that it is a kind of empirical knack, like cookery, and does not require technical expertise as such. Moreover, both rhetoric and cookery are aspects of flattery, which is to say they aim only to give pleasure, rather than any genuine benefit.

Socrates asks, And now I will endeavour to explain to you more clearly what I mean: The soul and body being two, have two arts corresponding to them: there is the art of politics attending on the soul; and another art attending on the body, of which I know no single name, but which may be described as having two divisions, one of them gymnastic, and the other medicine. And in politics there is a legislative part, which answers to gymnastic, as justice does to medicine; and the two parts run into one another, justice having to do with the same subject as legislation, and medicine with the same subject as gymnastic, but with a difference. Now, seeing that there are these four arts, two attending on the body and two on the soul for their highest good; flattery knowing, or rather guessing their natures, has distributed herself into four shams or simulations of them; she puts on the likeness of some one or other of them, and pretends to be that which she simulates, and having no regard for men's highest interests, is ever making pleasure the bait of the unwary, and deceiving them into the belief that she is of the highest value to them. Cookery simulates the disguise of medicine, and pretends to know what food is the best for the body; and if the physician and the cook had to enter into a competition in which children were the judges, or men who had no more sense than children, as to which of them best understands the goodness or badness of food, the physician would be starved to death. A flattery I deem this to be and of an ignoble sort, Polus, for to you I am now addressing myself, because it aims at pleasure without any thought of the best. An art I do not call it, but only an experience, because it is unable to explain or to give a reason of the nature of its own applications. And I do not call any irrational thing an art; but if you dispute my words, I am prepared to argue in defence of them.

Cookery, then, I maintain to be a flattery which takes the form of medicine; and tiring, in like manner, is a flattery which takes the form of gymnastic, and is knavish, false, ignoble, illiberal, working deceitfully by the help of lines, and colours, and enamels, and garments, and making men affect a spurious beauty to the neglect of the true beauty which is given by gymnastic.

I would rather not be tedious, and therefore I will only say, after the manner of the geometricians (for I think that by this time you will be able to follow)

astiring : gymnastic :: cookery : medicine; or rather,

astiring : gymnastic :: sophistry : legislation; and

as cookery : medicine :: rhetoric : justice. And this, I say, is the natural difference between the rhetorician and the sophist, but by reason of their near connection, they are apt to be jumbled up together; neither do they know what to make of themselves, nor do other men know what to make of them. For if the body presided over itself, and were not under the guidance of the soul, and the soul did not discern and discriminate between cookery and medicine, but the body was made the judge of them, and the rule of judgment was the bodily delight which was given by them, then the word of Anaxagoras, that word with which you, friend Polus, are so well acquainted, would prevail far and wide: "Chaos" would come again, and cookery, health, and medicine would mingle in an indiscriminate mass. And now I have told you my notion of rhetoric, which is, in relation to the soul, what cookery is to the body. I may have been inconsistent in making a long speech, when I would not allow you to discourse at length. But I think that I may be excused, because you did not understand me, and could make no use of my answer when I spoke shortly, and therefore I had to enter into explanation. And if I show an equal inability to make use of yours, I hope that you will speak at equal length; but if I am able to understand you, let me have the benefit of your brevity, as is only fair: And now you may do what you please with my answer.

Polus replies What do you mean? do you think that rhetoric is flattery?
Gorgias alternativeI agree, what you say is obvious.

Socrates asks, Nay, I said a part of flattery-if at your age, Polus, you cannot remember, what will you do by-and-by, when you get older?

Polus replies And are the good rhetoricians meanly regarded in states, under the idea that they are flatterers?
Gorgias alternativeIs not age regarded with respect in our society?

Socrates asks, Is that a question or the beginning of a speech?

Polus replies I am asking a question.
Gorgias alternativeNo, merely an observation.

Socrates asks, Then my answer is, that they are not regarded at all.

Polus replies How not regarded? Have they not very great power in states?
Gorgias alternativeWhat do you mean? are you saying that they are powerless?

Socrates asks, Not if you mean to say that power is a good to the possessor.

Polus replies And that is what I do mean to say.
alternativeNo, I do not mean that at all.

Socrates asks, Then, if so, I think that they have the least power of all the citizens.

Polus replies What! Are they not like tyrants? They kill and despoil and exile any one whom they please.
Gorgias alternativeSocrates, how are you defining power? We should be grateful that we live in a stable society.

Socrates asks, By the dog, Polus, I cannot make out at each deliverance of yours, whether you are giving an opinion of your own, or asking a question of me.

Polus replies I am asking a question of you.
Gorgias alternativeI am only giving you opinions.

Socrates asks, Yes, my friend, but you ask two questions at once.

Polus replies How two questions?
Gorgias alternativeAre you not capable of answering two questions?

Socrates asks, Why, did you not say just now that the rhetoricians are like tyrants, and that they kill and despoil or exile any one whom they please?

Polus replies I did.
Gorgias alternativeI did not say such a thing.

Socrates asks, Well then, I say to you that here are two questions in one, and I will answer both of them. And I tell you, Polus, that rhetoricians and tyrants have the least possible power in states, as I was just now saying; for they do literally nothing which they will, but only what they think best.

Polus replies And is not that a great power?
Gorgias alternativeDo they have no power?

Socrates asks, Polus has already said the reverse. No, by the great-what do you call him?-not you, for you say that power is a good to him who has the power.

Polus replies I do.
Gorgias alternativeI do not.

Socrates asks, And would you maintain that if a fool does what he think best, this is a good, and would you call this great power?

Polus replies I should not.
Gorgias alternativeYes.

Socrates asks, Then you must prove that the rhetorician is not a fool, and that rhetoric is an art and not a flattery-and so you will have refuted me; but if you leave me unrefuted, why, the rhetoricians who do what they think best in states, and the tyrants, will have nothing upon which to congratulate themselves, if as you say, power be indeed a good, admitting at the same time that what is done without sense is an evil.

Polus replies Yes; I admit that.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, How then can the rhetoricians or the tyrants have great power in states, unless Polus can refute Socrates, and prove to him that they do as they will?

Polus replies This fellow-
Gorgias alternativeBut they do.

Socrates asks, I say that they do not do as they will-now refute me.

Polus replies Why, have you not already said that they do as they think best?
Gorgias alternativeI can not. Do not people do what is best for society?

Socrates asks, And I say so still.

Polus replies Then surely they do as they will?
Gorgias alternativeSurely they will not act in such a way.

Socrates asks, I deny it.

Polus replies But they do what they think best?
Gorgias alternativeThey do not always do what they think is best.

Socrates asks, Aye.

Polus replies That, Socrates, is monstrous and absurd.
Gorgias alternativeYou are correct.

Socrates asks, Good words, good Polus, as I may say in your own peculiar style; but if you have any questions to ask of me, either prove that I am in error or give the answer yourself.

Polus replies Very well, I am willing to answer that I may know what you mean.
Gorgias alternativeI do not know what you mean.
Polus, Socrates is going to take you for a ride! All he is going to do is take your idea qua GENUS and devalue it to the level of a SPECIES. By doing this, he can subsequently set up a new genus by which to redescribe any notion you might have thought true.

Socrates asks, Do men appear to you to will that which they do, or to will that further end for the sake of which they do a thing? when they take medicine, for example, at the bidding of a physician, do they will the drinking of the medicine which is painful, or the health for the sake of which they drink?

Polus replies Clearly, the health.
Gorgias alternativeSome for the medicine.

Socrates asks, And when men go on a voyage or engage in business, they do not will that which they are doing at the time; for who would desire to take the risk of a voyage or the trouble of business?-But they will, to have the wealth for the sake of which they go on a voyage.

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not..

Socrates asks, And is not this universally true? If a man does something for the sake of something else, he wills not that which he does, but that for the sake of which he does it.

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo

Socrates asks, And are not all things either good or evil, or intermediate and indifferent?

Polus replies To be sure, Socrates.
Gorgias alternativeNot at all.

asks, Wisdom and health and wealth and the like you would call goods, and their opposites evils?

Polus replies I should.
Gorgias alternativeI should not.

Socrates asks, And the things which are neither good nor evil, and which partake sometimes of the nature of good and at other times of evil, or of neither, are such as sitting, walking, running, sailing; or, again, wood, stones, and the like:-these are the things which you call neither good nor evil?

Polus replies Exactly so.
Gorgias alternativeNo, you are reading too much into my statement.


 asks, Are these indifferent things done for the sake of the good, or the good for the sake of the indifferent?

Polus replies Clearly, the indifferent for the sake of the good.
Gorgias alternativeFor the good of the indifferent.

Socrates asks, When we walk we walk for the sake of the good, and under the idea that it is better to walk, and when we stand we stand equally for the sake of the good?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternative No

Socrates asks, And when we kill a man we kill him or exile him or despoil him of his goods, because, as we think, it will conduce to our good?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, Men who do any of these things do them for the sake of the good?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And did we not admit that in doing something for the sake of something else, we do not will those things which we do, but that other thing for the sake of which we do them?

Polus replies Most true.
Gorgias alternativeNever, how can you make such a claim?

Socrates asks, Then we do not will simply to kill a man or to exile him or to despoil him of his goods, but we will to do that which conduces to our good, and if the act is not conducive to our good we do not will it; for we will, as you say, that which is our good, but that which is neither good nor evil, or simply evil, we do not will. Why are you silent, Polus? Am I not right?

Polus replies You are right.
Gorgias alternativeI am silent because I can not believe you. I would never agree with such a statement.

Socrates asks, Hence we may infer, that if any one, whether he be a tyrant or a rhetorician, kills another or exiles another or deprives him of his property, under the idea that the act is for his own interests when really not for his own interests, he may be said to do what seems best to him?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, But does he do what he wills if he does what is evil? Why do you not answer?

Polus replies Well, I suppose not.
Gorgias alternativeYou never cease to amaze me. What is evil is obvious.

Socrates asks, Then if great power is a good as you allow, will such a one have great power in a state?

Polus replies He will not.
Gorgias alternativeOf course, great power is attainable by all and must be for the good of the state.

Socrates asks, Then I was right in saying that a man may do what seems good to him in a state, and not have great power, and not do what he wills?

Polus replies As though you, Socrates, would not like to have the power of doing what seemed good to you in the state, rather than not; you would not be jealous when you saw any one killing or despoiling or imprisoning whom he pleased, Oh, no!
Gorgias alternativeMen always do what they think is in their best interest.

Socrates asks, Justly or unjustly, do you mean?

Polus replies In either case is he not equally to be envied?
Gorgias alternativeJustly.

Socrates asks, Forbear, Polus!

Polus replies Why "forbear"?
Gorgias alternativeWhat is the problem?

Socrates asks, Because you ought not to envy wretches who are not to be envied, but only to pity them.

Polus replies And are those of whom spoke wretches?
Gorgias alternativeWe must pity those who need pity.

Socrates asks, Yes, certainly they are.

Polus replies And so you think that he who slays any one whom he pleases, and justly slays him, is pitiable and wretched?
Gorgias alternativeAre you agreeing with me or are you pitying me?

Socrates asks, No, I do not say that of him: but neither do I think that he is to be envied.

Polus replies Were you not saying just now that he is wretched?
Gorgias alternativeYes, Socrates I gree with you completely.

Socrates asks, Yes, my friend, if he killed another unjustly, in which case he is also to be pitied; and he is not to be envied if he killed him justly.

Polus replies At any rate you will allow that he who is unjustly put to death is wretched, and to be pitied?
Gorgias alternativeWho should we pity?

Socrates asks, Not so much, Polus, as he who kills him, and not so much as he who is justly killed.

Polus replies How can that be, Socrates?
Gorgias alternativeDo not get so esoterical Socrates.

Socrates asks, That may very well be, inasmuch as doing injustice is the greatest of evils.

Polus replies But is it the greatest? Is not suffering injustice a greater evil?
Gorgias alternativewhat is injustice? Can you define it?

Socrates asks, Certainly not.

Polus replies Then would you rather suffer than do injustice?
Gorgias alternativeThen how can you make such claims?

Socrates asks, I should not like either, but if I must choose between them, I would rather suffer than do.

Polus replies Then you would not wish to be a tyrant?
Gorgias alternativeDo you want to be a tyrant?

Socrates asks, Not if you mean by tyranny what I mean.

Polus replies I mean, as I said before, the power of doing whatever seems good to you in a state, killing, banishing, doing in all things as you like.
Gorgias alternativeYou are well are of my definition of tyrant.

Socrates asks, Well then, illustrious friend, when I have said my say, do you reply to me. Suppose that I go into a crowded Agora, and take a dagger under my arm. Polus, I say to you, I have just acquired rare power, and become a tyrant; for if I think that any of these men whom you see ought to be put to death, the man whom I have a mind to kill is as good as dead; and if I am disposed to break his head or tear his garment, he will have his head broken or his garment torn in an instant. Such is my great power in this city. And if you do not believe me, and I show you the dagger, you would probably reply: Socrates, in that sort of way any one may have great power-he may burn any house which he pleases, and the docks and triremes of the Athenians, and all their other vessels, whether public or private-but can you believe that this mere doing as you think best is great power?

Polus replies Certainly not such doing as this.
Gorgias alternativeYes.

Socrates asks, But can you tell me why you disapprove of such a power?

Polus replies I can.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Why then?

Polus replies Why, because he who did as you say would be certain to be punished.
Gorgias alternativeBecause we must do what is best for the state. Do all tyrants get punished?

Socrates asks, And punishment is an evil?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeNot necessarily.

Socrates asks, And you would admit once more, my good sir, that great power is a benefit to a man if his actions turn out to his advantage, and that this is the meaning of great power; and if not, then his power is an evil and is no power. But let us look at the matter in another way do we not acknowledge that the things of which we were speaking, the infliction of death, and exile, and the deprivation of property are sometimes a good and sometimes not a good?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternative Certainly not.

Socrates asks, About that you and I may be supposed to agree?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Tell me, then, when do you say that they are good and when that they are evil-what principle do you lay down?

Polus replies I would rather, Socrates, that you should answer as well as ask that question.
Gorgias alternativeWhy do you refuse to answer my question?

Socrates asks, Well, Polus, since you would rather have the answer from me, I say that they are good when they are just, and evil when they are unjust.

Polus replies You are hard of refutation, Socrates, but might not a child refute that statement?
Gorgias alternativeMust good be just and evil unjust? What about the child that is not good is that child evil and unjust?

Socrates asks, Then I shall be very grateful to the child, and equally grateful to you if you will refute me and deliver me from my foolishness. And I hope that refute me you will, and not weary of doing good to a friend.

Polus replies Yes, Socrates, and I need not go far or appeal to antiquity; events which happened only a few days ago are enough to refute you, and to prove that many men who do wrong are happy.
Gorgias alternativeI will but you must police yourself Socrates.

Socrates asks, What events? Missing text

Polus replies You see, I presume, that Archelaus the son of Perdiccas is now the ruler of Macedonia?
Gorgias alternativeThere are many.

Socrates asks, At any rate I hear that he is.

Polus replies And do you think that he is happy or miserable?
Gorgias alternativeHe is do you know him?

Socrates asks, I cannot say, Polus, for I have never had any acquaintance with him.

Polus replies And cannot you tell at once, and without having an acquaintance with him, whether a man is happy?
Gorgias alternativeIs he a just ruler?

Socrates asks, Most certainly not.

Polus replies Then clearly, Socrates, you would say that you did not even know whether the great king was a happy man?
Gorgias alternativeSo you can not say whether he is evil or just?

Socrates asks, And I should speak the truth; for I do not know how he stands in the matter of education and justice.

Polus replies What! and does all happiness consist in this?
Gorgias alternativeWhy do you know mention education? Must one be educated to be just?

Socrates asks, Yes, indeed, Polus, that is my doctrine; the men and women who are gentle and good are also happy, as I maintain, and the unjust and evil are miserable.

Polus replies Then, according to your doctrine, the said Archelaus is miserable?
Gorgias alternativeAnd what does that make Archelaus?

Socrates asks, Yes, my friend, if he is wicked.

Polus replies That he is wicked I cannot deny; for he had no title at all to the throne which he now occupies, he being only the son of a woman who was the slave of Alcetas the brother of Perdiccas; he himself therefore in strict right was the slave of Alcetas; and if he had meant to do rightly he would have remained his slave, and then, according to your doctrine, he would have been happy. But now he is unspeakably miserable, for he has been guilty of the greatest crimes: in the first place he invited his uncle and master, Alcetas, to come to him, under the pretence that he would restore to him the throne which Perdiccas has usurped, and after entertaining him and his son Alexander, who was his own cousin, and nearly of an age with him, and making them drunk, he threw them into a waggon and carried them off by night, and slew them, and got both of them out of the way; and when he had done all this wickedness he never discovered that he was the most miserable of all men, was very far from repenting: shall I tell you how he showed his remorse? he had a younger brother, a child of seven years old, who was the legitimate son of Perdiccas, and to him of right the kingdom belonged; Archelaus, however, had no mind to bring him up as he ought and restore the kingdom to him; that was not his notion of happiness; but not long afterwards he threw him into a well and drowned him, and declared to his mother Cleopatra that he had fallen in while running after a goose, and had been killed. And now as he is the greatest criminal of all the Macedonians, he may be supposed to be the most miserable and not the happiest of them, and I dare say that there are many Athenians, and you would be at the head of them, who would rather be any other Macedonian than Archelaus!
Gorgias alternativeAnd what if he is not wicked?

Socrates asks, I praised you at first, Polus, for being a rhetorician rather than a reasoner. And this, as I suppose, is the sort of argument with which you fancy that a child might refute me, and by which I stand refuted when I say that the unjust man is not happy. But, my good friend, where is the refutation? I cannot admit a word which you have been saying.

Polus replies That is because you will not; for you surely must think as I do.
Gorgias alternativeDoes that mean that a child is more of a rheotorician than you my friend?

Socrates asks, Not so, my simple friend, but because you will refute me after the manner which rhetoricians practise in courts of law. For there the one party think that they refute the other when they bring forward a number of witnesses of good repute in proof of their allegations, and their adversary has only a single one or none at all. But this kind of proof is of no value where truth is the aim; a man may often be sworn down by a multitude of false witnesses who have a great air of respectability. And in this argument nearly every one, Athenian and stranger alike, would be on your side, if you should bring witnesses in disproof of my statement-you may, if you will, summon Nicias the son of Niceratus, and let his brothers, who gave the row of tripods which stand in the precincts of Dionysus, come with him; or you may summon Aristocrates, the son of Scellius, who is the giver of that famous offering which is at Delphi; summon, if you will, the whole house of Pericles, or any other great Athenian family whom you choose-they will all agree with you: I only am left alone and cannot agree, for you do not convince me; although you produce many false witnesses against me, in the hope of depriving me of my inheritance, which is the truth. But I consider that nothing worth speaking of will have been effected by me unless I make you the one witness of my words; nor by you, unless you make me the one witness of yours; no matter about the rest of the world. For there are two ways of refutation, one which is yours and that of the world in general; but mine is of another sort-let us compare them, and see in what they differ. For, indeed, we are at issue about matters which to know is honourable and not to know disgraceful; to know or not to know happiness and misery-that is the chief of them. And what knowledge can be nobler? or what ignorance more disgraceful than this? And therefore I will begin by asking you whether you do not think that a man who is unjust and doing injustice can be happy, seeing that you think Archelaus unjust, and yet happy? May I assume this to be your opinion?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, But I say that this is an impossibility-here is one point about which we are at issue:-very good. And do you mean to say also that if he meets with retribution and punishment he will still be happy?

Polus replies Certainly not; in that case he will be most miserable.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly.

Socrates asks, On the other hand, if the unjust be not punished, then, according to you, he will be happy?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo, you are being too literal.

Socrates asks, But in my opinion, Polus, the unjust or doer of unjust actions is miserable in any case,-more miserable, however, if he be not punished and does not meet with retribution, and less miserable if he be punished and meets with retribution at the hands of go ds and men.

Polus replies You are maintaining a strange doctrine, Socrates.
Gorgias alternativeI agree with most of your statement but I can not agree with them all.

Socrates asks, I shall try to make you agree with me, O my friend, for as a friend I regard you. Then these are the points at issue between us-are they not? I was saying that to do is worse than to suffer injustice?

Polus replies Exactly so.
Gorgias alternativeNot exactly.

Socrates asks, And you said the opposite?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo, you misunderstood me.

Socrates asks, I said also that the wicked are miserable, and you refuted me?

Polus replies By Zeus, I did.
Gorgias alternativeBy Zues, you are taking my words and giving them a different meaning.

Socrates asks, In your own opinion, Polus.

Polus replies Yes, and I rather suspect that I was in the right.
Gorgias alternativeMaybe so, but it is still my opinion.

Socrates asks, You further said that the wrong-doer is happy if he be unpunished?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, And I affirm that he is most miserable, and that those who are punished are less miserable-are you going to refute this proposition also?

Polus replies A proposition which is harder of refutation than the other, Socrates.
Gorgias alternativeNo, because you have stated the obvious.

Socrates asks, Say rather, Polus, impossible; for who can refute the truth?

Polus replies What do you mean? If a man is detected in an unjust attempt to make himself a tyrant, and when detected is racked, mutilated, has his eyes burned out, and after having had all sorts of great injuries inflicted on him, and having seen his wife and children suffer the like, is at last impaled or tarred and burned alive, will he be happier than if he escape and become a tyrant, and continue all through life doing what he likes and holding the reins of government, the envy and admiration both of citizens and strangers? Is that the paradox which, as you say, cannot be refuted?
Gorgias alternativeOf course.

Socrates asks, There again, noble Polus, you are raising hobgoblins instead of refuting me; just now you were calling witnesses against me. But please to refresh my memory a little; did you say-"in an unjust attempt to make himself a tyrant"?

Polus replies Yes, I did.
Gorgias alternativeNo, I did not.

Socrates asks, Then I say that neither of them will be happier than the other-neither he who unjustly acquires a tyranny, nor he who suffers in the attempt, for of two miserables one cannot be the happier, but that he who escapes and becomes a tyrant is the more miserable of the two. Do you laugh, Polus? Well, this is a new kind of refutation-when any one says anything, instead of refuting him to laugh at him.

Polus replies But do you not think, Socrates, that you have been sufficiently refuted, when you say that which no human being will allow? Ask the company.
Gorgias alternativeBut that is what I have been saying and you are not refuting anything but you are agreeing with me.

Socrates asks, O Polus, I am not a public man, and only last year, when my tribe were serving as Prytanes, and it became my duty as their president to take the votes, there was a laugh at me, because I was unable to take them. And as I failed then, you must not ask me to count the suffrages of the company now; but if, as I was saying, you have no better argument than numbers, let me have a turn, and do you make trial of the sort of proof which, as I think, is required; for I shall produce one witness only of the truth of my words, and he is the person with whom I am arguing; his suffrage I know how to take; but with the many I have nothing to do, and do not even address myself to them. May I ask then whether you will answer in turn and have your words put to the proof? For I certainly think that I and you and every man do really believe, that to do is a greater evil than to suffer injustice: and not to be punished than to be punished.

Polus replies And I should say neither I, nor any man: would you yourself, for example, suffer rather than do injustice?
Gorgias alternativeWould you say that all men have the ability to be good and just?

Socrates asks, Yes, and you, too; I or any man would.

Polus replies Quite the reverse; neither you, nor I, nor any man.
Gorgias alternativeAll men would have to argree if they were good citizens.

Socrates asks, But will you answer?

Polus replies To be sure, I will-for I am curious to hear what you can have to say.
Gorgias alternativeI can not because you have not made your question clear.

Socrates asks, Tell me, then, and you will know, and let us suppose that I am beginning at the beginning: which of the two, Polus, in your opinion, is the worst?-to do injustice or to suffer?

Polus replies I should say that suffering was worst.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly injustice is worse.

Socrates asks, And which is the greater disgrace?-Answer.

Polus replies To do.
Gorgias alternativeTo do nothing.

Socrates asks, And the greater disgrace is the greater evil?

Polus replies Certainly not.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly.

Socrates asks, I understand you to say, if I am not mistaken, that the honourable is not the same as the good, or the disgraceful as the evil?

Polus replies Certainly not.
Gorgias alternativeThat is correct.

Socrates asks, Let me ask a question of you: When you speak of beautiful things, such as bodies, colours, figures, sounds, institutions, do you not call them beautiful in reference to some standard: bodies, for example, are beautiful in proportion as they are useful, or as the sight of them gives pleasure to the spectators; can you give any other account of personal beauty?

Polus replies I cannot.
Gorgias alternativeOf course, but we each create our own reference. What is beautiful to one man may be ugly to another.

Socrates asks, And you would say of figures or colours generally that they were beautiful, either by reason of the pleasure which they give, or of their use, or both?

Polus replies Yes, I should.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And you would call sounds and music beautiful for the same reason?

Polus replies I should.
Gorgias alternativeI should not.

Socrates asks, Laws and institutions also have no beauty in them except in so far as they are useful or pleasant or both?

Polus replies I think not.
Gorgias alternativeLaws help to maintain the beauty of the city.

Socrates asks, And may not the same be said of the beauty of knowledge?

Polus replies To be sure, Socrates; and I very much approve of your measuring beauty by the standard of pleasure and utility.
Gorgias alternativeTo see beauty one must be able to appreciate beauty, not quantify beauty.

Socrates asks, And deformity or disgrace may be equally measured by the opposite standard of pain and evil?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeBeaty is subjective and not objective.

Socrates asks, Then when of two beautiful things one exceeds in beauty, the measure of the excess is to be taken in one or both of these; that is to say, in pleasure or utility or both?

Polus replies Very true.
Gorgias alternativeNot necessarily.

Socrates asks, And of two deformed things, that which exceeds in deformity or disgrace, exceeds either in pain or evil-must it not be so?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, But then again, what was the observation which you just now made, about doing and suffering wrong? Did you not say, that suffering wrong was more evil, and doing wrong more disgraceful?

Polus replies I did.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Then, if doing wrong is more disgraceful than suffering, the more disgraceful must be more painful and must exceed in pain or in evil or both: does not that also follow?

Polus replies Of course.
Gorgias alternativeOf course not.

Socrates asks, First, then, let us consider whether the doing of injustice exceeds the suffering in the consequent pain: Do the injurers suffer more than the injured?

Polus replies No, Socrates; certainly not.
Gorgias alternativeYes, Soctaes.

Socrates asks, Then they do not exceed in pain?

Polus replies No.
Gorgias alternativeYes.

Socrates asks, But if not in pain, then not in both?

Polus replies Certainly not.
Gorgias alternativecertainly.

Socrates asks, Then they can only exceed in the other?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, That is to say, in evil?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, Then doing injustice will have an excess of evil, and will therefore be a greater evil than suffering injustice?

Polus replies Clearly.
Gorgias alternativeHardly.

Socrates asks, But have not you and the world already agreed that to do injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And that is now discovered to be more evil?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, And would you prefer a greater evil or a greater dishonour to a less one? Answer, Polus, and fear not; for you will come to no harm if you nobly resign yourself into the healing hand of the argument as to a physician without shrinking, and either say "Yes" or "No" to me.

Polus replies I should say "No."
Gorgias alternativeYes".

Socrates asks, Would any other man prefer a greater to a less evil?

Polus replies No, not according to this way of putting the case, Socrates.
Gorgias alternativeThat depends.

Socrates asks, Then I said truly, Polus that neither you, nor I, nor any man, would rather, do than suffer injustice; for to do injustice is the greater evil of the two.

Polus replies That is the conclusion.
Gorgias alternativeYou could say that,; however, I would have to disagree.

Socrates asks, You see, Polus, when you compare the two kinds of refutations, how unlike they are. All men, with the exception of myself, are of your way of thinking; but your single assent and witness are enough for me-I have no need of any other, I take your suffrage, and am regardless of the rest. Enough of this, and now let us proceed to the next question; which is, Whether the greatest of evils to a guilty man is to suffer punishment, as you supposed, or whether to escape punishment is not a greater evil, as I supposed. Consider:-You would say that to suffer punishment is another name for being justly corrected when you do wrong?

Polus replies I should.
Gorgias alternativeI should not.

Socrates asks, And would you not allow that all just things are honourable in so far as they are just? Please to reflect, and, tell me your opinion.

Polus replies Yes, Socrates, I think that they are.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Consider again:-Where there is an agent, must there not also be a patient?

Polus replies I should say so.
Gorgias alternativeI should say not.

Socrates asks, And will not the patient suffer that which the agent does, and will not the suffering have the quality of the action? I mean, for example, that if a man strikes, there must be something which is stricken?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And if the striker strikes violently or quickly, that which is struck will he struck violently or quickly?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, And the suffering to him who is stricken is of the same nature as the act of him who strikes?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And if a man burns, there is something which is burned?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativecertainly not.

Socrates asks, And if he burns in excess or so as to cause pain, the thing burned will be burned in the same way?

Polus replies Truly.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And if he cuts, the same argument holds-there will be something cut?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And if the cutting be great or deep or such as will cause pain, the cut will be of the same nature?

Polus replies That is evident.
Gorgias alternativeThat can not be so.

Socrates asks, Then you would agree generally to the universal proposition which I was just now asserting: that the affection of the patient answers to the affection of the agent?

Polus replies I agree.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Then, as this is admitted, let me ask whether being punished is suffering or acting?

Polus replies Suffering, Socrates; there can be no doubt of that.
Gorgias alternativeActing.

Socrates asks, And suffering implies an agent?

Polus replies Certainly, Socrates; and he is the punisher.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, And he who punishes rightly, punishes justly?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And therefore he acts justly?

Polus replies Justly.
Gorgias alternativeNo, unjustly.

Socrates asks, Then he who is punished and suffers retribution, suffers justly?

Polus replies That is evident.
Gorgias alternativeNot necessarily.

Socrates asks, And that which is just has been admitted to be honourable?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeWhy do you think that? I do not follow your logic.

Socrates asks, Then the punisher does what is honourable, and the punished suffers what is honourable?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, And if what is honourable, then what is good, for the honourable is either pleasant or useful?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, Then he who is punished suffers what is good?

Polus replies That is true.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Then he is benefited?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Do I understand you to mean what I mean by the term "benefited"? I mean, that if he be justly punished his soul is improved.

Polus replies Surely.
Gorgias alternativeHardly.

Socrates asks, Then he who is punished is delivered from the evil of his soul?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And is he not then delivered from the greatest evil? Look at the matter in this way:-In respect of a man's estate, do you see any greater evil than poverty?

Polus replies There is no greater evil.
Gorgias alternativeThere are many other things that are much worse.

Socrates asks, Again, in a man's bodily frame, you would say that the evil is weakness and disease and deformity?

Polus replies I should.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And do you not imagine that the soul likewise has some evil of her own?

Polus replies Of course.
Gorgias alternativeNo, of course not.

Socrates asks, And this you would call injustice and ignorance and cowardice, and the like?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, So then, in mind, body, and estate, which are three, you have pointed out three corresponding evils-injustice, disease, poverty?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, And which of the evils is the most disgraceful?-Is not the most disgraceful of them injustice, and in general the evil of the soul?

Polus replies By far the most.
Gorgias alternativeEvil of the soul is far worse.

Socrates asks, And if the most disgraceful, then also the worst?

Polus replies What do you mean, Socrates?
Gorgias alternativeIt might be, but I would need more information to say yes or no.

Socrates asks, I mean to say, that is most disgraceful has been already admitted to be most painful or hurtful, or both.

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, And now injustice and all evil in the soul has been admitted by to be most disgraceful?

Polus replies It has been admitted.
Gorgias alternativeBy whom?

Socrates asks, And most disgraceful either because most painful and causing excessive pain, or most hurtful, or both?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And therefore to be unjust and intemperate, and cowardly and ignorant, is more painful than to be poor and sick?

Polus replies Nay, Socrates; the painfulness does not appear to me to follow from your premises.
Gorgias alternativeYes Socrates.

Socrates asks, Then, if, as you would argue, not more painful, the evil of the soul is of all evils the most disgraceful; and the excess of disgrace must be caused by some preternatural greatness, or extraordinary hurtfulness of the evil.

Polus replies Clearly.
Gorgias alternativeNot necessarily.

Socrates asks, And that which exceeds most in hurtfulness will be the greatest of evils?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Then injustice and intemperance, and in general the depravity of the soul, are the greatest of evils!

Polus replies That is evident.
Gorgias alternativeWhy do you think that?

Socrates asks, Now, what art is there which delivers us from poverty? Does not the art of making money?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And what art frees us from disease? Does not the art of medicine?

Polus replies Very true.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And what from vice and injustice? If you are not able to answer at once, ask yourself whither we go with the sick, and to whom we take them.

Polus replies To the physicians, Socrates.
Gorgias alternativeWho ever would make us feel better.

Socrates asks, And to whom do we go with the unjust and intemperate?

Polus replies To the judges, you mean.
Gorgias alternativeOne could deal with the situation individually.

Socrates asks, Who are to punish them?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And do not those who rightly punish others, punish them in accordance with a certain rule of justice?

Polus replies Clearly.
Gorgias alternativeHardly.

Socrates asks, Then the art of money-making frees a man from poverty; medicine from disease; and justice from intemperance and injustice?

Polus replies That is evident.
Gorgias alternativeNot necessarily.

Socrates asks, Which, then, is the best of these three?

Polus replies Will you enumerate them?
Gorgias alternativeDoes one have to be better than the others?

Socrates asks, Money-making, medicine, and justice.


s replies Justice, Socrates, far excels the two others.
Gorgias alternativeThat depends.

Socrates asks, And justice, if the best, gives the greatest pleasure or advantage or both?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, But is the being healed a pleasant thing, and are those who are being healed pleased?

Polus replies I think not.
Gorgias alternativeI think so.

Socrates asks, A useful thing, then?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Yes, because the patient is delivered from a great evil; and this is the advant age of enduring the pain-that you get well?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeNot really.

Socrates asks, And would he be the happier man in his bodily condition, who is healed, or who never was out of health?

Polus replies Clearly he who was never out of health.
Gorgias alternativeIf you are healthy surely you would be happy.

Socrates asks, Yes; for happiness surely does not consist in being delivered from evils, but in never having had them.

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternative No.

Socrates asks, And suppose the case of two persons who have some evil in their bodies, and that one of them is healed and delivered from evil, and another is not healed, but retains the evil-which of them is the most miserable?

Polus replies Clearly he who is not healed.
Gorgias alternativeClearly, he who is healed.

Socrates asks, And was not punishment said by us to be a deliverance from the greatest of evils, which is vice?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, And justice punishes us, and makes us more just, and is the medicine of our vice?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, He, then, has the first place in the scale of happiness who has never had vice in his soul; for this has been shown to be the greatest of evils.

Polus replies Clearly.
Gorgias alternativeNot necessarily.

Socrates asks, And he has the second place, who is delivered from vice?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeI can not agree with that.

Socrates a

sks, That is to say, he who receives admonition and rebuke and punishment?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Then he lives worst, who, having been unjust, has no deliverance from injustice?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeI don't think so.

Socrates asks, That is, he lives worst who commits the greatest crimes, and who, being the most unjust of men, succeeds in escaping rebuke or correction or punishment; and this, as you say, has been accomplished by Archelaus and other tyrants and rhetoricians and potentates?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, May not their way of proceeding, my friend, be compared to the conduct of a person who is afflicted with the worst of diseases and yet contrives not to pay the penalty to the physician for his sins against his constitution, and will not be cured, because, like a child, he is afraid of the pain of being burned or cut:-Is not that a parallel case?

Polus replies Yes, truly.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, He would seem as if he did not know the nature of health and bodily vigour; and if we are right, Polus, in our previous conclusions, they are in a like case who strive to evade justice, which they see to be painful, but are blind to the advantage which ensues from it, not knowing how far more miserable a companion a diseased soul is than a diseased body; a soul, I say, which is corrupt and unrighteous and unholy. And hence they do all that they can to avoid punishment and to avoid being released from the greatest of evils; they provide themselves with money and friends, and cultivate to the utmost their powers of persuasion. But if we, Polus, are right, do you see what follows, or shall we draw out the consequences in form?

Polus replies If you please.
Gorgias alternativeWhy would you draw out the consequences?

Socrates asks, Is it not a fact that injustice, and the doing of injustice, is the greatest of evils?

Polus replies That is quite clear.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And further, that to suffer punishment is the way to be released from this evil?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, And not to suffer, is to perpetuate the evil?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, To do wrong, then, is second only in the scale of evils; but to do wrong and not to be punished, is first and greatest of all?

Polus replies That is true.
Gorgias alternativeI don't think that is correct.

Socrates asks, Well, and was not this the point in dispute, my friend? You deemed Archela us happy, because he was a very great criminal and unpunished: I, on the other hand, maintained that he or any other who like him has done wrong and has not been punished, is, and ought to be, the most miserable of all men; and that the doer of injustice is more miserable than the sufferer; and he who escapes punishment, more miserable than he who suffers.-Was not that what I said?

Polus replies Yes.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And it has been proved to be true?

Polus replies Certainly.
Gorgias alternativeCertainly not.

Socrates asks, Well, Polus, but if this is true, where is the great use of rhetoric? If we admit what has been just now said, every man ought in every way to guard himself against doing wrong, for he will thereby suffer great evil?

Polus replies True.
Gorgias alternativeFalse.

Socrates asks, And if he, or any one about whom he cares, does wrong, he ought of his own accord to go where he will be immediately punished; he will run to the judge, as he would to the physician, in order that the disease of injustice may not be rendered chronic and become the incurable cancer of the soul; must we not allow this consequence, Polus, if our former admissions are to stand:-is any other inference consistent with them?

Polus replies To that, Socrates, there can be but one answer.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, Then rhetoric is of no use to us, Polus, in helping a man to excuse his own injustice, that of his parents or friends, or children or country; but may be of use to any one who holds that instead of excusing he ought to accuse-himself above all, and in the next degree his family or any of his friends who may be doing wrong; he should bring to light the iniquity and not conceal it, that so the wrong-doer may suffer and be made whole; and he should even force himself and others not to shrink, but with closed eyes like brave men to let the physician operate with knife or searing iron, not regarding the pain, in the hope of attaining the good and the honourable; let him who has done things worthy of stripes, allow himself to be scourged, if of bonds, to be bound, if of a fine, to be fined, if of exile, to be exiled, if of death, to die, himself being the first to accuse himself and his relations, and using rhetoric to this end, that his and their unjust actions may be made manifest, and that they themselves may be delivered from injustice, which is the greatest evil. Then, Polus, rhetoric would indeed be useful. Do you say "Yes" or "No" to that?

Polus replies To me, Socrates, what you are saying appears very strange, though probably in agreement with your premises.
Gorgias alternativeI can not agree with you on that issue.

Socrates asks, Is not this the conclusion, if the premises are not disproven?

Polus replies Yes; it certainly is.
Gorgias alternativeNo.

Socrates asks, And from the opposite point of view, if indeed it be our duty to harm another, whether an enemy or not-I except the case of self-defence-then I have to be upon my guard-but if my enemy injures a third person, then in every sort of way, by word as well as deed, I should try to prevent his being punished, or appearing before the judge; and if he appears, I should contrive that he should escape, and not suffer punishment: if he has stolen a sum of money, let him keep what he has stolen and spend it on him and his, regardless of religion and justice; and if he has done things worthy of death, let him not die, but rather be immortal in his wickedness; or, if this is not possible, let him at any rate be allowed to live as long as he can. For such purposes, Polus, rhetoric may be useful, but is of small if of any use to him who is not intending to commit injustice; at least, there was no such use discovered by us in the previous discussion.