40. Athanasius of Alexandria, (?): Gorgias, as he himself says, in his Epitaphios (funeral speech) felt unable to say “vultures”, so he said “living graves” instead.

41. Anonymous treatise On the Sublime: For this reason, people laugh at Gorgias of Leontini writing stuff like “Xerxes the Zeus of the Persians” or “vultures the living graves”.

Hermogenes On Ideas 2.292, 18 Sp.: ‘You’d find all kinds of things among these spurious sophists. They call vultures “live tombs” etc.’

42. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On Demosthenes:[1] What did those men lack that men need to possess? What did they possess that men need to lack? May I say what I want, may I want what I should, hidden from the gods’ punishment, saved from people’s condemnation. For those possessed god-like virtue, but human-like mortality; they often preferred the present equity to the arrogant justice or the correctness of the words to the exactness of the law, regarding it as the godliest and most common of all laws to say or not say or do the right thing at the right time. Practicing the two things most that one should, wisdom and strength, one in counsel, the other in action, they served the unjustly suffering and punished the unjustly gloating, courageous toward what was helpful, good-tempered toward what was appropriate, stopping folly with the wits of their judgment, insolent toward the insolent, respectful toward the respectful, fearless against the fearless, terrific among the terrific. As witnesses of this they set up monuments of their enemies’ defeat, images of worship to Zeus, ornaments to themselves, not inexperienced in inborn Ares nor in lawful love, not in armed strife nor in honorable peace; sublime toward the gods for their justice, pious toward their parents for their service, just toward their fellow citizens for their equality, observant toward their friends for their faithfulness. Hence, after they died the desire for them did not die with them, but it lives, albeit for the non-living, immortal in non-immortal bodies.

From the beginning of the now-lost book on Demosthenes Syrianus excerpted a ‘memory aid on book 2 of Hermogenes’ On ideas’ 1 p. 90, 12 R.; from Syrianus Maximus Planudes in the scholia on Hermogenes 5 p. 549 W., using a fuller text of Syrianus than we had at our disposal.

On line 1 f. see Plato menex. 234 C, Anaximenes 3 p. 28, 1 H. Philostratus Lives of the Sophists 493 p. 209, 7 (2 p. 12, 18) Kayser: ‘The epitaph of Gorgias […] showed them that the victory against the barbarians required victory songs, that over the (other) Greeks, on the other hand, funeral songs’ is to be compared to Isocr. Paneg. 158: ‘One would find that from the war against the barbarians have resulted victory songs for you, from that against the (other) Greeks, however, funeral songs.’

43. An Encomium of the Eleans is perhaps to be added to teh declamations written "for practice" (Ar. Rhet. 3.14.12 1416a1), Aristotle appears to indicate a Praise of Achilles (3.17.12 1418a35).  Not a few things said by Gorgias, which have been collected by Sauppe in fragments of uncertain origin, you might think were produced from such artes, as is reported in the Townleian Scholium on Il. 4.450 "and Gorgias: threats were mixed with entreaties and lamentatins with prayers."


44. Gorgias, Palamedes:

(1) Accusation and defense are not a judgment regarding death. For nature, by a manifest decree, has condemned to death all mortals on the day that they were born. What is at stake is dishonor and honor, whether I must die justly or must die violently with the gravest allegations and the most shameful accusation. (2) Since these alternatives are two in number, you have the power over the whole of the one, and I over the other: I over justice, you over violence. For, if you wish, you will easily be able to kill me: for you have power over those things too over which I happen to have no power at all. (3) If then it is because of his goodwill toward Greece that my accuser, Odysseus, has made the accusation—either knowing clearly that I was betraying Greece to the barbarians, or supposing somehow that this was the case—then he would be the best of men. For how could it be otherwise, if he is saving his fatherland, his parents, and all Greece, and that furthermore he is punishing a man who has committed injustice? But if he has fashioned this accusation out of jealousy, subterfuge, or wickedness, just as for those reasons he would be the most excellent of men, so too for these reasons he would be the most evil. (4) But speaking about these matters, from where should I begin? What should I say first? To where should I turn in my defense? For an unproven accusation produces manifest consternation, and from this consternation it follows necessarily that I am at a loss for speech, if I do not learn from the truth itself and from the present constraint, though finding therein teachers who provide more risks than resources. (5) Well, that the accuser has accused me without knowing clearly—this I know clearly. For I am clearly aware that I have done nothing of this sort. And I do not know in what way someone could know that what has not happened has. But if it is because he supposes that this is how things were that he has made the accusation, I shall show you in two ways that he is not speaking the truth. For neither, if I had wished it, would I have been able to undertake actions of this sort, nor, if I had been able to, would I have wished to do so.

(6) I shall proceed to this argument first, that I am unable to do this. For it would have been necessary for the betrayal to have first some beginning, and the beginning must have been a speech: for before the ensuing deeds, speeches must necessarily be produced beforehand. But how could speeches have been produced without some meeting taking place? And in what way could a meeting have taken place if neither the enemy sent someone to me nor I someone to him? For not even a message in writing can arrive without someone carrying it. (7) But let us suppose, in theory, that this became possible. And so I am together with him and he is together with me—in what way? Who is together with whom? A Greek with a barbarian. Hearing and speaking how? As one man alone to another one alone? But we will not understand each other’s speeches. So with the help of an interpreter? So there is a third witness of what needs to be concealed. (8) But let us suppose that this too happened, even if it did not. It would have been necessary after these speeches to give and receive guarantees. What then would have been the guarantee? An oath? But who was going to trust me, a traitor? Or hostages? Who? For example, I might have given my brother (for I had no one else), and the barbarian one of his sons—for in this way there would have been the most secure guarantees for me from him and for him from me. But if this had taken place it would have been manifest to all of you. (9) Someone will say that we made the guarantee for each other by means of valuables, he by giving them, I by receiving them. Well then, was it by means of a few? But it is not plausible to receive a few valuables in return for great services. So was it by many? What then was the conveyance? How could one or many have conveyed them? But if many had conveyed them, there would have been many witnesses of the conspiracy, and if only one had conveyed it, what was brought could not have been very much. (10) And did they convey it by day or at night? But the guards were many and closely stationed, whom there was no way to pass by undetected. So by day? But light is the enemy of such things. But let us suppose it was so. Was it I, who received, who came out, or was it he, who was bringing, who came in? For either of these is impracticable. If I had received it, how could I have hidden it, both from those inside and from those outside? Where could I have put it? How could I have guarded it? If I had used it, it would have been clearly seen that I was doing so; if I had not used it, then what benefit would I have derived from it? (11) But let us suppose that what did not happen did happen. We came together, we spoke, we heard, I took valuables from them, I received them without being noticed, I concealed them. I suppose that then it was necessary to do the deed for the sake of which this had happened. But this is even more impracticable than what has already been mentioned. For if I had performed the deed, would I either have performed it by myself or together with others? But this deed is not one for only one man. So together with others? Whom? Evidently my companions. Free men or slaves? But the free men are yourselves, among whom I am now. Well then, who of you knows about this? Let him speak up. But with slaves how could there have been trust? For they make an accusation, either willingly, to gain their freedom, or constrained, by torture. (12) As for the deed, how could it have been performed? Obviously it would have been necessary to bring in enemies superior to you—which is impossible. So how could I have brought them in? Through the gates? But it is not up to me either to close these or to open them, but it is the leaders who are in charge of these. Or over the fortifications with a ladder? <Would I have> not <been seen>?. For they are all full of guards. Or by making a breach in the wall? Then this would have been visible to all. For our life (since this is an army encampment) takes place in the open air, in which <all> see all and all are seen by all. So it was completely impossible for me to do all this at all in any way at all.

 (13) Consider this too together with me. For the sake of what goal would it have been appropriate for me to wish to do this, if only I had been capable most of all? For no one wishes to run the greatest risks for nothing, nor to be the most wicked in terms of the greatest wickedness. So for the sake of what goal? (And I shall come back to this again.) In order to be tyrant? Over you or over the barbarians? But over you is impossible, given your numbers and the kind of men you are, who possess all the greatest things: the virtues of your ancestors, numerous valuables, exploits, the force of thoughts, kingship over cities. (14) Or over the <barbarians>? But who will hand them over to me? And I, by means of what power will I, a Greek, take power over them, barbarians, I being one, over them being many? By persuading or by compelling? For neither would they wish to be persuaded, nor would I be able to compel them. But perhaps willing people will hand them over to a willing man, as a reward paid in exchange for my betrayal? But that would be a great stupidity, to believe that and to accept it. For who would prefer slavery instead of kingship, the worst thing of all instead of the best of all? (15) Someone could say that it was out of a desire for wealth and valuables that I undertook this. But of valuables I possess a moderate amount, and I have no need of more: for it is those who spend a lot who have need of a lot of valuables, not those who are stronger than the pleasures of nature, but those who are slaves to pleasures and who try to acquire honors by means of wealth and magnificence. Of these things, none matters to me. To the fact that I am telling the truth, I shall offer my past life as a trustworthy witness; and you, be witnesses in support of this witness. For you are together with me, and for this reason you know this. (16) And again: not even for the sake of honor would a moderately intelligent man undertake such deeds. For honors come from virtue, not from wickedness; and how could honor come about for a man who was a traitor to Greece? Moreover, I did not happen to be lacking in honor: for I was honored for the most honorable things by the most honorable men, by you for my wisdom. (17) And again: no one would have done these things for the sake of safety. For a traitor is an enemy to all, to the law, to justice, to the gods, to the crowd of men: for he transgresses the law, abolishes justice, destroys the crowd, dishonors divinity. Such a life is exceedingly full of danger and has no security. (18) Or did I wish to benefit friends or harm enemies? For someone might commit an injustice for these reasons too. But for me exactly the opposite came about. For I inflicted evils on my friends and I helped my enemies. So the action did not involve the acquisition of any good things; and no one acts wickedly out of a desire to suffer evils. (19) The remaining question is whether I acted in order to avoid some fear, suffering, or danger. But no one would be able to say about these things what relevance they could have to me. For all men do all things for two reasons, either to pursue some gain or to avoid some damage. As for all the wicked deeds performed extraneously to these two reasons, it is evident that in doing them I did evils to myself. For by betraying Greece I betrayed myself, my parents, my friends, the reputation of my ancestors, the temples of my forefathers, the tombs, the greatest fatherland in Greece. And what is of the highest value for all people, I would have put into the hands of people who had suffered an injustice. (20) Consider as well the following point. How would life have been anything other than unlivable for me if I had done this? For where could I turn to? To Greece? So as to be punished by those I had wronged? Who of those who had suffered evil from me would keep their hands from me? Or to remain among the barbarians? Having disregarded all the things that are most important, deprived of the fairest honor, passing my life in the most shameful ill repute, having cast away the efforts I had endured in my past life for the sake of virtue? And this for my own fault—which is the most shameful thing for a man: to suffer misfortune for his own fault. (21) And again: Not even among the barbarians would I be considered trustworthy. For how could I be, given that they knew that I had committed the most untrustworthy of deeds in betraying friends to enemies? But life is not livable for a man deprived of trustworthiness. For someone might be able to restore one who has lost his valuables, been deposed from tyranny, or been exiled from his fatherland; but someone who has lost trustworthiness could never acquire it again. So the fact that I would neither <have been able nor> have wished to betray Greece—this has been shown by what I have said up to now.

 (22) After this I wish to discuss with the accuser. What is it that, trusting in it, you, being the kind of man you are, accuse me, who am the kind of man I am? For it is worth finding out what kind of man you are, what kinds of things you are saying, a man who is undeserving to a man who does not deserve them. For are you accusing me from exact knowledge or from opinion? For if it is from knowledge, then you know either from having seen, or from having participated, or from having found out from some <participant>. If from having seen, then tell these people <the way,> the place, the time, when, where, how you saw; if from having participated, then you are liable to the same accusations; if from having heard from some participant, whoever he is, let him come forth himself, present himself, give testimony. For in this way the accusation, supported by a witness, will be more trustworthy. For as things stand now, neither of us is providing a witness. (23) Perhaps you will say that it is the same thing for you not to provide witnesses for what did happen, according to you, and for me for what did not happen. But it is not the same thing. For it is impossible for what did not happen in some way to be witnessed; whereas concerning what did happen it is not only not impossible, but it is even easy, and not only easy,<but also inevitable,> but for you it was possible to find not only witnesses, but also false witnesses, whereas for me it is not possible to find either of these. (24) Therefore, the fact that you do not have knowledge of what you are accusing me of is evident. It remains that, <not> knowing, you have an opinion. Then is it trusting in opinion, that most untrustworthy of things, and not knowing the truth, that you, most audacious of all humans, have the audacity to accuse a man of a capital crime? What deed like this do you know that man to have committed? And again: to have an opinion is something common to all people about all things, and you are not at all wiser in this than the others. But one should not trust in those who have an opinion, but in those who have knowledge, and one should also not consider opinion to be more trustworthy than truth, but on the contrary truth to be more so than opinion. (25) You have accused me, in the speeches I have mentioned, of two things that are completely contrary to one another, wisdom and madness, of which it is not possible for the same man to possess both. For you accuse me of wisdom when you say that I am skilled, clever, and resourceful, but of madness when you say that I betrayed Greece. For it is madness to undertake deeds that are impossible, disadvantageous, shameful, ones by which one will harm one’s friends, help one’s enemies, and make one’s own life reproachful and insecure. And how can one trust a man like that, one who, in saying the same speech to the same men about the same matters, says completely contrary things? (26) I would wish to find out from you whether you consider wise men to be witless or prudent. For if they are witless, the argument is new but not true; but if they are prudent, it certainly is not fitting that prudent men commit the greatest mistakes and prefer evils rather than present goods. If then I am wise, then I have not made a mistake; and if I have made a mistake, then I am not wise. And so in either case you would be a liar.

(27) Although I would be able to accuse you in turn of having committed many great crimes, old ones and new ones, I do not wish to do so. For <I wish> to be acquitted of this accusation not because of your evil deeds but because of my good ones. This then was with regard to you.

(28) Τo you, judges, I wish to say about myself something invidious but true, intolerable coming from someone who has <not> been accused, but appropriate for someone who is being accused. For as things stand, I am offering you a justification and an account of my past life. So I ask you, if I remind you of one of the fine things that I have done, that no one feel envy at what I say, but consider it necessary for someone who is being accused of false and terrible deeds to say something as well of the true and good ones, among you who know them—and this is something that provides me the greatest pleasure. (29) First then, and second, and most important of all: my past life, for its whole course, from beginning to end, has been free of fault, pure of any accusation. For nobody would be able to state to you any accusation of wickedness concerning me that would be true. For not even the accuser has mentioned any proof of the things he mentioned. In this way his speech is equivalent to an insult that does not admit of examination. (30) I would assert—and in asserting this neither would I be telling a lie nor would I be refuted—that not only am I free from fault but also that I am a great benefactor for you, both for the Greeks and for all humans, not for those now alive but for those yet to come. For who would have transformed human life from resourceless to resourceful, and from disordered to ordered, by inventing military formations (the most important thing for conquests), written laws (the guardians of justice), writing (an instrument of memory), measures and weights (resourceful means of exchange for commerce), number (the guardian of valuables), signal fires (the strongest and swiftest messengers), and dice (a painless way of passing leisure time)? (31) Well, why have I reminded you of this? To show you that it is to these kinds of things that I pay attention and to furnish evidence that I refrain from shameful and wicked deeds. For it is impossible for a man who pays attention to such things to do so to these other ones. And I think that, if I myself do you no injustice, neither should I myself suffer injustice from you. (32) For I do not deserve to be punished because of my other activities either, neither by younger men nor by older ones. For to older men I cause no pain, to younger ones I provide some benefit, for the fortunate I feel no envy, for the unfortunate I do feel pity; neither do I look down upon poverty nor do I value wealth above virtue, but instead virtue above wealth. I am neither ineffective in councils nor idle in battles: I do what I am ordered; I obey the commanders. And yet it is not for me to praise myself: but the present circumstance has compelled me, especially since I am accused of these things, to defend myself in every way.

 (33) It remains for me to speak to you about yourselves; when I have said this, I shall conclude my defense. Well, lamentation, and supplication of friends are useful when a judgment takes place in a crowd; but in the presence of you, who both are and are reputed to be the very first of the Greeks, I ought not to persuade you by means of the assistance of friends, entreaties, or laments, but to be acquitted of this accusation by the most evident justice, by teaching you the truth, not by deceiving you. (34) As for you, you should not pay attention to speeches more than to deeds, nor prefer accusations to examinations, nor consider that a short time is a wiser judge than a long one, nor think that slander is more trustworthy than experience. For in all matters it belongs to good men to exercise great caution to avoid making a mistake, and in irremediable matters even more than in remediable ones: for the former can be healed if people think beforehand but are incurable if people regret them later. One of the matters of this sort is when men judge a man in a capital case—and this is what you have before you now. (35) Well, if it were possible for the truth about actions to become pure <and> clear for listeners by means of speeches, it would already be easy to form a judgment on the basis of what I have said. But since matters are not like this, protect my body, wait for a longer time, and form your judgment in conformity with the truth. For the risk for you is great, if you show yourselves to be unjust: to lose one reputation and to acquire another. For good men, death is preferable to a shameful reputation: for the former is the end of life, while the latter is an illness for life. (36) If you kill me unjustly, it will become manifest to many. For I am <not> unknown, and your wickedness will be known and manifest to all the Greeks. And it is you, not the accuser, who will receive the entire {manifest}accusation of injustice: for the decision in this trial rests in your power. There could not be a greater mistake than this. For if you judge unjustly, not only will you be wronging me and my parents, but you yourselves will know that you have committed a dreadful, godless, unjust, unlawful deed by killing a man who is your ally, useful for you, a benefactor of Greece—Greeks killing a Greek—although you had proven no manifest injustice nor a trustworthy accusation.

 (37) I have now spoken my part, and I conclude. For to remind people briefly of what has been said at length makes sense if one is speaking to worthless judges. But it is not fitting even to think that the very first Greeks among the very first Greeks do not pay attention or remember what has been said.

On the disposition see E. Schwartz 8 f., on the argumentation see also Jaeneke 21. Cf. n. on 39 above.



45. Plato, Phaedrus 261a-b: Is not rhetoric in its entire nature an art which leads the soul by means of words, not only in law courts and the various other public assemblages, but in private companies as well? And is it not the same when concerned with small things as with great, and, properly speaking, no more to be esteemed in important than in trifling matters?

Cf. C 13, B IX 3 below.


[1] Obviously citing a passage by Gorgias himself.