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An amusing exchange from the Gorgias

January 29, 2012

ΣΩ. ἆρ’ οὖν ἐθελήσαις ἄν, ὦ Γοργία, ὥσπερ νῦν διαλεγόμεθα, διατελέσαι τὸ μὲν ἐρωτῶν, τὸ δ’ ἀποκρινόμενος, τὸ δὲ μῆκος τῶν λόγων τοῦτο, οἷον καὶ πῶλος ἤρξατο, εἰς αὖθις ἀποθέσθαι; ἀλλ’ ὅπερ ὑπισχνῇ, μὴ ψεύσῃ, ἀλλὰ ἐθέλησον κατὰ βραχὺ τὸ ἐρωτώμενον ἀποκρίνεσθαι.

ΓΟ. εἰσὶ μέν, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἔνιαι τῶν ἀποκρίσεων ἀναγκαῖαι διὰ μακρῶν τοὺς λόγους ποιεῖσθαι· οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ πειράσομαί γε ὡς διὰ βραχυτάτων. καὶ γὰρ αὖ καὶ τοῦτο ἕν ἐστιν ὧν φημι, μηδένα ἂν ἐν βραχυτέροις ἐμοῦ τὰ αὐτὰ εἰπεῖν.

ΣΩ. τούτου μὴν δεῖ, ὦ Γοργία· καί μοι ἐπίδειξιν αὐτοῦ τούτου ποίησαι, τῆς βραχυλογίας, μακρολογίας δὲ εἰς αὖθις.

ΓΟ. ἀλλὰ ποιήσω, καὶ οὐδενὸς φήσεις βραχυλογωτέρου ἀκοῦσαι.

ΣΩ. φέρε δή· ῥητορικῆς γὰρ φῂς ἐπιστήμων τέχνηςεἶναι καὶ ποιῆσαι ἂν καὶ ἄλλον ῥήτορα· ἡ ῥητορικὴ περὶ τί τῶν ὄντων τυγχάνει οὖσα; ὥσπερ ἡ ὑφαντικὴ περὶ τὴν τῶν ἱματίων ἐργασίαν· ἦ γάρ;Γοργίας

ΓΟ. ναί.

ΣΩ. οὐκοῦν καὶ ἡ μουσικὴ περὶ τὴν τῶν μελῶν ποίησιν;

ΓΟ. ναί.

ΣΩ. νὴ τὴν Ἥραν, ὦ Γοργία, ἄγαμαί γε τὰς ἀποκρίσεις, ὅτι ἀποκρίνῃ ὡς οἷόν τε διὰ βραχυτάτων. (449b4-d6)

SOCRATES: So are you willing, Gorgias, to continue as we’re discussing now, asking one thing, answering with another, and put aside for later the kind of long speeches that Polos started making?

GORGIAS: There are some answers one must make speeches at length about.  Nonetheless, I will try to speak as briefly as possible: this is also one of the things I claim, that no one can say the same things in shorter speeches than I can.

SOCRATES: That’s just what I need, Gorgias; make a show of this very thing for me, too — of short-speech, and of long-speech later.

GORGIAS: All right, I’ll do it, and you’ll say you’ve heard no one more short-spoken.

SOCRATES: Well then — since you say that you are skilled in rhetoric, and that you make others rhetoricians, too.  Which of the things there are is rhetoric really concerned with? For example, weaving is concerned with the making of clothing, right?


SOCRATES: Furthermore, isn’t music concerned with the making of songs?


SOCRATES: By Hera,* Gorgias, I’m astonished at your answers — you’re answering as briefly as you possibly could!

* Dodds ad loc. says: “Both Plato (Apol.24 e, Theat. 154 d, etc.) and Xenophon make Socrates swear on occasion by Hera, though this seems to have been normally a woman’s oath.  We may infer that it was a habit of the historical Socrates.  In Plato it always accompanies expressions of admiration.”  I’m intererested in this because I’ve noticed that Plato’s exuberant and expressive use of particles resembles in many respects what Denniston characterizes as “feminine underlining” — comparable, for example, to the greater prosodic range in women’s intonation both in English and in Japanese.  I think that part of the richness of platonic style has to do with his use of linguistic features avoided by other authors because they were marked as effeminate.  Obviously, I cannot make any kind of argument to this effect at the moment.  But this seems like an extra bit of evidence.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. linebrick permalink*
    January 29, 2012 4:24 pm

    maybe it’s an interpolation too, hm?

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