447aa number of fine pieces: a sophistic 'display' or 'presen-
tation' (epideixis) could consist of a lecture, a debate, a
question-and-answer session, or a combination of these
447cconversation with us?: 'conversation' translates a Greek
word which is cognate with 'dialectic', Socrates' word for
his method of philosophical enquiry, by testing the con-
sistency of the set of one's own or others' beliefs, in order
to attempt to discern the truth of some matter by forming
a coherent set of notions about it under some self-evident
or at least mutually agreed general proposition.
448cthe finest there is: Polus was a historical person, a teacher
of rhetoric (see Index of Names), and there can be no
doubt that in this bombastic little speech, with its antithe-
ses and reduplicated words, Plato is parodying his style
(see also Phaedrus 267b-c). At 467b-c assonance is
added to Polus' rhetorical tricks. The idea that experience
leads to expertise is also alluded to at 462b-c.
449aI avow I am: a common Homeric formula.
450aspeaking too: the weakness of this argument as it stands
is fairly evident, and Gorgias will go on to protest (450b-
c) that speech is only a secondary concern of other branches
of knowledge, whereas it is the essential concern of rhet-
oric; however, Socrates successfully refutes that escape-route.
A more profitable line for Gorgias might be that rhetoric
is concerned with how to speak, rather than what is said.
However, it is clear that for Gorgias rhetoric was not just
a matter of the formal elements of talking--the develop-
ment of a nice, persuasive style--but included enough of
a general education for a speaker to be convincing about
'important' (i.e. political) matters. That is precisely why
Plato was interested in attacking rhetoric and proving its
nullity: it was a rival for the position held in his view by
philosophy, as the only viable system of higher education.
450dnot forgetting backgammon: because it involves counting
the spaces to be moved, as well as actually moving the


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