Along with Protagoras , this man born in Sicily represents one of the most important sophists . His enormous oratorical ability, his incredible rhetoric and his teachings, incorporated very remarkable poetic elements such as parallelism , antithesis , rhyme and meter . Gorgias was a well-known traveler throughout all of Greece. He dedicated himself to traveling from city to city practicing his teachings. Some say that he was a great disciple of Empedocles , but his most important influence came from the Eléatas , who forced him to rethink all his conceptions.

  • Occupation:  Sophist Philosopher
  • Why he’s famous: For being the founder of Epidictic Oratory

Who was Gorgias?

Supposed student of Empedocles and contemporary of Protagoras . Dedicated to teaching the art of rhetoric as the correct way to gain access to power. Born in Sicily, Gorgias was one of the most important sophists along with Protagoras. Great traveler who went from city to city teaching and practicing his rhetoric .

  • Gorgias Biography
  • Gorgias thought
  • Gorgias Contributions
  • Thesis
  • Gorgias Works
  • Rhetoric manuals
  • Philosophical Treatises
  • Speeches

Gorgias Biography

Greek philosopher who was born around 487 BC in Lentini, Silicia. His life was marked by great successes and also failures. He traveled all over Greece teaching and practicing rhetorical art and earned large sums of money leading his followers. He was the most admired master of rhetoric of ancient sophistry and received the name of sage. Son of Carmántides, orator, disciple of Empedocles , teacher of Polo de Agrigento, Isocrates and Alcidamante. He did not have a specific place to live because he dedicated himself fully to walking from one place to another, which gave him numerous moments of success. Most of his fame was achieved when his city was being harassed by the Syracusans and then he was sent as a representative to an embassy in Athens to try to convince the chiefs and the people in general to provide them with protection and ally with them. The Athenians being extremely impressed with his art allied with them, after this fact Gorgias had easy and free access to the city and made his fortune. He must also be considered the father and founder of ” epidic ” oratory .


Gorgias thought

Gorgias took it upon himself to define his art as a type of oratory art and he always stated that he was willing to train people in this type of art, as many as possible and as many as they wanted. He based his philosophy on relativism and skepticism , he thought that the truth for each person persuaded us of everything around us. The rhetoric was the art of persuasion and the sophist was the master of the opinion. I also thought that nothing existed. He maintained thesis that said that there was an absence of true convictions and values. He totally denied the existence of permanent things and relied on the real to declare other opinions false.

Gorgias Contributions

Founder of the epidictic oratory , contributions regarding the absolute truth which does not exist for him. Important contributions to rhetoric, art and speech in oratory were given by Gorgias. He was one of the first to place the problems of man at the center of philosophical reflection. His lessons in rhetoric and eloquence were directed toward politics.  He flatly denied the existence of permanent things and devoted himself to declaring all the opinions on this subject false.


Gorgias’ posture of thought is based on three fundamental theses which are the following:

  • Nothing is or nothing exists : if anything exists then it should be eternal or not. Something that is eternal has no beginning and since it does not have this beginning then it is infinite and is not found anywhere in particular, so it does not exist. Something that is eternal is contradictory in all its senses. I also thought that if something does not have eternity then it has not begun to be. In the end his conclusion was in every sense that the being did not exist.
  • If something existed it would be unknowable : in this thesis Gorgias claimed that the relationship between what is thought and what is truly real is not adequate. This would lead us to affirm that we could think about things that do not exist and that can be thought, such as mythical beings.  For him, if the thought does not exist then it cannot be thought.
  • If something existed and was knowable, it would be incommunicable : This was his simplest and simplest thesis, he says that the human being has instruments of communication, specifically the word , language and uses it to express the reality of things. Communication shares words. Language is then defective because it does not reflect all of our states of consciousness .

Gorgias Works

Among the main works of Gorgias we can mention the following.

Rhetoric manuals

  • Helena’s Praise
  • Palamedes Defense

Philosophical Treatises

  • On nature or On non-being


  • Olympic speech
  • Pythic speech
  • Epitaph

Leave a Comment