Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gorgias of Epirus

Gorgias of Epirus

Gorgias of Epirus Birth in his Mother’s Coffin

Gorgias of Epirus was born in his dead mother’s coffin when the pallbearers heard him crying out as they carried his mother’s coffin to the grave. As they stopped to figure out the sound coming out of the dead coffin, they discovered little Gorgias. He was a Greek sophist, pre-Socratic philosopher and a rhetorician, a native of Leontini, which was a Greek colony in Sicily and often called the home of Spartan rhetoric. His father was Charmantides and had two siblings, a brother Herodicus and a sister who had dedicated a statue to Gorgias in Delphi.

He formed the first generation of Sophists along with Protagoras and it was reported that he was a pupil of Empedocles, though he was a few years younger to him. Like many Sophist he was considered an itinerant, practicing in many cities as well as giving public exhibitions on his amazing skills at the great pan Hellenic centers of Olympia and Delphi. He would charge huge fees for his performances and instructions and his special feature of display was the invitation of miscellaneous queries from the audience and providing them with prompt replies. Besides this, his chief claim for being recognized was in the fact the he transplanted rhetoric from his native land, Sicily to Attica, contributing to the diffusion of the Attic dialect as the language of literary prose.

Admired for Gorgias of Epirus ability to speak on any topic

He was sent to Athens in 427 BC, at sixty, by his fellow citizen at the head of an embassy to ask for Athenian protection against the aggression of the Syracusans and subsequently settled there, due to the popularity he gained on his style of oratory as well as the profits made from his performance together with the rhetoric classes. Gorgias of Epirus is said to have lived to reach one hundred and eight years and died at Larissa in Thessaly.

Gorgias of Epirus had won admiration for his ability to speak on any topic accumulating a considerable amount of wealth, which was enough to commission a gold statue of himself for a public temple. The Greeks, after his Pythian Oration, installed a gold statue of Gorgias in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. He was also known as `the Nihilist’, due to his beliefs regarding the concept of existence and Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless with nothing can be communicated or known and is often related to extreme pessimism and radical skepticism which condemns existence.

Gorgias of Epirus Philosophy – Nothing Exists

Gorgias of Epirus belief or philosophy is that nothing exists at all and the full extent of this is portrayed in his `On Non-existence’, where he developed three sequential arguments, first that nothing exists, and second that even if existence does exist, it is inapprehensible to humans and third that if existence is inapprehensible, it cannot be communicated or interpreted to another.

Gorgias of Epirus writing was also both rhetorical and performative and he would go to great lengths in order to exhibit his ability of making an absurd and argumentative topic appear stronger. He was also of the belief that his magical incantations would bring about healing to the human psyche on controlling powerful emotions, paying more attention to the sounds of words, which would captivate the audience like poetry.

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