Encomium on Helen as Advertisement: Political life according to gorgias the Barbarian

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Abstract

In this paper I develop a speculative reading of Gorgias's Encomium on Helen that begins from several common assumptions about the work—especially its status as a “pretext” for Gorgias's hidden purposes and its character as a sort of advertisement. Beginning from these common assumptions I propose that the Encomium is appropriately read as an allegorical representation of Athenian political life. By way of this allegory Gorgias was able to advertise his conception of persuasion despite its highly controversial political implications. I refer to Gorgias as a “barbarian” due to the fundamental incompatibility of the model of political persuasion implicit in the Encomium with democratic Athenian political culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in the History of Rhetoric
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

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