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Written by Max Dyrek
Socrates is the primary figure in the book. Socrates looks to define words, concepts, and abilities accurately; in this case the pros, cons, and responsibility of oratory. He is inquisitive, patient, and well spirited. He stands on the side truth and morality (which are discussed in other dialogues) and disdains using proficiency for abuse. He is a man of learning and argues the case for being just in ones actions.
Gorgias is a high ranking sophist. A sophist is someone who has high renown as an orator and teacher and is often times paid to teach others how to persuade. Gorgias posits that anyone can ask him anything and he will have an answer. One of Gorgias’ main points is the ability to persuade is highly important and one can achieve with it, in some times, more than someone who is an expert in the field being discussed. An example in the book was who can better persuade a sick patient that a painful medicine will save his or her life. The doctor or the orator? Gorgias sees oratory as a way to a financially successful life. Towards the end of his part Gorgias on some level agrees with Socrates that it is shameful to use oratory to deceive.
Callicles is one of Gorgias’ students. His major role happens towards the end of the book. Callicles asserts strength and force are what should rule and that the stronger deserve more than the weaker rather than working together. He seems to be a hedonist and shows to be an arrogant person untethered from using rhetoric as a way to win over others even if that means lying. He is the antithesis to Socrates philosophy.
Polus is also a student of Gorgias. He is anxious to test his abilities and sees the ability to persuade as a way of achieving power in life. In the dialogue he is listed as young and is a bit blindsided. He has yet to learn about the consequences of having power and doing whatever the person in power thinks is best only for himself. In a pinch Polus is enamored by power over people’s actions
Chaerephon is a friend of Socrates who has a quick role in the book. From the dozen or so lines he has, we can form a brief picture that Chaerephon is a confident person who has been learning a bit of Socrates’ style of speaking. He is an amicable person who seem to be well known and well liked. He leads off the dialogue before turning it over to Socrates.
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