Study Questions on the Gorgias

1. What is the first question posed to Gorgias and Polus.

2. Is Socrates satisfied with the answer of Polus? Why or why not?

3. What is Gorgias's first answer? What are his subsequent answers?

4. Why is Socrates not satisfied with these answers?

5. How does Socrates explain the type of questions that he is asking Gorgias? What is the purpose of the "discussion" ("dialectic").

6. Why does Socrates talk about the distinction between learning and believing? How does he connect this to rhetoric? to power? to the mob?

7. What prompts Polus to re-enter the discussion?

8. What is Polus's first question to Socrates? What is Socrates's response?

9. Why does Socrates liken rhetoric to cookery and flattery?

10. According to Socrates, what constitutes an "art" or techne?

11. Why does Socrates say that rhetoricians have no power?

12. Would Socrates rather do evil or suffer evil? Why?

13. How do Socrates and Polus differ on the value of punishment?

14. Why does Socrates refuse to judge whether the king of Macedonia and the king of Persia are happy? Does Polus accept this? Why?

15. How does Socrates relate doing or suffering evil to beauty and goodness?

16. How does Socrates persuade Polus that doing evil is not preferable to suffering evil after all?

17. Why does Callicles enter the discussion?

18. What is Callicles's initial analysis of the foregoing arguments? of Polus's argument? Gorgias's argument? Socrates's argument?

19. Why does Socrates welcome Callicles's participation?

20. According to Callicles, what life is truly just?

21. Who does Callicles say are the "stronger"? What does he say is their appropriate reward?

22. What is Callicles's response to Socrates's reference to self control and self rule?

23. According to Callicles, what is the best life? What should men try to achieve in life? What is happiness? What is virtue?

24. What argument does Socrates use to attack the identification of good with pleasure?

25. According to Socrates, what serves as the proper standard for evaluating human action--the purpose of the activity or the activity itself? How does he apply this reasoning to evaluating pleasures?

26. Does Callicles accept this argument of Socrates regarding pleasure and goodness? Is Callicles's response important for his own position?

27. Socrates asks whether all public orators or politicians are seeking only their own self interest as opposed to the common good. What is Callicles's response?

28. According to Socrates, what is the basic standard of evaluating artists, including politicians?

29. According to Socrates, why does power alone or friendship with one's ruler fail to assure safety to an individual?

30. What do Socrates and Callicles think of long life?

31. According to Socrates, what do "true" politicians attempt to do in public life? Why does he dislike referring to government officials and rulers as "public servants"?

32. According to Socrates, what is the ultimate standard of right and wrong, good and evil, in human life?