Speechmaking vs. Oration
In Plato's dialogue, Gorgias, Socrates raises the issue of speechmaking. He asks his interlocutors to refrain from making speeches in their usual drawn on manner, and to simply answer his questions. While, for the most part, the three sophists avoid long speeches, Socrates himself often makes comments at length. His questioning, while usually short and to the point, at times takes on aspects of the same methods that he chastises his conversationalists for. Socrates' speeches, however, avoid the use of oratory and rhetoric language. While he does make extended statements, he does not attempt to use his speeches to push his opinions, but rather, to explain his thoughts in greater detail. Unlike the…show more content…
He poses questions to himself, such as "Tell me Socrates, what is the art of arithmetic?" (451), merely to show Gorgias what type of answers he expects.
Hypothetical questioning is a reoccurring theme in Socrates' many speeches during the dialogue. He does so during his conversations with all three interlocutors and it is this subtle difference that distinguishes his speeches from those of Polus and Callicles. By stating his beliefs in the form of hypothetical questions, as he does with Gorgias (451-2), and then later with Polus (469) and Callicles (493), Socrates avoids making forcefully opinionated statements. When he does choose to push his opinions, he invites his interlocutors to "hear what I have to say and then raise objections if you like." (478) For the most part, Socrates' speeches are based solely upon further explaining his points, rather than all at once forming and concluding his opinions.
In the case of Polus and Callicles, it is evident that their training as sophists is used throughout their dialogue. Both often find themselves being led in a discussion by Socrates, only to have to fight their way out by use of rhetoric speeches. Despite their efforts, however, Socrates is neither impressed nor deceived.
Before his dialogue with Polus, Socrates asks that he "keep in check the tendency to make long speeches which [he] showed at the beginning of our