This afternoon, I shall give the fifth of six lectures on Plato’s dialogues, this one on the Gorgias. Out of curiosity, I looked back over my extensive files of the courses I have taught during my long career, and found that I first taught the Gorgias in the Fall of 1955 as a twenty-one year old Teaching Fellow in Harvard’s Philosophy 1. There were four Teaching Fellows in the course taught by the grand old man of the department, Raphael Demos. Each of us covered two sections. In my file for the course was a copy of the mimeographed sheet listing the questions each of us posed to his sections on the mid-term hour examination. Mister Raymond, Mr. Schiller, and Mr. Chacon asked serious, probing questions, suitable for so elevated a subject. Then there was me. Here is my first question:
There once was a rhetorical man
Who said, “Flatter the public I can.”
He boned up on knick-knackery,
All four forms of quackery,
And for Ruler of Athens he ran.
Outline Plato’s theory of true and false arts, and explain how a false politician would use the “knacks” to gain power in a state.
Ah, those were the days.