Primary Sources

Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Oxford, 1892. Project Gutenberg. Ed. Michael Hart. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <>.

Jowett’s translation seems the most prolific online, and Project Gutenberg offers a free eBook version for many different kinds of eReaders. The text can also be read and searched online (using the Ctrl+F function on a computer) if you choose to read in HTML format.


Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Oxford, 1892. The Internet Classics Archive. Ed. Daniel C. Stevenson. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <>.

MIT hosts another online copy of Jowett’s translation and offers a text-only downloadable version that is easier to print or copy-and-paste than Project Gutenberg’s version. This version is the one I would use and recommend.


Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Oxford, 1892. The Online Library of Liberty. Liberty Fund, Inc. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <>.

The Online Library of Liberty is the best solution if you are looking to read Phaedrus on an eReader or want a PDF version of Jowett’s original text—though the PDF version, while beautiful, is image-based and not searchable. OLL also offers a free accessible version of Phaedrus that is specifically designed for assistive devices for the visually impaired. A word of caution—this version includes Jowett’s entire published work, The Dialogues of Plato, so you need to be sure to select Phaedrus from the other ten dialogues included.


Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. Harold N. Fowler. London, 1925. The Perseus Digital Library. Ed. Gregory Crane. Tufts U. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <>.

This newer translation by H.N. Fowler is also the translation included in Bizzell and Herzberg’s anthology. Perseus offers the greatest amount of manipulation of the text I could find, especially in its elaborate search function. The English translation can also be viewed side-by-side with the original Greek. Clicking on a Greek work will bring up a translation and references to other places it appears in the text. However, it is impossible to view the text in its entirety at once, which is a bit annoying.


Plato. The Phaedrus, Lysis, and Protagoras of Plato. Trans. J. Wright. 1888. Archive Community Audio. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <>.

I wanted to include this source because it is an audio version of Phaedrus, and also the only version of Wright’s translation I could find for free. Unfortunately, it is a terrible performance—it sounds like someone fed the text into a computer reader. LibriVox also offers a free audio reading, of Jowett’s translation (, which I feel is better—but not by much. For example, the reader pronounces Phaedrus as four, never-ending syllables: fuh-EYE-duh-russ. It gets old after a while.


Secondary Sources

Frentz, Thomas S. “Memory, Myth, and Rhetoric in Plato’s Phaedrus.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 36:3 (2006): 243-62. Print.[1]

Kastely, James L. “Respecting the Rupture: Not Solving the Problem of Unity in Plato’s Phaedrus.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 35:2 (2002): 138-52. Print.

McAdon, Brad. “Plato’s Denunciation of Rhetoric in the Phaedrus.” Rhetoric Review 21:1 (2004): 21-39. Print.[2]

Miller, Dana. “Rhetoric in the Light of Plato’s Epistemological Criticisms.” Journal of the History of Rhetoric 30.2 (2012): 109-33. Print.

Murray, James S. “Disputation, Deception and Dialectic: Plato on the True Rhetoric (Phaedrus 261-266).” Philosophy and Rhetoric 21.4 (1988): 279-87. Print.

Noe, Mark. “The Oral Fixation: The Oral/Textual Binary from Phaedrus to Freshman Composition.” Rhetoric Review 26.4 (2007): 349-64.[3]

Rabbås, Øyvind. “Writing, Memory, and Wisdom: The Critique of Writing in the Phaedrus.” Symbolae Osloenses: Norwegian Journal of Greek and Latin Studies 84 (2010): 24-48. Print.[4]

[1] Thomas S. Frentz, in his article “Memory, Myth, and Rhetoric in Plato’s Phaedrus” (2006), claims that Plato suggests a conversational form of rhetoric as “living myth” in the Phaedrus that leads readers of the dialogue to self-knowledge of the soul. Frentz develops this idea by operating within the tension created by two antithetical readings of the Phaedrus, that of Griswold and Derrida, and embracing a decidedly spiritual framework that emphasizes the connection between memory and myth and rhetoric. His purpose in this is to expand critical perspectives to include spiritual frameworks of self-knowledge of the soul in order that this framework can be applied to other important rhetorical texts that have not yet considered such a framework. Frentz’s establishes a scholarly relationship with academics interested in Plato’s work and on the interrelationship of memory and myth in rhetoric.

[2] Brad McAndon, in his article “Plato’s Denunciation of Rhetoric in the Phaedrus” (2004), argues against readings of Plato’s work as one that praises rhetoric, claiming instead that Plato denounces rhetoric in the Phaedrus. McAndon supports this assertion by situating the Phaedrus as a response to Isocrates’s Against the Sophists, as part of a dynamic dialogue in which Plato distinguishes his philosophical method from Isocrates’s pseudo-philosophical method. His purpose is to interpret both Isocrates’s and Plato’s in order to analyze both philosophers’ conceptions of what the philosopher is and should do. McAndon establishes a scholarly relationship with his academic audience who would be familiar with the historiography of rhetoric, or at least the figures and principles of Plato and his contemporaries.

[3] Mark Noe, in his article “The Oral Fixation: The Oral/Textual Binary from Phaedrus to Freshman Composition” (2007), asserts that process-driven pedagogies in freshman composition silence the student writer. Noe develops this argument by recounting Derrida’s deconstructionist reading of Phaedrus in “Plato’s Pharmacy”—especially in his claim that Plato uses writing to deconstruct writing before it can deconstruct logos, embracing Sharon Crowley’s critique of process pedagogy as “complementary” to the current traditional pedagogy it sought to displace, and eventually linking these both to theories of presence that become erased in process pedagogies that separate student writing from students, therefore silencing students and making “it impossible for the student to write” (363). His purpose, though not altogether clear, is most probably to complicate established and flourishing foundational pedagogies for the teaching of writing in order to to upset the balance of power given to process pedagogies in the freshman composition classroom. Noe has a strictly defined audience of academics—and specifically ones familiar with deconstructionist concepts and terms; he provides little background into the charged nature certain concepts have in poststructualism (such as “the Father”), assuming his audience will have some familiarity with these precepts.

[4] Even though Symbolae Osloenses isn’t a well-known journal, this article looks to be exceptional and very applicable to our study in 593.

Primary Texts

Plato. Gorgias. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. The Project Gutenberg. 5 October 2008. Web. 25 January 2014. <>.

One of the best features of this text is that it is searchable. It highlights all of the words searched for, so it is easy to do a quick scan to find exactly what you are looking for. Also, the translation is easy to read and accessible for modern readers. I found this text by doing a Google search for “Plato’s Gorgias full text.”


Plato. Gorgias. Trans. W. C. Helmbold. New York: Liberal Arts P., 1952. Hathi Trust Digital Library. Web. 25 January 2014. <;view=1up;seq=1>.

This text is searchable, and it finds the word you search for along with a few of the lines that encompass the word in order to give context to where the word appears. These results are sorted by page number. This text is especially easy to read because it allows you to choose how you view the pages (zoom option, full screen, page-by-page, plain text, etc.). I found this text by doing a Google search for “Plato’s Gorgias full text.”


Plato. Gorgias. Trans. E. M. Cope. Cambridge, Deighton, Bell and Co, 1864. GoogleBooks. Web. 25 January 2014. <’s+gorgias&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YRTjUtusK5TtoASu2YDgBA&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=the&f=false>.

This translation is interesting because, as the introduction notes, the goal of this translation is “to render Plato’s text as nearly possible word for word into English” (v). Cope says that for this reason, it is not necessarily meant for English readers but rather for “students and scholars” (v). The translation is a bit difficult to read, as the sentence structure seems a bit odd, therefore, I would not recommend using this copy as a first introduction to Gorgias. I found this text using a Google Books search and limiting my findings to full text items only.


Rhetorical Précises

Kastely, James L. “In Defense of Plato’s Gorgias.PMLA 106.1 (Jan. 1991): 96-109. JSTOR. Web. 25 January 2014.

James L. Kastely, in his article “In Defense of Plato’s Gorigias” (1991) suggests “an alternative way to write the history of rhetoric” (97) by saying that Gorgias is not meant to critique the usefulness of rhetoric, but rather suggests that rhetoric acts as a powerful tool in refutation and thus encourages philosophical thinking.

Kastley first approaches this article by talking about the common critical and historical views on Gorgias and how often historians read it as a conversation that tries to uncover the evil nature of rhetoric, or they discuss Socrates’ seemingly absurd logic; however, Kastley spends the rest of the article providing examples from Gorgias and expounding on those examples in order to prove that the dialogue ends unsatisfactorily because it was not met with refutation, and also explaining that Socrates used ridiculous claims and logic as a way to incite refutation, because he believed that refutation was the best use of rhetoric.

This article serves to change or add a differing perspective to the common historical perception of Plato’s beliefs about rhetoric as revealed through the Gorgias.

This article was written for an audience of history of rhetoric students or scholars, and it invites its readers to look at Gorgias from a new perspective by leading them through the argument and some of its most common grey areas.

Stauffer, Devin. “Socrates and Callicles: A Reading of Plato’s Gorgias.” The Review of Politics 64.4 (Autumn 2002): 627-657. JSTOR. Web. 24 January 2014.

Devin Stauffer, in his article “Socrates and Callicles: A Reading of Plato’s Gorgias” (2002), proposes a new reading of Plato’s Gorgias that argues for Callicles as an example of a person who has closed himself off from self examination of his own beliefs, and as such, disables himself from understanding justice and partaking in philosophy.

Stauffer organizes this article by first examining Callicles and his statements in the Gorgias in order to discover how he is dedicated to virtue, but that he tends to take a “cynical” (647) point of view, showing how he sees the strong ruling the weak and believes that happiness is felt only by obtaining personal pleasure; then, Stauffer turns to Socrates and gives examples of why he would take an extreme pro-justice view, and that with this extreme view he is encouraging Callicles to examine his own understanding of justice and move toward philosophical thinking.

The purpose of this article provide a new understanding of the argument that occurs between Callicles and Socrates, and in doing so, he hopes to add to the historical understanding of what Socrates’ beliefs were of political philosophy.

This article was written for scholars of history of rhetoric, politics, and philosophy, and it appeals to the audiences’ pathos by asking them to see Callicles as a man struck by fear of discovering his true beliefs.


White, F. C. The Good in Plato’s Gorigas.Phronesis 35.2 (1990): 117-127. JSTOR. Web. 25 January 2014.

F. C. White, in his article “The Good in Plato’s Gorgias” (1990), argues that while Socrates seems to oppose himself when he states that good consists of doing good for oneself and virtue means doing good for others, he actually sees them coexisting together by believing that doing good for others is ultimately doing the most good for oneself.

To prove his point, White makes a logical deduction by using passages in the text to first establish where Socrates states that he believes virtue concerns the good of others and that good is self-centered, and then he points out that through refuting Callicles’ belief of what the greatest good is, Socrotes states that the most good a man can achieve for himself is a pursuit of virtue which in fact includes doing good and promoting virtue in others, thus resolving the two seemingly conflicting definitions of good and virtuous.

The purpose of this article is to resolve what seem to be two opposing definitions of good and virtuous, and it stands in opposition of other critical readings of the text, especially T. Irwin’s reading from Plato’s Moral Theory who argues for virtue as craft.

This article was written for a scholarly audience interested in the history of Rhetoric and Philosophy.


Primary Sources

Plato, “Gorgias. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Australia. University of Adelaide Library. 2012. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.


Plato, “Gorgias.” Trans. W. C. Helmbold. Hathi Trust Library. 1952. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.


Secondary Sources

Kastely, James L. “In Defense Of Plato’s Gorgias.” PMLA: Publications Of The Modern Language Association Of America 106.1 (1991): 96-109. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.


Found via a search on the MLA Database for ‘Gorgias’ and ‘rhetoric’ as keywords.
James L. Kastely in his scholarly journal article “In Defense of Plato’s Gorgias” (1991) suggests that the majority of rhetorical scholars have misread Plato’s ‘Gorgias’ in seeing it as Plato’s dismissal of rhetoric, and that instead Plato is actually recommending that people engage in rhetoric as a means of refutation within Athenian society.


Kastely supports his claims through several close readings of Plato’s Gorgias, analyzing the arguments of the Sophists (Gorgias, Polus, and Callicles) as well as that of Socrates, and also citing the works of several other rhetoricians who have made claims similar to his before concluding his argument with a summation of how he feels scholars should instead try to read “Gorgias,” and Plato’s other works.


Kastely’s purpose in this article is to show that the dialogue’s Socrates’ dismissal of rhetoric is not the opinion of Plato in order to show that Plato is in fact very concerned with the study of rhetoric, and finding out how it can be implemented for the community’s benefit.


Kastely’s main audience is rhetoric scholars, especially those concerned with Classical Rhetoric, which we know because he engages in the discourse in a manner that assumes the reader’s familiarity with both “Gorgias” and common perceptions held by rhetorical scholars of both the text and its author.
Liebersohn, Yosef Z. “The Problem Of Rhetoric’s Materia In Plato’s Gorgias (449C9-D9).” Rhetorica: A Journal Of The History Of Rhetoric 29.1 (2011): 1-22. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.


Found via a search on the MLA Database for ‘Gorgias’ and ‘rhetoric’ as keywords.


Yosef Libersohn in his scholarly journal article “The Problem Of Rhetoric’s Materia In Plato’s Gorgias (449C9-D9)” (2011) asserts that rhetoric as understood today in terms of an art of persuasion was not thought of in those terms by Gorgias and his contemporaries, those whom rhetoric scholars consider among rhetoric’s earliest formal practitioners and educators.


Libersohn supports his argument through a close reading of ten lines from the original Greek text in which Socrates questions Gorgias in two different ways about the materia of rhetoric, explaining the importance of Socrates’ attention to diction in this section, and describing why Gorgias and his contemporaries would not have viewed rhetoric outside of a political realm.


3Libersohn’s purpose is to show that Socrates’ motive in his discussion with Gorgias is not to dismiss rhetoric in its entirety, but to expose to Gorgias, and consequently the reader, that rhetoric has not yet been well-defined in order to show that rhetoric in Gorgias’ time is not yet considered an art, but is still in its early stage of development.


Libersohn establishes a formal discourse with rhetorical scholars whom he assumes to have familiarity with the original Greek text of Plato’s works.


Murray, James Stuart. “Plato On Power, Moral Responsibility And The Alleged Neutrality Of Gorgias’ Art Of Rhetoric (Gorgias 456C-457B).” Philosophy And Rhetoric 34.4 (2001): 355-363. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.


Found via a search on the MLA Database for ‘Gorgias’ and ‘rhetoric’ as keywords.


1James Stuart Murray in his scholarly journal article “Plato on Power, Moral Responsibility And The Alleged Nuetrality of Gorgias’ Art of Rhetoric (2001) argues that Gorgias’ assertion that corrupt students are wholly to blame for those instances when they misuse the art of rhetoric is built on the faulty analogy which compares the teachings of boxing and rhetoric, stating that rhetoric is inherently about achieving personal power in the Gorgian view.


Murray makes this argument by examining the teaching of boxing and rhetoric in ancient Athens to reveal the flaws in Gorgias’ analogy, showing that while boxing has a specific domain and rules of conduct Gorgian rhetoric is about asserting one’s will over another, even those who are not trained in the field.


Murray’s purpose is to show that the common perception of Plato’s Gorgias as someone who sees rhetoric as solely an end in and of itself is a misreading of the text in order for other scholars to consider reexamining standard beliefs about Gorgian rhetoric.


4. Murray makes a scholarly, but personal connection with both rhetorical scholars and other educators interested in classical rhetoric through the use of his casual and humorous opening anecdote, and a proceeding accessible argument.
Svoboda, Michael. “Athens, The Unjust Student Of Rhetoric: A Dramatic Historical Interpretation Of Plato’s Gorgias.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 37.3 (2007): 275-305. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.

Search on MLA Database using the keywordGorgias’ and ‘Plato’

Whedbee, Karen E. “An English Plato: J. S. Mill’s Gorgias.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 37.1 (2007): 19-41. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.

Search on MLA Database using the keywordGorgias’ and ‘Plato’